The Lessons of the Eisner Affair

Although watching a young Danish tourist getting whacked in the face by an M16 rifle is certainly not a pleasant site and tends to make one cringe, viewing the slightly extended video of the incident simply made my blood boil. For rather than being engaged in the normal activities that soldiers are engaged in, Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner and his comrades had to deal with what appeared to be an obviously planned provocation: crowds of people all around, large signs saying “Stop Ethnic Cleansing”, flashing cameras everywhere and sneering cyclists refusing to disperse. Thus, it came as no surprise that when one of these “innocent” young chaps decided to bump into a soldier with his bicycle and initiate the whole fracas, a very good soldier fell for the trap.

The whole incident is sickening for several reasons. For starters, these people take advantage of the fact that only in Israel – not in America, not in a European country and certainly not in an Arab country – can they get away with such nonsense. They know this and they flaunt it in our face. However, much more infuriating is the fact that we even let such people into our country in the first place. Don’t we have any self respect? Then on top of this, rather than having the police who are trained for such ordeals deal with the whole mess, we foolishly dump it on our soldiers. However the most irritating of all, especially in light of the above, is how several of our illustrious political and military leaders were quick to condemn Shalom Eisner. One can only wonder in cynicism if these same people, as well as the others who quickly denounced Eisner, lifted a voice in protest or shed a tear when viewing the events in Amona a few years back, a particularly gory affair that in comparison made the recent event with Shalom Eisner look like a Lassie episode.

Placing the anger and frustration aside, for anyone who is interested in fighting for the truth in a world that has seemingly gone mad, there are some very important lessons that can be learned from the event. The first is to be aware of the age we live in, namely a highly technological era where any amateur can film an event and potentially broadcast it to thousands or millions via You Tube, Facebook or the like. This simply cannot be ignored. Thus Shalom Eisner’s statement after the event that for a soldier it’s more important to complete his mission than to worry about how he looks while performing it, although true in a perfect world, is unfortunately naïve given the current reality.

As a result, for anyone who is sick of the lies and hypocrisy, be it in Israel or the world, and really wants to work for change, it’s not enough to simply stand on the street corner and shout the truth. How something is said or how someone looks while performing an act frequently has more impact than anything else in the eyes or ears of the viewer. In this realm we need to learn from some of our leaders. Although many of them appear to be nauseatingly concerned about the reaction of the world, not just in the current Eisner affair but in many previous incidents as well, they do have a healthy appreciation of the power of images and statements in shaping public opinion (even if they are frequently inept in their own attempts). This truth needs to be internalized and the technological means at our disposal need to be more effectively utilized.

The second lesson is that being involved is not enough. In other words, although the army is full of many idealistic, highly motivated soldiers, the real power in the IDF is in the hands of those who are influenced by the same western-liberal values that are prevalent in other areas of Israeli society. Thus it makes no difference that most Israelis would want someone like a Shalom Eisner with them if they headed into battle, especially after his heroics in recovering a dead body from a tank in the Second Lebanon War. In today’s reality, Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner was pronounced guilty by the head of the IDF the moment the very brief video hit You Tube.

Similarly in the political realm, despite the presence in the Likud of more and more MKs that are nationalistic and idealistic, not only have they been unable to cause a real change of direction by the party but they have been powerless in preventing Benyamin Netanyahu from pulling the Likud towards the left during his second stint as Prime Minister. For example, during his 3-year tenure there was a housing freeze in Judea and Samaria, a declaration of support by a Likud Prime Minister for the creation of a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria and the placement of the powerful and influential defense ministry in the hands of a very unpopular and anti-settlement politician.

Thus, in order to effect a real change in this country, people of vision who are honestly concerned about the greater good of the Jewish people and humanity need to not only get involved in all the various sectors that make up Israeli society – the political, military, legal, academic, media, business, etc – but they need to aspire to take over the key positions of influence in each of these sectors. Otherwise, despite their significant presence amongst the rank and file members, nothing is going to change.

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16 Responses to The Lessons of the Eisner Affair

  1. Lawrence says:

    I fully agree with you and so as much in my blog http://arabpropaganda.blogspot.com/2012/04/using-media.html

    As for Bibi, once again I agree with you. On the other hand, if elections were held today, I look to the left and I look to the right and I see no one else to lead the country.

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Lawrence shalom,

      Regarding leadership, you’re right. There is a tremendous lack of real leaders of vision in Israel (one’s who have the power to really influence). G-d willing that will change one day.

      Yoel

  2. bob says:

    I have seen the footage too and see no signs, large or small. So please, what is this sentence based upon?

    crowds of people all around, large signs saying “Stop Ethnic Cleansing”

    It seems to be manufactured to try and paint a picture to try and justify the assault. Furthermore, why target cyclists anyway?

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Bob,

      There are various versions on youtube (perhaps doctored). Try for instance
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A6p9pyjKBKc

      Yoel

      • Ruth says:

        Each time I’ve watched footage of the incident, I’m struck by how peaceful the scene is. Nobody is acting like there is an danger at all. The protesters are relaxed most of the time, and the soldiers can be seen talking to protesters and locals. The sudden punch in the face with a gun butt is the only quick, decisive action in the footage. The rest seems pro forma. What got my attention was how they threw all the bicycles over the guardrail and nobody said anything. I don’t know what that means.

        • Yoel Meltzer says:

          Hi Ruth,

          FYI, there are several videos of the event, most likely somewhat doctored. Take a look at this one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A6p9pyjKBKc) which shows the “stop ethnic cleansing” signs, then someone calling the other cyclists to join the group facing the soldiers, then one of the cyclists trying to break through the line of soldiers which in turn started all the violence.

          Don’t get me wrong, I have a liberal heart and I don’t like violence but to think this is just some innocent event is naive. However, that’s only part of the articles. For me the lessons to be learned are much more important.

          Yoel

          • Ruth says:

            I guess I didn’t mean that the event is innocent, but that if one is watching it in order to be shocked at the army’s violence, it shouldn’t shock anyone who’s aware of what violence generally looks like. The protesters are obviously aware that they’re not in any danger; that split lip was the limit, and it could have happened on any bike trip. Unlike real army or police violence. Here, they can trust the IDF not to really do anything, so they stand around chatting and enjoying the sunshine. Just like in Homs, you know what I mean?

          • Yoel Meltzer says:

            I know what you mean Ruth.

  3. bob says:

    Forgot to add a link to 30 mins of raw footage from the cycle ride and assault.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8Wv8Y8Pp5bw#!

    If you can tell me where these signs are that made your blood boil, that would be a big help – thanks

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Look at the link I sent you. Also the “blood boil” is connected to the second paragraph (on the unedited blog version).

  4. Bill Narvey says:

    Yoel, contrary to your views, I do not see this Eisner matter providing any new lessons that the IDF and Israeli government were unaware of.

    Only an idiot would be unaware of the potential negative publicity that authorities or a nation are exposed to when the hard left take to the streets to protest some particular hot button issue, which protest is almost invariably intended to provoke an aggressive reaction by armed authorities against protesters unarmed, save for video cameras.

    Authorities are also keenly aware that these protests are covered by the media that lives for sensationalist stories and that if there is a physical confrontation, protesters’ videos and media coverage will go viral on the internet.

    Though Israeli police may be best trained and experienced in dealing with crowd/protest control, it is wrong to say the IDF is not. The IDF has at least some serious training in this regard and have experience in this field as well.

    As for Eisner’s assault on an unarmed protester, there were some reports out that Eisner had some time before been assaulted by presumably some other protester and suffered a few broken fingers. That was then. There is no suggestion however, that it was the protester Eisner assaulted attacked him first, save for likely shouting at him and refusing to move back as far and as fast as Eisner ordered.

    Actions taken to suspend Eisner and investigate the incident was warranted on two grounds. 1st, Eisner did assault an unarmed civilian. 2. Eisner’s actions exposed the IDF, the GOI and all of Israel to very adverse publicity.

    My sympathies are with Eisner and I do hope he is returned to active duty without penalty. We will have to wait and see.

    Further, I disagree with your statement that “these people (ie. hard left protesters) take advantage of the fact that only in Israel – not in America, not in a European country and certainly not in an Arab country – can they get away with such nonsense.”

    That statement is simply untrue. Only the protests in the EU that erupt in violence instigated by the hard left protesters resulting in their being physically dealt with and arrested by authorities are reported on at length and make it to the internet. Where the authorities manage to control the situation and violence does not erupt is usually the stuff of short media attention and videos of non-violent protests don’t go viral on the internet.

    In America, you went through the Occupy Wall Street frenzy for instance. That extended event filled the airwaves on radio, TV and in media print. In that case there was little physical reaction by authorities who seemed incapable of doing anything but stand and watch. Essentially, as winter came on the enthusiasm for the protest waned and it died out. This spring with the return of warmer weather, the OWS protest started up again, but with most of the wind gone out of its sails. No longer newsworthy, the media gave it scant attention and the OWS movement is pretty much defanged.

    As for your thoughts on B.B being pulled to the left, generalities rarely are true and neither is that one. No doubt you have railed against provocative headlines and soundbites creating a false and uninformed impression.

    Your observation regarding B.B. falls into that category. Additionally, your general comments on B.B. and the Likud are an aside that has little if any place in the context of what you were writing about.

    I suggest that if you are firm in your views about B.B. and Likud, you devote an article specifically to that to make your case.

    Bill Narvey

    • Yoel Meltzer says:

      Bill,

      Thanks for your comments although in all due respect I don’t agree with much of what you wrote so I guess we’ll just differ on this one.

      Yoel

  5. Chana says:

    One of the videos of the incident was reportedly from Palestinian Arab sources . It reflects the well-known fact that it was a pre-planned provocation with media people having been notified that ‘something would happen’. This has happened many times in the past with, at times. those reporting the news being called and told that ‘there would be a delay’.
    Israeli defenders of Israel are also sensitive human beings who are too often subjected to the most provocative treatment by a virulent enemy. Those who stand ready to criticize them have yet to be tested; one wonders how they would react under repeated acts by non-innocent protestors!

  6. ruth cohen says:

    now it turns out that the danish guy used a false name. why we allow them in to our land is beyond me except for the pure stupidity of our leaders.

    i dont cringe to see that rat getting a whack – he should have been arrested and put in jail. i cringe to see jews trying to appease the goyim.

    we are in our homeland, given to us by hashem. we are proud jews and we will survive all and change all the corruption and insanity and build the right kind of society with torah and common sense ruling supreme.

  7. Robert Haymond says:

    Regarding allowing these protesters, AKA “Eurotrash”,into this country, we have been trying to prohibit them from entering (most recently) but, because we also have a huge number of legitemate tourists, mistakes will continue to be made.

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