IDF Officer Makes Things Clear
The video above was broadcast last week on Israel Channel 10 news.
What is shown should be no surprise. Every Friday there are more and more demonstrations against the expropriation of Arabs lands and properties for exclusive use by Jews. What started in Bilin (against land expropriated by the wall) has now spread to Nili'in, Sheik Jarrah, Nebe Salakh, and several other places. What is new (well, not so new - but it is finally getting attention), is that these are peaceful - but persistent - mass demonstrations against specific acts of injustice. The Israeli government seems determined to put these down by force.
In all cases, the pattern is similar. The Israeli authorities expropriate land from Arabs for the benefit of Jews. Arabs are evicted from properties they have used for decades (often centuries), and the land is given over to exclusive use by Jews. Arabs along with a few Jewish allies begin to protests. The army and/or the police are called in to enforce the evictions, and quell the protests. Protests are never allowed to continue peacefully. They are always broken up by the authorities, often using extreme violence. (Protestors have been killed and permanently disabled at Nili'in and Bilin.) Often the settlers who have benefited from the expropriations, join the police in harassing or beating the demonstrators. Often the Jewish settlers take the initiative in harassing and/or attacking Arabs and Arab property. Rarely do the police or army ever arrest a Jewish attacker or counter demonstrator. Arrests among the Arabs - both at the demonstrations and afterwards of their leadership - is common.
All the forces of the State are marshaled to advance the interests of the Jews. If Palestineans object, they are treated as obstacles on the road - to be removed; not as residence with legal and moral rights.
This is clear to anyone who has been paying attention. But Israel maintains a facade of legality and fairness. In this video a young officer is foolish enough to tell the truth. The army (and by extension the State) exists to protect the Jews and Jewish interests, not the Arabs and their interests. Anyone defending the rights of Arab is a traitor. Jews who attack Arabs are immune from punishment. The idea of the state as impartial arbiter of disputes, or upholding and balancing the rights of all its residents, of impartially upholding a "colour blind" law - is non-existent.
At the very end - the IDF spokesperson, says that the words of this officer do not accord with the "spirit of the IDF". Funny, I heard almost the exact same words and sentiments coming from young officers and NCOs when I served in the IDF in the West Bank back in the 1980. Nothing has changed except the intensity. Nothing was done to root out such opinions and actions in the 1980s and nothing is being done now. Nothing will happen to this officer, and next week the charade of "imposing order", "enforcing the law" will continue. So will the expropriations and the violent suppression of non-violent demonstrations.
Below is a transcript of the video: The translation is mine. It is more literal than literary. But you should be able to get the drift.
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Title on screen: Friday 8/1/10, Nebe Salakh, Handling Settlers
Text on screen: The demonstration at Nebe Salakh, day before yesterday
Crowd: Hey Hey
Voice-over: To the centers of regular weekend violence in the territories, in the villages of Nili’in and Bilin, has been added a new location: the village of Nebe Salakh. To this village in the area of Ramallah, arrived on Friday dozens of Palestinean protesters. The demonstration is against the expropriation of lands by the neighboring settlement Neve Tzuf-Halamish
Male voice with Arabic accent (and in subtitles): This is my land! Why? Why am I not allowed? This is my land!
Voice-over: Soldiers of the IDF and the Border Police attempt to disperse the non-violent demonstration with all their force: tear gas grenades, stun grenades, rubber bullets at point blank range, and sometimes - rifle butts. After a while, the party is joined by a group of settlers from the Neve Tzuf-Halamish …
Unidentified male voice (and in subtitles): You see?! You see ?! You see?!
Voice-over: … who situate themselves on a high terrace and begin throwing rocks at the Palestinians below. Some are masked, out of fear of the cameras.
Male voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): Ehud, come here, come here.
Voice-over: The steady stream of rocks continues, and the soldiers and border police do - that’s right - nothing at all. So many committees of enquiry have reported on the casualness with which the law is circumvented in the territories. Nothing helped. The soldiers and border police do nothing to stop this barrage of rocks by the settlers. There are zero Jews arrested at the end of these violent incidents.
Male voice with Arabic accent (and in subtitles): You are protecting the settlers, no?
Soldier (and in subtitles): That’s right. That’s right. Who should I protect? You?
Protestor – female voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): Isn’t your job is to protect the Palestinian residents too?
Soldier (and subtitles): No! All of a sudden? [Israeli idiom for “Are you kidding?”]
Female voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): No?! That’s NOT your job?!
Soldier (and in subtitles): No. My job is to protect my nation. I’m not like you – who betrays it. My job is to defend my people.
Female voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): Aha, OK
Soldier (and in subtitles): You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Voice-over: This is how an officer of rank first-lieutenant, named Atsael, explained exactly what should be done to the people of Betzelem [Israeli human rights group] who document the demonstrations.
Lt. Atsael (and in subtitles): Do you know there is the death penalty in Israel only for one thing?
Male voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): For what?
Lt. Atsael (and in subtitles): Treason to the State.
Male voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): Are you the traitor?
Lt. Atsael (and in subtitles): No. You are the traitor!
Male voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): Are you a soldier?
Lt. Atsael (and in subtitles): I am a soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Male voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): And you allow yourself to talk like this? !
Lt. Atsael (and in subtitles): I am very proud of it. And I am not just a soldier. I am an officer in the army. I am very proud of it.
Male voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): Are you allowed to talk like this?
Lt. Atsael (and in subtitles): Why not?
Male voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): You are forbidden to express political opinions.
Lt. Atsael (and in subtitles): I … The ends justify the means. First I have my mission. Then I look at the obstacles on the path …
Female voice, no Arabic accent (and in subtitles): He said “traitors” !!
Voice-over: Thus the IDF is struck in this policing operation, in the middle. The police are too weak and ineffective. The problem is, that in restoring order, someone forgot to tell them, that order must rule in both directions [be imposed on both sides.]
On screen commentator: The IDF spokesman says, in response, that the IDF disassociates itself from the words of the officer, which where his personal opinions only and which contradict the spirit of the IDF.