Guardian

A Question of Ethics


There seems to be quite an infatuation blossoming on the part of the Guardian for the so-called ‘Human Rights’ group Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika). In the past week both Rachel Shabi and Harriet Sherwood  have quoted them at length, with the latter stating that “[n]ow two former female conscripts have spoken out about their experiences”.

“Now” is a bit of an exaggeration, of course. Breaking the Silence actually produced its 136 page report entitled ‘Women Soldiers’ Testimonies’ back in January 2010 and of the two women Sherwood interviewed in her article, one – Dana Golan – is actually the Executive Director of the organisation and was responsible for the report’s publication, although Sherwood somehow forgot to mention that. In fact it would not be incorrect to say that Dana Golan was paid to produce this report as its compilation was financed by an eclectic group of bodies and organisations including ICCO a Dutch church organization), SIMVO (also Dutch), Oxfam GB , The Spanish Agency for International Development Co-operation (131,000 Euros in 2009-10) , the British Embassy in Tel Aviv (which also gave £40,000 in 2008), the New Israel Fund and the Moriah Fund ($30,000). Director of the Moriah Fund Judith Lichtman also sits on the International Council  of the New Israel Fund.  All in all, Breaking the Silence’s foreign donors accounted for a budget of some 1.5 million shekels in 2008.

Breaking the Silence is registered as a private Limited Company in Israel  and is therefore not subject to the same rules of transparency as apply to non-profit charitable organizations. It organizes tours to Hebron which in Hebrew (though not in English) it describes as showing “a reality of apartheid and a kind of ‘ethnic cleansing’ ”. Breaking the Silence also goes on frequent speaking tours of university campuses, particularly in the USA, funded by what was formerly known as the Union of Progressive Zionists – now J Street U – and another J Street partner, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom. In some cases, Palestinian groups have also funded these tours . Breaking the Silence  allowed its material to be used in the infamous ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ in 2010 and permits links  to its website on all manner of anti-Israel forums.

It is clearly not a ‘Human Rights’ organization but one with a very obvious political agenda. The fact that it is funded by foreign governments, charities and other bodies who apparently see nothing wrong in using their financial influence to try to demonize Israel does nothing to add to the credibility of its self-described aims. In fact it is difficult to think of another democratic country besides Israel which subject to paid demonization by other democratic governments using home-grown organizations, but at least one former funder of Breaking the Silence has seen the light.

“The Dutch government has now acknowledged that “Breaking the Silence” is not a reliable human rights group and says it will cease funding them.”

“Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said last week that he had not known that the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was funding a radical group like Breaking the Silence; he instructed the Dutch Foreign Ministry to launch an internal investigation on how this came about. It revealed that the embassy in Israel gave Breaking the Silence 19,995 euros to help put together its 2009 report, which accuses Israel of various crimes and was released earlier this month. Had this figure been five euros higher, it would have required approval from The Hague.”

One of the major problems with Breaking the Silence is that far from putting a stop to any breaches of the IDF’s ethical code which may occur in Israeli administered areas, it in fact prevents the investigation of such incidents by producing reports containing anonymous and non-specific accusations. This is clear evidence that its agenda is one of producing political leverage and not preventing abuse. The IDF code of conduct  clearly states that:

  1. Military action can be taken only against military targets.
  2. The use of force must be proportional.
  3. Soldiers may only use weaponry they were issued by the IDF.
  4. Anyone who surrenders cannot be attacked.
  5. Only those who are properly trained can interrogate prisoners.
  6. Soldiers must accord dignity and respect to the Palestinian population and those arrested.
  7. Soldiers must give appropriate medical care, when conditions allow, to themselves and to enemies.
  8. Pillaging is absolutely and totally illegal.
  9. Soldiers must show proper respect for religious and cultural sites and artifacts.
  10. Soldiers must protect international aid workers, including their property and vehicles.
  11. Soldiers must report all violations of this code. (emphasis added)

Breaking the Silence actively prevents clause 11 of this code from being implemented, preferring instead to publish sensational anonymous reports of violations designed to create juicy media items rather than improve the integrity of the Israeli army by having soldiers go through the accepted channels.

This brings us to another code of ethics; that of journalists . One of the clauses of that code is:

“Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.”

Now, can Harriet Sherwood put her hand on her heart, look us in the eye and tell us that she tested the accuracy of the information she was given by Inbar Michelzon and Dana Golan before she submitted it to her editor? Or did she just swallow the stories she was told, ignoring the fact that they were coming from sources with a clear political agenda and a history of making sensational accusations basedon rumour and hearsay , because that was what her own prejudices caused her to want to hear?

Once again Sherwood and the Guardian have demonstrated that their pubescent infatuation with radical chic is clearly not compatible with serious journalism.

35 replies »

  1. Remind me what the code of conduct had to say about Itsik Mordechai’s actions that night in 1984?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kav_300_affair

    Let me remind you what Ehud Yatom dais in 1996:

    “I smashed their skulls,” on orders from Shin Bet head Avraham Shalom, and “I’m proud of everything I’ve done.” Yatom said he put the men on stretchers into a van. “On the way I received an order from Avraham Shalom to kill the men, so I killed them.”[21][22][23] “Only clean, moral hands in Shin Bet can do what is needed in a democratic state.”

    Are you proud of his actions for our national security dear nurse or have you forgotten the oath your colleagues the doctors take?

    There are times when things need doing.
    This is not one of them!
    Not yesterday, not now, and if we have morals within us not even tomorrow.

    We are not Serbs or Croats, hammering down prisioners with a 10 KG hammer by a lake.

    I’d like to echo the following for your thoughts:

    “In May 1986 Attorney General Zamir resigned amidst accusations of disregarding national security after refusing to end his investigations.”

    Shut them all up.
    Reminds of many dark regimes.

    “Rumours and hearsay”, That’s all it ever was…

  2. Itsik, I’m not quite sure I understand your point.

    Israelis seemingly made a mistake a quarter-century ago. Is it your position that Jews should never be allowed to make mistakes? That any mistake by any Jew at any time is to be a stain forever, much like the crucifixion or original sin? Is that not a view appropriate to the Inquisition?

    Do you apply that same standard to the USA or the UK? to Muslim countries?

  3. Toko,

    The Israelis didn’t make a mistake.
    The men involved which took the law into their own hand and commited murder admiting it are still free.

    My point was to show that bad things do happen regardless of code of conducts and people are being silenced or simply believe it is inapropriate to grass.

    The example given (and there many more before and after) simply shows how far, quick and high it goes.

    Saying that all of what “breaking the silence” are doing is actualy preventing clause 11 is pathetic.
    How can you come to this conclusion when you clearly see that people who attempted to use this clause hit a brick wall when going through the normal channels.

    This has happened time and time again, as I’m certain is the case in any western armed forces.

    As for saying that Jews should not be allowed to make mistakes…
    I am arguing with my wife every week about this saying that she must let me off the hook because Jews are allowed to make mistakes.

    (sarcasm).

    I couldn’t care about the UK, USA or any other armed forces because unlike our IDF my children will probably not have to serve in them.

    Staines in the IDF are staines on my flag.
    It might not be yours, but it is mine and always will be.
    Do you understand?

  4. Itsik, obsessive perfectionism is usually disastrous, and certainly has been so in the past for the Jewish people.

    Perhaps Zionist theory is right – in order to survive, the Jewish people need be just as imperfect as others.

  5. What is the British Embassy in Tel Aviv doing funding any kind of organisation? Embassy’s are appointed and accredited to represent their own government’s interests – so what are we being told??

  6. Itsik you give us a quotation without context to prove to us that you are more moral than the rest of us or that we are all scum . I’m not sure which. Are you just here to smear?

    That you have this information and that it isn’t part of some UK type Official Information Act cover-up shows how transparent Israel is. And that it happened shows that Israelis are human. I hardly needed convincing of the latter.

  7. Itsik – we all know the events surrounding Parashat Kav 300, the ensuing investigations and trials and the storm the affair raised in the sphere of Israeli public discussion.
    And despite that I can say that the IDF demands from its soldiers adherence to a very strict moral code, particularly when they find themselves in often unimaginable situations, because I have put 4 children through the army so far, including 2 in special forces units, and including during the years of the second Intifada.
    Breaking the Silence is not trying to help Israeli soldiers to pursue justice through the accepted channels (which exist, in no uncertain terms) – it is using them for propaganda purposes in order to delegitimise Israel. If they wanted to improve things within the system they would be campaigning here at home, not parading their stories all over the USA.

  8. Israelinurse – I do not think anywhere in Sherwood’s article is there any indication that she interviewed the two women. She is simply reprinting stuff from other sources.

  9. I don’t see the point of this article and what it is trying to prove. The bottom line is whether what those 2 girls said was true. Dozens of soldiers have told me many similar stories over the last 30 years and I long ago concluded that humiliating Arabs was a kind of “sport” amongst the young soldiers serving in the WB. I even know one “oleh” who decided to return to the US specifically because of what he witnessed during his army service in the Hebron area. This is in addition to the endless number of similar stories that regularly appear in the mainstream Israeli media. It does not matter which groups publicize the facts and who funds them – the facts on the ground remain the same. Have you ever asked yourselves why the 1st Intifada started in 1987?

  10. MTC – I think you (and Itsik) are failing to see the bigger picture here.

    There are bound to be abuses – no army in the world can avoid such pitfalls – but they are not the result of army policy, are not encouraged or condoned (either by the IDF or Israeli society as a whole) and there exists a system to investigate and punish such abuses. There are also many stories of the exact opposite happening, but of course those are never published in Western newspapers.

    I could tell you, for instance, about my son’s unit in Jenin in 2002 when they were holed up in a Palestinian house during the height of the battles there. They had no supplies left apart from one tin of tuna between 5 people. After a couple of days their commander gave them permission to take one pitta bread per person per day from the freezer of the the family in whose house they were. Nothing else. Before they left they cleaned the house and left money for the bread they had eaten.

    The point is that these stories of abuse (and that is what they will remain unless BtS presents specific evidence to the investigatory bodies) are being amplified by the Guardian to try to suggest something much more sinister. There is an attempt here to paint abuse of Palestinians as the accepted systematic norm in Israeli society which is simply not the case. This is problematic on a number of levels –

    It stereotypes Israelis and demonises Israel.

    It ignores the context of the terror war which Israel has been fighting against for so many years. Making Palestinians wait an unnecessarily long time at checkpoints is indeed not right, but is it right for international human rights organisations to focus exclusively on such things as that whilst ignoring the rather obvious human rights abuse of blowing people up at their Pessach seder in a hotel dining room?

    It completely buys into the simplistic and unrealistic narrative propagated by such organisations as BtS that the solution to the conflict is for Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Judea & Samaria – i.e. it places the entire onus upon one side only and utterly ignores the other, turning it into a passive agent with no responsibility whatsoever for the current situation and no free will to change it.

    It contributes to the drip drip delegitimisation of Israel which is just one tactic in the combined military and non-military campaign to put an end to Jewish self-determination, along with lawfare, BDS and assorted flotillas etc.

    And yes – it actually does matter very much from where BtS and other such organisations get their funding just as it matters who supplies weapons to Hamas and Hizbollah. Without understanding that one cannot comprehend the true scope of what one is up against or the true motives of far too many supposed ‘human rights’ organisations.

    Be honest – the majority of Israelis would like nothing more than to disengage from Judea & Samaria. We don’t like having to be there and we don’t like what we are sometimes forced to do. And heaven knows that we have tried numerous times to rid ourselves of that burden, starting immediately after the 1967 ceasefire and continuing to this day. But the majority of Israelis also have eyes wide open enough to understand that this cannot be done without concrete guarantees for our security and at the moment, and as has always been the case in the past, those are not forthcoming from the other side.

  11. @ Israelinurse

    Why exactly do you call them a “so-called” “Human Rights” group? Do you rule out the possibility of sincere intentions behind their revelations/allegations of abuse?

  12. Pretzelberg,

    If you check the first sentence of some of Israelinurse’s paragraphs (and change the “it” to “they”), you get the answer to your question.

  13. I-N:
    It’s you that are failing to see the bigger picture. I am talking about the day-to-day humiliation of the Arab residents of the West Bank that has been going on for over 40 years. These are not incidents that can be investigated because they involve no physical abuse, theft or other standard crime. This daily humiliation was both official (the Civil Administration) and individual (young soldiers humiliating individuals for fun) and a combination of both. Who were the Arab victims of this harassment supposed to complain to – the Civil Administration that operated under a policy of “bureaucratic harassment”? We all know what the results would be.
    As I said above, I heard these stories repeatedly from friends, neighbours, acquaintances, etc, who served in the WB, both as inductees and in the reserves, all of whom felt very uncomfortable with was they witnessed or what they participated in.
    So don’t blame the messengers. I don’t like these stories either and I don’t like the NGOs at all and I think that the interference of the foreign embassies is reprehensible. But that has nothing to do with the basic question: were those 2 girls telling the truth?
    P.S. you should be very proud of your son. If the majority were like him we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  14. Mind the Crap,

    “It’s you that are failing to see the bigger picture. I am talking about the day-to-day humiliation of the Arab residents of the West Bank that has been going on for over 40 years.”

    It is YOU who is failing to see the bigger picture. What do you have to say about the following paragraph in Israelinurse’s comment:

    “It ignores the context of the terror war which Israel has been fighting against for so many years. Making Palestinians wait an unnecessarily long time at checkpoints is indeed not right, but is it right for international human rights organisations to focus exclusively on such things as that whilst ignoring the rather obvious human rights abuse of blowing people up at their Pessach seder in a hotel dining room? ”

    As someone who has served half a year in the WB, I can tell you that I have witnessed some disgusting behavior, but that was the tiny minority of cases.
    I’ll tell you even more: I had the shitty job of guarding Hamas detainees for three weeks. I haven’t seen even ONE instance of them being treated badly. Now compare that with Guantanamo, and keep in mind how an average Israeli would feel towards activists in Hamas…

  15. I-N,

    I, like you, have a family with Sayarot history.

    Like you, my nephews will not dare disrespect the houses they are holed it (in my case it was in cast lead).

    I have friends my age who were eservists in Jenin and colleagues who did the same.
    I hear both sides and know all too well what sort of treatment the people who try to keep up Tohar neshek receive if they are overwhelmed with ones who spit on it.

    Never the less I agree with you that the international circus is no place to investigate these claims and that Shovrey shtika should be doing this at home via an israeli independent investigation.

    I believe you pointed out the real problem.
    “…but they are not the result of army policy, are not encouraged or condoned (either by the IDF or Israeli society as a whole) and there exists a system to investigate and punish such abuses.”

    The army’s role has changed from being an armed force to being a police force yet they are unable to control large hostile population because they are ill trained for this purpose and the army’s guide lines cannot tackle this scenario.

    As for the funding I agree with you that it does stink and sounds very wrong.
    My point is to show you that a proportion of our population (as a result of various past experiences) does not trust the army’s or the shin bet’s internal investigations.

    This could be the reason why shovrey shtika went to seek help else where.
    Of course, they could have alternative motives.
    Who’s to know?

  16. MTC,

    One of my nephews is in the gunners now.

    He is not religious but he had one prayer after finishing the commamnder’s course a year ago.

    He prayed not to be sent to do the check points any more.
    He simply couldn’t take the tasks and orders he was given watching people pleading to pass every day.

    There is no right or wrong but the whole thing is not right.

    It’s not just the Arabs that cries for a solution and suffer daily, you know.

    And who is holding the key?

    How symbolic it is that the Palestinian “refugees” are holding keys…

  17. al-gharqad:

    I see the bigger picture, but I am not talking about the war on terror. I am talking about the daily unprovoked humiliation of Mr. Average family man whose only crime is walking down the street of his town or village. I am not talking about known terrorists or people who have been arrested for specific crimes. As IdeW says “He prayed not to be sent to do the check points any more. He simply couldn’t take the tasks and orders he was given watching people pleading to pass every day.” – and by ‘people’ he means ordinary people who are just trying to get through the day and feed their families.

    I also served at Keziyot during the1st Intifada and the experience had a strong effect on all the members of my regiment (including the Likudniks), because it was so obvious that most of the detainees were ordinary people just like us.

    If you think that the “bigger picture” is that every last Palestinian is a terrorist and should be treated that way then you have to accept the consequences.

  18. @ al-gharqad

    I think you missed my point. The second question was part and parcel of the first.

  19. Pretzel

    Why exactly do you call them a “so-called” “Human Rights” group?

    Today many political organization calls itself something for “human rights” even those the supporters of the most totalitarian and oppressive regimes and ideologues.

    Take a look at the composition of the UN Human Rights Council and you won’t believe your eyes. (Some members: Pakistan, Saud-Arabia, Cuba Kyrgyzstan)

    Most of these human rights groups are pretty selective defining who is a human and who is not, and defining what is a human right and what is not.
    Fighting for human rights requires objectivity and being free from political aims and agendas. Breaking The Silence is a political organization who is interested only in the rights of a certain group of humans – namely the rights of Israel’s enemies.

  20. Pretzelberg – I had my eyes rather abruptly opened regarding Human Rights groups during the second Intifada.

    My partner and I had been paid up members of Amnesty International for a good many years at that point and were recipients of all their publications and newsletters. And then, whilst our fellow countrymen and women were being blown up daily on buses and in cafes and shot at or burned to death with Molotov cocktails whilst they tried to drive from A to B, out came an AI report on the situation in the Middle East which blatantly ignored what was going on in Israel and focused exclusively on the Palestinian suffering in the conflict.

    We resigned from AI in protest, and since then I measure the legitimacy of organisations purporting to have a human rights agenda in terms of their commitment to the universality of the term ‘human rights’ because unless this term is applied equally to all human beings it loses its meaning in my view and becomes nothing more than a vehicle for political propaganda.

    To me it is very clear that many of the so-called Human Rights groups operating in Israel today (including BtS) do not have an agenda of universal human rights at the forefront of their raison d’etre. One only has to examine the charade of Durban I to see that.

    Furthermore, as stated above, if BtS are really concerned about abuses they should be working with -not against- the IDF to put an end to them. The way to do this is to collect named (not anonymous) first hand (not hearsay) accounts of incidents which include dates, places, times and units and to present them to the legal bodies within the IDF which investigate and bring such cases to court. An anonymous report with no identifying details circulated primarily to the media and used as a basis for speaking tours around foreign universities achieves nothing of worth if one’s real aim is to put a stop to incidents of abuse. On the other hand, it achieves quite a lot if one’s real aim is to colour the perception of the conflict in world opinion.

    Real human rights organisations also steer clear of politics. They do not employ such rhetoric as ‘apartheid state’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’ and they do not join political campaigns for BDS or allow themselves to be used by other organisations with a political agenda which is clearly hostile to the concept of Israeli self determination and self-defence. One cannot promote universal human rights if one is aligned with one particular political stance, especially in such a fractious part of the world as this.

    And yes, I’m sorry to say that I do have to doubt the sincerity of many a human rights group/charity operating in this region. This sector has become something of a cottage industry and whilst I have no doubt that human rights abuses need to be monitored and exposed (on both sides), I sincerely doubt that we need quite so many organisations as currently exist to do so.

    I also take into account, having worked in the charities sector myself, that any such organisation has to present reports to its funders which justify both its existence and initial or continued financing. This may sound very cynical, but it is true: the competition for funding is fierce and one does not secure grants and financing by reporting anything other than an urgent situation which needs immediate attention. The more organisations there are competing for funding, the more ‘urgent situations’ one is likely to come across, both in quantity and quality. And that, of course, is without taking into account the issue of the politics of some of the funding organisations themselves.

    I leave you to conclude how this ‘human rights’ industry is affecting the narratives coming out of the Middle East and the consequent effects upon the perception of the conflict in Western eyes, together with the likely ensuing consequences for the prospect of actually solving it in a manner which secures and guarantees the human rights of all concerned.

  21. Toko :

    “Perhaps Zionist theory is right – in order to survive, the Jewish people need be just as imperfect as others.”

    The Jewish people, myself included, are not perfect.
    We try to be better, yet respect the rest’s faults.

    Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, former Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue of Great Britain, describes a commonly held Jewish view on this issue:

    “Yes, I do believe in the Chosen people concept as affirmed by Judaism in its holy writ, its prayers, and its millennial tradition. In fact, I believe that every people – and indeed, in a more limited way, every individual – is “chosen” or destined for some distinct purpose in advancing the designs of Providence. Only, some fulfill their mission and others do not. Maybe the Greeks were chosen for their unique contributions to art and philosophy, the Romans for their pioneering services in law and government, the British for bringing parliamentary rule into the world, and the Americans for piloting democracy in a pluralistic society. The Jews were chosen by God to be ‘peculiar unto Me’ as the pioneers of religion and morality; that was and is their national purpose.”

    We are what we are.

    when I used to do something just because it was popular my mother told me that “if tomorrow everyone will jump from the roof, will you join them?”

  22. MTC,

    I think it is more complex than that.
    When serving in check points you are, sometimes, the last point between a potential terrorist and the target.

    How can you tell who’s who these days?

    Yes, most of the times you can but orders are orders.

    As you say, it is obvious yet you have this weight over your shoulders that any one can be the next bad guy.

    It’s sowing mistrust and creates even worst atmosphere.

    I still believe the Palestinian leadership let down not only their people.

    And the fact they do not crack down on education and antisemitc publications is terrible.
    but that’s another matter altogether.

  23. Israelinurse

    We resigned from AI in protest, and since then I measure the legitimacy of organisations purporting to have a human rights agenda in terms of their commitment to the universality of the term ‘human rights’ because unless this term is applied equally to all human beings it loses its meaning in my view and becomes nothing more than a vehicle for political propaganda.

    I see the situation as follows:

    Human Rights organisation used to look at all possible human rights abuses. This brought them into heavy conflict with The Followers of the Prophet whose counter measures were quite simple – take over Human Rights organisations and focus their attention of enemies of Islam.

    That is what you are seeing today. They attempt to turn the focus onto Israel and the US helped by the Israel hating Extreme Left. (That includes The Guardian/CiF). For them, standing at a road block is equivalent to dying of starvation in Darfur or being hung from a crane because of ones sexual orientation.

    Such is the mind set of the Looney Left

  24. @ greenmantle:

    “Itsik you give us a quotation without context to prove to us that you are more moral than the rest of us or that we are all scum . I’m not sure which. Are you just here to smear?”

    Sorry, I did paste the link.
    I most certainly didn’t want to prove or think that
    a) I’m more moral than anyone on this thread,
    b) Everyone here are scum

    Had I thought the latter I wouldn’t bother reading articles here.

    No, I am not here to smear.
    I have more respect to I/N than I have to most people I work with for the past 4 years.
    And I’ve never even met her.
    People who respect each other often disagree and feel free to point it out.

    Perhaps I chose the wrong language but being Israeli, diplomatic language is not my strong side.
    I do Dugry.

  25. JM,

    Could it be due to population growth in certain western countries and oil money?

    Did anyone said Muslim lobby?

    No such thing, right?!

  26. Aw, Itsik, that’s a lovely thing to say – thank you.
    And ‘dugry’ is fine by me – it’s one of the things I missed most during my years in the UK.

    MTC – I am indeed very proud of that particular son and all my others, and I believe that the majority of people are just like them. If it were otherwise, neither they or I would feel comfortable living here.

    This will be of interest to all those concerned about this subject:
    http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/nif_whistleblower_exposes_nif_s_role_in_demonization

  27. Mind the Crap,

    “If you think that the “bigger picture” is that every last Palestinian is a terrorist and should be treated that way then you have to accept the consequences.”

    Who said anything of this sort?????

    Pretzelberg,

    “I think you missed my point. The second question was part and parcel of the first.”

    I think that Israelinurse and peterthehungarian’s comments answer BOTH your questions very well.

  28. MTC

    If you think that the “bigger picture” is that every last Palestinian is a terrorist and should be treated that way then you have to accept the consequences.

    Very true, but let’s take the next scenario:

    An IDF soldier manning a checkpoint thinks that not allowing through a seemingly ordinary average looking Palestinian lady is very humiliating (as it is even doing it politely and respectfully) and allows this person to cross.
    The same day this very woman detonates herself up in the middle of the Ben-Yehuda market causing the death of a number of other ordinary and average Israelis.
    Then this soldier has not to accept the consequences?

    These checkpoints don’t exist because some fascists decided that this is a good way to humiliate, but because of the suicide and other terrorism used against us. Controlling the movement of other persons is humiliating and disrespectful but a slightly better option than to let free rein of terrorizing the Israeli population.

    I don’t say that the behaviour of every soldier is perfect, I’m sure that many of them should show more understanding and maturity. Maybe it would be better to use older reservists at the chekpoint policing and not 18-20 year old youngsters.

  29. Peter:
    Again, those are not really the scenarios I am talking about. I was mainly referring to the”bored soldiers having fun” incidents – nothing to do with security.
    And I have nothing against checkpoints either, but it is legitimate to complain about the way they are run and the way people passing through them are treated.
    So if you assume that every last Palestinian who approaches a checkpoint is a terrorist and run the checkpoint accordingly then it is going to have consequences and you have to accept them as the price of security. The problem is that people here want to have it both ways.

  30. MTC

    Checkpoints exist because sadly but every Palestinian wishing to enter Israel is a potential terrorist, the guards has no ways to separate the few criminals from the majority of ordinary citizens.
    Naturally this doesn’t justify the “making fun” behaviour of some soldiers.
    As I wrote before the checkpoints should be manned by more mature and older reservists.

  31. mindthecrap, you obviously have no conception of the double-bind* in which people place the IDF, ie they are damned if they do not take as much care as is humanly possible to prevent the ingress into Israel of suicide terrorists (ie by the use of rigorous measures at the borders) and damned if they take the approach you seem to be implicitly advocating, because then they would be faced with scenarios which peterthehungarian describes.

    Thank heavens the IDF has refused to play. A “defence force” has to be exactly that – it has to defend its citizenry which, because of the Islamic supremacist lunatics beyond its borders, are continually under threat.

    *Formulated in the 1950s by, amongst others, Gregory Bateson to create a theory about schizophrenia, double bind theory is about relationships and what happens when important basic relationships are chronically subjected to invalidation through paradoxical communication.

    In this case, the paradox applies to the injunction on the IDF on the one hand to take whatever measures it deems necessary to protect its citizens from terrorist threat, and yet on the other hand, it is condemned by the extreme left and the otherwise ignorant of the world over for taking those very measures against terrorists who manipulate the naive sympathies of their supporters.

    The paradoxical communication used to be “Israel has the right to defend itself” but “Israel must do so without taking the measures it deems necessary to defend itself.”

    Now, of course, matters are much simplified. The international communication gets rid of the double bind all right, because it refuses to allow Israel any right at all to defend herself. The double bind is still imposed, however, from within Israel by the likes of Neve Gordon and his malevolently like-minded associates.

  32. Mitnaged:
    I repeat – I am not talking about “the right to defend itself” or other major issues. I am talking about harassing ordinary Palestinians in their communities just for the fun of it. Are you saying that Israel’s security would be diminished if soldiers were to stop humiliating civilians just because they are bored ?

  33. I’m a little puzzled by the foreign funding for this ‘initiative’.

    With Brits, Americans and other forces currently fighting overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, wouldn’t they be better off funding an organisation that might look into and expose their own potential mishaps?

  34. MTC, you wrote: “Are you saying that Israel’s security would be diminished if soldiers were to stop humiliating civilians just because they are bored ?”

    No-one is saying that. On the contrary, peterthehungarian has said more than once, “this doesn’t justify the “making fun” behaviour of some soldiers” and “the checkpoints should be manned by more mature and older reservists.”