On Tuesday Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner was suspended from position in the IDF for two years. Eisner had been filmed on camera hitting a Danish protester in the face with his gun, which is what led to the suspension. The incident happened on Saturday when a group of foreign and Arab cyclists sought to block a main road near Jericho to protest Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.
The events in the video were taken completely out of context to make Israel and Eisner look bad. The protests had been going on for two hours and Eisner had a finger broken by the oh-so peaceful protesters. But the only thing you see on YouTube is Eisner hitting a guy in the face. It’s not as if he shot anyone, the Danish guy that got hit didn’t even break any limbs, but Israel is once again made to look bad, despite being the only democracy in the Middle East. Just imagine how a Syrian or Egyptian soldier would have reacted to two of his fingers being broken. The protestor would be dead within seconds along with all his fellow protestors.
What disappoints me the most about this whole thing is the criticism that Eisner got from high ranking officials, such as the President Shimon Peres, despite the fact that no investigation had yet taken place. The other thing that really disappoints me is Eisner losing his position in the IDF for two years. Eisner was doing his job, he look bad on camera, but that’s no reason to suspend him. Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz should have defended him instead of suspending him. I’m sorely disappointed by the decision, as are other Israelis.
Here are some of the things that Eisner had to say for himself in defence:
“What’s more important, doing the job or looking good for the camera?”
“We know the history of these anarchists, they came with sticks and broke my hand, but no one talks about that or films it.”
“It’s true; some of the pictures look bad. I used my weapon coldly, like a stick. I didn’t kill anyone, and didn’t put anyone’s life at risk.”
“My job was to protect my soldiers and open the road, and I did just that. My sense was that this [the blow] would do it.”
“The protesters themselves said after the incident that they cut the rally short and decided not to block the road only because of the way I handled the situation,”
Eisner also criticized the senior IDF commanders who publically criticized him while the IDF investigation was still underway.
“But all these stories do not interest our chief of staff [Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz] or the head of my command [GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon],”
“There are a few questions. I admitted that it may have been a professional mistake to use arms in front of cameras, but I told the commander of the division I do not accept it as a failure of values in any way.”
“There is a question of what is more important, completing the mission or a good photograph? I argue that the mission is more important, they say otherwise. It could be I am wrong and they are right “.
“If the film was of nicely pressed soldiers waving flags, does that look good? What do I do to open my road? Do I put my soldier’s lives at risk? Does that sounds good?”
“Someone broke my hand,” Eisner said, pressing his suit. “Did anyone [on the general staff] understand the implications of breaking the hand of a Colonel in the IDF [without consequences]? No one.”
I feel for Eisner. Looking good should not be our main goal.
It also turns out that Eisner’s comments may have been illegally recorded, which may have also contributed to his suspension. You can read more about the illegal recording by Channel 10 here.
Sources: Arutz Sheva