Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Judean Rose
by Varda Meyers Epstein

So many people complained to me about this one, I lost count. Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Social Media Director of the Times of Israel, shared an article about Avigdor Liberman, Israel's new Defense Minister. In her accompanying text, Tuttle-Singer insinuated that Liberman doesn't want IDF soldiers held accountable for their behavior in the field and doesn't see morality on the battlefield as a priority. 
She wrote:
"Well it seems our defence [sic]minister Corporal Liberman feels that demanding our soldiers be accountable and behave as morally as humanly possible is actually a problem."
The article itself refers to comments made by Liberman in a press conference held on Monday, August 29, “I would expect the Israeli press to work hard to strengthen the Israeli deterrent capability against our enemies — not to deter Israeli soldiers from fighting terrorists and fighting terror,” said Liberman. "I want a free press, not a press that deters IDF soldiers."

These comments are a clear reference to 1) Elor Azaria, who is currently standing trial for manslaughter, for shooting a terrorist who was already down, and 2) an as-yet-unnamed soldier who shot an unarmed Arab who approached a guard post in a suspicious manner at Ofra on Friday. Many Israelis feel these soldiers are being tried in the court of public opinion and presumed guilty, aided by a left-leaning media. It is a worrisome phenomenon, if true, considering that the vast number of Israelis serve in the IDF. Parents feel that an example is being made of these soldiers, these sons, and that this could happen to their own soldier sons, as well.

As a parent of a soldier, I can tell you: it's frightening. Soldiers are basically children with guns, put in dangerous situations, who will often need to make quick decisions. You want to know that the army will back your child for doing his best calculations and making split-second decisions about terrorists.

But Azaria was tried in the press the very day the deed went down with help from the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and then Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon. The Prime Minister said that the incident does not "represent the values of the IDF," while Yaalon, since replaced, said, “We must not allow, even at a time that our blood boils, this loss of control. This incident will be dealt with the utmost severity.”

Netanyahu and Yaalon said these things because a damning video of the event had surfaced. The anti-Israel "human rights" organization B'Tselem hands out cameras and phones to Arabs who live in hotspots like Hebron, where the shooting occurred. B'Tselem does this hoping to get juicy footage to use against Israel. That is exactly what happened here. The amateurish film shows the terrorist already down and then there is another shot, and the terrorist is now definitely dead.

With sound muted and without context it looks bad, this film. Because even though the terrorist had every expectation of dying a martyr, Israel's rules of engagement call for treating a wounded "neutralized" terrorist. The terrorist was already down, thus, the second shot was judged unnecessary, that is, if this information was all one had to go on.

But as time went on, more information came out. The very next day, another clip, this time with better sound, has a civilian paramedic shouting that the terrorist might be wearing a bomb. One can see that the terrorist is dressed unseasonably warm in a thick jacket, and might have been getting ready to self-detonate. That was one piece of the puzzle with still other pieces coming to light as the trial drags on.

The general impression of the public is that a head had to roll, no matter the facts, because of the film: because of how it looked. And the head that had to roll was Azaria's. And no one much cared about due process. Especially not Sarah Tuttle-Singer.

The day it happened, Tuttle-Singer tweeted this:

But even this prejudgment was moderate compared to an earlier Facebook status suggesting that Azaria should rot in jail. Her followers took her to task for, excuse the pun, jumping the gun, and so she modified that earlier post, too, saying:

"Earlier today, I wrote that an IDF soldier should rot in jail for shooting a Palestinian assailant AFTER the assailant was disarmed and lying prone on the ground.
People jumped on me hard and fast and said the soldier should have his day in court first.
Yes he should. Absolutely.
And the Palestinian assailant should have had HIS day in court, too."

Those of us who pay attention to these tweets and posts wonder why Ms. Tuttle-Singer is eager to judge and sentence a Jewish boy, charged with the defense of his people, to rot in jail, absent full knowledge of facts of this case. Meantime, she remains anxious for justice to be done for an Arab terrorist who stabbed one of her own and fully expected to die in the attempt. Her concern is for the terrorist. Her hatred is reserved for her own, a Jew and a defender of the Jewish people.

Perhaps, in the interest of fairness, and of balance, it would be too much to expect her to take the Jew's side over the terrorist's side. But to damn the Jew and plead for the terrorist? One must wonder: WTF?

Well, a lot has gone down since that time. We continue to watch the trial from our safe distance. We watch as this young boy's life is ruined, his trust in his superiors betrayed, his parents distraught (his father was hospitalized with a suspected mild stroke), all because one more bullet hit a TERRORIST who intended to die, a terrorist who stabbed a defender of our people, a soldier and Azaria's friend.
And we watch our soldiers grow afraid to do their job. They are afraid to go after terrorists. They fear they will become the next Elor Azaria.

Then on Friday, the press smelled fresh blood when they heard a soldier had shot an unarmed terrorist just outside Ofra. The terrorist rushed a guard post, and so he got shot. The soldier didn't stop to ascertain whether or not the terrorist was armed. Because the terrorist rushed his guard post.
And got shot dead by a soldier charged with the defense of the Jews of Ofra.

Like Azaria, that soldier was doing his job.

This time, you won't have Yaalon shooting off his mouth. Instead you have Avigdor Liberman, his tough-talking replacement. And Liberman has cautioned the press that they are hampering the soldiers, making them too afraid to do their job: the job of defending the Jewish people.

For insisting the press be held accountable for what it reports, Sarah Tuttle-Singer accuses Liberman of being deficient in his ethics and in his strongly-held standards for IDF behavior. She implies Liberman is amoral, for not wanting the soldiers so frightened they'll be tried in court they can't do their jobs. Tuttle-Singer implies the new defense minister is full of braggadocio and swagger and cares not a fig for human life. She implies he cares about Jews and not about Arabs.

And the article she shared is just as bad. Here's a quote from that article:

"Though he has not been formally charged, the as-yet unnamed Netzah Yehuda soldier has been questioned by Military Police 'in connection with the killing,' an army official told The Times of Israel on Monday."
"Killing??" Seriously?

It did not pass the smell test that an army official would refer to what happened outside of Ofra as a "killing." As if the motives of the soldier (again without due process) were in question, as if this soldier shot a man simply because he was lusting for Arab blood, and not because this presumed Arab terrorist had rushed a guard post in a place where rushing a guard post usually spells t-e-r-r-o-r  a-t-t-a-c-k.

But the text was linked, so I went to the original article quoting the unnamed army official. And low and behold, the word "killing" was not used there. Instead, the linked piece said, “'He was investigated in connection with the death on Friday,' an official said." (emphasis mine)

"The death" as distinct from "the killing."

That's a whole different can of worms.

Now I am not naive. I know that there are the people like me who love and defend Israel, and then there are Jews who put Arabs first and foremost, even if (or perhaps especially if) they are terrorists, out of some misplaced sense of(social) justice. But in a case like this, where a direct quote is altered so its entire meaning changes, and for the purpose of hurting your own kind, well that's just stomach turning.

This isn't about justice. This is about the opposite of justice. This is about Jews hurting Jews to show the world they aren't like other Jews. It's about Jews hurting Jews to prove they love Arabs. It's about Jewish human sacrifices, sacrificed by Jews, to slake the world's thirst for Jewish blood.
And it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen in all my 55 years here on God's green earth.

(h/t to Dov and to Yonatan and thanks to Natan for digging up the clips for me)

UPDATEReader AreaMan took the initiative to contact Times of Israel writer Judah Ari Gross about the change of wording of a quote from an "army official" which escalated "the death" to "the killing." In response, Gross changed the later quote to "the death." Closing the barn door after the horses escape, in my humble opinion, since so many readers saw and were affected by the original. 

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