Sunday, May 29, 2011

Is this excessive force ...

I think it bears repeating that when someone makes a claim about a particular event, especially when it is an event that has to do with Israel, that claim should be treated with skepticism. All too often the people reporting on events here are subject to profound bias.

This is especially true of the various blogs and websites affiliated with the radical Israeli left and other anti-Israel sites. One example is the 972 magazine website.

In a recent post on the site, writer Joseph Dana covered a protest that was held against a new Jewish neighborhood in the eastern part of Jerusalem. The protesters labeled the community as an illegal settlement in Arab East Jerusalem.

I don't want to get into the details of their claim. I think these people have the right to believe whatever they want and to hold peaceful protests if they so choose.

That is precisely how Dana described the protest, as non-violent, and he posted two videos to prove his point. He also claimed that the Israeli police "reacted with excessive and violent force against the chanting Jewish protesters." I highly recommend you read the post and watch both videos that he posted. I'm posting the second, longer video as it provides a much more accurate picture of the event.

I also believe that the video contradicts Dana's account of the protest. The longer video makes it clear that the protesters were blocking the entrance to the community. Additionally, the video shows protesters linking arms and resisting police efforts to clear them from the entrance.

In this light, the police actions do not appear to be excessive at all. In fact my observations of the video lead me believe that police used restraint in dealing with the protesters who were very aggressive and actively confronted them.

This is one of my main issues with the hard left in Israel. I frequently read their accounts of encounters with Israeli police and all too often they post videos in support of their claims that demonstrate the exact opposite.

To be sure, I have also seen videos of Israeli police and soldiers using excessive force against protesters. But overall I find the Left to be inaccurate more often than it is accurate. It is these posts and accounts that make it hard for me to trust the leftist accounts of events here; not only in Israel, but in the West Bank as well.

Perhaps it's just me? So please watch the video and tell me if this is an excessive reaction by the police.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why the mass marches against Israel wont matter, eventually ...

So I haven't posted anything here in a while. Suffice it say that I haven't had much time to write with the responsibilities of my new job. I'll be trying to make more time in the future but until then I'll have to settle for very sporadic posts.

This brings me to the events of this week. On Sunday, Arabs across the region commemorated the anniversary of Israel's birth as Nakba day, or the day of catastrophe.

Most observers of the region are already well aware of the events which transpired, including the mass demonstrations on Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria on Sunday that resulted in the infiltration and deaths of several demonstrators.

There are plenty of stories out there about what happened so I'll leave it to you to do a Google search to find a relevant story if you need to catch up.

What I would like to comment on is whether or not these demonstrations are the result of the Arab Spring, if they signal start of a third Intifada, and whether they signal a dramatic shift in the Arab-Israeli conflict. I'll go over my points one by one.

Yes, these demonstrations are connected to the Arab Spring. There have been signs for months that the demonstrations that have rocked the Arab world would eventually be exported to Israel. Arabs have been planning for mass demonstrations and opened several Facebook pages and websites calling exactly for what we saw on Sunday. Those demonstrations should have surprised no one, but evidently they still managed to surprise the IDF which obviously wasn't paying attention.

Do these demonstrations signal the start of a third Intifada? Maybe. If these demonstrations pick up steam, and are repeated frequently than yes this could mark the beginning of the third Intifada. I don't think anyone has a good idea what will happen once it starts but it shouldn't surprise anyone once it does.

Do these marches of masses of people signal a dramatic shift in the conflict? It's a shift but I don't think it's all that dramatic. What is clear is that the IDF was caught unprepared on Sunday. Well, they are preparing for the next round right now, and I'm certain those preparations are being accelerated.

There have been several articles saying that the IDF is worried about how to stop masses of people marching unarmed to the border. I don't think this is the most complicated problem to solve. The answer is masses of security forces and soldiers to meet them. If that is not enough to prevent every single demonstrator from getting through there is always a fallback option – the people, government, and State of Israel!

The naiveté of the organizers is remarkable. Their plan is to implement the right of return by simply marching across the border and conducting sit-ins in their so-called places of origin. What they are overlooking is that there is an entire country of Israelis standing in their way, ready to repel their invasion.

This is the critical factor that makes all these comparisons to the Arab Spring irrelevant. Those demonstrations were people who rose up against their own government. They are now trying to turn those demonstrations against another people – the Jewish people. It's also worth noting that the demonstrators were not campaigning against Israel's control of the West Bank. They were marching in order to gain their so-called right of return to Israel. They were marching to overwhelm Israel demographically and destroy it.

While this tactic is certainly creative and presents Israel with new challenges, there is still no choice to confront it because the alternative is our destruction. That is precisely why these marches will amount to nothing. There is no example in history of non-violence being used to destroy another country and that is the same reason while Israel will pass this new test.