Many of us have been walking around with a feeling of being under siege -- even before the incident in which an Israel Defense Forces officer beat a left-wing activist is fully investigated. We were quick to beat our chests. Our response to Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner’s blow against the Danish activist doesn't necessarily indicate our lofty moral standards, but rather our hysteria and a fear of what people will say about us.
If we, rightfully, expect our IDF officers to display composure in the face of provocation, we should also expect those at the helm of the military and the state to show the same composure. It is imperative to resist the influence of the media, which tends to gang up on the IDF and on Israeli government policies and to espouse the scripted, edited, cleaned-up narrative dictated by these not-so-innocent "peace activists."
You can't condemn the officer, who was confronted with a hate group of International Solidarity Movement activists. Despite its declarations of "non-violence", the ISM actually denies Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. In their writings, group members often emphasize the implementation of the Palestinian “right of return”, reject the Oslo Accords, and never, not once, mention any support for a two-state solution.
Internal ISM memos justify armed Palestinian struggle, even at the height of suicide-bomber terror. Its activists once harbored an Islamic Jihad member who was involved in suicide bombings. They blocked IDF efforts to foil attacks, including a strike on an explosives workshop that produced bombs for suicide attacks. Senior ISM members helped found the Free Gaza Movement (the organizer of the protest flotilla in May 2010 that tried to breach the naval blockade Israel imposed on Gaza), which strengthened Hamas and widened the delegitimization of Israel. In short: These are scumbags and terror-mongers.
Regardless, the conservative public needs to beware of the Pavlovian-like support enjoyed by every insignificant event in Judea and Samaria. A senior IDF officer should not fall into the media trap set for him. He was on a battlefield, where the weapons are cameras and the prize is public opinion. Just as soldiers don't charge at Hezbollah terrorists with nothing but their bare fists, here too, the soldiers mustn't play directly into the hands of our enemies.
Just this last Shabbat we read the verse: “Through them that are nigh unto Me I will be sanctified” (Leviticus 10:3). Those who are closer to the eye of the storm are more likely to slip up, and therefore should be more on guard. Therefore, they should be held to higher moral and professional standards. A lieutenant colonel is not a run-of-the-mill citizen, and we want to believe that he is in fact worthy of commanding our sons -- a position that requires exceptional composure and the ability to withstand provocations.
Israel is fighting for the legitimacy of its defensive actions, both domestically and internationally; it must beware of falling into traps it could easily have anticipated.