Tuesday December 23, 2014
Israel Hayom
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23.12.2014
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Col. (res.) Benny Yanai

Democracy, incitement and everything in between

On Monday this week the B'Tselem organization published a periodic report on the activities of the Israel Defense Forces, determining that in recent years Israeli soldiers have killed 10 Palestinian civilians during crowd dispersal efforts. The report, which was published by several media outlets, basically adds another layer to the succession of activities conducted by the radical organization — tendentious, biased and predictable in nature, yet still irritating. The common denominator prevalent in all its reports is the attempt to incite against Israeli soldiers and their commanders and slander them.

We can include groups like Machsom Watch, Adalah and the New Israel Fund to the esteemed list of organizations with a similar agenda. All of them, incidentally, are more than happy to wrap themselves in the flag of democracy and pluralism to justify their almost messianic activities.

The thing about democracy and pluralism — two values that are and have always been at the forefront of my mind throughout my civilian and military life — is that they cannot be used as camouflage for the acts of incitement perpetrated by these groups, which put IDF soldiers and commanders on the front lines at risk, and worse, put our society at risk.

Just to be clear, incitement is not democracy, and as a society we mustn't allow these activities in our midst, because granting these types of actions legitimacy is akin to a powder keg threatening the existence of the State of Israel.

In its report this week, B'Tselem says that people were killed, and it points an accusatory finger at Israel's security forces. Well, my friends, with all the sorrow that it entails, it happens that in war people are indeed killed, and we must not treat Palestinian rioting as benign protests. We must not believe that rocks or glass bottles are less severe than the IDF's crowd dispersal methods, and mustn't be led astray by the false representations portrayed in reports by radical groups seeking to harm society in general and the IDF in particular.

The scary thing is that in recent years, the activities of some of these radical organizations have intensified, even becoming life-threatening. It's arrived at the point that often, on too many occasions, I find myself, as a commander of soldiers and as someone responsible for his subordinates, amazed at the lengths these groups go to hurt IDF soldiers and officers.

In recent years, coinciding with the development of social media networks, anonymous groups with a clear agenda have utilized these viral platforms. Time and again, soldiers involved in operations — to which we send them — have had their personal information, including photos, posted online with the intent of encouraging acts of retribution against them.

My colleagues and I in Consensus (an organization for the protection of IDF soldiers in the public and media spheres), which comprises hundreds of reserve soldiers and officers, stand against these groups whose main agenda is to incite against IDF soldiers. Our organization considers the defense of these soldiers, who have been sent to the battlefront, to be the vanguard of our activity, with the goal of making it clear to our troops and commanders that Israeli society stands firmly behind them and is providing them with the support they need to carry out their blessed duties.

Back to the B'Tselem report: The IDF Spokesperson's Unit responded correctly to the one-sided report by pointing out the obvious; namely, that the report was tendentious and authored by people whose familiarity with the reality on the ground is doubtful at best.

Unlike B'Tselem's staff, I know the reality in the field, having felt the protests and clashes first hand. My colleagues and I have stood at the forefront of the fight, and I can say with certainty that IDF soldiers act with level-headedness, responsibility and moderation when meeting the dangers and difficulties facing them during their life-threatening operations. For this, I salute them.

The writer is the CEO of Consensus, an organization for the protection of IDF soldiers in the public and media spheres.

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