Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When A Soldier Goes On TV

On May 14, I participated as an audience observer in Tim Sebastian's New Arab Debates' series in Jerusalem on the question "MOTION: The occupation is destroying Israel".
It has made some waves if only, unfortunately, due to a soldier sympathetic to "Breaking the Silence" who asked a question about which Gideon Levy wrote a column.  The video:

I even managed to ask a question, at 18:50.

And Tim shook my hand after the show, recalling my appearance on his HardTalk program, back in May 2003.
Getting back to the soldier, Shachar Berrin

Levy has him speaking so:
“...Just the other week, when some Border Police soldiers were rough with Christian tourists, another soldier, a colleague, said she couldn’t believe what they were doing: ‘I mean, come on, they are people, not Palestinians.’ I think that resonates throughout the occupied territories. I serve in the Jordan Valley, and we see every day how soldiers… look at these people not as human beings, not as someone who is equal, but someone who is less than them. And to think that we can just leave the racism and the xenophobia – that they will only be racist when they humiliate Palestinians – of course not… I think that once you are conditioned to think something, you bring it back with you and that it deeply affects Israeli society and causes it, as our president says, to be more racist.”

At his Facebook page, Dani Dayan relates to the fuss and that in his first part, the soldier made unsupported claims, painting with a wide swash of accusation, that most of the army is evil and thn withdrew to make a claim about kicking kids away and not all to shoot, if being bothered.  But Haartz pushed on, and today has an editorial on it.  It's main point:

that same damage from the occupation, against which Berrin warned, pursued him to a conference hall in Jerusalem and then sent him to prison for a week. In the words of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, “The soldier was tried for speaking to the media without authorization and approval, as required by army orders.” Or, put more simply, the soldier was tried and jailed for telling the truth, contrary to the army’s orders.

That formulation is, of course, a perversion.  The rule of not talking to the press applies to all ranks, in all situations and has nothing to do with the topic and certainly not with any so-called 'occupation'. If we take the Haaretz logic to its conclusion, the Bat Ayin soldier, Eldad Sela, who revealed, it is charged, army plans to dismantle outposts, was also simply expressing the truth and is unjustly being punished?  And by the way, he is accused of espionage, a much more severe punishable crime.  Or is only anti-occupation actions and words to be granted a special treatment of unlimited liberty?


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