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Watch-Women Complain, IDF Orders Biblical Verse Removed

Soldiers were ordered to redesign their regiment sign at the checkpoint at which they serve – and to leave out a Biblical verse deemed “offensive."
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/4/2009, 10:48 AM / Last Update: 11/4/2009, 10:59 AM

Israel news photo

Soldiers have been ordered to redesign their regiment sign at the checkpoint at which they serve – and to leave out a Biblical verse deemed “offensive.”

Arutz-7’s Shimon Cohen reports that the soldiers of Batallion 13 of the Golani Brigade decorated the Shomron checkpoint at Hawara, where they spend most of their days and nights, with a special sign indicating their pride in their regiment. The famous Golani oak tree insignia is flanked by a soldier aiming his gun, with the digits of the number 13 on either side, aside an Israeli flag. On top appears part of a verse from Psalms 18, which deals with King David’s thanks to G-d for having helped him fight his enemies; the verse reads, “I did not return until they were destroyed.”

The beginning of the verse reads, “I pursued my enemies and overtook them.” The soldiers explained that the verse is appopriate in that it refers to enemies such as terrorists, and that the objective of their checkpoint activity is to stop them from carrying out their plans to murder Israelis.

Women of MachsomWatch, however – an extremist left-wing group that sends representatives to various checkpoints to “supervise” the soldiers’ behavior – give the verse another interpretation. They complained to the IDF commanders that the verse is offensive to the Arab population of the Palestinian Authority and demanded that the sign be taken down.

The army agreed, and the sign has been removed.

In response to Arutz-7’s query as to why the army did not choose to go by the accepted meaning of the verse as referring to the country’s enemies, an IDF spokesman explained, “The sign in question, which was placed at a control point, was taken down in order to avoid offense to a population sector and to prevent distress on the part of the local residents.”

Cohen added, “I tried to understand why the army chose to understand the verse as referring to innocent people, instead of the enemies that are clearly mentioned there. I further noted that the verse, in Biblical Hebrew, is not something that most PA Arabs can be expected to understand or be offended by. The response was that as far as the army is concerned, there is a fear the a population sector will be offended and distressed and therefore the sign was taken down."

"In short," Cohen concluded, "the women of MachsomWatch felt insulted in the name of the Arabs, and therefore the IDF folded the sign, the flag and the verse.”

MachsomWatch Women's Activity
MachsomWatch women have been involved in several incidents that prompted their removal from some checkpoints in the Shechem (Nablus) area. In May of this year, a MachsomWatch woman climbed the security fence to receive a package from an Arab. When she saw the soldiers, she reportedly threw the package back over the fence and fled the scene.

In September 2006, parents of a checkpoint soldier filed a complaint against his commander, saying he had caved in to MachsomWatch women’s pressure and issued an "illegal order that endangered soldiers and citizens." The incident occurred when a suspiciously-dressed Arab man arrived at a checkpoint, standing out by wearing a suit on a hot day. The soldiers wished to have him lift his shirt, in accordance with procedure, to prove he was not wearing an explosives vest. MachsomWatch women, however, phoned the commander and convinced him to order his soldiers not to do so. "He is a respectable man; you can see that he's OK," the women said.

Possibly the most serious incident occurred when a soldier was killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint after he did not inspect him closely. The soldier's father later related that his son, just two days previously, had complained that left-wing women harassed him and other soldiers when they searched a suspicious Arab. The father said that his son had been "intimidated" by the women's criticism.