Ben Ari: Eisner Was 'Stabbed in the Back'
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) on Israel's 64th Independence Day sent a letter of support to Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, who was removed from his post as deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade for striking an ISM anarchist from Denmark with his rifle.
"We all feel the wound of betrayal, the knife stuck in your back by leaders of defeat," Ben Ari wrote. "But despite the hard feelings, I think this is a seminal event. This event casts a light on the decay of values and morals in the IDF."
"In Amona, deputy IDF chief Yair Naveh, ordered the use of clubs. The result was hundreds of wounded, some who remain disabled even today. No one claimed this was not in the spirit of the IDF - and that was against Jews. But your error is compounded by the fact that you beat the enemies of Israel.
"Since the Oslo Accords were signed the IDF has become the army of low intensity against the enemy while concentrating on making war on Jews building outposts. This is an unforgiveable sin.
"IDF values today are built on a hypocritical consumerist religion, which preaches submission and turning the other cheek. It seems George Orwell's 1984 is more realistic than ever: Surrender is victory, defeat is the pride, laxity is heroism.
"According to them you need to embrace the anti-Semites and surrender the field - because that will photograph well! To them that will decide Israel's fate. This is the IDF in full decay and it cannot judge you.
"You are a hero who is devoted to the value of victory and fidelity, which find no home in the army of Netanyahu and Gantz. They prefer officers like Ehud Barak. He eschewed every difficult decision lest the taint stick to him and harm his chances of promotion.
"Now, a great responsibility has come upon you. To lead and demand change and a return to the values of the IDF. I urge you to establish an Institute of Jewish Heroism, which will teach Jewish pride. It will teach our enemies that we will speak with a rifle or shotgun butt rather than give up parts of our homeland," Ben Ari concluded.
The incident that led to Eisner's removal from his post occurred on April 14 when a group of foreign and Arab cyclists sought to block a main road near Jericho to protest Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria.
Critics of Eisner's dismissal from his post – through he remains in the IDF with the same rank – were quick to note the video of the incident uploaded to the Internet was clearly edited in such a way as to cast Eisner in the worst possible light.
The altercation came at the end of nearly two hours of heated confrontation between protesters and soldiers, but the video began with Eisner striking the activist.
Eisner subsequently told military investigators that two of his fingers had been broken in an attack by the Danish campaigner before he retaliated with his weapon. A medical examination confirmed at least one of Eisner's fingers was indeed broken during the demonstration.
A second video released on April 20 – which critics say was also clearly edited – showed Eisner striking other activists with his rifle.
Eisner ran into further controversy when a private conversation he had with a friend was taped and broadcast on Channel 10.
In the conversation, Eisner leveled sharp criticism for IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz and Central Command commander Nitzan Alon, who he said were more concerned with looking good than completing the mission.
It remains unknown if Eisner, whose career could be destroyed by openly criticizing his superior officers, was aware the private conversation was being recorded by a third party.
Gantz – who joined Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres in condemning Eisner before the initial investigation into the incident was complete – said Thursday "His comments were unfortunate, irrespective of his reasons."
However, Gantz also softened his previous stance saying Eisner made a "mistake," and "I'm not ready to decide his fate and end his career, but I cannot simply ignore the incident, either."
The decision to remove Eisner from his post – which Gantz made after the investigation was complete – has been unpopular with the majority of Israelis, who feel senior military and political officials spoke too quickly and hung Eisner out to dry in public.