So spoke Elie this morning as we were driving in. For a change, I was driving and he was reading the newspaper. He would laugh at a cartoon and then explain it to me (including the cultural references I don’t always get). There was a cartoon of Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman sitting with someone else – I think the Labor Minister. Bibi says, “the whole world is against us” and the Labor Minister responds, “yes, even the nurses.” The nurses in Israel are on strike and Elie found the cartoon entertaining…
And then he got to an article about some soldiers who had left base without permission. They were driving away when they accidentally hit someone and in fear of being caught, ran. They were tracked down, though at first the news reported that the incident might have been an attempted attack. “Stupid,” Elie commented. “They should have stayed and turned themselves in.” Elie has never been one to accept weakness easily and something was done, responsibility had to be taken.
And then he got to an article that disturbed him greatly. Photographers filmed a demonstration in which Arabs were pelting soldiers with rocks. Rather than stand/respond, the soldiers were ordered to run for cover. Israel is doing all it can do to hold the ceasefire; and so soldiers are being given orders to withhold fire – at almost all costs.
“They should have shot in the air, not run. And if the Arabs still were throwing rocks at them, I’d have shot one in the legs to show them we were serious.”
“You’d go to jail if that went against orders.”
“I’d rather go to jail,” Elie responded – than appear weak and encourage more violence. This is the reality of what will happen now. Emboldened by their “victory” – more soldiers will be attacked.
The soldiers responded that they ran because the photographers were there and the world would scream about soldiers responding to rocks with bullets. Of course, the photographers and the world would ignore the fact that while the Arabs did not care what damage their rocks would do, the soldiers would have been firing in the air in warning; or at legs to stop the assault while minimizing damage.
Today or tomorrow, more Arabs will attack soldiers because they believe the soldiers will run again. They won’t this time. The next commander won’t be so stupid as to order them to flee. And so soldiers may be hurt; Arabs may be hurt.
This is the nature of violent confrontation. The problem is, however, that the solution to being confronted with violence is rarely to run. This is a lesson Israel has learned again and again. Run and they will chase. Stand and fight, show strength, and more often than not, they will back down.
I don’t like hearing from Elie that he’d rather go to jail. I just wish I didn’t agree with him.