Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back Into the Water

Note to Gaza Flotilla activists: you may be able to buy your IDF impounded laptop on Ebay if you're lucky.

Ynet has a lengthy expose in Hebrew here about the arrest of Israeli soldiers for trafficking in stolen laptops – with the high possibility that the laptops came from one of the ships of the Gaza Flotilla. If true, then "the most moral army of the world" will soon be prosecuting soldiers for stealing laptops from human rights activists. Of course, nothing new here; if you can steal from Gazans, you should be able to steal credit cards and laptops from folks who are coming to help the Gazans.

You can read a short version in Haaretz here.

Pity the poor folks in the IDF Spokesperson's office. After running around telling foreign journalists that Eden Abergil's Facebook posting was disgusting and atypical (a view not, apparently, shared by the majority of Israelis, or at least those who answer polls, in the Jerusalem Post), they now have to deal with this.

It's not easy advocating for the IDF nowadays.

Update: Captain Renault of the IDF once again reacts: "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment!" Read about it here

Update: Now the supporters and detractors of Eden Abergil are running neck-in-neck in the Jerusalem Post poll. Great going, hasbaraniks! (In fairness, the poll is open to readers outside of Israel, so presumably there are still leftwing readers outside of Israel disgusted by Edn Abergil's Facebook page.)

 

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please explain to me why this is wrong.

It's just part of the spoils of war.

I have heard of World War II soldiers shipping jeeps home piece by piece.

Jerry Haber said...

Taking laptops from a civilian ship in international waters and selling them fits into one of two categories: piracy or looting.

Piracy is forbidden by...oh, hell, just see Pirates of the Caribbean.

Looting in war is forbidden by The Hague Convention of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. In Israel's case, it is forbidden by the IDF Code of Ethics.

Spoils of war, eh? Do you have any problem with the Germans looting French art during World War II, or was that also ok in your book?

As for the Americans soldiers ripping off jeeps...well, just goes to show that you can act unjustly in a just war. And against the rules of your own army. Guys like that should have been dishonorably discharged.

moti said...

Also, re: the spoils of war--wars have an ending. These situations (I'm thinking of Aberjil's photos also) are occurring in circumstances (military control of a large civilian population) that are 50 years old and still open-ended.

bacci40 said...

jerry,

the soldiers were arrested and charged

that is what a moral army does when one of theirs steps out of line

keep up the rechilus jerry...gives you more to do teshuva for

btw, what do you think about your pal dickie boy (i know you are here dickie) taking one of my posts about him totally out of context to make it seem as if i threatened his life?

Peter Schwartz said...

This whole "Israel is the most moral army in the world" is a bit hard to unravel.

I have to say, Jerry, when I read about the credit card with 50 euros on it or something, my heart sank.

Aren't you scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something ELSE wrong with the IDF?

This wouldn't merit two lines in an obscure Asian newspaper if we weren't working this meme.

OF COURSE it's wrong and, if Bacci isn't just blowing poison kisses, the IDF punished the soldiers. Doesn't that make them--fair's fair--a pretty darn responsive military willing to punish its wrongdoers?

Maybe you'll say, "But what about Gaza?" Okay, but then stick to Gaza. Complaining about stolen credit cards and laptops has the odd impact of trivializing Gaza, at least in my mind.

It's almost like you're saying that Gaza wasn't enough to make your point; you need to thrown in credit cards worth 50 euros to nail it.

I don't know...

Who knows, even with all of its faults, the IDF might STILL be the most moral army in the world. After all, the next runner up is probably the US, and how many people has it killed and photographed and invaded--just for starters?

How does one even measure who's the most moral and who isn't?

Surely, we can't count armies that are never put to the test, can we? Like say the army of Luxembourg.

Maybe the best thing for the IDF to do is to quit saying this. Then, no one would have a leg to complain on when they do stuff other armies do. Then folks could concentrate on the acts that are right and those that are wrong; praise the former and correct the latter.

Both Jews and non-Jews are trapped in this idea that, somehow, Jews are supposed to be better than everyone else--when the evidence is so much against it.

Jerry Haber said...

Peter,

Please go to the Breaking the Silence website and read some of the testimonies there. Of course, in the greater scheme of things, looting credit cards and laptops from human rights activists, or taking trophy pictures of bound civilians, or kicking Arab civilians out of their house in order to watch a soccer game on television, on trashing a doctor's office and leaving a pile of excrement in the middle of the room, or smashing computers and writing on the wall, "Golani Rules," or bulldozing cars, or taking pot shots out of boredom at cars and windows in Hebron -- these things are small potatoes compared to dropping white phosphorus, bombing mosques during prayers, or UN schools, etc.

For every soldier punished by the IDF, hundreds go unpunished because their misdeeds go unreported. For every Palestinian abused by an errant IDF soldier, and where that soldier is punished, hundreds are abused who get no restititution. Much of this is documented by human rights and Palestinian rights organizations like B'Tselem, Adalah, Breaking the Silence, etc.

Perhaps that's not so bad a percentage when there are thousands of soldiers. Nobody is claiming that things could not be worse. But this has been going on for forty three years. With no end in sight. If that's the price to pay for the 1948 state, I say let's start looking for alternatives.

However, your point is well taken. Instead of focusing on stealing credit cards and laptops from human rights activists, which was not, apparently, widespread, I should have give more attention to more serious problems, such as the the treatment of Palestinian minors in IDF military courts, as laid out by Amira Hass here

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/amira-hass-eight-palestinian-youths-and-the-crime-they-didn-t-commit-1.306641

A more comprehensive article has not appeared in English yet.

Peter Schwartz said...

I get your point, Jerry. But look at the response you got from Anonymous 1. That's what EYE am talking about.

Now, if you're going to say that that's what you're going to get from Anonymous 1 no matter what, then okay there's nothing I can say.

But you yourself indicate this kind of behavior is forbidden by the IDF Code of Ethics.

You need to dig deeper in what you say...

Snark and sarcasm are a waste of time, IMO.

Jerry Haber said...

Anonymous 1, bacci40, and Peter Schwartz

I put you all on one side with the people who say, "What's the big deal? Looting is a trivial crime, and anyway, the IDF is taking care of it."

And on the other side I put the following person, who was quote as saying,

"If the suspicions prove to be true, there must be a serious problem in the IDF in terms of values," a senior Israel Defense Forces officer said Thursday morning following Ynet's revelation on Wednesday that an officer is suspected of stealing laptops from the highly controversial aid flotilla to Gaza and selling them along with other soldiers.

"In such a case, we will not be able to say that these are just weeds," the senior officer added.

On your side are the apologists for Israel who can't understand what the big deal is.

On the other side is the senior IDF officer quoted in YNET's artcle who thinks that there is a serious problem in IDF in terms of values if the story is true (and apparently it is.)

Maybe you should ask him what the big deal is, not me. I clearly can't get through to you.

Let me try by another example, fortunately not relevant to the IDF.

Rape is forbidden by professional army codes of conduct; but if there is an army where there are lots of rapes, and those rapists are punished, does that make it a good army?

I would rather the IDF have no code of ethics and its soldiers behave ethically than the reverse situation. It's not the code that counts; it's whether the code is followed.

Peter Schwartz said...

Jerry, here's MY side:

I don't understand not making distinctions among crimes in terms of their seriousness.

If you say that white phosphorous, rape, and stealing credit cards are all on par as signs of moral decay, then, well, not sure what to say to you.

As for codes vs. actual behavior, I'd say the codes are there--and all law is there--because it's understand that people tend not to behave so well on a reasonably frequent basis.

It would be nice if people did the right thing "naturally"--but they don't. I mean, why have halacha if natural goodness is a reasonable expectation?

Awesome job, BTW, lumping folks together. I come to these discussions with more questions than answers and a mind un-made-up about a lot of things.

If you're looking for a cheering crowd and don't want to be questioned about what you say, just say the word, and I'll keep my questions to myself--or voice them elsewhere.

Jerry Haber said...

Peter S.

I am not looking for a cheering crowd. I want to be questioned by lefties and by righties who have a minimum of reading comprehension.

For example, I wrote:

"Of course, in the greater scheme of things, looting credit cards and laptops from human rights activists, or taking trophy pictures of bound civilians, or kicking Arab civilians out of their house in order to watch a soccer game on television, on trashing a doctor's office and leaving a pile of excrement in the middle of the room, or smashing computers and writing on the wall, "Golani Rules," or bulldozing cars, or taking pot shots out of boredom at cars and windows in Hebron -- these things are small potatoes compared to dropping white phosphorus, bombing mosques during prayers, or UN schools, etc."

You summed my position as follows:

"If you say that white phosphorous, rape, and stealing credit cards are all on par as signs of moral decay, then, well, not sure what to say to you."

Now since you COMPLETELY misrepresented my position, turning what I explicitly said on its head, I don't know what to infer. That you are not a native reader of English? Maybe you never heard of the phrase "small potatoes compared with" and interpreted it to mean "identical"?

Or were you just deliberately misrepresenting me because you had nothing better to say?

I appreciate debating topics with YBD because, though I don't agree with him, he doesn't misrepresent me. And by the way, some of the lefties on this blog also disagree with me and give good arguments.

Sorry to talk this way during Elul -- but it's frustrating. A lot of bloggers don't answer comments; a lot of other bloggers don't even have comments. I enjoy the give and take with commenters but not when there is such a lack of comprehension.

Peter Schwartz said...

Jerry, the problem is I read English too well and understand rhetorical devices too well.

But I'm not going to argue this further because in the BIG PICTURE, you are right about the IDF's sins.

I had a small point: Putting credit cards and laptops onto the heap trivialized the much more serious charges against the IDF.

You know how many American soldiers took home trophy swastikas, lugers, flags, hari kari knives and anything else they could haul away?

Are you going to give them all dishonorable discharges?

Maybe...if you're in the most moral army in the world.

Anyway, I applaud your work. Truly. You're doing much more than I am to make this a better world.

lives in israel said...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Jerry Haber said...

ives in israel has left a new comment on your post "Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back Into ...":

your lack of intellectual honesty is breathtaking how could you possibly imply that a survey on the jpost website gives any insight whatsoever into the opinions of the israeli populace

you know full well not a single hebrew speaking israeli even knows what is in the ridiculous fish wrap called the jpost

but no end to the intellectual shortcuts in service of your rhetoric


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back Into ...":

a view not, apparently, shared by the majority of Israelis, or at least those who answer polls, in the Jerusalem Post)

professor do you actually feel that an opt in poll on the jpost website tells you what "the majority of israelis think"

1. opt in polls on a website (with no way to eliminate "ballot stuffing") are meaningless as a serious tool of gauging opinion in ALL cases

2. you know full well that no hebrew reading israeli ever looks at the jpost website

is this the way you conduct academic research ?

maybe you can put an opt in poll on your website on whether israel is a militaristic colonialist racist state, publish the reuslts and tell us it indicates what a cross section of world jewry thinks on the matter