Tuesday, February 07, 2006

At Last! - My Amona Post

I’ve been trying to come up with something coherent – not to mention original, interesting, and important – to say about last week’s demolition of nine houses at the Amona settlement outpost, and the violent confrontation between Israeli security forces sent to perform the demolition and the many protestors who came to oppose them. This has proven to be very difficult for me – not because I’m choked up with emotion about the incident, but simply because I’ve been unable to construct a comprehensible, reliable picture of what happened there.

Normally, I have no great difficulty in assimilating the news. I gather information from various sources, correct for known biases, add in my own experience, observations, and general knowledge, ask questions where necessary – and it’s possible in most cases to feel that I know more or less what happened. This time, though, I found that the picture simply wouldn’t come clear for me. One set of accounts – emanating from the police and many journalists – has the police acting with admirable restraint while being pelted with stones and other projectiles by settler youth who came a-purpose to make the confrontation violent. Another set of accounts – emanating from anti-demolition protestors, their supporters, and some news media – has the police engaging in wanton, unprovoked, and extreme violence against protestors who were, for the most part, completely innocent.

Were I not a raging centrist, I could make my own cognitive life easier by dismissing one side’s version as the product of extreme bias or even out-and-out dishonesty. Unfortunately, I can’t convince myself that anything so simple and convenient is true. Many of the people accusing the police of unnecessary brutality are thoughtful, principled, and careful in their judgments; but so are many of the people who accuse the Amona defenders of being primarily at fault. Both versions of the story can’t be correct, can they? It would almost seem that there were two different Amona incidents on two separate planets – both of which claim to be Planet Earth.

Let’s assume that the people involved (or at least most of them) are telling the truth as they see it. How are they seeing such different and contradictory truths?

When I contacted one of my fellow bloggers privately about this question, s/he asked in response: “How many good, honest, thoughtful left-wingers were actually at Amona, or had kids and neighbors there?” The answer, of course, is “few, if any” – but there were certainly plenty of cops there, many of whom report that they felt endangered. My colleague also reminded me that TV Channel 10’s reporter, Roni Daniel, reported that the police used unnecessary force, while Channel 1’s reporter, Chaim Yavin, claimed that police lives were definitely in danger. While my blogger friend clearly believes that the police were principally at fault, I can’t agree that only the right-wing version of the story is credible.

*          *          *

The human brain is a pattern-finding machine: it is hard-wired to make sense of a chaotic flood of sensory inputs by fitting them into schemas and narratives. This built-in programming is so powerful that it can lead us to perceive patterns that aren’t really there – for example, we can often see faces in random designs, simply because we have extensive neural circuitry that enables us to evaluate facial expressions without having to think consciously about them, and which operates even when there isn’t really a face to look at. Faced with complex situations, we simplify them in order to grasp their “essentials” – which may be an excellent survival trait for dealing with emergencies, but can create very distorted perceptions of the real complexity of the world.

The Amona incident involved several thousand participants: as I recall, something like 4,000 protestors faced 3,000 or more police and soldiers. (I’ll correct those numbers as necessary and appropriate; approximations are good enough for now.) The physical confrontation took place over several hours, and was the culmination of many months of legal maneuvering. Roughly 150 protestors and 50 police sustained injuries serious enough to require medical attention. Looking at these numbers – and remembering how the human mind copes with complexity – I can begin to understand how the dissonant accounts of Amona came about.

First, let’s look at one of the complaints frequently raised against Ehud Olmert’s decision to go ahead with the forcible demolition at Amona: that settler leaders had offered a “reasonable compromise” early that morning, which would have made the whole confrontation unnecessary; and that Olmert rejected this compromise – presumably because he wanted to look “tough” for his potential voters in the run-up to Knesset elections. I won’t attempt to judge whether the offered compromise was indeed “reasonable” – other than to state that nothing offered to me before 7:30 in the morning seems reasonable, except maybe the chance to go back to sleep for a few hours. The important point here is that whether the compromise offer was in fact reasonable, or indeed credible, depends in part on how one perceives the process that led up to the final decision to act forcibly. Had the whole legal-political process lasted a week or a month, such a last-minute compromise offer might have been acceptable as a way of resolving the conflict in good faith . But after a legal process lasting many months (and including many delaying tactics), the same offer could well be construed as yet another insincere effort to force a delay, in the hope that the promised days before the houses would be moved could be turned into weeks and months, and perhaps even years. (It’s also worth noting that at least some of the protestors were themselves highly critical of the compromise offer – they explicitly rejected a non-violent resolution of the conflict, at least until things started getting rough.) So whether a “reasonable compromise” was in fact offered and rejected depends, in large part, on who you are. Long, complicated legal processes are something like Rorschach blots – what you see in them depends largely on your own viewpoint.

*          *          *

Out of about 4,000 protestors, about 150 sustained injuries requiring medical attention; of these injuries, only a small number were serious and only one was at all life-threatening. While I don’t want to minimize the suffering of those who were hurt, I think it should be emphasized that fewer than five per cent of the protestors were injured; given that there were almost as many police and soldiers on hand as there were protestors – and further, given that any policeman who was excessively violent is likely to have hurt more than one protestor – it seems clear that the vast majority of the confrontation took place at a level of violence below that which would cause serious injury to protestors.

Let’s assume that out of about 150 injuries sustained by protestors, around 50 were “legitimate” – that is, they would have occurred in a “normal” civil-disobedience/riot scenario, without any excess police brutality. (This seems reasonable and even conservative to me, given the number of people involved.) This leaves us with an “excess” of something like 100 injuries which we can ascribe to unnecessary police violence. Assuming that one “bad” cop, on average, would cause three injuries (a figure that seems reasonable, given the accounts I’ve read and the videos I’ve seen, and given that the protestors were not wearing armor or helmets), all these “excess” injuries would have been caused by around 33 cops – in other words, about one per cent of all the security-force personnel present in Amona.

Performing the same sort of analysis of police injuries is complicated by the fact that the police were wearing protective gear (which means that far fewer police were injured than would have been the case without armor); and further by the fact that while injuries to protestors were caused principally by batons and the like, wielded by hand, injuries to police were caused mostly by thrown and dropped objects. The first complication means that many more police were potential casualties than the fifty who were actually injured; the second complication means that a relatively small number of protestors likely accounted for most of the police injuries. I can’t give precise numbers with any confidence, but it seems reasonable to assume that as few as forty or even twenty protestors may have accounted for the majority of police injuries. (Of course, a few of the police injuries were probably “legitimate” – that is, the normal injuries you would expect to see in a civil-disobedience incident of this size and severity.)

Tentatively, then, we can say that 99 per cent of the security-force personnel at Amona were not directly involved in excessive violence (except, perhaps, as targets for thrown stones); and 99 per cent of the protestors acted more or less within accepted bounds of vigorous civil disobedience. This explains why pretty much everyone who was there perceives his own side as being in the right: The “bad” one per cent of the opposing side was much more “worthy” of attention, as it posed a threat; while most participants were themselves relatively innocent, and would if anything tend to ignore or downplay the few “bad apples” on their own side of the confrontation. Indeed, it’s likely that many participants never even saw the roughnecks on their own side.

*          *          *

Where does all this tedious analysis lead me? My conclusions are simple enough.

Both sides were right, mostly.

In a highly-charged conflict involving thousands of people on both sides, only a small proportion of the participants were injured, and the vast majority acted within the acceptable bounds of a civil-disobedience scenario.

Both sides are wrong, mostly.

Left-wingers, government spokesmen, and others are wrong to the extent that they categorize all, or even most of the protestors as “violent hooligans”. Right-wingers are wrong to categorize all or most of the policemen and soldiers at Amona as excessively violent. Given the build-up, this incident could have had much worse results than it did; and rather than castigating ourselves, our government, our society, or anyone else for what happened, perhaps we should congratulate ourselves – quietly, of course – for the fact that we all handled this as well as we did.

Now can we talk about something else?

(This post can also be found at the Guns and Butter Blog.)

Categories: , , , .


At Tue Feb 07, 12:59:00 PM GMT+2, Anonymous Scott said...

Raging centrist. Yeah I bet.

As an American Christian Zionist married to a Jewish woman and as a couple who donate large sums to Israel we need to know what went on at Amona. I've read all the blogs on both sides. I've read just about everything Haaretz and the J Post has put out on the incident. Really I don't need to go much further than the first set of pics put up by Sultan Knish. We will no longer be sending any money to Israel. It has been a significant sacrifice to send as much as we have all these years. Four generations of my wifes familly have done this and my wife's father's father made aliya with his whole family in the thirties. My wife and I no long see Israel as Israel. It has become a haven for irreligious leftists and their useful idiots. Jews in name only.

We spent three weeks in Israel in 2003. We have thought of making a second home in Jerusalem with the idea of possible permanence. We had dreams of living in a nation, unlike our own, where unity flourished and resistence to the 'slouching towards Gomorrah' spirit of the West was not in sway. I found Israel very depressing. A country that doesn't even care to pick up it's trash or hide its dumps from view. I've only seen so much trash everywhere in Tijuana Mexico. We will not be returning. Your nation has just about lost its soul, from where I stand, and has devolved to such a state that people actually can argue the merits of beating children with large clubs and trampling them under horse. I am disgusted and utterly revolted. My love for the once Holy Land has died. I'm sure you will go on and elect this subhuman Olmert and continue down the slimey slope you have chosen and over the precipice right into the pit of sheol.

My advice to any God Fearing Jew would be to get out.

At Tue Feb 07, 01:19:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Scott, I've seen your comments on other people's blogs - and I note that every time you comment, you mention (in almost exactly the same words) the huge amounts of money that you and your family have contributed to Israel at great personal sacrifice, and how you plan to stop contributing because you're not happy with what Israel's like these days, yada yada yada.

Keep your money. If you gave it thinking that it bought you the right to decide what Israel should be like or how Israelis should think, then you might as well have thrown it away.

Is Israel "a haven for irreligious leftists"? To an extent, yes. It's been like that for seventy years or more, Scott. What did you think Israel was - a big yeshiva? Secular leftists built this country, Scott, while most (but not all) Orthodox Jews rejected the whole Zionist idea. As far as being "Jews in name only", I'm afraid that you have no idea what a Jew is. There are plenty of Jews here who never set foot inside a synagogue, cheerfully eat treif, violate the Sabbath, and put their lives on the line defending their country and their people - which makes them better Jews than any fat "frum" American sitting in his armchair writing checks and bitching over the Internet about how we're not Jewish enough for him.

I'm sorry to come down hard on you; I really don't like using my comment pages like this. But you've pushed one of my "hot buttons" - I have a major problem with armchair Zionists, especially those who think that because they write some checks, attend a demonstration or two, and read some blogs, that they know what's best for Israel.

People like Ze'ev, WestBankMama, Jameel, and so on may disagree with me about a lot of stuff, but they live here - they've made the real sacrifices (among others, earning maybe half what they did back in the States), taken some real risks, and paid their dues as I have. In other words, they've earned the right to argue about what Israel should be; you have not.

At Tue Feb 07, 03:24:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Don -

On your comment about last minute "reasonable compromise" -- that's exactly what happened two weeks ago in Hevron. Even though a long legal battle had been raging for months, and the government decided it was time to evict the Jews from the kasbah homes, a last minute solution was agreed upon which effectively prevented what happened at Amona.

If Olmert wanted to, the majority settlers were open (and willing) to negotiate, and this entire mess could have been avoided.

So, what did Olmert gain? Why did he do it?

At Tue Feb 07, 04:06:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi Jameel!

As I understand it, one of the problems with the compromise offered regarding Amona (according to those who rejected the compromise) was that it was completely impossible to carry out what was suggested within the time-frame suggested; also, supposedly there wasn't anyplace in Ofra where the nine houses could be re-erected without going outside the settlement's municipal boundaries. I'm not in a position to confirm or deny the truth of these objections. Still, it's worth noting that the Hebron compromise involved moving only people, plus maybe some furniture and so on; while the Amona compromise involved moving entire houses. So the two situations aren't directly comparable.

Past negotiations between illegal-outpost settlers and the government have not been terribly successful from the government's standpoint; at this stage, I think government figures are within their rights to feel skeptical about the sincerity of offers to dismantle outposts "voluntarily". And even if the settlement-movement leaders negotiate in good faith, they can't compel obedience from all the youth of the movement. Just as Israel lost interest in negotiating with Abu Mazen once it became clear that he couldn't (or wouldn't) actually fight the terrorists, there's little point in negotiating compromises with a settler leadership that can't or won't lead effectively.

* * *

It's entirely possible that Ehud Olmert had political motivations for rejecting the Amona compromise. Given that he's a professional politician and elections are coming up in a few weeks, he'd have to be insane or stupid to make such a decision (one way or the other) without political motives. Political motives are his job!

I think it should also be pointed out that "political motives" are hardly foreign to the entire settlement enterprise. Settlements were established largely for political purposes, both internal (throwing sops to the Right) and external (creating "bargaining chips" which could later, theoretically, be negotiated away in return for concessions of some sort). The idea that decisions regarding settlements should all of a sudden be made without regard for politics is - you should pardon the expression - a bit like an old prostitute rediscovering her virtue once her looks are gone.

At Tue Feb 07, 09:14:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger westbankmama said...

Thank you Spock. If I may be so bold, as a human, and a female, and a Jewish mother, to "emote" for a bit:


Please look at the video on Joe Settler's blog.

At Tue Feb 07, 11:04:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi WestBankMama -

Forgive me for being a bit (OK, more than a bit) numerical in my thinking. As you'll have noticed if you've followed links from my site, I'm a bit of a statistician - mostly counting dead people on both sides of the "Intifada". I've also been known to do things like calculate (in my head) how many teaspoonfuls it would take to empty all the Earth's oceans. I'm not proud of this; it's just how my mind works.

I'm well aware that most of the demonstrators at Amona were adolescents. I'm equally aware that these adolescents came to Amona knowing that there was going to be a confrontation, and knowing that the confrontation was expected to be violent. (It was all over the news for days in advance, as you may recall.) Presumably their parents knew as well. And just as there's no excuse for unnecessary violence or abuse (sexual or otherwise) by police in dealing with demonstrators, it's equally true (from my standpoint, at least) that these demonstrators had no valid business obstructing the police and army, who were there to carry out legal orders approved by our nation's government and Supreme Court. My sympathy for the injured is tempered by the fact that they came there in order to force the security forces to victimize them - at the very least, police and soldiers would have to man-handle them in order to get them out of the way and demolish the houses.

The fact remains that the vast majority on both sides of the confrontation were not injured, and the vast majority on both sides did not perform acts of severe violence. You're certainly welcome to emote about those who were hurt; but with everyone emoting all over the place about the incident, shouldn't somebody take the time to be analytical? To read most of the right-wing blog posts on the subject, you'd think that dozens of demonstrators had been killed and hundreds had been injured, and that nobody on the settler side threw so much as a pebble at the police. Somebody needs to look at things unemotionally once in a while; and to me it's very clear that while this was not a happy moment for the police or for the demonstrators, it also wasn't Israel's Kent State Massacre.

I looked at the video on Joe Settler's blog. I've seen other videos of the confrontation as well, and I note that all the videos I've seen seem to focus on the same few incidents. The footage taken inside one of the houses shows one or two cops beating up a couple of (unseen) people, and to all appearances this is indeed an instance of genuine abuse. There are also a few seconds of footage showing a horse running into someone - not on purpose, as far as I can tell. I've seen no footage of anyone being "trampled" or even kicked by a horse; nor have I seen footage showing cops other than the few in that one room being excessively violent.

As I wrote on your blog, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Clearly there were more than two or three abusive cops, just as there were protestors (who conveniently never appear on right-wing blogs) who threw stones and other projectiles at police. The fact remains that given the number of people on both sides of the confrontation at Amona, the violence could have been very much worse than it was. I have never negated your right to emote about what happened; but I see no reason for you to negate my right to analyze the incident in my own way. Emotions are wonderful things, but they have their limitations; the same is true of statistics. To understand what's going on around us, we need to emote and calculate.

At Tue Feb 07, 11:14:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Emmanuel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Tue Feb 07, 11:16:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Emmanuel said...


You are totally right when you say that these children are not chess pieces. Then why do you use them!? Sending children and teenagers to these kinds of protests and then crying about them getting hurt is cynical, hypocritical and pisses the hell out of me.

As I've already said in my post, parents and educators who let their kids go to these things should be investigated and possibly indicted for a form of child abuse!

At Wed Feb 08, 05:11:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger lisoosh said...

Hope you read this comment, you have no e-mail attached so I had to place this request here, I think you may be in a position to assist me.

I had a conversation over at Treppenwitz regarding the settler movement claims that the law is applied unevenly between Jews and Arabs in regard to house demolitions, frequently by claiming that Arab houses are never demolished. I pointed out that thousands of Arab houses hav been demolished. This is the ensuing conversation:

"David - A couple of Bedouin villages in the Negev were just recently demolished - tax paying IDF serving citizens.

Lisoosh... I could have predicted you would say that, and I would like to use an admittedly unfair argument: What would a raw statistical analysis based on the relative number of such government actions look like when overlaid on the Jewish and Arab populations where these laws are being unevenly enforced? I am not saying the government never turns its attentions to illegal Arab development... just that statistically the enforcement is hugely weighted against the illegal Jewish development.

David - Hate to be predictable, I'll have to come up with a surprise then.
Actually, I think a statistical analysis would be appropriate, is an excellent idea and not unfair at all. You could be proved right 100% and if the stats bear that out then I couldn't be happier.
How would you separate them out? Green line and over? And where would annexed portions of Jerusalem fit in? (Asked because they are not defined as a military zone.) You could e-mail me any information you have from the settler movement on illegal building/refusal to grant permits and demolitions. Hopefully there will be sufficient information on the other side from activist groups that can be confirmed (I'll have to work out how). So actually, as an intellectual challange and out of curiosity, I'll take you up on it.

Lisoosh... Here's the way I had in mind:

Illegal Jewish buildings or agricultural development anywhere (inside or outside the green line)

Illegal Arab buildings or agricultural development within the green line and within any area that has been annexed by Israel.

For the sake of analysis we're looking only at demolition, eviction or stop work orders as expressed as a % of the official Jewish and Arab populations in the areas I've described above. I posit that a disproportionately larger % of Jews have been subject to enforcement. Get to work. :-)

Ha Ha.
I'll start with buildings rather than agriculture because I'm not entirely sure how to get accurate information on that (if you have reliable sources please point me in the right direction). Though I'm willing to cede that there is probably greater activity on the Arab side just based on a rough assessment of their economy and culture.

There is a problem in comparing only annexed and green line areas on the Arab side and including settlements within the territories on the Jewish side because the territories are subject to some degree to military administration (whether or not you agree with that designation) and is subject to treaties and agreements that Israel makes on an international basis, the other areas are not. So I will separate them but will have to include Arab villages within the territories.
I would also like to include permits requested but denied, for both sides, partly because the Arab complaint is that they build illegally because they are not given sufficient permits so that would be interesting to verify.
I'll check administration rules for annexed areas.

Crap....hope this doesn't take forever to research. If you have info, hand it over because I can't search on this computer in Hebrew so have to work through English channels.

By the way - if I do have to eat a hat can it be of organic material???"

As you like statistics and unemotional analysis this should be right up your street, plus you must have access to more information than I do.
I could really use your help.

At Thu Feb 09, 04:38:00 PM GMT+2, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post, but tell me - where did you get your stats about injured police and children? Have you checked hospital records? I read that some 360 children were injured, and about 40 policemen. And apparently the supposed policeman that was seriously injured never made it to the hospital, even though 15-year-old Yechiam Eyal is still in serious, almost life-threatening condition [he regained consciousness only a day or two after he left the hospital].

BTW, these stats I quoted do not include the reports of sexual abuse of the teenage girls, which are just starting to come out now.

And although you mention that some of the protestors were throwing stones, many eyewitness reports - and not just from minors, but from adults who were IN AMONA - report that many people were beaten as soon as the police broke into the houses where they were sitting or lying on the floor - completely unprovoked! A boy I know was attacked & beaten by police even though he offered to leave the house voluntarily.

It is my fervent hope that the Knesset-initiated investigation will get to the bottom of the tremendous tragedies that took place at Amona, where many teenagers have been traumatized. Those figures you do not report, because there are no stats on them -- yet.

Finally, you may be interested to know that even the Jerusalem Post, not a particularly right-wing media source, has reported the following:


Simon of Jerusalem

At Thu Feb 09, 04:40:00 PM GMT+2, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should have posted "entered the hospital" in the brackets at the end of my first paragraph above.

-- Simon

At Thu Feb 09, 09:02:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi Simon -

The figure of around 200 total wounded, and around 3/4 of the wounded being protestors, is what's been generally reported. If you have a source for the figure of 360 injured protestors, please provide it - a figure that different from the "mainstream" one is a bit suspicious, although of course sometimes the "maverick" source is the correct one. I'll certainly look into it.

I also look forward to the results of an impartial (I hope!) inquiry into the Amona incident. I note that so far, the settlers' side of the story has gotten the most "play" in Blogland, partly because the settler-advocates got their videos edited and published very quickly (and also, I suspect, because the police don't have a very good English-language public-relations department). I'm quite eager to see what the videos taken by the police show; I'm given to understand that we may be able to see them within a few days.

You wrote: "...even the Jerusalem Post, not a particularly right-wing media source, has reported the following..."

This is incorrect. The piece you refer to is an Op-Ed written by one of the protestors, not a news report or editorial produced by Jerusalem Post staff. As such, it does not carry the Post's imprimatur as factually accurate. It is not correct to refer to an Op-Ed piece as something the publishing news outlet "reported".

At Fri Feb 10, 01:48:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Follow-up for Simon

Hi Simon -

Just as a follow-up to the numbers you mentioned, I see the following in today's (9-10 February) Jerusalem Post:

Around 250 people were injured in the clashes, including 82 policemen. Of the latter, 54 were hospitalized and all but two were discharged the same day. A teenage demonstrator's skull was fractured, and his mother said he had been hit by a police baton.

One border policeman, Alon Madar, 19, almost lost his sight after being hit by a piece of glass, while cavalry officer Peretz Margalit was injured in the leg by a stone. Both were hospitalized and released earlier this week.

A border policeman was stabbed with a makeshift weapon and lightly injured, as were policemen who were hit on the head by blocks and large stones. According to Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Supt. Shlomi Sagi, riot gear prevented their injuries from being more serious.

"The blocks hit them on the head, but they were wearing helmets, so the blows were only light," he said. "But they were still injured, and if they hadn't been protected by helmets and body armor, people would also have been killed."

This means that according to the Post, your figure of 360 injured "children" is double the correct figure, even assuming that all injured protestors were "children"; and your figure of 40 injured policemen is half the correct number. Ratio-wise, your figures have nine protestor injuries per police injury; the Post's figures show a two-to-one ratio, which is quite low considering that the police were wearing protective gear.

At Fri Feb 10, 04:06:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Ittay said...

Shalom Don. Your response to scott was one of the best comeback I have ever read. Shkoyach. In regards to Amona, I feel an issue you haven’t touched in this post is that of how the cream of Israel’s religious Zionist youth who, for many years have been the pioneers in settling Israel, have turned to brick throwing and police bashing (with much protester bashing going on in reply). Did the Torah change from guiding us towards peace and justice to “land worship”, or is there something I’m missing?

At Sat Feb 11, 10:47:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Thanks, Ittay.

I'm not so sure about this "cream of Israel's religious Zionist youth" thing. It's one of those phrases that I've been hearing again and again, and any time something like that starts becoming a cliche I begin to be suspicious of it. I'm skeptical that anyone who today is comfortable throwing rocks at policemen was ever "the cream" of anything.

On the other hand, perhaps these really are wonderful kids, in the sense that they listen to the people who are put in ideological authority over them. Certainly I'd say that in a sense, the Palestinian kids who put their own lives at risk throwing rocks at Israeli tanks and soldiers are "good kids" - they're doing what their community leaders exhort them to do, even though it involves considerable (and sometimes ultimate) personal sacrifice. One could make a point, then, that being "a good kid" is sometimes a dangerous pastime, and that "good kids" can indeed be a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.

As far as I'm aware, the Torah hasn't changed; nor has the rest of the Tanach, nor has the Talmud, nor the Shulchan Aruch. The problem, I think, is that we have so many mitzvot that it's all too easy (A) to focus on just a subset of them and neglect others, and (B) to make all or some of the mitzvot into a "graven idol" in their own right. It's perfectly legitimate to say that settling and ruling the Land of Israel is a mitzvah; but in my opinion it's not legitimate to elevate that mitzvah above other, more fundamental mitzvot, such as maintaining the survival and continuity of the Jewish people and Jewish sovereignty.

At Mon Feb 13, 02:10:00 PM GMT+2, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...have turned to brick throwing and police bashing (with much protester bashing going on in reply)

Perhaps Ittay has it backwards, that is:

From testimony that I have read & heard from the protestors themselves, those on the roof took a vote about throwing rocks [not cement blocks or heavy boulders, that was out of the question!], and 80% were against throwing them, so no one did...until the Yassamniks starting charging people, trampling some under horses' feet, and swinging their billyclubs indiscriminately against defenseless people! THEN those on the roof all decided to throw rocks, to support their friends below who were being attacked!

And how is it that no one has mentioned the following - from the mainstream media???


-- Simon of Jerusalem

At Mon Feb 13, 02:12:00 PM GMT+2, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS - Any source for the police side of the story, including videos? We're still waiting, or do they have nothing to say? And why was the gov't against an investigation? The Or Committee was very thorough when their was a confrontation with the Arabs, but when Jewish kids are attacked, all of a sudden the police are perfect???

-- Simon

At Mon Feb 13, 03:01:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi Simon!

Your YNetNews link points to an old article that doesn't mention anything about a "rooftop vote"; do you have any sources for this story? (Of course, if all you have is "testimony", that doesn't mean the story isn't true; it does mean that there isn't much we can do to verify it or falsify it.) If you're talking about "mainstream" coverage of the sexual-harassment charges, then IIRC the Jerusalem Post did cover them; and of course YNet itself is more or less "mainstream". Are you sure that other "mainstream" media failed to cover these allegations? It may be that they did cover them, but simply didn't give them the prominence you feel they deserved.

I'm hoping that the police are soon going to release their videos of the incident. While I'm sure these videos won't answer all questions about the incident, I imagine they'll shed some light on it. All that's been shown so far (except on TV, which I don't receive) is a couple of minutes of video taken by one side of the conflict and edited for the express purpose of discrediting the other side.

The business about people being "trampled under horses' hooves" doesn't wash. I'm a horse-owner myself, and I know what these beasties weigh and how they behave. Horses are very careful of their footing, and avoid stepping on other creatures. Further, if anyone really had been trampled by horses, we'd be seeing very severe (and distinctive) injuries and likely deaths. Nobody has come forward with anything like convincing evidence for anyone's having been injured in this manner.

(OTOH, there's no question that at least one or two protestors got knocked down by horses - something that is much more consonant with normal horse behavior, and was clearly shown on one of the protestor videotapes.)

Comparing the Amona incident to the October 2000 riots is somewhat problematic, to say the least. To refresh your memory, in the latter incident some 13 Israeli citizens(including one of my wife's former astronomy students, incidentally) were killed by police gunfire - which, it turns out, was not justified as self-defense or defense of others. Nobody was killed at Amona, although one protestor was seriously injured; no "hot" weapons were used.

It should be remembered as well that the Or Commission was not formed immediately after the October riots, but only when it became clear that routine channels of investigation weren't working. We're nowhere near that point in the Amona investigation.

Governments don't just create investigative commissions every time something happens; there has to be some good reason to believe that routine investigative bodies and procedures are inadequate. I'm not convinced that we've come to that point with the Amona incident, although I'm not especially opposed to an independent investigation either. The only thing I think must be stressed is that to the extent that an independent investigation is mounted, (A) it must be truly independent, with appropriately trustworthy leadership; and (B) it must have an appropriate mandate, instructing it to look at both sides' actions and statements from at least a week or two before the incident until the aftermath. In other words, the commission should be the real thing and not simply an attempt to give an official imprimatur to one side or another's version of what happened.

At Mon Feb 13, 11:31:00 PM GMT+2, Anonymous Anonymous said...


My info came from Arutz 7 and/or its newspaper, B'Sheva. But I guess that's not mainstream enuf for you, eh?

BTW, does not the so-called "mainstream" media's own admission of treating Sharon like an etrog - which seems to have been further extended to Olmert - say anything to you? Perhaps its already left-leaning viewpoint has now become untenable and plain unreliable for true, objective reporting? Arutz 7 does not completely whitewash "their" side - they do report rock-throwing, but have perhaps a different [maybe more objective] view than the MSM.

Can you cite the URL for the JPost article on sexual abuse? I don't recall seeing anything there.

All that's been shown so far (except on TV, which I don't receive) is a couple of minutes of video taken by one side of the conflict and edited for the express purpose of discrediting the other side.

How do you know this? What are your sources? How do you know that the police videos won't do the same the you allege about the other side? Why does it take them so long to be released - perhaps they don't really have anything to show???

Thanks for the dialog,
Simon of JLM

At Tue Feb 14, 04:13:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi again Simon -

Arutz-7 isn't exactly mainstream - nor is it exactly objective on issues like settlement demolitions and the like. Of course, this doesn't mean that something appearing in A-7 isn't true, just that A-7 reports have to be treated like testimony from one of the participants in the dispute. Most media are partisan to some degree, but in A-7's case it's a very high degree.

I don't recall the JPost URL, and their search "feature" is fairly useless. Try a Google search and see what publications have published on the subject.

My sources (regarding the videos) are A-7 and the various pro-settler blogs. They've published links to a couple of different videos; but even though the editing was different and some shots were included on one video and not on another, the actual amount of footage of genuine police violence was very small - less than one minute, I'd say.

Of course, I don't know what the police videos will show. I do hope they'll be releasing them soon; unfortunately, I don't have time right now to call them up and nag them about it. (Of course I shouldn't have to do this in the first place; but "Israeli Police hasbara" is pretty much a contradiction in terms.)

...And you're most welcome. Thank you for commenting here!


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