Joseph Dana is an American-Israeli freelance journalist, filmmaker and photographer who has been relentlessly tracking settler violence, IDF misconduct and settlement expansion in the Occupied Territories. I’ve long considered Dana’s reports to be mandatory reading/viewing – and if you are at all concerned about the reality of life on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, then you should too.
His latest blog post includes footage (taken by fellow blogger/reporter Max Blumenthal) of a demonstration this past Friday in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih. During the action, two Israeli demonstrators, Matan Cohen and Yonatan Shapira were violently arrested by IDF soliders. Though the IDF later reported that the demonstrators attacked a soldier, the clip above clearly shows that this claim is a blatant lie.
This reportage is particularly essential not least because it documents the systematic policy of the IDF to violently repress growing acts of Palestinian civil disobedience – only to justify their actions later by claiming their soldiers were “under attack.” The flotilla tragedy is certainly the most well-known example of this tactic, but as Dana and other reporters are showing us, it actually occurring on a regular basis in the Occupied Territories.
Here’s Blumenthal’s description of what he actually witnessed at the July 2 demonstration:
On July 2, at the weekly demonstration in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, Israeli army troops violently arrested Israeli activists Yonatan Shapira and Matan Cohen. I witnessed the incident that led to the arrests and filmed them as they took place. As a group of soldiers pursued children up a small hill, then began firing teargas shells and percussion grenades at them, presumably in response to a few stones the children had thrown, Cohen and Shapira mocked the soldiers. “Shooting at children! You are so brave!” Cohen exclaimed.
Within a few seconds the commander of the IDF division (an oleh named Danny) charged Cohen and Shapira, then headlocked Cohen and dragged him into a jeep. When Shapira protested, he was thrown to the ground, violently subdued and dragged into a jeep. At no point did Cohen or Shapira attack any soldier.
The IDF Spokesman’s Unit issued a statement on Twitter claiming Cohen and Shapira — “two arrested rioters” — had “attacked an IDF soldier.” However, my footage of the incident completely discredits the IDF’s claim. As I said in the wake of the flotilla massacre, nothing the IDF Spokesman’s Office says can be trusted. Ever. The IDF’s intention is to smear human rights activists as violent terrorists while portraying itself as the blameless victim. Anyone who spends a day in Nabi Saleh or any Palestinian village engaged in popular protest against the occupation will see that the complete reverse is true.
BTW: you may remember that I reported on my meeting with Yonatan Shapira last May. He is a helicopter pilot and former officer in the Israeli Air Force who is now actively participating in Palestinian non-violent actions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. (I know Yonatan would be the first to say that it is the Palestinians themselves who are bearing the brunt of this oppression week after week in demonstrations such as this.)
Postscript 7/5: Max Blumenthal has now posted a more complete version of the clip, below:
Thanks for the post Rabbi Rosen. Joseph Dana and Max Blumenthal yet again expose how governments may manipulate an unwitting population; a population to busy working and surviving to make the time to check government media releases (or twitter posts).
While I agree that the camcorder does not lie in this situation. In the case of recent use of the camcorder by the Israeli Government Media Office I would argue that indeed what we are shown or what we hear must be treated with the utmost suspicion.
Take for example the audio released by the IDF following the killings on the Gaza Flotilla.
It is surprising how bad this audio fabrication is.
Further examples here:
Article about Yonatan Shapira: “‘Free Palestine’ sprayed on Warsaw Ghetto Wall”
Thank you, Brant, for helping to give us access to such important information. I am also so glad that people take the time to comment. I continue to be confused, though, at the determination by some folks to perpetuate the myth that there is no occupation and that there is no humanitarian crisis. If the folks who are living in Gaza say there is a humanitarian crisis, then I believe them. I am not living there. Why it continues to be acceptable to use colonialistic language to justify an occupation deeply saddens me. Who are any of us to determine the fate of others? We all have the right and privilege to determine that for ourselves, to determine what kind of food and what kind of supplies we want to have. The point isn’t to intellectualize what constitutes a humanitarian crisis; the point is that there are humans all over the world who have had that right taken from them by colonization.
Only Jews let their opponents to send their children, mainly girls and some women (good for the Falsetinian’s camera) to shout stupid demagogic slogans on soldiers. We can’t see it Afghanistan and Iraq because there the Americans will shoot them at once.
This is not a comment on the Nabi Salih demonstration. But your statement that it is “the systematic policy of the IDF to violently repress growing acts of Palestinian civil disobedience” does not hold up when other demonstrations are examined.
In today’s NY Times, Nicholas Kristof has an op-ed titled “Waiting for Gandhi,” describing his recent experience attending a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the West Bank. Everything was going fine. Then this:
“A group of Palestinian youths began to throw rocks at Israeli troops. That’s the biggest challenge: many Palestinians define “nonviolence” to include stone-throwing.
Soon after, the Israeli forces fired volleys of tear gas at us, and then charged. The protesters fled, some throwing rocks backward as they ran. It’s a far cry from the heroism of Gandhi’s followers, who refused even to raise their arms to ward off blows as they were clubbed.”
Until the systematic policy of pro-Palestinian demonstrators is truly non-violent, they are not engagin in civil disobedience.
Viewing this video, I’d like to give credit to the young soldiers who showed maturity and good judgment by removing the “adults” who were creating an extremely dangerous situation which could have led to tragic consequences. I don’t have any respect for the guys sticking cameras in the faces of Israeli soldiers while shouting insults at them. I can only hope that these egotistical & cynical protesters do not harm the work of peace makers who have wisdom, experience and true intentions.