Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Last Words of a Patriotic Goofy Warrior

Y-net has posted a short film made by a military film-maker who was with the unit of paratroopers that spent most of the week near Nablus hunting a Hamas squad that was trying to send a suicide murderer into Israel. In three or four days of skirmishes at least three Palestinians were killed, and one Israeli; if I understand correctly, earlier today the Hamas squad was caught.

The film was made at night inside the confines of some sort of troop carrier. The camera focuses for a moment on Benzion Hanemann, who grins into the lens and says: I'm Benzion Hanemann, I'm from Nov on the Golan heights, I've got 9 siblings of all sorts of ages, we've got a great country, a great army, good luck to everybody." Then an officer says something about how they're going into battle, they have a job to do, and if they don't do it no-one else will. Good luck. They then sing the national anthem, Hatikva, followed by some sort of teenager ditty about someone's aunt who raises chickens. And then they clamber off the vehicle, and an hour or so later Benzion was dead and his friends had killed the Palestinian who had shot him.

It's a shooting war, and the men fighting it believe in what they're doing and go into battle with big grins and goofy songs.


Lydia McGrew said...

Stories like this are part, though only a small part, of the reason why I can tell that the IDF is not a bunch of murderous thugs as the Israel-haters would say.

Is that naive of me? Probably some people would say so. After all, they would say, no doubt if the Israelis _were_ monsters someone could still come up with charming-sounding stories of young soldiers going out into battle.

But to my mind, and I see this in story after story, there is a whole atmosphere with which this fits. For example, there was the more serious story (linked from TROP, I seem to recall) about IDF soldiers rescuing a little Palestinian girl. I forget what had happened to her. Then there was the story linked from LGF of the female IDF soldier on the border trying to hang on to the Ethiopian refugee when the Egyptians came and tore the refugee away by brute force and beat him to death. Again and again I get a picture of ordinary people trying to do a job decently. This is just a small one of many.

Yaacov said...

Of course the IDF isn't an army of brutal thugs. It would take the thought processes of the Juan Cole clan to believe that. And yes, you're right that this anecdote tells a different story. In the name of intellectual honesty, however, this story demonstrates, but doesn't prove. The harrowing pictures at the newly discovered Auschwitz album (previous post) also show nice looking young people enjoying themselves, even though they were as truly evil as one can be.

The part of the story that belies the Brutal-IDF thesis is that some hundreds of elite IDF troops spent 3-4 days in an extremely crowded neighborhood of Nablus trying to catch a squad of armed murderers, and at the end of the operation there were three dead terrorists, one dead Israeli paratrooper, one foiled attempt to kill Israeli citizens in Tel Aviv... and that's it. A brutal army would have killed hundreds of civilians as a way of ensuring that the targets, their families and their neighbors would all be dead.

Lydia McGrew said...

Exactly. America, I have to admit, would probably never be so careful.

Lydia McGrew said...

"It would take the thought processes of the Juan Cole clan to believe that."

Or someone at the Daily Kos (hint, hint). I recommend LGF instead for debunking anti-Israel smears. They're doing a good job here for their U.S. audience.

Btw, in a thread recently on another blog a commentator who was actually very moderate on all these issues nevertheless put forward as part of suggesting we try to understand the perspective of a hypothetical young Palestinian boy the scenario that such a boy gets "roughed up" frequently by the IDF when they are "checking his papers." I asked whether the IDF really routinely roughs up young Palestinian boys at random--how young? how roughed up? for no reason?--and didn't get any evidence that they actually go around doing this. It sounded to me like a sound-bite for which there _isn't_ any evidence.