Israel Faces Facebook Intifada From WIthin Ranks of Army

Groundswell for Soldier Who Pointed Gun at Palestinian

facebook

By J.J. Goldberg

Published May 08, 2014, issue of May 16, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

On the surface, the Israeli army’s Facebook Intifada is a very 21st-century crisis.

A soldier on patrol cocks his weapon at a Palestinian youth, apparently violating the army’s rules of engagement. Other Palestinians film the encounter and upload it to YouTube, exposing the soldier to possible discipline. The soldier’s friends launch a Facebook page in solidarity. By week’s end they’ve gathered nearly 130,000 “likes” — equivalent to four Knesset seats.

The military dilemmas are painfully obvious. How, the soldier’s supporters ask, can troops maintain authority as the governing force in the territories when their hands are tied and Palestinians film every misstep — even provoke confrontation to post on the Web? The generals counter: How can the army maintain discipline when recruits with smartphones can mobilize mass protests against their commanders without ever showing their faces?

But while the army’s struggle with the Internet Age has drawn worldwide attention, the incident is forcing anguished debate over another set of questions — several sets, actually — that were previously spoken in whispers or shoved to the margins.

One set involves the experience of Israel’s enlisted soldiers, mostly teenagers, tasked with keeping order on the streets of the West Bank. The job puts them in daily contact with an increasingly hostile Palestinian population. The Facebook rebellion exposed a broad sense in the ranks that they’re not given tools to do the job, that their officers don’t understand the challenges, don’t listen and don’t provide answers.

Another set of questions involves worries within the General Staff about the changing character of the youngsters entering the military. One segment of the population is becoming more individualistic, less patriotic, less respectful of authority. Another, faster-growing segment is becoming more nationalistic, more religiously traditional, less open to the Western, universalist values on which Israel’s vaunted military code of ethics is based — and less deferential to the officers’ corps that preaches the code.

These worries have been discussed in the senior command for a decade, prompted several classified reports, and occasionally been described by retired officers in interviews, usually anonymously. Since the current crisis erupted April 27 the top brass has indicated, in broad hints and off-the-record interviews, that they think the ferment at least partly reflects the generational change.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.