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A National Hero

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Headlined to H3 5/10/14

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Cross-posted from Gush Shalom

From youtube.com/watch?v=f_rxvi5BU6s: Israeli soldiers and Palestinian children
Israeli soldiers and Palestinian children
(image by YouTube)

JUST BEFORE Israel's 66th Independence Day, the country acquired a new national hero.

If it is true that every nation gets the national heroes it deserves, it was a rather worrying spectacle.

THE VIDEO clip that turned David Adamov from an anonymous soldier into a national figure was taken with a Palestinian camera in Hebron.

Such video cameras have become the bane of the Israeli army. They have been widely distributed to young Palestinians throughout the occupied territories by Israeli peace organizations, especially B'Tselem.

The clip starts with the scene in Hebron. In the middle of Shuhada street stands a solitary soldier with a green beret and a rifle. He looks like any soldier, with the short beard now in vogue among Israeli youngsters.

Some kind of discussion develops between the soldier and elderly Palestinians in the street. But the camera turns to a Palestinian teenager, unarmed, who approaches the soldier, pushing his face very close to him and touching his shoulder with his hand.

The soldier reacts angrily, swinging his rifle. At this moment, another teenager enters the frame and passes the soldier from behind.

The soldier, obviously feeling threatened, swings around and cocks his rifle, ready to shoot. Threatening both teenagers, he tries to kick one, all the time uttering a stream of foul language. Then he notices the photographer, orders him to to stop filming and curses his mother in the most vulgar terms. End.

THIS CLIP was shown that evening on all three main Israeli TV channels.

For those of us who know the reality in the West Bank, there was nothing special about it. Scenes like this happen all the time. If the soldier does not kill anyone, it's just routine. If he does kill, the army announces that an investigation has been opened. Generally that is the last anyone hears of it.

What was special is that the whole scene was photographed and broadcast. Army orders forbid soldiers to behave like this when photographers are present, and especially to threaten the cameramen. Painful experience has taught the army that such clips, if broadcast abroad, can seriously undermine Israeli propaganda (officially called "explaining").

Even more unusual was the announcement of the Army Spokesman that same evening, that the soldier had been judged by his superiors and sent to army prison for 28 days.

ALL HELL broke loose. The social media sprang into action. Hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of soldiers declared their solidarity with the soldier who became known as "David Nahlawi."

("Nahal" is an army unit founded originally by David Ben-Gurion to further his idea of combining army service with "pioneering" agricultural work. Hence the green beret. The idea is as dead as Ben-Gurion himself, and the unit is now an ordinary infantry brigade. The ending "awi" is Arabic adopted by Hebrew slang.)

Many soldiers, including officers, flooded the internet with photos of themselves hiding their faces behind self-made signs saying "I am David Nahlawi." Some did not even bother to hide their faces.

After 24 hours the number of pro-David "likes" passed a hundred thousand, most of them posted by soldiers. It was the first military mass rebellion in the annals of the Israeli army. In some armies, it would be called a mutiny, punishable by death.

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Gush

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