‘Is this is what the most moral army in the world does!?': An American student describes being shot by the Israeli military during a peaceful demonstration

Israel/Palestine

This video of today’s protest in Nabi Saleh was posted by Christopher Whitman. The caption says, “The last frame is me getting shot at close range with a high velocity tear gas canister.”

After posting earlier today about the Palestinian teen who was critically injured protesting in Silwan today, and an American activist who was shot at a protest in Nabi Saleh, that student, Christopher Whitman, contacted us and wanted to share his story. This is what he sent:

My name is Christopher Whitman from outside Boston, Massachusetts. I live in Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I am a Master’s student in the Hebrew University in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. I was in Al-Nabi Saleh today protesting against the 44 year Israeli occupation and its current policy of illegal land confiscation expand the range of settlements in the region which include Dolev, Halamish, and Nahalil (sp?).

The protest was different than the other times I had been at al-Nabi Saleh in the past. Those were usually similar to protests in Bil’in or Nil’in, but rougher. Starting with the soldiers setting up on all fronts of the village and then refusing the protestors (who are mainly children) from reaching their lands in parts of the village. This goes on until the soldiers start tear gassing and using sound bombs which results in stone throwing from youths. This day was different, very different.

For the first 3 hours there was minimal tear gas and average usage of sound bombs and the soldiers were allowing for the villagers to go to certain parts of the land with massive buildups around them. Children sang and danced to nationalist songs. Then after 3 hours or so the Israelis got rather bored and starting arresting Israeli activists and local Palestinians. They also started beating the villagers (including women of all ages), and spraying mace in the eyes of women and men alike. This is when the Israelis started to push everyone back, and the vast majority scattered into the houses. It should also be noted, not a single rock was thrown or anything to warrant this massive retaliation. Not a single one was thrown all day, let alone just before this massive beating.

I was in the street with just a few observers documenting the incident. I saw that they started shooting tear gas from a distance of 50ft (15m) which is far to close, and they were not shooting it into the air. I decided to duck and knee just a little and got nailed on the top of the head above my forehead. I almost fell completely to the ground. From there I was picked up by two Palestinians who brought me to the ambulance with blood over my head and face. I then pointed to my face as we passed the Israeli army and border police and yelled “is this is what the most moral army in the world does!?” And then I was put into the ambulance.

The paramedic cleaned up my wounds as best he could. I felt delirious and discombobulated. At one point the blood loss was so extreme the places in my body that were farthest from my heart (fingers, knees) began tensing to a point of no control and I felt like a cripple. The ambulance arrived at Ramallah Hospital 30 minutes later, but my treatment was delayed due to a strike. I saw many doctors, had x-rays, CT scans, and stitches free of charge. Many people who were at the protest came to see how I was and even had a gift given to me from the village…which was the piece of my head the was knocked off by the tear gas cannister (photo – warning graphic).

46 Responses

  1. seafoid
    May 13, 2011, 5:34 pm

    The most moral army in the world is the Swiss army.
    they also have the best penknives.

    Israel has this tendency towards exaggeration. Max Brenner made in Israel chocolate is the best in the world. No it isn’t, Israel. Go to Belgium.

    Eilat women are hot. No they aren’t, Israel. They are slappers.

    • RoHa
      May 14, 2011, 10:52 pm

      “The most moral army in the world is the Swiss army.
      they also have the best penknives.”

      But hopeless at bayonet charges. By the time they’ve found the right bit, the battle is over.

  2. iamuglow
    May 13, 2011, 5:43 pm

    Very Brave. Thanks for taking time to write about what happend. I hope you recuperate quickly. BW.

    • Citizen
      May 14, 2011, 5:56 am

      Ditto here. Good job, Chris! Keep us informed. We will continue to spread the word.

      • Citizen
        May 14, 2011, 6:01 am

        As Naka Day approaches, things are tense–a 17 year old Palestinian kid was killed by the IDF while attending a funeral in Jerusalem: link to edition.cnn.com

  3. Taxi
    May 13, 2011, 6:00 pm

    I didn’t click on your attached foto, Christopher, but I’m in such admiration of who you are and what you do for the down-trodden and oppressed.

    Long live Palestine!

    Long live the Whitmans!

  4. annie
    May 13, 2011, 6:15 pm

    in solidarity christopher. hang in there, thanks for all you do.

  5. American
    May 13, 2011, 6:17 pm

    Good man Christopher.

  6. Woody Tanaka
    May 13, 2011, 6:51 pm

    Christopher, I salute the bravery you showed in the face of this brutal, inhuman enemy.

  7. justicewillprevail
    May 13, 2011, 6:56 pm

    The most moral army of teenage fascists anywhere in the world. Way to go, zionists.

  8. rob
    May 13, 2011, 7:40 pm

    I can only repeat what others have said:
    You truly are a brave man Christopher! I wish you a speedy recovery!

    My father told me as I was growing up; “don’t say you hate, say you don’t like”………..I’m trying, I really am.

    No democracy, no compassion, no equal rights, no humanity…..morals???

  9. piotr
    May 13, 2011, 8:00 pm

    Properly evaluated, IDF is most moral. I found many convincing arguments.

    First, the argument for restraint. We compare how much shit could be done, and how much was done. All demonstrators could be mowed down with machine weapons or from helicopters, and they were not. Etc.

    Second is the analysis of they were any innocent victims. Alan Dershowitz introduce an important concept of civilianality — how civilian are those alleged civilians? What we see here are foreign extremists, adult inciters and underaged potentially violent and militarily capable. All objectively pro-terrorists, hence unlawful enemy combatants.

    Seriously, this is absolutely awful, and I have full admiration to Christopher and the villagers.

    • radkelt
      May 13, 2011, 10:29 pm

      Can’t f***king believe PRIOT dwells on a similar planet! Looking forward to his piece ” Moral Distribution of White Phosphorus on Caged
      Civilians” and his companion piece “The Morality of Laser Directed
      (American Supplied) Missles on Ambulances”
      Mondo, you have a winner here, a hasbarista par excellence.

      • dgs
        May 14, 2011, 1:25 am

        Radkelt, I don’t think piotr was serious until he said so after his convincing arguments!

        “…
        Seriously, this is absolutely awful, and I have full admiration to Christopher and the villagers.”

  10. frosthazard
    May 13, 2011, 8:10 pm

    thank goodness you’re ok Christopher. too many good people lose their lives in peaceful protests when the Israeli army is involved. I wish you a speedy recovery!

  11. yourstruly
    May 13, 2011, 9:12 pm

    given the gift of the piece of his head that was knocked off by a tear gas cannister?

    wow!

    christopher whitman

    just being there

    but to be a casualty in the war for a just and free palestine?

    and then to share with us your experiences as a participant in the nonviolent resistance to the settler entity’s brutal military occupation of palestine?

    once again

    wow!

  12. yourstruly
    May 13, 2011, 11:10 pm

    conditions being such

    and with the stars in just the right alignment

    beginning with this sunday’s nakba commemoration

    “free, free palestine”

    steadily advancing

  13. Red
    May 14, 2011, 12:12 am

    Hi Christopher, I hope you are doing okay. As someone who has regularly attended the Nabi Saleh demonstrations, I agree with you that the force use by the Israeli military is extremely excessive, even by the standard used normally by Israeli occupation forces against unarmed non-violent demonstrators.

    Tamimi Press have posted a longer video of the demonstration which shows the full extent of the violence used by the Israeli occupation forces this week:
    link to youtube.com

    At least 25 unarmed non-violent protestors were injured. One Palestinian women in her 50s who was beaten up so badly, she was evacuated from the Salfeet Hospital to the bigger and more advanced Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus. A 25 year-old American demonstrator suffered a serious head injury [Christopher] and an Israeli activist was diagnosed with two open fractures in his hand. Both were injured by tear-gas projectiles shot directly at them from short range, in violation of the Israeli Army’s open fire regulations. Four protesters were arrested in Nabi Saleh, including two Palestinian women.

    People can follow and support the non-violent struggle of the people of An Nabi Saleh by joining their solidarity facebook page at: link to facebook.com

    Or by visiting the Nabi Saleh Solidarity blog: link to nabisalehsolidarity.wordpress.com

  14. Jeffrey Blankfort
    May 14, 2011, 12:50 am

    I was considerably luckier than Chris when in 1983, an Israeli soldier in Lebanon fired a bullet that creased my hair when I was taking photos at the Awali Bridge where the Israelis cut off all traffic, including perishable foodstuffs, from heading south. At the same time those brave young lads with the star of David clearly available on their uniforms were taking pot shots at women wading through the river with bags of groceries, not trying to hit them, but to get them to drop their bags

    From what I saw of the Israeli military in Lebanon then and from what I have seen of it in the West Bank and Gaza, it is an army of sadists, representing a government of sadists. Since Israel’s army is truly a “people’s army” what that says about the majority of the population of the Jewish population of Israel should be self-evident. They deserve no quarter from the civilized world.

    • MRW
      May 14, 2011, 3:48 am

      “it is an army of sadists, representing a government of sadists.” And what it says about the Americans who support them.

    • Elliot
      May 14, 2011, 8:46 am

      I believe it.
      A childhood friend of mine served in the Israeli military as a junior combat officer. He was posted to the west Bank and Lebanon. He told me that his soldiers and fellow officers routinely flaunted the official rules of engagement (which are, themselves, flawed). The only value, he saw, in having rules of engagement, was that they gave him the option of choosing to conform to them without getting into trouble with his comrades.
      My old friend is no bleeding heart. He’s taken me to task on the usual Hasbara talking points.
      I expect it’s the same in the U.S. military and any other military that sees combat. You indoctrinate and then arm teenagers, put them in impossible situations, inflame their fears and sense of mission with misinformation and ideological propaganda. Then sit back and watch how they conduct themselves. Abu Ghraib. Awali.The West Bank. It’s all the same.

      • Avi
        May 14, 2011, 1:50 pm

        Elliot,

        You might want to read what Colonel Pat Lang (posted by *American* downthread) wrote of the structural differences between the military of the US and Israel.

      • Elliot
        May 14, 2011, 5:31 pm

        Avi, thanks.

    • American
      May 14, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Something else about the IDF Americans should know.
      We have a family friend whose wife lost her first husband, a young marine in Beirut.

      link to ifamericansknew.org

      Israel Charged with Systematic Harassment of U.S. Marines

      By Donald Neff

      Former Time Magazine Bureau Chief, Israel
      Washington Report, March 1995
      It was also published in Fifty Years of Israel

      (some excerpts)

      ‘It was 12 years ago, on March 14, 1983, that the commandant of the Marine Corps sent a highly unusual letter to the secretary of defense expressing frustration and anger at Israel. General R.H. Barrow charged that Israeli troops were deliberately threatening the lives of Marines serving as peacekeepers in Lebanon. There was, he wrote, a systematic pattern of harassment by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that was resulting in “life-threatening situations, replete with verbal degradation of the officers, their uniform and country.”
      Barrow’s letter added: “It is inconceivable to me why Americans serving in peacekeeping roles must be harassed, endangered by an ally…It is evident to me, and the opinion of the U.S. commanders afloat and ashore, that the incidents between the Marines and the IDF are timed, orchestrated, and executed for obtuse Israeli political purposes.”1

      During their year-and-a-half posting in Lebanon, the Marines suffered 268 killed.5 The casualties started within a week of the return of the Marines in September 1982. On the 30th, a U.S.-made cluster bomb left behind by the Israelis exploded, killing Corporal David Reagan and wounding three other Marines.6

      Israel’s siege of Beirut during the summer of 1982 had been brutal and bloody, reaching a peak of horror on Aug. 12, quickly known as Black Thursday. On that day, Sharon’s forces launched at dawn a massive artillery barrage that lasted for 11 straight hours and was accompanied by saturation air bombardment.8 As many as 500 persons, mainly Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, were killed.9

      On top of the bombardment came the massacres the next month at Sabra and Shatila, where Sharon’s troops allowed Lebanese Maronite killers to enter the camps filled with defenseless civilians. The massacres sickened the international community and pressure from Western capitals finally forced Israel to withdraw from Beirut in late September. Troops from Britain, France, Italy and the United States were interposed between the Israeli army and Beirut, with U.S. Marines deployed in the most sensitive area south of Beirut at the International Airport, directly between Israeli troops and West Beirut.

      It was at the airport that the Marines would suffer their Calvary over the next year. Starting in January 1983, small Israeli units began probing the Marine lines. At first the effort appeared aimed at discovering the extent of Marine determination to resist penetration. The lines proved solid and the Marines’ determination strong. Israeli troops were politely but firmly turned away. Soon the incidents escalated, with both sides pointing loaded weapons at each other but no firing taking place. Tensions were high enough by late January that a special meeting between U.S. and Israeli officers was held in Beirut to try to agree on precise boundaries beyond which the IDF would not penetrate.10

      No Stranger to the Marines
      However, on Feb. 2 a unit of three Israeli tanks, led by Israeli Lt. Col. Rafi Landsberg, tried to pass through Marine/Lebanese Army lines at Rayan University Library in south Lebanon. By this time, Landsberg was no stranger to the Marines. Since the beginning of January he had been leading small Israeli units in probes against the Marine lines, although such units would normally have a commander no higher than a sergeant or lieutenant. The suspicion grew that Sharon’s troops were deliberately provoking the Marines and Landsberg was there to see that things did not get out of hand. The Israeli tactics were aimed more at forcing a joint U.S.-Israeli strategy than merely probing lines.

      In the Feb. 2 incident, the checkpoint was commanded by Marine Capt. Charles Johnson, who firmly refused permission for Landsberg to advance. When two of the Israeli tanks ignored his warning to halt, Johnson leaped on Landsberg’s tank with pistol drawn and demanded Landsberg and his tanks withdraw. They did.11

      Landsberg and the Israeli embassy in Washington tried to laugh off the incident, implying that Johnson was a trigger-happy John Wayne type and that the media were exaggerating a routine event. Landsberg even went so far as to claim that he smelled alcohol on Johnson’s breath and that drunkenness must have clouded his reason. Marines were infuriated because Johnson was well known as a teetotaler. Americans flocked to Johnson’s side. He received hundreds of letters from school children, former Marines and from Commandant Barrow.12 It was a losing battle for the Israelis and Landsberg soon dropped from sight.

      But the incidents did not stop. These now included “helicopter harassment,” by which U.S.-made helicopters with glaring spotlights were flown by the Israelis over Marine positions at night, illuminating Marine outposts and exposing them to potential attack. As reports of these incidents piled up, Gen. Barrow received a letter on March 12 from a U.S. Army major stationed in Lebanon with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO). The letter described a systematic pattern of Israeli attacks and provocations against UNTSO troops, including instances in which U.S. officers were singled out for “near-miss” shootings, abuse and detention.13 That same day two Marine patrols were challenged and cursed by Israeli soldiers.14

      Two days later Barrow wrote his letter to Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, who endorsed it and sent it along to the State Department. High-level meetings were arranged and the incidents abated, perhaps largely because by this time Ariel Sharon had been fired as defense minister. He had been found by an Israeli commission to have had “personal responsibility” for the Sabra and Shatila massacres.15

      The next day, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was blown up by a massive bomb, with the loss of 63 lives. Among the 17 Americans killed were CIA Mideast specialists, including Robert C. Ames, the agency’s top Middle East expert.17 Disaffected former Israeli Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky later claimed that Israel had advance information about the bombing plan but had decided not to inform the United States, a claim denied by Israel.18 The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Veteran correspondent John Cooley considered the attack “the day [Iranian leader Ayatollah] Khomeini’s offensive against America in Lebanon began in earnest.”19

      From this time on, the combat involvement of the Marines grew. Their actions were generally seen as siding with Israel against Muslims, slowly changing the status of the Marines as neutral peacekeepers to opponents of the Muslims.21 Israel could hardly have wished for more. The polarization meant that increasingly the conflict was being perceived in terms of the U.S., Israel and Lebanon’s Christians against Iran, Islam and Lebanon’s Shi’i Muslims.

      Accelerating the Conflict
      Israel accelerated the building conflict on Sept. 3, 1993 by unilaterally withdrawing its troops southward, leaving the Marines exposed behind their thin lines at the airport.
      The United States had asked the Israeli government to delay its withdrawal until the Marines could be replaced by units of the Lebanese army, but Israel refused.22
      The result was as feared. Heavy fighting immediately broke out between the Christian Lebanese Forces and the pro-Syrian Druze units, both seeking to occupy positions evacuated by Israel, while the Marines were left in the crossfire.23 On Sept. 5, two Marines were killed and three wounded as fighting escalated between Christian and Muslim militias.24

      On Sept. 13, President Reagan authorized what was called aggressive self-defense for the Marines, including air and naval strikes.27 Five days later the United States essentially joined the war against the Muslims when four U.S. warships unleashed the heaviest naval bombardment since Vietnam into Syrian and Druze positions in eastern Lebanon in support of the Lebanese Christians.28 The bombardment lasted for three days and was personally ordered by National Security Council director Robert McFarlane, a Marine Corps officer detailed to the White House who was in Lebanon at the time and was also a strong supporter of Israel and its Lebanese Maronite Christian allies.
      McFarlane issued the order despite the fact that the Marine commander at the airport, Colonel Timothy Geraghty, strenuously argued against it because, in the words of correspondent Thomas L. Friedman, “he knew that it would make his soldiers party to what was now clearly an intra-Lebanese fight, and that the Lebanese Muslims would not retaliate against the Navy’s ships at sea but against the Marines on shore.”29

      Tragic Climax
      The fight now was truly joined between the Shi’i Muslims and the Marines, who were essentially pinned down in their airport bunkers and under orders not to take offensive actions. The tragic climax of their predicament came on Oct. 23, when a Muslim guerrilla drove a truck past guards at the Marine airport compound and detonated an explosive with the force of 12,000 pounds of dynamite under a building housing Marines and other U.S. personnel. Almost simultaneously, a car-bomb exploded at the French compound in Beirut. Casualties were 241 Americans and 58 French troops killed. The bombings were the work of Hezbollah, made up of Shi’i Muslim guerrillas supported by Iran.;32

      America’s agony increased on Dec. 3, when two carrier planes were downed by Syrian missiles during heavy U.S. air raids on eastern Lebanon.;33 On the same day, eight Marines were killed in fighting with Muslim militiamen around the Beirut airport.;34

      By the start of 1984, an all-out Shi’i Muslim campaign to rid Lebanon of all Americans was underway.
      USS New Jersey fired 290 rounds of one-ton shells from its 16-inch guns into Lebanon as a final act of U.S. frustration.;38 Reagan’s “redeployment” was completed by Feb. 26, when the last of the Marines retreated from Lebanon.

      The mission of the Marines had been a humiliating failure�not because they failed in their duty but because the political backbone in Washington was lacking. The Marines had arrived in 1982 with all sides welcoming them. They left in 1984 despised by many and the object of attacks by Muslims. Even relations with Israel were strained, if not in Washington where a sympathetic Congress granted increased aid to the Jewish state to compensate it for the costs of its bungled invasion, then between the Marines and Israeli troops who had confronted each other in a realpolitik battlefield that was beyond their competence or understanding. The Marine experience in Lebanon did not contribute toward a favorable impression of Israel among many Americans, especially since the Marines would not have been in Lebanon except for Israel’s unprovoked invasion.”

      I would say turn the Marines loose on Israel…but actually letting the Turks have them would be even better. Their politicians won’t restrain them.

      • Walid
        May 14, 2011, 7:48 pm

        American, thanks for that article; lots of stuff in it was new to me. The Israeli military provocation against the US described in it was repeated in Lebanon in 2006 when Israeli jets buzzed German war ships that were part of the UN force and nose-dived repeatedly over French positions:

        25-10-2006: “Israeli warplanes in ‘incident’ with German ship off Lebanon: Military Two Israeli warplanes were involved in an armed incident with a German ship patrolling off Lebanon as part of the UN force in the Arab country, the German military told AFP. A spokesman for the command of the German mission in Lebanon said it was investigating the incident that took place on Monday. According to Thursday’s edition of the Tagesspiegel newspaper, two Israeli F-16 warplanes fired shots as well as anti-missile defense flares while flying low over the German vessel. The newspaper said the incident had been reported to parliament on Wednesday by a state secretary in the defense ministry, Christian Schmidt. France and the United Nations this week warned Israel that it was endangering the multinational peace mission in Lebanon by sending its fighter planes into Lebanese airspace.”

        and from the Independent 10-11-2006:
        ” French troops ‘came close to shooting down Israeli jets’
        By Angela Charlton in Paris

        The French government has demanded that Israel stop mock raids over Lebanon after French peacekeepers came within seconds of shooting down Israeli warplanes.

        Israeli officials said the flights were needed to monitor Lebanese compliance with UN demands, but the French Defence Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, said the attitude of the Israeli planes was “absolutely inadmissible” after Israeli F-15 fighters nose-dived repeatedly over French peacekeepers’ positions in southern Lebanon on 31 October.

        “Our troops barely avoided a catastrophe,” Alliot-Marie told the French parliament. “Our troops find themselves in a position where they have to fire in legitimate self defence.”

        Defence Ministry officials would not elaborate on why the French troops decided not to fire, nor explain why they waited eight days to announce the incident.

        The mock raids by warplanes last week were Israel’s strongest show of force since August.

        In response to the incident, the French Defence Ministry has demanded that the flights are stopped.

        Unifil reported 14 Israeli air violations on 31 October, including three over the headquarters of the French battalion in Froun.”

        link to independent.co.uk

  15. American
    May 14, 2011, 2:08 am

    Here is a professional’s view of the IDF by Col. Pat Lang.

    I associated with and/or conducted liaison with The Israel Defense Force (IDF) for many years. This activity occurred as part of my regular duties as a US Army officer and later as a civilian executive of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Since my retirement from US government service I have had many occasions to visit Israel and to watch the IDF in action against various groups of Palestinians all over the West Bank.
    My observations concerning the IDF are based on that experience.

    I write here of the ground force. The air force and navy are unknown to me from personal experience except that I know some of their officers from their service in joint (inter-service) assignments like general staff intelligence.

    The IDF ground force is essentially a reserve or militia army that keeps most of its forces in inactive status while maintaining a handful of units on active duty as a training base and a force in being to meet short term contingencies.

    In this post I am writing of the “line” of the ground forces as represented by armor, infantry, paratroop and artillery units at brigade level and below, i.e., battalion and company.

    The special operations forces are a small part of Israeli capabilities and are manned and maintained on a very different basis. In many ways they are more like a “SWAT” team than a military force.

    To understand the IDF ground forces as an institution, there are certain things that must be understood in order to “see” clearly the actual capabilities of this army:

    – Because of the heavy reliance on reserve units filled with older, part time soldiers, any mobilization of a large number of ground force units for considerable periods of time places a heavy burden on the Israeli national economy.
    Mobilized reservists are lost to their jobs. Israeli soldiers are among the strongest and most skilled members of their society. They are typically well employed in the civilian world. When they are gone in military service the economy suffers. This automatically limits the scale and duration of reserve mobilizations.

    – Older reserve soldiers serve in units made up almost entirely of similar reservists. These units are hard to maintain at a high level of training and readiness. Only limited amounts of training time and money are available for this necessity. As a result units are often unready for deployment into combat in an emergency. On a number of occasions this problem has caused IDF troops to be committed to combat in a less than “ready” status. In other words, troops have gone into combat with equipment not properly maintained and with insufficient unit training.

    It must be said that they have typically been lucky in their enemies and that if they had faced more serious enemies, they would have had a much different experience than the ones they had. In the Golan Heights the Syrians gave them a very difficult time in 1973 and in the same war their victory against Egypt featured a renewal of offensive activity under the cover a cease fire which they had accepted.

    – There are no career ground force sergeants except as technicians. Unless the system has changed very recently, the IDF ground forces typically do not have career NCOs in the LINE of the combat arms. This is a structural tradition that derives originally from the Russian tsar’s army and which came to Palestine through Russian and Polish Zionist immigrants. Then this passed through the Haganah into the IDF. The IDF “line” conscripts what amount to yearly classes of recruits and selects from them more promising soldiers who are given NCO level command responsibilities as; infantry leaders, tank commanders, artillery gun captains, etc. The IDF does have career NCOs but they are typically found in jobs of a more technical nature rather than junior combat command at the squad or platoon (section) level. As a result, junior officers (company grade) are required to perform duties that in more traditionally organized armies would be performed by sergeants. Leading a small combat or reconnaissance patrol would be an example. As a result, a non-reserve infantry or tank company in the field consists of people who are all about the same age (19-22) and commanded by a captain in his mid 20s. What is missing in this scene is the voice of grown up counsel provided by sergeants in their 30s and 40s telling these young people what it is that would be wise to do based on real experience and mature judgment. In contrast a 22 year old American platoon leader would have a mature platoon sergeant as his assistant and counselor.

    – As a result of this system of manning, the IDF’s ground force is more unpredictable and volatile at the tactical (company) level than might be the case otherwise. The national government has a hard time knowing whether or not specific policies will be followed in the field.
    Based on personal experience of the behavior of IDF conscripts toward Palestinian civilians, I would say that the Israeli government has little control over what individual groups of these young Israeli soldiers may do in incidents like the one in which mortar fire was directed toward UN controlled school buildings.

    In Beit Suhur outside Bethlehem, I have seen IDF troops shoot at Palestinian Christian women hanging out laundry in their gardens. This was done with tank coaxial machine guns from within a bermed up dirt fort a couple of hundred yards away, and evidently just for the fun of it.

    In Bethlehem a lieutenant told me that he would have had his men shoot me in the street during a demonstration that I happened to get caught in, but that he had not because he thought I might not be a Palestinian and that if I were not the incident would have caused him some trouble.
    I have seen a lot of things like that. One might say that in war, s–t happens. That is true, but such behavior is indicative of an army that is not well disciplined.
    In my travels in the west Bank in March of 2008, it was noticeable that the behavior towards Palestinian civilians of IDF troops at roadblocks was reminiscent of that of post-adolescents given guns and allowed to bully the helpless in order to look tough for each other. I think the IDF would be well advised to grow some real sergeants.

    All in all, I think the IDF ground forces can best be described as specialized tools that reflect 20th century Zionist socialist and nationalist ideals, and which have military traditions that are in no way reflective of those of the United States.
    They can also be justly said to have been been fortunate in their enemies. The Jordanians gave them a run for their money in 1948-49. Hizbullah delivered a hint of the inherent limits in such a socio-military system in 2006.”

    Whenever I read about the IDF’s treatment of the Palestines and their wanton killings of unarmed people I usually lose my temper and say something like send the US Marines to eviserate these punks!
    But this time I will just say I hope they keep pissing off Turkey and Egypt cause either one of them could tear these little runts to shreds…and they deserve the pleasure of doing it.

    • Walid
      May 14, 2011, 3:36 am

      American, you gave a comprehensive technical description of why the Israeli soldier as a fighter is a failure but did not account for his lack of motivation or cowardice. Perhaps this comes from most of his training being centere on bullying stone-throwing children and women so when faced with real fighters as what happened on the battlefield in 2006, the Israeli soldier breaks down, falls into depression and cries. It’s no wonder that about 3000 Hizbullah professional fighters with a few part timers held off an Israeli land force of 27,000. The constant whining and crying of the IDF kids to their parents and sweethearts over their cell phones from the field gave an edge to the Hizbullah fighters monitoring their personal calls as well as the tactical orders they were getting from their officers since they are all fluent in Hebrew. You are being too polite in explaining their ineptness; unless flying in their F16s at the relative safety of 50,000 feet, they are woosies and their officers not much better. Occupying and mistreating a weaker and defenseless people is making them so.

      The slogan about being the most moral army is intended to brainwash the Israel military into not feeling any guilt over the crimes they are being asked to commit. Surely no other army in the world believes that crap.

      • Thawra
        May 14, 2011, 11:01 am

        Walid,
        Don’t forget about the beginning of Israels humiliation by Hezbollah from the 80’s to 2000. Their might and courage was tested then and they failed. They will forever be remembered as the greatest ‘shoot and cry’ army that was only great at murdering unarmed Arab civilians.

      • Walid
        May 14, 2011, 1:52 pm

        Thawra, you’re right, I didn’t give Hizbullah the credit it deserves for what it did to the bad guys before 2006. May 25, 2000 was one of the happiest days for me.

      • American
        May 14, 2011, 2:46 pm

        You know Walid…I could almost have some sympathy for the
        ” ignorance of youth” that makes up the IDF Pat described so well.
        Except for the fact that these young people were “raised” that way….to hate and humiliate Palestines… by their families and by the Israeli society. And I certainly have sympathy for those that feel compelled to commit suicide after what they seen or been forced to be part of.

        The US has it’s incidents of discipline breakdown and rouge soldiers but the difference is with a professional military like ours it is the exception and with the IDF it is the rule.

        And despite the fringes in this country that get all MSM coverage, most American youths aren’t raised with a steady diet of hate.

    • MRW
      May 14, 2011, 3:41 am

      Colonel Pat Lang should know. What a great read and put-down. No wonder they wanted the USA to fight Iran for them. They couldn’t huff and puff themselves over the first mountain range.

      The link to the original:
      link to turcopolier.typepad.com

    • justicewillprevail
      May 14, 2011, 4:41 am

      Great summary: teenage punk militia, out of control, tinpot bullies and thugs who would get trashed in a war with a capable enemy. Yes, Israel, your militia holds up a mirror to your society.

    • Citizen
      May 14, 2011, 5:45 am

      I agree with Lang, from my own personal experience, a US Army combat platoon’s effectiveness depends on the line sergeants, the First Sergeant, and, when not in combat, the company clerk. I didn’t know the IDF had no grizzled line sergeants within the platoon. This does appear to significantly account for why they seem young punks in so many videos I’ve seen, along with the ethnocentric culture that bred them.

      On an indirectly related but urgent big note just out from APN:
      The White House just announced that George Mitchell is stepping down from his role as President Barack Obama’s special Mideast peace envoy.

      The news follows reports of a dispute within the administration over how aggressively President Obama should push for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Mitchell was said to be pressing for a more hands-on approach. No doubt, some will say that Mitchell’s departure means that the administration is backing off the issue. But this doesn’t have to be true. A shake up in the president’s Mideast team could open the door for the direct personal engagement of the president himself.

      Today, we need your help to show the president that Americans want him to reassert U.S. leadership.

      Write President Obama. (Made really easy at the APN web site)

      A flurry of diplomatic activity over the next two weeks gives President Obama an opportunity to lead. The president will meet with the King of Jordan on Tuesday and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. The White House is also planning a major address on the Middle East for the near future.

    • Elliot
      May 14, 2011, 5:50 pm

      This is an interesting and informed distinction between the two militaries’ ground forces. Yet it’s important to remember that in the U.S. war in Iraq the initial killing of Iraqis was done by artillery and aerial bombardment. The amount of killing done there far outnumbers the IDF’s. Long distance killing is still preferred as evidenced by the drones and the Wikileaks video clip of the helicopter crew’s murderous attack on civilians.
      The Israeli military’s worst killing was similarly long distance.
      Of course the “most moral army in the world” is risible. But the U.S. had all those grizzly line sergeants in Vietnam and everywhere else. We all know about the war crimes there.
      Any military force that gets bogged down in policing occupied territories and facing a hostile civilian population gets into much the same trouble as the IDF, mature sergeants or not. This is for all the reasons I listed above.
      I’m also curious to know what combat experience Lt. Col Lang saw before becoming a civilian executive.
      War stinks. Even wars conducted by the U.S. military.

      • American
        May 14, 2011, 7:40 pm

        Lang was in Vietnam.
        He was a career officer, then was assigned to pentagon, then taught some classes at the War college, then after retiring hired by the DOD as a consultant to do things like liaison between US and foreign military and and assess their capabilities.
        He is pretty much old school military and will cut you off at the knees if you play nonsense with him.
        But a excellent source if you want the straight poop.

    • Elliot
      May 14, 2011, 6:25 pm

      In response to my own question, Pat Lang has the combat experience. I still think he favors the U.S. military. Do you think that if the IDF were to create the post of career sergeant, that life for Palestinian civilians in the O.T. would improve? The problems are greater than the distinction he draws.

      This is from his website:

      Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts.

  16. Avi
    May 14, 2011, 3:09 am

    Chris,

    That you remained conscious throughout this entire ordeal is testament to your strong will and moral strength.

    I am saddened that you were injured and wish you a quick and full recovery.

    Take care of yourself.

  17. Sumud
    May 14, 2011, 6:18 am

    Another American shot in the head by an Israeli thug with a tear gas gun.

    Did you know it is illegal under international and American law to sell weapons to a consistent violator of human rights such as Israel? Amnesty International asked the international community to impose an arms embargo on Israel after the slaughter in Gaza two years ago. It’s well overdue.

    I wish you good health & a speedy recovery Matthew Whitman, and “join the club”, so to say – that would be the American Survivors Of IDF Shootings With Tear Gas Guns Club: Emily Henochowicz, Tristan Anderson. The bigger club which you aren’t eligible to join is the Palestinians Non-Violent Protestors Killed The IDF Club, which now numbers over twenty, including several killed by tear gas and tear gas canisters.

    Since Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall the IDF seem to have developed a peculiar knack for killing Palestinian non-violent protestors but only injuring foreign non-violent protestors (with the attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla being an obvious exception).

    Anyway, once again, wishing you a speedy recovery. Sue the bastards.

  18. zafarz
    May 14, 2011, 8:38 am

    “Is this is what the most moral army in the world does!?” Well actually this is not all. It does a whole lot more. I am sorry to see what they did to you Christopher and thank God you are safe. You are relatively lucky. I believe anti-protest forces, any where in the world, are trained to fire tear gas far above heads of protesters. Exception; Israeli Occupation Forces have a habit of shooting tear gas canisters aiming straight at protesters as though they are shooting live ammunition. This hides their criminality behind the pretext of ‘crowd control’ but reveals their true intent, which is to maim and kill. In 2009 Tristan Anderson was paralyzed when he was shot in the head and lost much of it. Life has not been good for Tristan since then. Many Palestinians have been killed or maimed in the same manner.
    Outside of the U.S. Congress there may be few people who will believe the IOF is a moral army.
    http://sajepress.com

  19. Woody Tanaka
    May 14, 2011, 10:53 am

    Notice the lack of posts by the usual Zios?? Pathetic. Not even a “sorrry.” Shows those scum have no character at all.

    • Taxi
      May 14, 2011, 11:17 am

      They’re busy singing ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’ round Elton John’s piano.

    • yourstruly
      May 14, 2011, 11:39 am

      and they must at least sense that the zionist settler entity israel* is about to fall

      that none of the king’s men will be able to put humpty-dumpty together again**

      *not its people

      **good riddance too

    • Walid
      May 14, 2011, 1:37 pm

      “Notice the lack of posts by the usual Zios?? ”

      Maybe they’re observant and waiting for the sun to come down; give them a chance. Surely eee will chime in to gloat about Christopher having had only a small part of head blown off.

  20. Kris
    May 14, 2011, 12:09 pm

    All my best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery, Christopher.

  21. Whitty
    May 23, 2011, 8:13 pm

    I am amazed at your dedication and so proud at your commitment to seek justice for the Palestinian people. I can hardly begin to put my feelings into words. I would have posted sooner but my login to this site just arrived today. Rest up and get well.

    Dad

    • annie
      May 23, 2011, 9:05 pm

      omg! awesome

      ;)

      welcome dad, you must be very proud to have such a brave and ethical son.

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