After Lt. Col. Eisner was dismissed from his post for beating a left-wing activist, military analyst Roni Daniel warned motivation for officer service would decline. Itai Mazrav, a reserve company commander, believes the handling of the affair encourages new officers.
As soon as the graphic pictures of Lieut. Col. Eisner hitting European activists were broadcast, a national defensive campaign began. Organizations of reserve servicemen sent letters explaining that a deputy brigade commander who makes hundreds of decisions a day must not be judged over a few reckless seconds. Former subordinates of Eisner claimed he is a man of paramount values. All of the military people as one condemned the procedures to dismiss the deputy commander. The peak was on the Friday night newsmagazine “Ulpan Shishi,” when military correspondent Roni Daniel threatened that if “this terrible juridification” against Lieut. Col. Eisner continued, nobody would want to be officers anymore.
What message were the viewers of Channel 2 News supposed to receive if after broadcasting the new pictures showing the deputy commander assaulted four activists who did not use any violence against him, the channel’s senior news commentator supported him? What army does Roni Daniel imagine in his mind when he says that the procedures against Eisner lower motivation to be officers? Is it an army that embraces such violent behavior? Or is it an army that simply believes in the oh-so-Israeli culture of coverup? Roni, as an officer I beg you, do not threaten me. As an infantry company commander in reserves I cannot agree with you. We will not stop wanting to be officers because of the procedures against Eisner. On the contrary: we are going to continue wanting to be officers precisely because of the procedures against him. In Roni Daniel’s army I really don’t want to be an officer. But in the army of Benny Gantz, who was quick to suspend the officer, order procedures against him and after examining the materials dismissed him from his post, in that army I am proud to be a company commander, even more than I was before.
Not like Third World phalanges
As a young officer in the IDF, I had occasion to command a disturbance event in the territories which, at least by the pictures we saw, I remember as much more serious than the incident in the Jordan Valley. In my case the European bicycle riders were replaced by hundreds of furious Palestinians converging on my soldiers at a checkpoint, angry that a few soldiers from another regiment had previously shot an innocent civilian in the village of Dahariya in the South Hebron Hills. I, a young lieutenant, commanded the event and brought it to its good conclusion, with all of my soldiers safe and sound. I have no doubt that had I used Eisner’s tactic – the famous shove of the rifle and its magazine into the demonstrators’ faces – the incident would have ended differently and not well. I was just a lieutenant but Eisner is a Lt. Col. Precisely because of his experience and the reality he has faced every day for such a long time I expect much more from him. When I watch a deputy brigade commander in action I want to be proud of the Israel Defense Forces and not feel I am looking at Third World phalanges.
If the reserve officers want to take part in the public discourse surrounding the assaulting deputy commander, they should say loud and clear that they are proud to be part of an army that investigates, checks, exposes and denounces violent behavior like Eisner’s. There is no other way to judge the blunt images and there is not even another shred of information is needed to determine that his behavior was unprofessional and wrong. The IDF is better than that and that is why we are proud to serve in it.
Itai Mizrav is a reserve company commander.