Fury at Azaria Verdict is Israel's Trump moment ـ

Fury at Azaria Verdict is Israel's Trump moment ـ
  1. Fury at Azaria Verdict is Israel's Trump moment ـ
    By their very nature, occupying armies are brutally repressive. For decades the army command has given its soldier free rein against Palestinians. But as settler numbers have grown, the army’s image of itself has changed too, warns Jonathan C…
    Middle Easte

The United Kingdom has Brexit. The United States, an incoming president Trump. And Israel now has Elor Azaria. It may not have the same ring, but ultimately the turning point could prove as decisive.

Two fallacious narratives have greeted the army medic’s manslaughter conviction last week, after he was filmed firing a bullet into the head of a wounded and helpless Palestinian, 21-year-old Abdel Fattah Al Sharif.

The first says Azaria is a rotten apple, a soldier who lost his moral bearings last March under the pressure of serving in Hebron. The second – popular among liberals in Israel – claims the conviction proves the strength of Israel’s rule of law. Even a transgressing soldier will be held accountable by the world’s “most moral army”.

In truth, however, the popular reaction to the military court’s decision was far more telling than the decision itself.

Only massed ranks of riot police saved the three judges from a lynching by crowds outside. The army top brass have been issued bodyguards. Demands to overrule the court and pardon Azaria are thunderous – and they are being led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Azaria is no rogue soldier. He is “everyone’s child”, according to much of the public. The unexceptional nature of his act is vouched for by the complete indifference of his colleagues as Azaria pulled the trigger. Polls show overwhelming support – 84 per cent – for Azaria among 18- to 24-year-olds, the age of ­Israel’s conscript army.

The trial, meanwhile, reflected not the law’s sanctity – it is 12 years since the last soldier, a Bedouin, was convicted of manslaughter. It revealed only the growing pressures on Israel. Cameras in phones are making it harder to cover up soldiers’ crimes. By prosecuting Azaria in a case where the filmed evidence was unequivocal, Israel hopes to ward off war crimes investigations by the International Criminal Court.

As Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea noted, Azaria’s defence team also erred. Riding a wave of populist indignation, they accused Azaria’s superiors of lying and bullying. Prosecutors had already reduced a murder charge to manslaughter. The court would probably have settled for convicting a repentant Azaria of misusing a firearm. But given the defence’s framing of the case, the judges had to choose: side with the soldier or the army.

Like Brexit and Trump, Azaria’s trial exposed not only a deep social fissure, but also a moment of transition. Those who see a virtuous system punishing a rotten apple are now outnumbered by those who see a rotten system victimising a hero.

Polls show the Israeli public’s faith plummeting in most institutions, from the courts to the media, which are seen, however wrongly, as dominated by the “extreme left”. Only the army is still widely revered.

That is in part because so many Israeli parents must entrust their sons and daughters to it. To doubt the army would be to question the foundational logic of “Fortress Israel”: that the army is all that prevents Palestinian “barbarians” such as Sharif from storming the gates.

But also, unlike those increasingly despised institutions, the army has rapidly adapted and conformed to the wider changes in Israeli society.

Rather than settlers, we should speak of “settlerism”. There are far more settlers than the 600,000 who live in the settlements. Naftali Bennett, leader of the settlers’ Jewish Home Party and education minister, lives in Ranana, a city in Israel, not a settlement.

Settlerism is an ideology, one that believes Jews are a “chosen people” whose Biblical rights to the Promised Land trump those of non-Jews such as Palestinans. Polls show 70 per cent of Israeli Jews think they are chosen by God.

The settlers have taken over the army, both demographically and ideologically. They now dominate its officer corps and they direct policy on the ground.

Azaria’s testimony showed how deep this attachment now runs. His compa…

  1. Trump promises to 'unify' US, but his actions suggest otherwise

    Middleeasteye.net - Middle Easte
    01.20 / 01:44 middleeasteye.net
    Language Undefined Trump’s foreign policy has been roundly criticised for lack of concrete details and bumpy transition to power …
  2. Has Israeli left given up on two states?

    Al-monitor.com - Middle Easte
    01.20 / 00:53 al-monitor.com
    Israel’s left no longer preaches for coexistence, dialogue or reconciliation, and focuses only on separating the two peoples through unilateral m…
  3. Gaza's electricity protests are bold sign of dissent

    Al-monitor.com - Middle Easte
    01.20 / 00:16 al-monitor.com
    Qatar pledged to donate $12 million to help ease the Gaza Strip's electricity crisis, following a wave of massive protests against Hamas' ineffectual running of the electricity sector in the…
  4. Russia and Turkey hold first joint air attacks in Syria's al-Bab

    Middleeasteye.net - Middle Easte
    01.19 / 07:56 middleeasteye.net
    Language Undefined Moscow says nine of its jets joined Turkish air force in 'highly effective' bombing of Islamic State targets …
  5. Supreme Court hears case of Muslims detained after 9/11

    Aljazeera.com - Middle Easte
    01.19 / 06:42 aljazeera.com
    Supreme Court weighs case by Muslims to decide whether men alleging religious discrimination had right to sue…
  6. Trump's UN nominee reassures advocates of Iran deal, two-state solution

    Al-monitor.com - Middle Easte
    01.19 / 00:20 al-monitor.com
    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley offered a measured counterpoint to Donald Trump's inflamed rhetoric during her confirmation hearing Jan.…
  7. Fear that Israel is becoming ‘South Africa on the Mediterranean’ is expressed in Park Avenue synagogue

    Mondoweiss.net - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 23:33 mondoweiss.net
    UN resolution against settlements will lead to 'mass boycotts and sanctions' of Israel, Michael Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum tells Park Ave synagogue, as liberal Zionists panic over the dangers posed to their dream by Netanyahu and…
  8. Muslim nations to heap pressure on Myanmar over Rohingya

    Middleeasteye.net - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 22:07 middleeasteye.net
    Language Undefined Arriving in neighbouring Bangladesh, displaced Rohingya recount allegations of military abuse, including rape, killings …
  9. Western Union Responds to Dearborn Residents' Discrimination Complaint

    Newamericamedia.org - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 21:07 newamericamedia.org
     DEARBORN - Following a complaint against the Western Union by the Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) that alleged it was discriminating against Arab and Muslim customers, the money-transfer giant has issued an apology on at least one case. …
  10. Witnesses challenge Israeli account of deadly incident during protest against Negev home demolitions

    Mondoweiss.net - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 20:29 mondoweiss.net
    Controversy erupted on Wednesday over conflicting reports regarding an incident in Umm al-Hiran, a Palestinian Bedouin village facing demolition in the Negev, where two people -- one Palestinian civilian and an Israeli police officer -- were killed. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli forces shot at a truck driving through the village, making the driver lose control and run over an officer, while Israeli officials have reported that the Palestinian was shot and killed after purposefully…
  11. Have anti-terror laws gone too far?

    Aljazeera.com - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 20:16 aljazeera.com
    Anmesty International suggests basic human rights are being eroded across Europe, perhaps…
  12. Fear and anticipation as Gambia deadline nears

    Aljazeera.com - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 20:16 aljazeera.com
    Thousands flee and regional forces deploy as President Yahya Jammeh refuses to cede power despite election…
  13. US backs Turkish offensive with airstrikes around al-Bab

    Al-monitor.com - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 18:49 al-monitor.com
    After repeated appeals from Turkey for the United States to help Turkish troops and their rebel proxies to capture al-Bab, US airstrikes are resuming in a move that could help diffuse growing tensions between the NATO…
  14. Obama's true legacy: Trump

    Middleeasteye.net - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 17:49 middleeasteye.net
    Trump is not just America's greatest nightmare, but the result of conditions created by Obama, Clinton, Blair and Cameron …
  15. Palestinians demand Israeli authorities release the remains of slain loved ones

    Mondoweiss.net - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 17:25 mondoweiss.net
    A peaceful march broke out into clashes on Sunday, after Palestinians gathered in the occupied southern West Bank city of Bethlehem to demand Israeli authorities release the remains of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces to their families for…
  16. Russian and Turkish jets 'bomb ISIL' in Syria's al-Bab

    Aljazeera.com - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 17:12 aljazeera.com
    Russia's defence ministry says its fighter jets have teamed up with Turkish planes to target ISIL in Syria's…
  17. France says Iraqi jihadist among 2015 stadium bombers

    Middle-east-online.com - Middl Easte
    01.18 / 15:24 middle-east-online.com
    French intelligence identifiesIraqi jihadist as one of three suicide bombers behind attack outside Stade deFrance in Paris in November 2015 after slipping into Europe with…
  18. Serbia accused of mass illegal deportations of refugees

    Middleeasteye.net - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 15:23 middleeasteye.net
    Language Undefined Rights groups say government is complicit in 'pushbacks' of refugees to Macedonia and Bulgaria, including families dumped in forests …
  19. In path to greater executive power, Erdogan faces weak Turkey economy

    Middle-east-online.com - Middl Easte
    01.18 / 15:23 middle-east-online.com
    Turkish parliament has approved bill to create executive presidency,but flagging economy could present unexpected…
  20. UK prime minister rejects call for inquiry into Israeli influence

    Middleeasteye.net - Middle Easte
    01.18 / 15:22 middleeasteye.net
    Language Undefined Spokesperson says Theresa May 'considers matter closed' despite calls from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for probe into 'improper interference' …