Israeli Border Police Videos Document Abuse of Palestinian Civilians
YouTube may have banned Max Blumenthal’s Feel the Hate video, but I guess the hasbara crowd hasn’t yet gotten around to complaining about the multiple YouTube abuse videos documenting verbal and emotional abuse of innocent Palestinian civilians by thuggish Israeli Border Police (the original Hebrew is available here).
Uri Blau reports this important new story for Haaretz:
For the “hero” of the clip, an unidentified young Arab, they [the 43 second length of the video] were probably eternally long seconds and far from amusing. He was forced to slap himself and sing to the jubilant shouts of the photographer and his buddies – all of them members of Israel’s Border Police.
This clip…shows the unknown Palestinian standing in a desert setting while a disembodied voice orders him in Hebrew to hit himself: “Yallah, start, do it hard!”
The viewers hear the chuckles of the other policemen and a clear voice telling the Arab: “Say Ana behibak Mishmar Hagvul [“I love the Border Police”]. Say it!”
[He] obey[s] in a subdued voice and with a frightened look, even as he goes on slapping himself…The “director” laughs and the faceless voice shouts: “Again! Ana behibak Mishmar Hagvul.”
…The voice says, “Say Wahad hummus wahad ful” – and the Arab man obeys and then is told to complete the rhyme: “Ana behibak Mishmar Hagvul.”
After 40 seconds, the abusers appear to have had enough and the voice impatiently orders the victim: “Yallah, rukh, rukh, rukh” (“go”). The camera turns and for a fraction of a second a Border Police Jeep is visible.
The Hebrew version of this article also notes in this video the police force the boy to say “I fuck you, Palestine.” For some reason, this is not in the English translation of the article.
Another video features a Border Police officer singing a song of praise for his unit:
…[The] clip…opens with the caption, “And a little poison – C Company, the lions of the Old City”…The caption “Respect” [displays]…accompanied by an original soundtrack: “Let every Arab mother know that the fate of her children is in the hands of…C Company in the Old City; with bullet proof vests and clubs we [empty] gun clips on Arab mothers…C Company’s in the Old City, so let every Arab mother know.”
(This is a play on a famous quote by David Ben-Gurion, who said that every Jewish mother should know that her son is in good hands in the army.)
Blau interviews a Border Police officer who dismisses the abuse documented in the videos as insignificant compared to more serious physical abuse: “Blows, ‘sit on my knees,’ ‘lower your head,’ ‘pull down your pants,’ ‘strip.’ In my opinion, those are worse things than singing.”
We can easily assume that if this is abuse the interviewee will acknowledge publicly, there is far worse abuse he will not (see below).
The article documents from many Border Police sources how prevalent the song is which the Palestinian boy is forced to chant. Yet a former commander of the force claims never to have heard of it:
Major General (ret.) David Zur, who was commander of the Border Police from 2002 to 2004, says he is not familiar with the ditty mentioned above or the phenomenon of forcing Palestinians to sing it.
Which makes you wonder how much he really knew about anything that anyone did under his command. Zur does, however, provide insight into the sociological analysis of the composition of the Border Police, which in turn tells us a great deal about how and why the abuse might occur:
People who might not integrate in the army’s combat units integrate in the Border Police. Some people might say that is a bad thing, but some might say it is even Zionist service. There is a very high percentage of new immigrants. I offer this background in order to explain that in the final analysis, to introduce these people into the combat formation in a very short time is no simple matter and a great deal is invested there … There is an effort to root out phenomena like that, and all the types of abuse or of despicable behavior are dealt with … The Border Police does amazing work in the realm of education.”
Apparently, not amazing enough.
The official Border Police reply is essentially non-responsive:
Border Police spokesman Moshe Pintzi stated in response: “In recent years there has been a decrease of tens of percent in complaints filed against Border Policemen, both over the unauthorized use of force and inappropriate behavior. One can attribute this trend to educational efforts in cooperation with human rights organizations and a policy of zero tolerance. The Border Police has vowed to maintain values, first and foremost, human dignity and human rights, and the fighters are taught to respect these values.”
The Border Police added in the statement that its officer for public complaints continues to deal with the matter of the videos, which it said have been on YouTube since 2008.
This is sophistry. A drop in the number of complaints means nothing. It could mean that Palestinians understand it is meaningless to do so as they will be swept under the rug as the incidents portrayed in these videos have been. The fact that there are not one but many different videos online proves that many officers do not uphold the values as officially enunciated. The Border Police has a problem which they refuse to recognize. They are a bunch of thugs in uniform. To join you have to be willing to punish Palestinians physically, emotionally, in every way possible. You have to view Palestinians as cattle to be herded or dogs to be whipped into submission.
Israeli commenters on YouTube wrote such stellar observations as:
What a poor stinking piece of Arab shit! They really should’ve shot him. Sons of whores!
This commenter objected to those who are offended by the video:
Just as it should be. Stop being such Ashkenazim.
Another commenter seemed less concerned with the actual offense than the impact it would have on Israel’s public image:
Silly children. You have no idea how much damage this will do to hasbara on behalf of our country.
This is not an aberrant view held by a few bad apples. Stories of murder, forced bestiality and more garden varieties of abuse are legion and have been documented here and at Lawrence of Cyberia and of course by human rights groups like B’Tselem.
Let’s keep our eye on the prize here…when you refuse a settlement freeze as Bibi has done, when you maintain an Occupation for 42 years, this is what will happen. It must happen.
That is why a settlement freeze is an important first step to get Israel out of the mess it is in.
A word about the Holocaust image featured above. I took it from Idan Laudau’s blog. The caption here is Idan’s. It is shocking and breathtaking at the same time. Of course, the aberrant human behavior in both cases is similar. Of course the violation of human dignity is similar. The only difference (and it is a big one) is Israel is neither willing to nor capable of engaging in a genocide of Nazi-like proportions against Palestinians. But short of this, the parallels between the images are eerie and disturbing. H/t to Iris Hefets.
5 thoughts on “Israeli Border Police Videos Document Abuse of Palestinian Civilians – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I spent a few days when I was in the IDF serving with the Border Police and I’d like to caution against making generalisations about them. While it’s true that many of the most awful human rights abuses happen at the hands of the Border Police, and that many of them hold extreme and often racist views, it’s by no mean the whole lot of them, and I certainly had a lot of my prejudices shattered by interacting with them on a daily basis, albeit only for a few days. In fact, just as we are cautious about generalisations we make about other perceived opponents of peace, for example Hamas, we should be just as cautious in this case.
Your point is well-taken. Not all Border Police are thugs or evil personified. But as you can clearly read in the former commander’s statement the service is deeply flawed beginning with the quality of its recruits. I have read scores of documented reports of horrific abuse perpetrated by the Border Police. This is more than a single incident or a few bad apples. The problem is systemic.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t some good people there. But it does mean that the entire system is so flawed that the good people are the exception rather than the rule.
Yes, it’s absolutely true that Hamas has a stupid and racist charter. There is no doubt hatred in the Palestinian community towards Jews and I think many deny the Holocaust as well.
But not all racism is the same in origin. OBVIOUSLY.
The racism exhibited by Christian/Jewish Zionists (the main group), American ‘exceptionalists’, etc. is that of the master over the slave. It’s colonial/imperial racism.
It’s not the same origin for racism amongst Arabs who are daily humiliated by Jews, while at the same time turn on the television and see the criminal Western MSM telling them they are the terrorists and Jews are eternal victims fighting off the barbarian anti-semitic Nazi horde.
There is collusion between the MSM always supporting the State against it’s enemies and the power of the Jewish (not simply Zionist) narrative in the US. We are a pro-Jewish (Arabs are semitic and we’re not pro-Arab, just read the book ‘Reel Bad Arabs’ a study on Arab stereotypes in Hollywood) society. Jews have been a part of American society for a long time. They have assimilated with us.
Arabs and Muslims are still an alien entity trying to get accepted.
One of the big scams about Obama-mania is the notion that racism is over or that it’s been dealt a serious loss. It hasn’t. No one has learned the principles of racism. People have simply been SOCIALIZED to accept certain groups. Blacks, Jews, etc. I can’t even think of a third group that is accepted as much.
The racism in Israeli society is PREDICTABLE. We are seeing typical colonial behavior.
It’s just like the talk of terrorism. Hamas is frequently called a terrorist organization. Why has Israel not labeled Irgun a terrorist organization and asked for forgiveness from the Arabs for the crimes committed by Irgun? Last time I checked, Israel named a medal or ribbon in dedication to Irgun.
Begin – a Prime Minister of Israel – was in Irgun.
This is classic hypocrisy.
Militant nationalist groups throughout history have used terror. That’s what they are like. But to attach ‘terrorist’ to them is to render their crimes unique to history. They are labeled this way to separate their actions from the actions of States or groups WE support(ed).
Again, it’s a TACTIC to call someone a terrorist in the same way it’s a tactic to call someone an antisemite.
And there is not intellectual discussion on race and religion. It’s always generalized with empty platitudes. No one wants to analyze groups. Well, no one wants to talk about Blacks or Jews. If we’re discussing the Chinese, it’s another issue. If it’s Arabs, it’s another issue.
No principles. No reciprocity.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is symbolic of the deep injustice done to colonized people/oppressed people/the third world.
Richard, thanks so much for posting this. Including, thanks for putting in the few tidbits from the Hebrew version that weren’t in the English version.
On the issue of comparisons with the European Holocaust, I agree with your position that there IS an important distinction between having genocidal intent (and practice) and not having it; but that beyond that specific question of genocide there are many other gross rights abuses– i.e. atrocities– that the Israeli government and security forces engage in that DO have disturbing parallels with the practice of the Nazis and of other perpetrators of atrocities, that can and should be pointed out.
Regarding the Nazi-era photo you reproduce, there see to be parallels w/ the You-tube videos at two levels: 1) the event being portrayed and 2) the fact of the recording/memorialization of the event, which was almost certainly done with an intention for subsequent sharing.
…. This latter fact is an interesting one to explore. For starters, memorializing/recording the event means that there are at least two people involved: the on-screen perp and the camera-person; and that they were in a situation in which they had the leisure to give the whole “performance” and its recording a degree of planning. In other words, these abuses being portrayed were NOT committed “in the heat of the battle” or in any situation of great pressure that would have prevented the somewhat orderly stage-managing and recording of the event.
Secondly, if the perps had had any reason to believe that perpetrating these abuses would have damaged their careers or led to other punishments, of course they would not have recorded them and later (in the present Israeli case) gone so far as to share their recordings extremely widely.
These observations apply in some measure, too, to the abuses the US military committed at Abu Ghraib and to the fact of the wide-scale recording by fellow service members of those abuses, too. In the Abu Ghraib case, of course, the US military and government have worked very hard to restrict the distribution of the images.
I’m thinking that the Israeli authorities will now work pretty hard to get the Border Police Youtube videos taken down… perhaps by using an appeal to “protect the dignity of the Palestinians involved.” Not a trivial argument, actually.
Thanks for that very articulate discussion of the issues involved in the videos & their comparison w. Nazi era abuse.
Wouldn’t it be ironic though if the Border Police argued in trying to get the videos taken down (which btw Jerry Haber says they’ve done in at least one case) they were “protecting the dignity” of the victims after their own personnel had violated their dignity so egregiously by creating these horrid videos?
Did you note also that the Border Police attempt to glom onto Machsom Watch & to get credit for supposedly using that group’s personnel to sensitize the Border Police to their role in monitoring Palestinian checkpoints & civilians? I’d be curious whether Machsom Watch itself feels either it, or the Border Police deserve such “credit.”