Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner has hired a lawyer, and that’s a good thing. Indeed, on television he has been convicted already without any right for appeal, yet officially at least there are some legal procedures that may allow him to escape harsh punishment.
A good attorney could turn this case, which is premised on a video clip recorded and edited by the enemy, into a boomerang. Should the attorney manage to present the violent provocation that preceded the beating of the foreign activist, the judges may reach conclusions that are entirely different than the conclusions of the media court-martial.
It will apparently not end with a complete acquittal, because Eisner indeed struck the activist in an unauthorized manner, but it should not end with a grave conviction, and certainly not with a cruel dismissal from the army.
Officers who are much less veteran than Eisner and who performed much less significant duties were not significantly harmed in similar cases in the past. Only a month ago, an identical incident ended with monetary compromise. The Defense Ministry paid NIS 73,000 (roughly $16,000) to a Jewish West Bank resident who during the disengagement was attacked by an IDF second lieutenant.
Even though the resident required treatment at the hospital, and even though his only “sin” was to photograph the officers during the disengagement, a military attorney told the court that no punitive measures were taken against the officer because he followed orders and “was concerned about the wellbeing of the soldiers and officers photographed during the disengagement.
Perpetual punching bagTo his regret, Lieutenant Colonel Eisner struck a blue-eyed Danish activist, a so-called peace activist and not a settler. He was also clumsy enough to be photograph in the act, as opposed to the abovementioned case of the second lieutenant, where the evidence was based on an audio tape only.
Eisner’s photogenic sin also involves international harm to Israel’s image (what will they be thinking about us now in Copenhagen? In Turkey? At the UN?) Still, we can expect the IDF chief of staff and the Central Command chief to correct the error of shunning Eisner and not to punish him gravely.
In any case, they must keep him in the army. Any other decision will constitute a grave blow to the face of IDF combat soldiers, the perpetual punching bag of all Israel haters.
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