Several prominent national-religious rabbis have expressed support for Lt.-Col.
Shalom Eisner, the officer who was filmed striking a pro-Palestinian activist in
the face with his M- 16 rifle.
Eisner, who has expressed regret over the
incident, has been suspended until an investigation into the matter is
Rabbi Benny Lau, a widely respected figure in the national-
religious community, said that although it was clear that Eisner “failed in
those moments” in which he struck the activist, the lieutenant-colonel was a
moderate figure with positive values and that he should be cautioned but in no
Referring to Eisner’s regret over the incident,
Lau wrote on his Facebook page “Lt.-Col. Eisner’s remorse allows him to go back
and deal with the complex situation [in the West Bank] and lead himself and his
subordinates to the fitting moral level of the Israeli army.”
criticized both sides of the political debate: The right wing for refusing to
criticize Eisner’s violent actions and the left wing for refusing to take into
consideration the officer’s confrontation of violent right-wing activists, and
his achievements in slowing the “price tag” attack phenomenon.
Levanon, hard-line rabbi of the Samaria region, was even more vehement in his
support for Eisner.
“If we were talking about a settler who had raised
his hands to a lieutenant-colonel, everyone would have asked ‘why didn’t he
shoot him in the knees?’ But here, instead of praising this officer, who was
beaten, they condemn him; there’s no greater distortion,” Levanon told Walla
The rabbi also criticized Eisner’s indefinite suspension,
citing the officer’s claims that the same activist had struck him with a stick
shortly before the scenes depicted in the video, breaking two of his fingers and
injuring his wrist.
Former IDF chief rabbi Avihai Rontzki has also
weighed in on the incident, and slammed what he labeled “an instinctive and
impulsive” reaction against an officer who has “given his life everyday for the
sake of the Jewish nation.”
“Correct, it doesn’t look good and the
officer himself acknowledges that he made a mistake,” said Rontzki, “but they
edited the video so that you couldn’t see that he was attacked and that they
broke his hand. They need to look at the big picture.”
Rontzki, like Lau,
said that Eisner should be reprimanded but that he should be allowed to continue
to serve in the army, and also said that the incident should have been
investigated before suspending him.