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Your daily dose of violence July 21, 2008

Posted by dorigo in news, politics.
Tags: , ,

…is brought today by the israeli army, in a appalling video diffused by the pacifist organization B’Tselem, where a palestinian prisoner, hands tied and blindfolded, is shot sang-froid in the leg. Here is the setting:

I wonder what could be the justification for such a totally superfluous, uncalled-for, barbarian act of violence. None other than hatred, I gather. Stratified hatred coming from decades lived in a state of war. So maybe the real question is another: since the shooting happened in the presence of a lieutenant-colonel of the israeli army, one is brought to believe that the army itself is a gang of criminals. I am happy to hear other opinions on this one.


1. wolfgang - July 21, 2008

How can people be like this?

2. goffredo - July 21, 2008

Dear Wolfgan. The aricle says “…sunbathers apparently enjoying a day at the beach just meters from where the bodies of two drowned Gypsy girls were laid out on the sand.”

Are you really sure you know what is going thru the minds of the two people? If you really think you do then you are full of hot air!

3. wolfgang - July 21, 2008

> what is going thru the minds of the two people?
Are you referring now to the soldier(s) in Tommaso’s story?
As for the people on the beach – I rather not now what (if anything) was going through their minds…

4. Tony Smith - July 21, 2008

As USA General Sherman said in the 19th century:

War is Hell.

Every “… army … is a gang of criminals …” to the opposing side.

I wish that there were no war.
If that is not realistic, I wish that EVERYTHING that goes on on ALL sides of EVERY war were video-recorded and broadcast for the whole world to see.
Even so,
given the content of TV, movies, video games, etc,
and the social context of violence in families, violence in youth gangs, and violent oppression by ruling classes (here I include such things as police searches of people’s homes and computers to enforce corporate intellectual property rights),
I fear that much of the human population is tolerant, even happy, with unproductive violence as long as it is done by their side.

The question “Why can’t we all just get along?”
is really very deep,
and its answer as of now is not favorable for humanity.

Tony Smith

PS – Note the Green Shirt of the prisoner in the video.
According to a 20 June 2008 politico.com article by Ben Smith:
“… Reporters traveling overseas with Sen. Barack Obama were … emailed a “dress code” for Israel and Jordan …
Do not wear green.” (Explained later as the color of Hamas) …”.

Would the prisoner have been shot if he had been wearing a white T-shirt?
Was the video of the shooting recorded as Israeli propaganda to spread it in the anti-Israel community as a warning that if you wear green you would be shot?

The idiocy of the situation is compounded by the facts that the USA-protected area of Baghdad is called “the Green Zone” and that Obama’s inclination is toward environmentally-friendly “Green” policies.

5. nige cook - July 21, 2008

Take care Tommaso!

There are people in high energy physics who take great offense to any display of sympathy with the victims of the Israelis. E.g., Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg of University of Texas, Austin, cancelled his trip to the UK in May because the UK National Union of Journalists at its national conference decided to boycott Israeli products in protest of the attacks by the highly armed Israeli army upon Palestinian civilian targets. E.g., every time Palestianian terrorists attack the Israeli army and escape, the Israeli army sends out helicopter gunships and blows to pieces civilian areas, without giving a toss about whether civilians or even kids get hurt. Weinberg states:

“I know that some will say that these boycotts are directed only against Israel, rather than generally against Jews.

“But given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than anti-semitism.”


The cause of the problem seems to be that the Israeli army and its political controllers can’t hit back effectively at Palestinian terrorists themselves, because of the nature of insurgency, so they have decided to punish Palestinians who aren’t responsible. It’s slightly like the Nazi method of dealing with insurgency from the Resistance in WWII. They can’t catch insurgents easily, so instead they round up and shoot people in cold blood to get revenge. If the people they shoot aren’t responsible, well at least they can publicise it well, so that the insurgents will learn that people have been punished for their continued opposition of the occupation. It’s interesting that the Israelis have no moral scruples about treating people this way.

Now you’ve blogged something that is not going to go down well with Weinberg, he’ll probably label you anti-semitic and stop reading your blog in protest. Be careful you don’t lose good readers!

6. Guess Who - July 21, 2008

Weinberg reads blogs? I may be wrong, but it seems out of character.

BTW, those events took place in May 2007.

7. Louise - July 21, 2008

Let us not get depressed too soon. Videos from such organisations tend to be sensationalised, to say the least. We can’t believe something just because we saw it on video or on the web.

8. dorigo - July 21, 2008

Hi Nige,

I am with GW on this one – very unlikely that Weinberg hangs around here. Other titled players do, but not him.

In any case, I am not ashamed if I publish an israeli soldier showing his barbarian nature. Of course, palestinian hamas soldiers are not expected to act any softer on their own prisoners. The point is to recognize and condemn these acts, wherever they come from.

And if a jew stops reading this blog because of today’s posting, well… we did not lose much. For one jew lost, we gain ten who are smart enough to appreciate the physics. Jews are a people who cherish science and culture more than others.


9. dorigo - July 21, 2008

Louise, I am _very_ depressed by the situation in the middle east… How long more do you need ? It’s been like this or worse for 62 years now.

I do not wish to argue on whether the video is cooked up or genuine. I think what we need is to take a step back and think at the level of hatred the palestinian conflict has generated, and agree that it is due time to put some order in the region.


10. Tony Smith - July 21, 2008

Tommaso, you say about the middle east:
“… it is due time to put some order in the region …”.

That is something as to which everybody agrees.
the disagreement is as to who enforces the order,
not to mention what sort of ethnic cleansing might ensue.
(For example, look at Lebanon today.)
Due to the fact that the middle east has the last significant deposits of cheap oil,
the list of contenders goes far beyond the religious Sunni-Shiite-Judaic-etc entities that have long been in the area,
also includes the USA, China, Russia, Japan, India, Europe (including Italy), …
Attempts to avoid of collapse of financial institutions, along with greed for the profits of the last cheap oil,
are strong motives for conflict,
and many very big wars have been fought over far lesser stakes.

Tony Smith

11. carlbrannen - July 22, 2008

Shooting prisoners is universal human behavior that dates back at least as far as the invention of the bow, even when and where it is illegal. Before that they clubbed or knifed prisoners. The Israelis are operating in a region that has more and more inexpensive cameras and videos, and high population densities. Since their war is 99.98% a propaganda war rather than a real conflict (like WW2), videos like this are a problem for them.

Usually Israeli barbarities don’t make it to the West’s attention, but they are common sights in the media of the Arab countries. In a propaganda war you only allow proof of the enemy’s lack of civilization. Internally, the usual military recourse is to call the incident “shot while trying to escape”.

My only reason for doubting the authenticity of this video is that it appears that the angle of the shot would have put other soldiers at risk. Bullets don’t come out of people at the same direction they go in. (High transverse momentum transfer.) One usually puts the prisoner up against a backstop so that when the round makes it back out of him, it wouldn’t hit anyone.

Also, some of the video was cut out, but it sure looked to me like they were aiming a little higher than what I would call the “leg”. The wound channel from an assault rifle is wide and long, and even a round to the leg is a life threatening injury. On the other hand, shooting in the genitals is safer because the soft tissue doesn’t cause ricochets and it’s not likely to be life threatening.

12. wolfgang - July 22, 2008

>> and even a round to the leg is a life threatening injury.

The soldier fired
a rubber bullet at the left foot of the Palestinian.

13. mb - July 22, 2008

I think that illustrates why we should not jump to conclusions when shown videos which appear to be inhumane or barbaric. And with this video, why is the part from when he is about to be ‘shot’ to when he is being tended on the ground missing?

14. wolfgang - July 22, 2008


>> if a jew stops reading this blog because of today’s posting, well… we did not lose much.

what did you mean by that?

15. anonymous - July 22, 2008

Interesting! With such an irrefutable proof some can still argue by looking for an excuse (and even by devising one!!!) It is either “this has happened before since the stone age(!)” Or it is because of Hamas “soldiers”. The most interesting point is that in a single post, the poster mentioned the “resistance” against the Germans in WW-II, which poses a question about the definition of “Resistance”? Then comes the authenticity of the video (or the photo shots!) What an excuse to detract our minds from the main point, which the act of atrocity done by a soldier in the presence of his commander. Sometimes I am amazed by the ability of some of people to keep arguing while the proof in front of their eyes is so convincing and decisive. But I would like to mention Tony’s posts here. Yes, it is the oil and nothing else. USA, China, Europe and soon India and Japan will not allow this cheap oil to go away from their hands (should I mention Iraq?). And let me say that the silence of the majority of their people is because they want to keep the welfare life they have intact even if others pay for that. Carlbrannen mentioned the media and how ignorant they are when it comes to condemn a barbaric act by the Israelis (not the Jews, as I do respect all religions) which would make it very plausible to think how free is our western media!?

16. dorigo - July 22, 2008

Wolfgang, I meant that my post was not insulting nor partisan, so if somebody feels offended by it he or she is not going to be sorely missed here – because I enjoy discussing with open-minded people, who do not take personally other people’s opinions.


17. dorigo - July 22, 2008

Anyway, it looks like wolfgang is correct: it was a rubber-coated metal bullet, which appears to have caused no major injury to the prisoner:


Worth noting is also that Barak condemned the episode, and that the soldier was arrested and questioned. Of course, videos have become a weapon in this messy war, as somebody notes above.


18. anonymous - July 22, 2008

>>Wolfgang, I meant that my post was not insulting nor >>partisan, so if somebody feels offended by it he or she is >>not going to be sorely missed here


>>Anyway, it looks like wolfgang is correct: it was a rubber- >>coated metal bullet, which appears to have caused no >>major injury to the prisoner.

So, no harm, let him train, then we will ar ‘rest’ him!!

19. goffredo - July 22, 2008

Any comments about the latest “bulldozer” attack?

20. Neil B. - July 22, 2008

Carlbrannen, thanks for putting in some “analysis” of the video (albeit a bit macabre) since we always need that when something is put forth as real, especially on the web. Your points are cogent, I wonder if they’re just common sense or did you get some specific orientation to these issues? Is there a good, disinterested organization/ web site that centralizes video assessment considerations?

Both sides have done bad things in this decades-old smoldering grudge match, and I wish it could be settled in some mutually agreeable sense. It seems we’ve come close sometimes, but someone finds the conditions just aren’t good enough in (their, or importantly – important backers’ or even threateners’) opinion/s.

BTW also keep up the good work as one of the few “amateurs” (I assume you’re OK with that as an ethanol-plant engineer) who has made important finds and proposals in particle physics. You are an inspiration to the rest of us who struggle in the shadows of the official venues.

21. carlbrannen - July 23, 2008

I’m glad to hear that the man was only shot in the foot with a rubber bullet. This is torture and is against the Geneva convention. Even telling a prisoner that he will be shot (with no intention of shooting him) is against the rules.

“why is the part from when he is about to be ’shot’ to when he is being tended on the ground missing?”

Humans have a natural inclination to hit the floor when shooting starts, especially if they’re already keyed up and the guns are in the hands of their enemy.

Neil B., my comments were after taking a quick look at the video. If you have a particular side you’d like to support, it’s pretty easy to find video / photographic evidence against the other side, and a google search should get it pretty quickly. Since the mideast “wars” aren’t really wars, but are more like low grade riots, the most important thing is propaganda and all sides generate this in copious quantities.

The countries there are small and none of them have been significantly involved in a major war in modern history. For example, Iran and Iraq went after each other in a desultory fashion for a while, but the total killed in action during 8 years of “war” was only a fraction of, for example, those killed in even a single battle like the Somme, which lasted only four months of 1916.

22. goffredo - July 23, 2008

Still no comments about the latest “bulldozer” attack?!

23. dorigo - July 23, 2008

Jeff, you look childish on this one. Why should I bother to comment the umpteenth attack of one side on the other ? The palestinian war is fought with despicable means by both sides, and civilian “casualties” (I would rather call them “certainties” since I really do not like the roots of that word being “casual” ) are the rule. The video showed something quite different, as I am sure you well understand.


24. goffredo - July 23, 2008

Yes I know am sounding childish. Childrene do have a wonderful way of embarassing adults, don’t they.

You started off entitling this thread “our daily dose of violence” and then went on saying how the violence should stop.
Wolfgang even mentioned the tragedy of the drown Rom children and was scandalized by how italian tourists seemed (in his mind) to be indifferent. I was the only one that reacted to his remark. But I did not think he was being off-topic as you did entitle this thread “our daily dose of violence”.

Now here I am asking comments about another exmaple of “daily dose of violence” and you say I am childish.

I am childish and you are behaving just like a forked tounge adult.

25. dorigo - July 23, 2008

Hi Jeff,

I did not follow this thread closely because, well, I am on vacation – you can see it also from the decreased rate of posts. Whether I answer comments or not, it depends entirely on my having something meaningful to say, not on the on- or off-topicness.

You asked for a post, not for a comment. I do not post daily on the terrorist acts going on around the world, nor on the non-terrorist surgical bombings that also kill civilians. I post on what I feel a stimulus to write about. I have nothing to say on the event you mention. Do you ? The floor is yours.


26. goffredo - July 23, 2008

Something about the event the bulldozer event? For starters it has more to say about hatred in the near east than the rubber bullet incident.

The rubber bullet incident is objectively on another hypershpere. In that case the soldiers were personally confronted the palistinian protester: they saw him, they confronted him, they were challenged by him, they arrested him. He was antagonistic and was at least percieved as a nuissance, if not an potential enemy. The soldiers without doubt did the wrong thing, but I understand them far more than the palistinian bulldozer terrorist. The terrorist attacked anon bystanders with the hateful intent to kill.

If I were to write a post about how hatred in the near east has gotten out of hand I would write about the bulldozer incident. The violent behaviour of the soldiers was not dissimilar to the violent behaviour of individuals under immediate stress. Some people handle stress, other don’t. Believe me: officiers loose their cool too and order and do dispicable things. I’ve asked my self what I would do in a similar situation; i.e. if I were a policeman or soldier confronting a rioting mob. I hope the Israeli army investigates as any police department or army should. Certainly many israelis will be shocked that such behaviour is seen in their citizen army. Instead the bulldozer incident falls into another category. No one on the palistinian side will investigate. The bulldozer attacker will be not be simply and rightfully mourned by his family and friends (and I do feel pity for him). Instead he will be honored by the vast majority of palistinians. I, quite frankly, I am far more depressed by this vast majority that will honor him. They show not pity nor compassion, not for the isreali victims (the enemy) but not even for the poor bulldozer driver that was blinded by his hatred for israelis. They show limitless hatred. That I would say.

27. RZ - July 24, 2008

I am an Israeli.

There is no excuse for the horrible action of that soldier. I hope that
he and anyone else connected to this case ( his commanding officer denied having “ordered him” to shoot) are caught and punished.

Ther is a well known ruling of the Israeli supreme court stating that a soldier is forbidden to follow an order if it is “obviously” illegal. Point blank shooting of a restrained prisoner ( even in the foot with a rubber bullet) clearly falls under this ruling.

I am deeply ashamed and depressed by this action and to judge by the “noise” this case caused in Israel I hope that this feeling is universal. We are fighting a war, with casualties, but this kind of a disgusting act should not be allowed under any circumstances. In fact, I consider the existence of such acts a kind of a defeat.

28. dorigo - July 25, 2008

Jeff, thank you for your comment. I might agree that terrorist actions, with all the surrounding sociology, would be more interesting to discuss than the action captured on video above. However, it is not my job… Maybe I will do it, another time.

RZ, whether you are an israeli or not can’t be ascertained from your anonymous comment. In any case, thank you for your contribution.


29. RZ - July 27, 2008

Well I am. What would you have me do? write a response in hebrew?
בכל אופן אני בהחלט ישראלי ואני עומד מאחורי כל מה שכתבתי בתגובה הקודמת.

30. dorigo - July 27, 2008

Hi RZ, if you are a regular on blogs and internet discussion forums in general, you know that anonymity lends itself to despicable usage. At a minimum, one is required to use a valid email address to be taken in consideration when expressing his or her personal views. Now, there exist cases when that rule does not apply. For instance, there is a regular reader here who signs himself as “Guess Who”, who stays anonymous but has become personalized by his consistent participation. Of course, nobody can avoid others to use his nickname… So it cuts both ways.


31. Guess Who - July 27, 2008

Nah, I’m uniquely tagged by all my typos and lapses. 🙂

32. RZ - July 28, 2008

Well, I had to enter my e-mail address in the email box, so in principle you have it. Anyway, I fail to see how my response to your post could be considered “despicable usage”.

33. dorigo - July 28, 2008

Oh well RZ, I thought it was a fake one – “perplexed reader” seems
something made up at the moment.
Your response was civil and I agreed to what you said, so do not take
this personally. No despicable usage.


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