Last week, a video circulated the Internet of a Palestinian teenager named Ahed Tamimi insulting and taunting two Israeli soldiers. When they didn’t respond, she proceeded to slap, shove, and kick them while her friends videotaped the scene and encouraged her. The incident concluded only when they walked away, although Tamimi was subsequently arrested and is now in custody. Hillel Frisch argues that the IDF does itself no favors by letting such behavior go unpunished:
This . . . incident . . . can only dampen young people’s willingness to join [combat] units [when they enter the military]. Israeli youth will ask themselves, quite reasonably, why they should not only put their lives on the line but tolerate such humiliation as well. . . . Prospective soldiers don’t want to become victims of the doctrine of turning the other cheek.
This incident also sends a dangerous signal to the many Palestinians who want to harm Israelis. Anyone viewing the two-minute video can clearly see how the number of people encouraging the assault grew as the passivity of the officers continued. It begins with two girls, a third joins in, and then [Tamimi’s] mother enters the fray with two young boys. The assault also becomes increasingly brazen in the face of the officers’ passivity.
One can safely assume that the weaker the IDF looks, the greater will be the willingness of Palestinians to join the ranks of attackers in larger, more charged, and more dangerous scenarios. Israel must make clear that turning the other cheek is not its doctrine.