Israeli military commander loses post following rifle-butt incident

Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner was dismissed from his command post following an investigation into an incident in which the Israeli soldier hit a Danish pro-Palestinian activist in the face with his rifle.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz relieved Eisner of his position as deputy division commander on “moral grounds,” according to the IDF. Gantz said the probe also showed professional and command failures.

In addition to losing his command, Eisner will not become deputy commander of the Bahd 1 officers’ training school and will be ineligible to serve in commanding positions for the next two years.

Eisner had been suspended from his post late Sunday, hours after a video of the incident was posted on YouTube by the International Solidarity Movement. The incident occurred during a protest bike ride in the Jordan Valley. Four activists were wounded, Haaretz reported.

Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, the Central Command chief of the IDF, on Sunday ordered an immediate investigation into the incident. Military Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avi Mandelblit also ordered a criminal investigation of Eisner.

Eisner was interrogated by Military Police investigators for the first time Monday evening, Ynet reported.

Eisner reportedly said he regretted the incident, but said the video represents one minute out of a two-hour event in which the protesters attacked the soldiers, breaking one of Eisner’s fingers and injuring his wrist. He is seen later in the video with his wrist and finger in a white bandage.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office on Tuesday night released a statement condemning the incident.

“The defense minister has determined, in closed conversations, that there is no contradiction between carrying out operations, appropriate behavior and preserving the principles and spirit of the IDF,” said the statement.

The statement also said that Eisner’s statements in defense of his actions “are not accepted by the defense minister and were never acceptable by the IDF.”

Approximately 200 activists, including Palestinians from the West Bank and foreign activists, rode their bikes along Route 90, the Jordan Valley’s main north-south route, on April 14 to protest what the ISM calls on its website “regular harassment and attacks from Israeli settlers and soldiers.” Israeli soldiers halted the activists, who were blocking the main thoroughfare to traffic and began taking away their bicycles.

According to Ynet, Eisner said he did not use a water cannon that he had at the scene in order to disperse the protesters because there was an ongoing dialogue and he wanted to end the event peacefully.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the incident, saying that “Such behavior does not characterize IDF soldiers and officers and has no place in the Israel Defense Forces and in the State of Israel.”

Community Briefs

Muslim and Jewish Students Break Ramadan fast atUCLA

This year at UCLA, the breaking of the fast for the monthlong Ramadan holiday was celebrated a little bit differently. Nearly 100 students and faculty members of different religious backgrounds joined together to break the fast and to celebrate the similarities between the Jewish and Islamic cultures. Muslims fast every day throughout Ramadan — the ninth month of the Muslim calendar — which is meant as a time of worship and contemplation. The breaking of the fast, however, is a time to visit and speak with friends, which is exactly what these students did.

“We should focus on our similarities rather than the differences between us,” Shukry Cattan, a second-year political science and history student, said before the meal of kosher Middle Eastern food. Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, director of UCLA Hillel, spoke about the similarities between Ramadan and Yom Kippur and emphasized the need for students to embrace their similar roots and religious ties. “This is the beginning of something that is much more than a great meal,” Seidler-Feller said.

The breaking of the fast at UCLA was organized by Coalition for Coexistence in the Middle East, a group formed last year by Arab and Jewish students who are striving to put an end to the tension and animosity that usually characterizes Muslim-Jewish relations on campus. — Merav Tassa, Contributing Writer

Tammy Bruce Outs PC ‘ThoughtPolice’

The year 2001 is looking more like “1984,” according to Tammy Bruce.

Bruce, an openly lesbian feminist who served as the president of the National Organization for Women’s Los Angeles chapter for six years, has recently penned her first book, “The New Thought Police” (Forum, $23.95), a veritable insider’s guide on how special interest groups seek to change people’s thoughts and speech in the name of social equality. In a noon address Friday, Dec. 14, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, to be co-hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition of Los Angeles and the Wednesday Morning Club, Bruce will explore the battles in this war against free expression that have claimed the likes of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the Cleveland Indians’ John Rocker and radio’s Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

For reservations, call (310) 843-3699 ext. 205, ore-mail . — Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Parents’ Lawsuit Against North Valley JCCDismissed

A lawsuit filed by the parents of a 5-year-old boy severely injured during a shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center has been dismissed by a Los Angeles judge.

The attack in August 1999 by white supremacist Bufford O. Furrow, Jr. wounded five people, with Benjamin Kadish sustaining the most critical injuries.

Charles and Eleanor Kadish, the boy’s parents, sued the Jewish center, alleging that it did not provide any security at a facility likely to be a target of anti-Semitic attacks.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William A. MacLaughlin dismissed the suit Dec. 4, noting that “I don’t find what has been alleged so far enough” to warrant a case.

However, the Kadish parents can amend their lawsuit within 20 days to address legal weaknesses in the case, MacLaughlin ruled.

The parents’ lawyer, Joseph M. Lovretovich, told the Los Angeles Times that, if necessary, he will ask an appellate court to reconsider the center’s legal obligation to prevent violent crimes by third parties on its premises.

Attorney Scott A. Edelman, representing the JCC, told The Journal that no one could have anticipated the shooting spree by Furrow, an avowed anti-Semite and white supremacist.

Furrow is serving a lifetime sentence, without possibility of parole, for the Jewish center attack and the killing of a mail carrier. — Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor