The Left's new hero is Corporal Shachar Berrin, who serves as a combat soldier in the Home Front Command (HFC). Berrin was lauded in Haaretz's main editorial Monday and was glorified in at least two articles by the paper's pundits, Gideon Levy and Uri Misgav, as well as in other left-wing and anti-Israeli websites.
Berrin's “heroic” action was a monologue on German TV channel Deutsche Welle's show, The New Arab Debates, hosted by Tim Sebastian, which was taped in Jerusalem about two weeks ago.
“When soldiers are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people and consider other human beings as less than human, I think that seeps in,” Berrin – who was in uniform – told the audience in Israel, and viewers in the estimated 50 million homes that the channel reaches.
“Just the other week, when some Border Police soldiers were rough with Christian tourists,” Berrin said, “another soldier, a colleague, said she couldn’t believe what they were doing: ‘I mean, come on, they are people, not Palestinians’ … I think that once you are conditioned to think something, you bring it back with you and that it deeply affects Israeli society and causes it, as our president says, to be more racist.”
The former spokesman for Judea and Samaria's Yesha Council, Dani Dayan, who was also on the panel, went on the offensive against Berrin. “You’re not the only person who was in the army. I was in the army, I have a daughter in the army. It’s demagogy. I think the guy is lying,” Dayan said.
Sebastian interjected: “You think he’s lying? On the basis of what? Because you don’t like it?”
Dayan replied: “I challenge him to bring one example in which a [commanding officer] gave him an order to treat Palestinians inhumanely.”
Who's the snitch?
Dayan later noted on Facebook that taking part in a television show in uniform, without permission from the IDF spokesman, would have been a violation of military law even if the soldier had not been spewing “anti-Israeli propaganda.”
"The IDF was informed of the incident,” Dayan wrote. “The soldier was court-martialed and sentenced to very light punishment under the circumstances, just 7 days' lockup.”
“Instead of listening to the content of Berrin’s words and appreciating the courage and morality he showed,” Haaretz wrote Monday, “his commander charged him with 'participating as a soldier in a political meeting, in uniform and in the presence of the media, against army regulations.' The fact that this was not a political meeting – and that Berrin had not really been interviewed – did not deter the army. When the supreme goal is to shut critics up, discretion gives way with dizzying speed to procedures of silencing and punishment.”
Misgav went further, calling Berrin “a hero of Israel.” He also accused right-wingers of being “snitches” for disclosing Berrin's actions to his commanders and causing him to be court-martialed.