If anyone should know that one camera angle isn’t enough for a full analysis, it’s Gary Lineker.
But a storm erupted on Twitter on Tuesday after the Match of the Day host shared a video tweeted by Ben White, a notorious activist with a history of vile and intolerant anti-Israel statements.
The video, originally shot by B’tselem, shows Israeli soldiers strong-arming Palestinian youths to a checkpoint, where they were detained.
Mr Lineker’s tweet contained just one word: “Sickening.”
Predictably, outrage followed. Many expressed disgust at the soldiers’ behaviour.
Others, such as prominent international human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky, chastised Mr Lineker for sharing content from “an extremist and bigot”.
What is ‘sickening’ Gary is that you would willingly RT such an extremist and bigot as Ben White! #FactsMatter— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) December 12, 2017
Criticism also focused on video footage edited out by Ben White; the youths had been throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.
Mr Lineker, however, shrugged off the criticism and bowed out stating, “there is no justification for stuffing them in a cage”.
I don’t take any side other than that of the abused youngsters. There is no justification for stuffing them into a cage.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 12, 2017
What bothered me the most, however, was the fact that Mr Lineker totally misidentified this “cage”.
As an Israeli who’s spent many hours in Hebron over the last two years, I immediately recognised the location of the footage, and made my way to the city that evening to film a video response.
The stuffy cage Mr Lineker referred to is actually merely the soldiers’ access passageway into a checkpoint. Even now, he refuses to concede making a basic error.
Mr Lineker’s response is important. It typifies a British willingness to stand up for “the weaker side”. Unfortunately, Palestinian extremists manipulatively prey upon this goodwill by encouraging minors to act violently.
Youths regularly take part in riots, aiming blazing tyres, rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. For them, it’s a win-win situation: either soldiers are hurt, or Palestinian children are arrested, which makes the soldiers look like bullies.
Israeli soldiers are no angels. Sometimes soldiers use excessive force. Sometimes they abuse their power or act callously. This, however, was not one of those occasions.
There’s nothing wrong or inherently antisemitic about criticising Israeli army policy.
However, when questions are asked of Israeli policy alone, with nary a word about Palestinian parents allowing their children to clash with armed soldiers or a rational discussion about how to appropriately deal with rioting teenagers, then it becomes a mechanism for delegitimising Israel’s right to defend itself at all.
Whether by accident or design, in continually asking questions of Israel’s conduct alone and side-stepping the issue of Palestinian human rights abuses, groups like B’tselem lend a hand to a concerted campaign which questions Israel’s very legitimacy, characterising it as a brutal gangster state.
Increasingly, unsuspecting observers like Gary Lineker are being duped.
Emanuel Miller is a Jerusalem-based political analyst. He previously worked as press officer for My Truth, an organisation which collects testimonies from soldiers about the ethical dilemmas posed by combat IDF service.