The last time the Middle East was peaceful was . . . never. In the now-infamous video above, an Israeli soldier draws on a Palestinian. Quite apart from the resulting geo-political wrangling, there’s an important self-defense lesson to be learned from this armed confrontation . . .
As the video begins, a Palestinian gets all up in an Israeli soldier’s face. After poking the soldier, the Palestinian holds his hands behind his back (which could indicate a hidden weapon). The soldier pushes him away. The Israeli then walks towards the man he pushed, trying to intimidate him.
I’m not exactly what sure what happens next. Did the Palestinian brush-up against the soldier’s gun? Something startled the soldier. Despite his quick action – racking his gun and turning towards a new, fast-moving threat – the soldier was instantly caught in a strategically untenable position. He had a threat on either side.
The soldier turns to the new threat, moves towards him and pushes Palestinian No. 2 away with his strong hand. The hand with the trigger finger. As both Palestinians retreat – displaying clear signs of subservience – the soldier moves forward and kicks the newcomer. And then walks deeper into the crowd to intimidate bystanders. There’s an edit. The soldier has corralled the original Palestinian and received reinforcement.
I’m not an IDF soldier (nor a Palestinian) and I don’t play one on the Internet. But it’s clear that the Israeli soldier’s efforts to exert dominance over the Palestinians were ill-timed and ill-advised. Regardless of the history of the two men or their people, he made some serious tactical errors.
Problem No. 1 – Going mano-a-mano with a mano creates tunnel vision. By concentrating on one “bad guy” the soldier lost sight of both his immediate environment (the possibility of a threat coming from outside his line of sight) and the bigger picture (the videotaping bystanders). By moving towards the first Palestinian as he retreated the soldier was escalating the conflict.
Problem No. 2 – By physically assaulting the second Palestinian, and moving towards the pair, the soldier was, again, escalating the conflict. What the soldier needed was space. If the men had attacked him the soldier would have been hard-pressed to defend himself. It wouldn’t have been impossible, but it would have been more difficult without more distance between himself and the Palestinians.
Distance is your friend. The more distance between you and a threat or threats the more time you have to decide what to do. And the more time you have to do it. Make no mistake: in a violent confrontation – whether of your own making or not – time is your most precious resource. Keep your distance. Give yourself time.
That said, there are times when you want to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Remember: the closer the threat, the less chance you have of missing them when you strike/shoot. In a home invasion scenario, where you may have limited options for concealment and cover (like the Israeli soldier in this video), you may want to move towards the threat to land the telling blow before you are attacked.
Space is the final frontier. When you enter someone’s space and get within bad breath distance, you have put yourself on a final approach to a serious confrontation. Maybe the threat will back down. Maybe they won’t. But if they don’t – oops! – you don’t have the full temporal resources you need to defend or attack effectively.
Anyway, do you really need to take that chance? Isn’t there some other way to resolve the conflict? If there is, take it. If there isn’t, either move away or move in for the kill. It’s as simple – and complicated – as that.