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When Israeli Police Become Criminals, Who Protects Citizens?

Israeli suspect assaulted by police

Israeli Palestinian suspect publicly assaulted by police

In this blog, I focus less on purely internal Israeli politics and more on the bigger picture of Israeli democracy and relations with its Palestinian minority and the Occupation.  But Eyal Clyne has written a riveting, tremendously comprehensive report on a massive pattern of corruption and violence by the police against the entire Israeli public.  The culture of brutality exhibited by the Israeli police can only flourish in a nation obsessed, as Israel is, by security.  It can only flourish in a nation which had made a Faustian bargain with the police and security forces: protect us and we will allow you anything.

Israeli peace activists often argue quite persuasively that the incredibly high level of corruption and violence within Israeli society is due in large part to the corrupting influence of the Occupation.  In the cases you’ll read below, you’ll find that the violence exhibited by the police against its own fellow citizens appears to be learned in large part from the brutality officers see and practice during their own IDF service.  The toxic apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I am not making the claim, nor does Eyal, that there are not police forces in virtually any and every country which commit grievous acts that remind us of what we’ll read here.  In fact, in the 1970s and 80s a number of U.S. cities in which I lived, including New York and Los Angeles had police forces which tended to run roughshod over any member of the public that was in its path.  The records of police brutality are long and legion in such places.   But thankfully, this systemic pattern of behavior has been largely rooted out leaving only individual examples that make headlines at regular intervals.

Israeli policing seems stuck somewhere back in the 1970s in U.S. terms.  Here are some of Eyal’s most egregious examples.  There are more links in this post than I’ve ever seen in any other and unfortunately for most of you, they are in Hebrew.  I admire that Eyal has offered evidence in the form of links for every claim he makes.  It makes his post even more powerful and damning.

He begins with the story of an Israeli man wanted by police in a domestic violence dispute.  His encounter with the police didn’t end well for him.  Israeli news coverage says that when the man tried to speed away in his vehicle a police officer, cowboy-like, jumped on the hood of his car and proceeded to shoot him numerous times all over his body:

Yesterday, a policeman shot and killed a suspect. The suspect was very suspicious. He was suspected of being obsessive, of harassment, and of resisting arrest. There are those who also say he was suspected of an attempted vehicular assault [on the police officer].  These turned out to be capital crimes. The late suspect was “lucky” not to be an Arab, because as a Jew, the circumstances of his death are at the very least questioned. It also turns out that the suspect may have been obsessive, but the policeman also demonstrated some obsessiveness of his own. Rather than moving aside he clung to the engine hood, and shot the driver to death, both in the upper and lower parts of his body several times.  Once was not enough.

The Ynet news portal apparently saw this shooting as being justified, or at least understandable, as their headlines stated unequivocally that the event was “an attempted vehicular killing”, which contradicted both on-the-scene testimony and the assaulting policeman’s own history – and well before any investigation had occurred.

Israel’s police often does not live up to the directives of the law and tend to be rude, violent, flawed in terms of conduct, and characterized by a masterful resolve to show the citizenry just who is boss.

Israeli police violence

Israeli police violence: ‘Get on the bus before I break your bones.”

…In the Israel police there is a norm of violence and a lordly attitude; policemen take it upon themselves to act in a rude and criminal manner; and they enjoy nearly automatic backing from their commanders, who are also afflicted by this dysfunctional approach.

…The famous slogan “To Serve and Protect” is okay for television drama series – it has nothing to do with life in Israel. You might want to ask just who serves whom and admit that what gets protected is first and foremost the honor of the policeman, not the rights of the citizens. No, the word “honor” does not mean fairness, integrity, and professionalism. It refers, instead, to the questionable “honor” that we meet in the phrase “honor killing.” It is the honor demanded by thugs in the ‘hood, except that it wears a uniform and badge. If you “offend” them (and they get offended easily; they’re quite sensitive) they could bite your lip right off your facebeat, humiliate, and sexually harass youfine you for NIS 1,000, have you kicked out of the Civil Guardarrest you, and spray you with gas. It’s as if you work for the policemen rather than the other way around.

That’s what it’s like with bullies. Just give them power, a weapon, or a certificate and they’ll harass everyone, just because they can. They’ll pour your beer out on the beach, harass passers-by on the street (herehere, and here), break your nosebeat the **** out of you and mock youthrow stonesopen fire for no reason, and harass women (while threatening them with arrests). On the road you must never tell them when they drive wildlypark illegally, and even when a 70-year old man dares challenge anything – he’ll catch flackOn soccer fields they bust your faces (see also herehereherehere, and in all items linked from there), and at home they’ll fine you for groaning too loudlyattack you with bare fistswrestle with you, and commit perjury when testifying about it, to cover up. On personal time they will be “role models of crime”: they’ll call prostitutes to the stationsteal money from suspectsplace explosive chargesgive false testimony, and drop by in the middle of the night without a warrant, just to scare someone whom they see as calling for the oversight of police forces. One of the senior staffers in the Violence Prevention Department went so far in his quest to be a role model that he actually attacked a woman subordinate employee, working in his department.

Abuse of authority shows up at every stage of criminal proceedings, from the use of violence on the scene through illegal and false arrests, interrogations, and trial…The policemen abuse the laxness in the justice system to do anything they want to citizens, arresting people at their whimfalse arrests,unlawfully, including the arrest of children, as well as threatening arrest, which is all done violently and in contravention of the law (see also: herehere,hereherehereherehere, and here). While they’re at it they can also humiliate people: right-wing activists, a motorcycle thiefPalestinians, etc. Sometimes they also arrest and humiliate run-of-the-mill people due to a simple mistaken identity. Yet, some of these cases end up in death, like the policeman who killed a suspect, and another policeman who fatally shot a suspect, the policeman who cursed and fired his weapon, thus causing of death of a detainee, and the policeman who threw a metal bar at a moving motorcyclist.

…Israeli Judges are pretty easy to co-opt, and for that reason innocent people (and that could be any of us) spend months in custody, for no reason. Startin’ to get the picture? Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

While under arrest the police are supposed to protect us, our property and our bodies. In practice, they act in violation of the law: they handcuff minors for hours, and handcuffed people are attacked while cuffed, inside the police station, and are sprayed with mace. Policemen have also hit a suspect to the point of rendering him paralyzed, and police officers take part, as well, and slam the heads of bound detainees against the wall. In one of the false arrests, which was accompanied by a warrantless search, a young detainee was beaten for hours and raped.

…The ‘romantic’ notion of investigation is entirely detached from true reality, where the police has spent years covering up justified complaintsfalsifying evidence, and adopting untrue testimonies when it felt easier. In other cases evidence “disappeared” (CDs herehard disks there, the end of the tape went missing here, and the entire tape was gone here). In the course of the investigation they also violate the right to counsel, the right to make a phone call, they steal money from suspects and violate the rights of detainees (many of whom are innocent) – and all these are stories just from the last few months.

…Judges have had to rule several times that policemen were lying, and that rather than demonstrators attacking policemen, policemen had actually attacked demonstrators. In fact, in this interview, the video showing in the background demonstrates a policeman kicking a detainee. Of course, even in those cases the policemen were not charged. In general, courts naïvely ascribe good faith to the people charged with upholding the law. The astonishing fact that 99%(!) of wiretaps requests are approved by the courts is indicative of this, as are the many cases when the court simply ignores clear evidence at the request of the police. So if you think that after the investigation you will have a fair trial, you are wrong again. Despite the fact that policemen regularly lie to the courts, unless you can prove that the policemen are lying…you will be in dire straits and the judges will prefer to believe their lies. And sometimes, even proving that they’re lying is not enough. Finally, if you are actually charged with a crime, you have veritably no chance of being exonerated, since in Israel more than 98%(!) of defendants are convicted.

…Legally speaking, the police are supposed to ensure your right to protest – but…more than anything else they want “quiet”, and they try and achieve it in several stages. First they try to prevent the demonstrations, which is illegal (this happened in demonstrations against the disengagementagainst the siege of Gaza, of Hasidophobics in Bnei Brak, in extreme right-wing rallies in Umm Al-Fahm, in front of the offices of the Islamic Movement, and in Silwan, and of the left in Sheikh Jarrah, and in the Occupied Territories). If the demonstrators have the resources to appeal to the Supreme Court, the demonstration will take place, and the next stage involves dispersing the demonstrators (to smithereens). The policemen arrive on the scene all fired up, and only the identity of the people suffering their rage changes: sometimes these are ultra-orthodox Jews (see: herehereand here), then they are settlers and right-wing activists (herehereherehereherehere, and here), or students (hereherehere). Or it could be motorcyclists protesting, or those evicted from their homes by the rich, and of course, left-wing activists and Arabs (herehere,hereherehereherehereherehereherehere). And there is still more! Here it is on Google Video, and here it is on YouTube. And when the bullies are above the law, it is hardly surprising that consequences are devastating: tear gas killed a toddler, police fire killed a little girl (and yet, the investigation was closed).

In demonstrations and on soccer fields, say the numerous testimonies and evidence, there is a police norm of hiding name-tags and faces, to prevent identification. This extends to officers, as well. People do not hide their identity unless they have something to fear and, like robbers, policemen know that they do, in fact, have something to hide. It is only the unlawful anonymity which protects them from accountability, and they prepare for it because they know that this way they can beat people up when they like. The problem of police violence is especially acute in the Border Patrol and the Special Patrol Units, which are sent out, again and again, to demonstrations and soccer games to “do the job” (i.e. beat up innocent civilians, and while they’re at it, conduct unlawful arrests with great violence, and never be held accountable). Israeli cops forget that they are not here to create the law but rather to enforce it, and they persistently make up rules on the spot (such as prohibiting the flying of one flag or another, stating that there is no permit for a demonstration which does not actually require a permit, and so forth). This is how it happens that – although the right to demonstrate is a basic right in a democracy, and although the policemen are supposed to protect those rights – in practice they do everything they can to prevent them, and on the scene they become a source of unbridled violence that no-one can handle.

…Something is rotten in the kingdom of handcuffs. The stench is unbearable. The Israel police has become one of the greatest problems in the State of Israel. More and more of its personnel, who are supposed to be in charge of law enforcement, have become terrifying bullies, and instead of protecting and serving the citizens, they are becoming the largest criminal organization in the country. This is especially true when it comes to the courtesy they show, and most of all during arrests, interrogations, and demonstrations. They act with great violence and a sense of being the masters of the citizenry, and abuse their authority to lie to the courts. This will hit all of us, although we do not know when, because as far as they are concerned, the police are not here to serve the citizens but rather, for the citizens to serve them and for their mission, with no accountability. They attack with no second thoughts, they assume we are all criminals, while they themselves ignore the law. Rights? Due process? Freedom of expression? Serving the citizens? Not in Israel, apparently.

We, the people, have only to wonder: when the police are the criminals, who will protect our rights?

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{ 47 comments… add one }

  • Shai November 10, 2010, 10:30 AM

    Many of my friends have been humiliated and abused by the Israeli police.

    In one case, a group of friends was making its way to the Kinneret for a nice weekend. A police officer signaled the car to pull over. After a brief examination of the driver’s papers, the group was asked to exit the car. They were being questioned about drug use and whether they had brought any drugs with them. The officer was not pleased with their answers, and started searching through their bags, emptying their content on the ground. After making a mess of their equipment he proceeded to search the car interior, but not before violently shoving the driver’s dog out of the car. After the officer had given up his search, he left them with the mess and wished them a safe drive.

  • Kalea November 10, 2010, 7:23 PM

    Who created this “monster” in the first place? By monster, I mean an intangible aura of evil. Israel sends its men and women into the territories to help commit a crime against the Palestinian people. Do Israelis really expect these forces to come back down off the power trip they get brutalizing Palestinians day in and day out?

    Look, Israel is a country without a Constitution. Israel’s unwritten Constitution is basically derived from Zionism which is incompatible with the rule of law; I’ve stated this many times, and therefore the law cannot protect anyone because it has been bent so out of shape, so often, that it becomes unrecognizable even to the Jewish citizens of Israel. This is what you get when the rule of law becomes secondary to an ideology, namely Zionism. What you call an obsession with security, I call paranoia, which is a dangerous disorder with self-destructive consequences.

    But there’s something else that provokes this “monstrous” aura. As humans we all have a responsibility to our humanity first, and Israelis have become derelict in that responsibility. The wall and the invisible wall separating two tiers of justice makes the plight of Palestinians out of sight and out of mind and dehumanized beings in the minds of Israelis.

    This lawlessness demonstrated by authorities is just one of the many side-effects of living in a state that brutalizes its neighbors with impunity, that disregards International Law on many levels, thumbs its nose at UN Resolutions and uses the territories as the Wild West Frontier. The lawlessness just trickles down.

    Israelis on the whole have demonstrated so much apathy towards their Palestinian neighbors, carrying on as if nothing is happening next door and they’re so blinded by a kind of irrational theocratic nationalism that they don’t see the walls crumbling around them. I see it as a kind of depraved indifference to suffering coupled with irresponsibility and a total disconnect from reality.

    The situation will get worse, much worse.

    • Shirin November 11, 2010, 12:45 PM

      Israelis have become derelict in that responsibility

      Zionists and Israelis have always been derelict in that responsibility. They had to be in order to do what was necessary to turn a land with a tiny Jewish minority into a Jewish state.

  • Natan November 10, 2010, 10:48 PM

    I just can’t imagine why the earth Jews can become so stupid to advocate a fake peace on a website. Do you get money from abroad ? Don’t you have a real, Jewish, conscience, so your heart would tell your brain that this is all nonsense ? Have you visited only once Jerusalem ? perhaps you’re living in TA and you never saw another big Jewish city.

    • Richard Silverstein November 13, 2010, 3:07 AM

      Yes, didn’t you know that I’m the favorite charity of jihadists worldwide? Which settlement do you live in?

  • dickerson3870 November 11, 2010, 4:02 AM

    RE: Israeli Palestinian suspect publicly assaulted by police – photo
    MY COMMENT: That top photo reminds me of ‘Hell Week’ back when fraternity hazing was still kosher. Of course, such stuff was not done in public. Nor were cameras allowed.

  • dickerson3870 November 11, 2010, 4:38 AM

    THIS FOLLOWS EYAL CLYNE’S REPORT:

    One Response
    Eyal November 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    More stories added:
    Channel 10′s CEO: We’re threatened by the Police for our investigative report about police violence
    High ranking officer: “We can also act against you. We know where are your studios and we know your vehicles, and we can wait for you there”. Today, say the channel, police is boycotting channel 10. Police said: “cops will receive full support from their commanders. We expect the citizens to stand to the right of the Police” , that is instead of the police standing to the right of citizens and their rights.

    HEBREW VERSION – http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1197200.html

  • Shirin November 11, 2010, 12:37 PM

    Israeli peace activists often argue quite persuasively that the incredibly high level of corruption and violence within Israeli society is due in large part to the corrupting influence of the Occupation.

    I am not persuaded in the least by the standard “nice liberal” Zionist argument that Israel was a wonderfully moral and ethical country with a wonderfully moral and ethical society until the occupation came along and turned it into what it is today. This argument reverses cause and effect.

    Israel is a country founded on terrorism, ethnic cleansing, brutality, and massive theft. To create a Jewish state in land overwhelmingly occupied by non-Jews required the mass displacement of human beings and obliteration of as many traces as possible of Israel’s non-Jewish history. Zionist leaders understood this as evidenced by both their words and their actions. The process began well before the 1948 declaration of statehood, has been going on throughout the years since statehood, and continues at this moment.

    It is the nature of the State of Israel and its society that made the occupation possible, not the occupation that has determined its nature.

    • Ariel Shatil November 14, 2010, 2:53 AM

      Shirin,

      Even if you are not persuaded by what you refer to as the “nice liberal Zionist argument” and prefer to think that things are now as they always were, what is the point of even commenting here? Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with your participation nor is it any of my business. However, in my eyes, what Richard is doing in this blog is publicly documenting Israel’s decline and slide down the slippery slope to Fascism. In order to accept the notion that there is a decline, one must accept that things were once better than they are now.

      • Deïr Yassin November 14, 2010, 3:21 AM

        # Ariel Shatil)
        And if one does not think there is any decline as far as the Palestinians are concerned. That we’re just witnessing the Israelis finishing off Ali Abunimah’s famous pizza, but that they took the first bite back in 1948. Internet and mobile phone-cameras made the difference; that’s all.
        The Palestinians within the State of Israel lived under military rule from 1948 to 1966, and needed a pass to go anywhere. Where is the decline ?
        Maybe in the ‘Jewish’ bubble, you feel the growing fascism, but from a Palestinian point of view, it’s allways been the same. Read some of the autobiographies and testimonies by “Israeli Arabs” back in the sixties and seventies, and you’ll see.

  • Ruth November 11, 2010, 4:29 PM

    Get a job or see a shrink!

    • Shirin November 11, 2010, 5:16 PM

      What a cogent rebuttal!

    • Kalea November 11, 2010, 8:16 PM

      Very rude and mean-spirited attack.

      • Shirin November 12, 2010, 1:23 AM

        Well, when you haven’t got any defense or argument at all, what else can you do? Oh yeah. You could keep quiet and avoid making an idiot of yourself.

        • JHornet November 12, 2010, 4:40 AM

          Rare’s are the moments in which one can identify history repeats itself in front of their own eyes, such an event that lights the light of truth on events that took place throughout history in the land of Israel happened about 10 days ago when UNESCO decided to recognize the grave of one of the Jewish nation matriarchal mother – Rachel as a mosque as well.
          i invite you Shirin, and any person who states that Israeli’s are the ones stealing land in that picture, to find and share with us one picture from about a 100 years ago, in which you can see a minaret anywhere around the tomb structure.
          here is a drawing of the place from 1880
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bethlehem_rachel_tomb_1880.jpg

          and you have the chutzpa calling us thieves ?

          • Deïr Yassin November 12, 2010, 8:29 AM

            # JHornet)
            Jesus Christ, what a ridiculous troll you are.
            Look at your own link: this is typical Islamic architecture, the white building with the round roof (‘kubba’ that you should know from ‘kebbeh’, the round meat-balls that the Israelis have adopted from the Palestinians) is seen all over the Muslim world, particularly in North Africa, and is the sign that someone holy is buried there.
            A minaret is NOT obligatory to a mosque, you do know that, don’t you ?
            The tomb of Rachel is in Palestinian territory, according to international law, and recognized as such by every state except Israel; and that’s it.

            Do you know what ‘trolling’ is ? Well, you are trolling here.

          • JHornet November 12, 2010, 12:02 PM

            @ Shirin
            why can’t you talk to the point ?
            indeed the place was built in the 1600 and has local architecture, what is the relation to the mosque, there were many synagogues who were built using local architecture motives one of them is the Hurva Synagogue
            (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurva_Synagogue)
            which has a kubba as well, so would that be the next acquisition ? If you’ll choose to do some reading, you will discover that the during the crusaders the tomb had no structure on it, the structure was created later during the Turkish empire conquest of the region and that explains the Muslim architecture.
            The place was never a mosque, even in official Palestinian publications they refer to it as Rachel’s Tomb, one of the books is 1996 book named “Palestine the Holly land” which refers to the place as Rachel’s grave (قبر راحيل) the same can be found in the book “The West Bank and Gaza – Palestine” only after the Western Wall Tunnel riots in 1996 the Palestinians started referring to the place as a mosque.
            so again Shirin, can you provide something that will back up your statements that we are thieves, because recent events shows otherwise.

          • Vicky November 12, 2010, 4:15 PM

            You seem to operate under the assumption that this conflict is about Jews versus Muslims, and that the debate can be won by proving that Jews have more sacred sites dotted around the country than the Muslims have.

            It’s not about Muslims and Jews. It’s about Palestinians and colonialists. The Palestinians were Christians, Muslims, Druze, atheists, agnostics, and Baha’is. Religious boundaries were so fluid that Christian and Muslim Palestinians used to pray in one another’s ancient shrines, and it was very difficult for locals to remember which maqam belonged to which religious group. The main thing they had in common was that their families had been living on that land for generations. The land is important to many of them from a spiritual perspective, but the claim here is chiefly practical. At least 750,000 people were driven out of the country, and many more were internally displaced. They lost their houses and they lost their possessions. You cannot negate their ownership by pointing at Rachel’s tomb and saying, “That tomb is more special to me than it is to them!” If we try to apply this facile argument to the early leading lights of the Zionist movement, Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion, and Co. had no claim to a life on that soil. After all, they were atheists, and to them the Bible was just an anthology of fairytales.

            Once I spoke to a pro-settler rabbi who invoked a similar argument to yours in support of Israel’s establishment. He told me that without the settlers’ presence in Hebron, Christians like me probably wouldn’t be able to pray in its sacred places; the Muslims would never give us access. I told him that I would not want to pray in a place that was ‘safeguarded’ by violent thieves who had inflicted untold suffering on thousands of innocent people in order to grant me the privilege of kneeling there. It would rather defeat the point of prayer. If you value Rachel’s tomb, perhaps the best way of demonstrating its significance to you would be to protest the desecration caused by the ongoing theft and all the suffering that entails.

          • shmuel November 13, 2010, 1:20 AM

            I see things in a different perspective.

            Firstly concerning who owns land:
            This a double-edged blade. If you argue that having legal documentation to a house or land gives you the right to live there then you have to accept many “settlers” who legally bought title to West Bank lands such as Holtzman in the 1930′s in Gush Etzion or some legally bought houses in the Muslem Quarter or Silwan, etc. Of course then the disposessed Palestinians would also have the right to return to their (destroyed) villages in Israel. You can’t have one without the other if legal documentation is your axiom.

            But my perspective looks from the International Law perspective which is very popular on this blog.
            International law is very fluid and has changed dramatically over the last 60 or so years since WW2.
            Until WW2 it was perfectly acceptable according to international law to gain and annex teritory by means of war or other military action. The examples through history are innumerable, but WW1 and WW2 are the classic examples that the winners of war devide up the spoils of war, and this is recognised by the international community (and even agreed to by the loser in the armistice agreement). No member state of the UN would today claim that Germany should be restored to its 1900 or 1933 borders, etc.
            However the “unacceptable attaining title to land acquired by war” only can be said to be truely considered as the accepted “International Law” since resolution 242 in 1967 – before then, the winner of a conflict took all, and to the the loser the world said “tough luck” and just tried to worry about the humanitarian crisis but not the return of land.

            Thus my opinion is that, just or not, the 1948 conflict (“indepence” to Israel, “nakba” to Palestinians) is recognised as legal in International Law, and Israel “exists” legally and is recognised by nearly all the International community.
            As regards the 1956 Suez war – the seeds of the new Law were being sown, France and Britain still accepted war gained spoils, but the US rejected. By 1967 Israel lived by the “old” law, whilst most of the world had evolved to the new law (there was still of couse a lot of hypocriticism, China, Usa and Ussr in the far East, for example.
            International law was not cleared up until resolution 242 which was after the 1967 war.

            So for those who recognise the 1948 Israel and reject 1967 Israel, you have a leg to stand on. Those who reject also the right of 1948 Israel are crying over spilt milk and have no basis in International Law. Those who want also Israel in the 67 borders have no legal basis by today’s International Law (in 1967 they may have had a case still, but that’s changed now).

            Remains one important question – is International Law an ass (in Charles Dicken’s language) or is it a basis for negotiation, or should the conflict be solved by negotiation and agreement without legal address at all?
            The jury is still out on that one.

          • Vicky November 13, 2010, 8:32 AM

            “Those who reject also the right of 1948 Israel are crying over spilt milk and have no basis in International Law.”

            I reject ethnic cleansing. I reject the notion of an ethnocratic state where one group is given privileges at the expense of another group, as part of deliberate government policy. Ethnic cleansing made the foundation of Israel possible; occupation and institutionalised discrimination sustain it today. I reject these things because they are wrong, and the fact that people once saw them as acceptable does not alter this truth. Essentially your argument boils down to ‘people saw it as OK then, so it was OK’. That is not true. It’s possible for people to learn from past misdeeds and to resolve historical injustices, even if they were not perceived as unjust at the time (although the historical documentation available to us suggests that certain leaders of the Yishuv knew full well that what they were doing was wrong). Peace will not be possible while the ghosts of 1948 still walk, however much Israeli peaceniks would like to pretend that all these problems appeared out of nowhere in 1967.

  • shmuel November 13, 2010, 1:31 AM

    vis-a-vis Rachel’s tomb, if Muslims want to pray there then there shouldn’t be a problem. Historically the Muslims built mosques or prayed on Jewish Holy sites simply because these sites, by their being holy to Jews, also are automatically holy to them too as coming from the same common traditions (Temple mount, cave of Machpelah, Shmuel’s tomb, etc.).
    Unfortunately history teaches that often the Muslim community forgot to grant the Jews prayer rights on these sites, as documented by many travellers in the Middle ages, and also up to the 1967 war, and even more recently in the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem\Nablus.

  • Deïr Yassin November 13, 2010, 2:48 AM

    # Shmuel)
    Come on, ya hakîm.
    You’ve already expressed your intimate conviction that Jews are moral superior beings compared to goyim but this is too biased.
    You just claim that Jews are prevented from their holy places such as the Tomb of Joseph without putting it into context: that is, the OCCUPATION.
    The Zionists were granted or conquered 78% of historical or mandatory Palestine, preventing Muslims and Christians from returning home, and you complain about how Jews were excluded from praying somewhere in the resting 22%.
    You also totally forgot to mention how thousands of Muslims are prevented from Friday Prayer in Al-Aqsa.

    And could you please give some serious references on those travellers in the Middle Ages so we can judge (though you seem to be one) for ourselves.

  • shmuel November 13, 2010, 4:32 AM

    @deir yassin

    I don’t think I’m in any way morally superior, and never claimed to be, and neither are all Jews, but thanks for the compliment. All I’ve said in the past is that Jews are more self critical of their own actions, possibly as a result of a religious tradition of confession of sins. For instance this site run by the Jewish Richard Silverstein, Joseph Dana, btzelem, Rabbis for Human Rights, and many more. Show me one site where you’ll see Muslims regularly criticising their clergy, or their fellow Muslim’s actions in various parts of the world as a matter of course. Even though Richard and I differ on various matters I would never want to see him not be able to expess what he says.

    Here’s a Christian site showing how they were prevented to reach the cave of machpelah;

    http://www.yahwehsword.org/s-abraham/36_cave_of_machpelah.htm

    And here’s a Jewish one:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YVYkrNhPMQkC&pg=PA90&lpg=PA90&dq=mamluk+dynasty+machpelah&source=bl&ots=aObMRfqoRT&sig=-BdO9W-KR9GCUb9U218B_H7ojSs&hl=en&ei=3H_eTObHG4m5hAfHmoWCDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Also between 1948-1967, the Jordanian Hashimite Kingdom refused access to all Jews (not just those that might be terrorists) to the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site.This was expressly against the armistice agreement that they themselves signed (International Law?).

    Ironically no Jews today are allowed to pray on the Temple mount (only allowed to visit at certain hours, anyone found with a prayerbook or even mumbling a prayer is forceably removed by the Israeli police) this is by rule of the Israeli authorities who were afraid of the reaction of the Waqf who run the area. So in fact there are more Muslims who can pray at al-aqsa (women + men over 50) than Jews! And that’s while Israelis are “occupying” the Temple mount.

    • Richard Silverstein November 13, 2010, 9:31 PM

      I don’t think I’m in any way morally superior, and never claimed to be

      You & scores of other commenters like you here claim every day that Israel is morally superior both to Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims & the world. So don’t get all humble on us. You know what you’re views/prejudices are on this score & admit ‘em.

      Jews are more self critical of their own actions, possibly as a result of a religious tradition of confession of sins.

      You are off your nut. What “religious tradition of confession of sins?” You’re confusing us with Catholicism. The only confession of sins is done in 2 prayers (Vidui & Ashamnu), that’s it in the entire tradition. Jews don’t confess anything to anyone. They DO examine their consciences & do moral accounting and sometimes consult with a spiritual authority about troubling matters. But NEVER in the context of confession of sin. The whole notion is completely alien to Judaism. And don’t you dare attempt to put my work in this context. I won’t let you misuse & distort the context or meaning of my work.

      Show me one site where you’ll see Muslims regularly criticising their clergy

      You are so completely out to lunch. There are literally thousands of such websites if you do a basic Google search on terms like “critical Islam” or “moderate Islam” (that’s if you don’t know anything about Islam & how to narrow in on specific groups, movements & traditions that epitomize these stances). So don’t be dumb, do some research & then come to us w. questions. Don’t show what a dumb cluck you are & act as if Islam has anything to prove to someone so ignorant about its basic nature.

      The whole argument about Rachel’s Tomb, Cave of Machpelah, religious access is completely off topic. Stay ON TOPIC. When I want to write about those issues I will & they you can let loose. Till then, comment on what I write about not on whatever pt of hasbara you want to make.

      • shmuel November 16, 2010, 11:14 PM

        @Richard: “You are off your nut. What “religious tradition of confession of sins?” You’re confusing us with Catholicism. The only confession of sins is done in 2 prayers (Vidui & Ashamnu), that’s it in the entire tradition. Jews don’t confess anything to anyone. They DO examine their consciences & do moral accounting and sometimes consult with a spiritual authority about troubling matters. But NEVER in the context of confession of sin. The whole notion is completely alien to Judaism.”

        It’s not the main point here but I think you’re completely mistaken about Jewish confession of sin.
        True that Jews don’t confess to fellow humans (clergy) but it is essential to their religious ethos:

        Many sacrifices in the Temple were invalid if the sacrificer did not confess out aloud his sins as he leaned on the sacrifice.
        Every day, 3 times a day, a praying Jew says in the “amidah” prayer “forgive us for we have sinned, pardon us for we have transgressed”. (And here he is supposed to detail his individual sins)
        Every day Sefaradim and Chassidim say in the “tachanun” prayer “ashamnu, bagadnu…” (we have sinned, we have transgressed…). For some reason Ashkenazic Jews omit this – maybe so as not to be too similar to Catholics in this respect?
        Every Jew on his death-bed is to confess his sins.
        The whole concept of “tshuvah” (return to religion) has four stages: Confession, regret, promise of leaving sin, actually leaving sin. Tshuvah is not complete without confession which has to be aloud (not enough in thought alone). A Jew is supposed to do tshuvah every day of his life as a continual on going process, not once off or once a year.
        Western Jews perhaps don’t like this confession concept as it does remind them of their Catholic neighbours, but from here to say that it is not part of Jewish day to day ritual is to distort the tenets of the religion.

        And I’m not “off my nut” – why do you find the need to be so rude about a legitimate difference of opinion (even if you think I’m wrong)

        • Richard Silverstein November 17, 2010, 2:18 AM

          Neither I nor any other Jew has brought any sacrifices to the Temple lately so that tradition of confession seems a tad outdated. Likewise, my death bed is a long way off & so that form of confession doesn’t seem very “present” to me in my life as a Jew or anyone else’s that I know.

          And yes, I would say that many Jews in general don’t take too kindly to the notion of confession as a formal concept in the tradition which is why I blasted you. It does smack of Catholicism.

  • Deïr Yassin November 13, 2010, 5:10 AM

    #) Shmuel
    “I don’t think I’m in any way morally superior and never claimed to be, and neither are all Jews” and “All I’ve said is that Jews are more self-critical of their own actions”.

    What’s the difference ? It’s ‘kif-kif’. Why don’t you jump out of that ethnic box that you seem to live in ? I also guess that by “Jews” you don’t include Israeli politicians since 1948, do you ?

    Your “Yahwe’s Sword” is not a mainstream Christian site, but looks like complete nutcases. What’s Christian to you, Catholics or Protestants ? Witnesses of Jehovah or Baptists ? Or all the same ?
    Is Neturei Karta average “Jewish” ?

    If the Zionists had respected the Partition Plan instead of grapping another 23% of mandatory Palestine and hadn’t expulsed minimum 800.000 thousand Palestinians from their homes, Jerusalem would have been internationalized and the Jews could have prayed freely at the Western Wall between 1948-1967.
    You can’t have it all . . .

    When was the Temple destoyed, and who did it ? You don’t have to answer, it was a rhetorical question ;-) Why don’t you Israelis make a little war on Italy, the descendants of Titus.

  • shmuel November 13, 2010, 5:30 AM

    @deir yassin

    I don’t see anything wrong with being in an “ethnic box” – I’m proud of my Jewish heritage, I’m ethnically Jewish by birth, and if I had the choice would be born again into this ethnic box. As for Israeli politicians, you may have noticed about 20 different Jewish based parties in each election, more Jewish self-criticism.
    By the way, did you find a Muslim self critical site? I’d really like to see one, even if it’s terribly eccentric and not mainstream.
    I don’t know enough about Christianity to distinguish between sects, but the Neturei Karta proves my point – look how self critical this extremist sect is about Jews, they even sat in the PLO’s government, deny the holocaust and meet with Iranian leaders. That’s self criticism for you!

    Get your facts right, The “Zionists” immediately accepted the partition plan in 1947 and even danced in the streets when the UN resolution was accepted – it was the various “Arab” nations that rejected the plan and started a war. Had the “Arabs” accepted the partition Israel\Palestine would be a much better place today, but that’s spilt milk…

    I’m pleased to see that you accept that there was a temple that was destroyed on the site of al-aqsa. I’ve met Palestinians that learnt at their schools that the Jews never had a Temple there, and it’s all Zionist propoganda.

    War with Italy planned for 2027 after France, Russia and China. (see page 24 on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) (>:

    • Richard Silverstein November 13, 2010, 9:34 PM

      20 different Jewish based parties in each election, more Jewish self-criticism.

      More like Jewish self-congratulation. I don’t see any Israeli Jewish parties engaging in self-criticism w. the intermittent exceptions of Meretz or whatever it’s name happens to be this week.

      did you find a Muslim self critical site?

      Now, you repeat yr ignorance. The more you repeat this stupid demand/request the more of a dolt you look. Pls. for yr own sake don’t exhibit yr base ignorance as if you’re proud of it. Do some work, get some answers. Then someone can actually respect you & help answer further, more intelligent questions you might have.

      As for the rest of stuff in yr comment once again…OFF TOPIC. Stay on topic.

      • Shai November 14, 2010, 9:01 AM

        Meretz or whatever it’s name happens to be this week.

        Haha yeah, they have changed names too many times. Currently Meretz is known as “New Movement Meretz” (התנועה החדשה מרצ)

        • Richard Silverstein November 14, 2010, 6:16 PM

          Next week, it will be on to the next Flavor of the Week: maybe pistachio or Palestinian peach or Cast Lead lavender, who knows.

  • Deïr Yassin November 13, 2010, 6:47 AM

    @ Shmuel)
    “About 20 different Jewish based parties in each election, more Jewish self-criticism”.

    You just proved your navel-gazing once again. This Jewish self-criticism that you cherish so much seems, in its Israeli version, to be only concerned with the attitude and behaviour to fellow Jews. I hardly see any difference between those “Jewish based” parties when it comes to the Palestinians or the Arab neighbours. If my memory is correct even members of Meretz supported Cast Lead.
    And very sympthomatic: You wrote “Jewish based” parties, and we all know their tolerance towards dissent Palestinian voices in the Knesset.

    I never read “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” but I know that various apologists of the Israeli Supreme Morality have compared the Goldstone Report to this piece of antisemitic shit, and on page 24, the GR talks about the IDF using civilians as human shields.

    It’s okay to live in an “ethnic box”, just leave the cover off ;-)

    • shmuel November 13, 2010, 7:52 AM

      @Deir Yassin

      And the Muslim self criticising internet site, anyone? Or are Muslims all perfect and got it all right? (Islam in the Hebrew root sh.l.m = perfect)

      • shmuel November 13, 2010, 8:52 AM

        @Vicky

        That’s just the point that even if there were injustices, it was legal in the period it happened.
        there may be need for compensation, but the law isn’t reversable any more.
        Otherwise there is an impossible situation of restoring stolen rights from 2 world wars which were hopelessly injust, readjusting all the worlds borders and doing mass relocation of millions of people.
        The Palestinians have to bravely accept that the best to hope for is monetary compensation. The international illegality starts in 1967, if at all.
        Justice is possibly desirable, but Utopias can’t be practical today.

        • Vicky November 13, 2010, 9:11 AM

          By this logic, it was ‘legal’ for Nazi Germany to annexe half of Europe. Even though international jurisprudence wasn’t as nuanced and highly developed then as it is now, the immorality of such actions was still widely understood at the time. I look at slavery and say that it was wrong; the fact that it was legal once does not negate its evil.

          Israel exists now; this fact cannot be changed. The nature of the Israeli state has to change. That is justice. The right of return has to be granted to Palestinian refugees. That is justice. Will all or even most refugees take up the right to return? No. I suspect that many would accept monetary compensation instead. But the choice needs to be there. It’s the least Israel can offer.

        • Richard Silverstein November 13, 2010, 9:56 PM

          That’s just the point that even if there were injustices, it was legal in the period it happened.

          This is completely bogus. You’re not an international law expert & all you’re presenting is yr opinion, which is worth as much as anyone wishes to attribute to it.

          The Palestinians have to bravely accept that the best to hope for is monetary compensation.

          Palestinians don’t have to do anything you claim that must do. They must do what is best for them in their view & don’t answer to you.

          The international illegality starts in 1967, if at all.

          Crap. The Nakba was an crime under any legitimate legal definition.

          And again, off topic.

      • Vicky November 13, 2010, 9:01 AM

        Self-critical Muslim blogs? A few that I read regularly are Muslimah Media Watch, Indigo Jo’s Blogistain, Rickshaw Diaries, Hijabman, Osama Saeed, Umar Lee, Lantern Torch, Hesham Hassaballa, and Mere Islam. Sadly Umm Zaid, Aaminah Hernandez, and Izzy Mo have stopped blogging, otherwise they would have been the first on my list of recommended reads. But there are many more out there. They aren’t difficult to find – unless you cling to the preconceived notion that there is no tradition of self-reflection in Islam, a notion that collapses when you look at the sheer diversity of opinion within the Islamic community. There are many different schools of thought and there is dialogue and debate between adherents of each one. Self-criticism is a fundamental part of that.

        As for ‘confession of sin’, this isn’t unique to Judaism, you know. As a Catholic, I go to confession every fortnight or so – AND I have to tell my sins to a priest, which not only makes me self-criticial, it makes me marvellously humble as well. Perhaps I should start claiming humility as a uniquely Catholic quality? On second thoughts, better not – I wouldn’t want my head to get too big for my halo. You might want to watch out for yours as well.

        “(Islam in the Hebrew root sh.l.m = perfect)”

        And from the Arabic root s-l-m = peace. The Hebrew meaning is irrelevant. What is relevant is self-examination, as you can’t have peace without a thorough understanding of yourself and your weaknesses. Practising Muslims know this.

      • Deïr Yassin November 13, 2010, 10:06 AM

        # Shmuel)
        When you ask me to find a Muslim counterpart to Jewish self-criticism, does that mean that you consider “Jewish” as a religious classification ? If not, why “Muslim” and not “Arab” ?

        Well, religion is NOT my main interest in life but I immediately thought about “Moderate Muslimer” (later changed to “Demokratiske Muslimer”), an influential movement in Denmark, and two of the three founding members are of Palestinian origin, one of them the Conservative ;-( lawmaker Naser Khader.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naser_Khader
        http://www.khader.dk

        http://www.moderatemuslimer.dk/
        (In Danish only, but it’s pretty much like Yiddish. I like their frontpage)

        • shmuel November 16, 2010, 10:48 PM

          @Deir Yassin

          Sorry I don’t know any Danish, and my Yiddish is about as fluent as my Danish!

          Your question about Jewishness being a religion or a people is one without a clear answer, and is similar to the famous wave-particle duality of electro-magnetism (seeing you mentioned Danish, I think it was Niels Bohr who formulated this dilemma). It’s both together, even though it may have apparent contradictions, but behaves as both at one and the same time.
          Sometimes the conflict is any combination of Jewish-Israeli-Zionist v. Muslim-Arab-Palestinian, depending on the where the when and any number of factors, and sometimes the wrong terminology is chosen through lack of depth of thought or to save writing the whole equation every time.

      • Richard Silverstein November 13, 2010, 9:45 PM

        You are not officially moderated. And if you repeat this a 4th time you will be gone. One of my comment rules is NOT to repeat yrself.

        • Vicky November 14, 2010, 9:48 AM

          Sorry, I didn’t realise I had posted the same thing anywhere else. I will reread myself more carefully in future.

          Just so that you are aware, I have a severe short-term memory impairment (severe to the point where it’s not safe for me to be left on my own, not severe as in ‘I get a bit ditzy sometimes’). Generally I remember what I’ve read and written, but occasionally I get confused. If you think that moderating me is the best way to solve this problem, feel free – it’s no more than what my relatives and friends have to do to keep themselves sane when I’m speaking, and I wouldn’t be offended.

          • Richard Silverstein November 14, 2010, 6:18 PM

            I myself don’t remember specifically what I said to whom but I very much doubt that I told YOU that you were repeating yrself. Much more likely I was telling a different commenter that HE was repeating himself. You may’ve been collateral damage as someone who entered into the debate by answering one of his questions. But I assure you it wasn’t at all directed at you.

          • Vicky November 16, 2010, 6:42 AM

            Oh, that makes more sense. My disorder only really affects my ability to remember visual and auditory information, so for one horrible moment i thought I was experiencing some sort of deterioration. Thanks for clarifying!

  • Steve November 13, 2010, 3:26 PM

    Getting back to the point, there is this:

    “In the Israel police there is a norm of violence and a lordly attitude; policemen take it upon themselves to act in a rude and criminal manner”

    This has to be straight out of a Monty Python sketch; it’s hysterical. Obviously this chap’s never met a New York taxi driver!

    Despite the avalanche of grotesque stories there’s not one piece of evidential context by which we can properly judge the relevance of these stories. Richard prefaces the piece with an acknowledgement that almost every state has its own history of police corruption and brutality; he’s dead right. Sadly he is mistaken if he thinks all is well in North America, Britain, or in most places one would care to mention. A better way to get some context on this issue is to go to the following link, read it, and stop castigating any country above Italy’s ranking. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But hey, you just can’t beat a little gratuitous story telling, can you?

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/gov_cor-government-corruption

    Regards,

    Steve

    • Richard Silverstein November 13, 2010, 9:00 PM

      there’s not one piece of evidential context by which we can properly judge the relevance of these stories

      What rhetorical hocus-pocus, mumbo-jumbo. There are literally hundreds of links providing you all the information any reasonable person would need to make the judgement you refuse to make. Newspapers are not legal forums and don’t present “evidence” or legal judgements. But a truly transparent society would acknowledge that thousands of stories in multiple media sources TV, radio & print would highight a deeply troubling social problem that needs to be dealt with. Only a dysfunctional society like Israel would evince indifference to the problem at the highest echelons.

      We’re not talking about NY taxi drivers. They don’t generally shoot & rape their customers, at least not in the numbers shown by Clyne’s magnificent post. The truth is Israel is a corrupt society, deeply so. The other western nations you mention are far less corrupt. And in Israeli corruption isn’t only financial, it involves violent crime & covering it.

      International corruption rankings place Israel 30th out of 180 countries around the world. Reading the rpt about Israel it becomes clear that Transparency International uses 2 main criteria in its survey: political & corporate corruption. There isn’t a single reference to police violence & corruption nor Israel illegal Occupation. Leaving this out of a discussion of Israeli corruption is like a doctor talking about a patient who has a stubbed toe & terminal cancer and treating only the stubbed toe. So Israel may be 30th for the specific criteria the survey ranks. But it leaves out so much as to be virtually useless in Israel’s case. If you want to know how Israel’s political or corporate corruption ranks against others, this is fine, but very limited.

      You’re just sleepwalking through the web, buddy. Maybe you’ll wake up sometime.

  • Steve November 14, 2010, 1:06 PM

    Richard,

    What you purport is a deceit because you refuse to see the bigger picture. On the one hand we have undemocratic, totalitarian regimes who use police forces to execute their will over their citizens, whose police forces are unaccountable to the will of the people and are instrumental in suppressing every kind of freedom and human rights. On t’other hand there are democratically elected governments who appoint police forces to protect the life and property of their citizens, but you know that already.

    Israel belongs to the latter, and not the former, despite the horror stories in Clyne’s post.

    “a deeply troubling social problem that needs to be dealt with”

    It most certainly is and I would be the last to evince anyone otherwise. Britain has to cope with “institutional racism” from top to bottom in its police force but I don’t see non-stakeholders vilifying the British state because their police institutions are racist.

    Nice try though.

    Steve

    • Richard Silverstein November 14, 2010, 6:29 PM

      Israel belongs to the latter

      I don’t know how to break it to ya, but you’re gettin’ snookered. Israeli police are not democratically appointed by anyone nor do they protect life & property except of their own families & colleagues & those who pay them well to do so. In many cases they are an offshoot of the Mafia itself. Not saying of course that there aren’t a cadre of honest, decent Israeli police officers. But by & large they are useless & the dregs of society. Here, let’s try a test. You go to Israel, act in a manner that is slightly anti-social but not illegal in the presence of a police officer & let’s see what treatment you are accorded. Let’s see if you’re treated decently or if you’re treated as a scumbag. What do you REALLY know about the Israeli police? What direct personal experience have you really have? Done any research? On what basis are you making yr judgments?

      I don’t see non-stakeholders vilifying the British state because their police institutions are racist.

      That’s because the British intelligence services are not in cahoots with the corrupt police force & the British miitary has not spent 60 yrs enforcing an illegal & immoral Occupation on an unwilling foreign enemy right next door. If that were the case, then yes, we would be talking about vilifying the British state.

      Nice try though.

      Thanks, yours not so much though.

      Richard

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