Yesterday, I reported here on a Haaretz story about the notorious “Captain George,” an IDF military intelligence interrogator accused in 2004 of sodomizing a Lebanese kidnap victim in order to secure information about the location of IDF officer, Ron Arad. Among the things I wrote was my complaint that Haaretz was protecting the real identity of George even though he no longer served in military intelligence.
With the help of a diligent Israeli researcher, I can now expose George’s real identity. He is Doron Zahavi, currently the Arab affairs liaison for the Jerusalem police. His job, as I noted yesterday, is to direct community relations and liaison efforts between the police and Jerusalem’s Arab residents.
In discussing the parameters of Zahavi’s job, a police spokesperson told Haaretz:
“The adviser must be an accepted and welcome figure in the Arab community, with excellent interpersonal skills – someone they feel they can trust, otherwise he cannot succeed in the job,” a senior police officer said.
Apparently, Zahavi has performed his job so well he’s garnering rave reviews right and left from his Arab interlocutors. One, Jouad Siam, complained that in a February, 2010 interrogation, Zahavi threatened to destroy his home (Hebrew source) unless he disbanded a Silwan information center Siam had founded to counter the building efforts of settlers in his neigborhood. Here is how the ex-torturer now conducts himself. I’ll let you be the judge whether the leopard has changed his spots:
He [Zahavi] told us we were making problems and we had to close the center. I told him: “I thought we are in a democracy.” This raised the ire of ‘George,’ who said: “We Jews are fools. We treat you too well. I thought you would behave yourself.” ‘George’ threatened that he would draw up a demolition order for his home if he refused to close the center.
According to Siam, “The entire conversation was conducted in shouts. He didn’t let me speak. He would ask and answer his own questions [without allowing Siam to respond]. At the end of the discussion, he told me to go home and behave myself.
Last February, the Association for Civil Right in Israel registered a formal complaint against Zahavi for his outburst. Among the claims listed was that Zahavi called Siam a “criminal” and said that the latter would be held responsible for everything that happened in Silwan. The interrogator asked about the source of Siam’s income and told him he would intervene with his boss. At the end of the meeting, Zahavi attempted to enlist Siam as an informant.
The police replied formally to the complaint claiming laughably that Zahavi had merely invited Siam to a “get to know you” meeting in which the police advisor sought to discover what issues particularly troubled the local Arab population. In the course of the meeting, Zahavi felt it necessary to inform his Arab interlocutor about activities in which he was engaged that violated the law. No mention in the police reply how founding an information center was a violation of law.
The publicly available ACRI complaint lists Zahavi’s real name. In that case, why would Haaretz not be able to use it? The whole situation baffles me. At any rate, thank God we’re not bound by any such nonsense and we offer the real Doron Zahavi to the world in all his glory. If a reader has a picture of Zahavi, please let me know.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.