A new expose of Israeli police brutality and torture exploded yesterday with reports that a member of a special Border Police unit, Shani Sivilia, had been accused of torturing a Palestinian boy in March 2010, by cocking and pretending to fire her pistol into his head at close range, all in response the ‘deadly’ act of his possessing three firecrackers. While the charges brought against her were shocking enough, even worse was the discovery by Israeli journalist, Ido Kenan, of her Facebook page, which is replete with the feverish product of what Ido cinematically calls “Dangerous Mind.” Kenan has published a version of this in Yediot.
Yesterday, I wrote about the specific charges brought against her by the police special affairs unit. Today, we’ll examine the contents of her formerly publicly accessible Facebook page (now private). There are a number of interesting themes running through this material which it’s worth paying close attention to. First, Sivilia is a Mizrahit. As such, she clearly feels a profound need to separate herself from the Palestinians who, if she saw her own image in the mirror, she would resemble. But there is a desperate need among some Israeli Jews of Arab origin to say: “We’re not like them. We’re better than them.” This phenomenon, of course, is not restricted to Israel. This happens in all societies in which there are waves of immigration and the penultimate ethnic newcomer seeks to distinguish itself from the most recent wave, which is at the very bottom of the social status pyramid. In this country, Germans said the same about Italians and the Irish and all of them said the same about African-Americans and even about Jews. You always bash the guy who’s one rung below you.
Sivilia clearly hates Arabs and leftists. But she reserves her greatest scorn and most apoplectic rage against what we might call “race-mixing:” Jewish women dating Arab men. The language she reserves for such women is the harshest of all you’ll see in her Facebook profile. In this, she is embracing the campaign of far-right nationalist rabbis against racial mingling between Jews and Arabs, including the field of sexual relations, commerce (no employment of Arab men by Jewish businesses), and housing (no renting to Arabs).
It doesn’t seem that Sivilia herself is religious (after all, one of her Facebook “Likes” is The Land of Milk, Alcohol, Honey and Drugs”). But her own prejudices overlap quite comfortably with those of the nationalist religious right and therefore it’s comfortable for her to take up religious imagery and phrasing in her comments. As a Mizrahit, she considers herself not religious, but “traditional.” In other words, someone for whom religion is comfortable without it turning into full-fledge Haredi-style religious observance.
In September 2010, she writes in Facebook:
Happy [Yom] Kippur to all. Surely, all the kids are going to the main drag (or “downtown”) to throw stones at Arabs.
In November 2010, Sevilia is released from her army service (which she appears to have served in the Border Police if I’m correct). This commendation to her from a friend sounds much more ominous in light of the accusations levelled against her:
At this wonderful time, the citizens and State of Israel thank you for your service and the sense of security you provided us.
In December 2010, the accused torturer writes on her Facebook page:
Fuck the world, another incident in which two Arabs stabbed [Jewish] girls, right by my house! Fuck your mothers you sons of whores!! Sons of whores…them and anyone who likes them. May God repay them.
When a Facebook Friend writes:
Any [Jewish] girl who goes out with Arabs should die.
Sivilia replies (and again keep in mind the acts of torture she’s being charged with):
You just now figured this out?? They should flay the skin from their bodies and cast them in the Dead [Salt] Sea.
In January 2011, the accused transfers to a private (civilian) company used by the Israeli State to provide security in the Territories. Here she will continue with the same duties she performed while in the Border Police. She completes a special course, is equipped with a weapon and writes the following:
Completed the special course. Now back to the Territories with a vengeance!
In February 2011, Sivilia is still consumed with matters of love and death between Jewish girls and Arab men. She recommends that a documentary created by an Israeli group which warns that the Arabs are using sex as a weapon to overwhelm Israel’s Jewish population. She declares the video should be distributed as widely as possible through social networking sites:
Every daughter of a whore who goes out with Arab men, they should torture her body!
I have no more curses left in me. The most important thing is that they [Jewish women] should suffer before they kill them.
On February 27th, the security contractor writes of her pride in being called a “Nazi” while doing checkpoint duty:
Yesterday, someone called me a ‘Nazi.’ From my point of view, ‘good job!’
On April 27th, she curses the Sheikh Jarrah activists because they disrespected her:
God take [kill] these leftists.
When a friend responds that even God doesn’t want them. Sivilia says well, “He promised me that he would consider it.”
In his article, Ido Kenan notes that the investigation against her had no bearing on the security work she performed. Just a day before charges were filed against her she was about to take an IDF fitness test, which she presumably needed to pass in order to perform her duties. Just a week before charges were filed she’s still doing duty at checkpoints.
She notes that the company she works for is called Civilian Intelligence (Modiin Ezrahi), one of several Blackwater-like Israeli companies with whom the Israeli government contracts to provide security in the Territories. This is part of the increasing privatization of the Occupation, which allows Israelis to see it as less a formal function of the State and its military, and instead as a more normal, day-to-day civilian process.
Thanks to Dena Shunra for research and translation assistance in preparing post.