Israeli Border Policewoman as Stone-Cold Killer
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.
22 thoughts on “Israeli Border Policewoman as Stone-Cold Killer – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Now you said this :”A new expose of Israeli police brutality and torture exploded yesterday ”
and few days ago when i used the term Hamas terrorists this is what you said: “Using the term “Hamas terrorists” to refer to all of Hamas is a lie, prejudicial & a violation of the comment rules. Would you like me to allow a commenter here to refer to all Israelis collectively as “the Israeli terrorists?” I don’t allow this phrasing fr. the far left nor will I allow if from you on the far right.”
so aren’t you generalizing ? aren’t you doing exactly what you told me not to do ? especially when you know that this stupid ignorant women violated every order there is, and will stand trial for her actions ?
Not at all. I wrote there was an incident of torture, not that all of Israel engages in it. Use of the term “Israeli” was meant to identify the country where the incident took place (well not exactly since it took place in the Territories but you get my drift).
Wow…the fact that she considers being called a nazi..apperantly she never heard the quote whoever fights monsters should take care they dont become a monster themselves…advice lost on her, if she considers being a nazi a good thing. As for the hate against Jewish girls dating Arab men, thats just pure jealousy. I mean shes kind of manly looking
she’s not a nice person and spending hours over essays about her is a silly waste of time.
terrorizing children is all too common
How is it a waste of time to publicise what goes on here? Are we supposed to say, “Oh, it’s all too common, no point in talking about it”? This is a novel approach to solving child abuse.
It’s interesting that the big scandals involve women. Are the men of the border police much nicer, or is this something else?
BTW note that Shani’s comments are not at all uncommon in the threads Ido posted and you reproduce here. It seems her FB friends think just the same.
Anyn, just before Christmas ‘Breaking the Silence’ published a collection of testimonies exclusively from female soldiers. Here is an interesting passage from one of the testimonies:
“Somehow, a female combatant has to prove herself more, on the ground too. Again, a female combatant who can lash out is a serious fighter. Capable. A ball-breaker. There was one with me when I got there, she’d been there long before, she was – wow, everyone talked about what grit she had, because she could humiliate Arabs without batting an eyelash. That was the thing to do.”
There are over a hundred testimonies, and several of them touch on this perceived need to be macho and aggressive in order to be accepted. If you get time, read the anthology in full.
I don’t think that the cases of Eden Abergil and Shani Sivilya should be taken as proof of this trend, though. The vast majority of abusive military personnel are never going to get charged with anything, so we simply can’t know if females have the worst abuse record. It’s also worth noting that only the most outrageous cases of abuse are likely to get reported in the first place, as abuse itself is normal to the occupation: it’s not possible to perform these duties in a non-abusive way. A certain amount of abusiveness is acceptable (and expected) from everyone who participates.
Lord, no. They’re of a muchness. In fact, given that Shani is 22 yrs old I think part of this is that she was trying to prove herself one of the boys.
It would be interesting to hear a sociologist explain why Sephardic Jews seem to be immune from Leftism and self-hatred that affects so many Ashkenazi Jews, especially American Jews.
According to your logic, the downside is that they seem to be more susceptible to abject stupidity and sadism, isn’t it?
Well, this Shani-Thing is not a Sephardic but a Mizrahi Jew…. And I’m not sure people like Yehuda Shenhav, Ella Shohat and the whole Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition would appreciate your insinuations. By the way, Yehuda Shenhav IS a sociologist, so maybe you should read him.
Not only are you clearly an Ashkenazi, you don’t even understand the proper terms to use: first, in Israel the proper term to use would be Mizrahi, not Sefardi. Second, there are many, many progressive Mizrahi Jews. The fact that you make such stupid generalizations shows not only yr partisan political agenda, but yr ignorance of both Israeli politics and the views of Mizrahim.
Sorry Richard, you are wrong. Sephardi and Mizrahi are two different things. And Sevillia is clearly a Spanish name.
Yes, they certainly are 2 different things. But the class I was speaking of was Mizrahi, not Sefardi. And regardless of where the original meaning of the word Sevilia came from several hundred yrs ago, Shani Sevilia is not Spanish nor Sefardiah. She is Mizrahi.
Leaving aside the implied generalizations about Mizrachi Jews and the facile attempt to psychoanalyze an entire ethnic sub-group, the real failure of this article is its naivete.
If you put people (especially young people) in frustrating situations where they are called upon to use force in some situations and not others, you are opening the door for possible abuse. This is true if you are talking about the Israeli border police, the LAPD or British bobbies. Since societies need police forces they also have a moral responsibility to police the police so those doors to abuse stay locked.
Totalitarian regimes do not police the police, civilized societies do. You can argue about the effectiveness or thoroughness of Israel’s equivalent of the IAD, but the fact that it has one puts it in the camp of civilized countries.
The main problem we in Israel face in policing the police is our politically polarized society. If the police beat up rightists, the left think they had it coming. If they beat up leftists or Arabs, the right think they had it coming. If they beat up Charadim everyone thinks they weren’t doing it hard enough! The end result is that (except in egregious cases) the police feel that they can get away with misbehavior because, for any group of victims, two thirds of the country are either indifferent or thinks the police were doing the right thing by abusing them.
When Israel develops a human rights community that cares equally about abuse of all sectors of society the police will become more restrained.
I do so enjoy having an Ashkenazi Jew tell me that my own comments about Mizrahi consciousness are facile. Perhaps you’d like to read a comment sent to me by a leading Sephardi American Jewish intellectual:
His respect is something that means far more to me than yr puerile criticism which is based on nothing more than your own political disagreements with my views, & not on any specific knowledge you have about Mizrahi culture.
But that is what security forces around the world are forced to do on a regular basis. The fact that Israeli security forces automatically go into violent mode at the least provocation (& often with NO provocation) has everything to do with Israel’s particular situation & nothing to do w. LAPD or the British police or anything else. Your inane argument is that since security forces are only human and make mistakes that no one is guilty. It is just the situation that is forced upon Israel for which it holds no responsibility. Puh-leeze. When everyone’s responsible, then no one is.
Saying that Israel polices the police is laughable. FOr every violation investigated or prosecuted there are thousands that go unchecked. Saying Israel is a civilized society is also quite a stretch. I guess it depends on whether you ask the victim or the perpetrator.
The only time this happens is beyond the Green Line and in very specific circumstances such as evacuation of settlements. THis is an exceedingly rare phenomenon. Beating up leftists & Palestinians however is a daily one.
In Israel, European Jews have an “ism” (is it racism?) against indigenous Arabs which is similar to the “ism” of settler-colonialists anywhere against the indigenes (like anti-“Indian” feelings among American settler colonizers).
But the “ism” of the Mizrahis is not the racism of the previous wave of immigrants against a later wave, but (in INVERSION) rather the racism of a newly arrived wave against an older wave (or the indigenes if you will) who have similar appearance (and probably fairly similar genes or “race”).
Whereas the European Jews merely say to Palestinian Arabs, I dislike you because you own the land that I covet, the Misrahi Jews say I dislike you for that reason and also because you look like me and the (***) European Jews treat me badly, and I need a dog to kick.
Echoes of “Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS.” (Take note of the pose.)
Israelis love to ape the Nazis in the hope that someone will cross the line by pointing out the allusion. Then, the Israelis can cry foul–“antisemitism!” “deligitimization!” See? see? what did we tell you–antisemitism “hasn’t been this bad since the end of WWII” (that last is a direct quote from one of Canada’s Conservative MPs chairing the CPCCA, i.e., the current witch-hunt).
sorry but you are not involved in tikun olam. are we family?
God, I hope not.
At least we take out the trash (sorry for the language).
She was caught and taken to trial.
She was working with a weapon & capable of abusing her authority right up till the moment they charged her with a crime. This could NEVER happen in the U.S. Any officer of the law against whom there are any charges contemplated would be removed fr. active duty.