Had an external investigator been appointed to examine the conduct of the police vis-a-vis the Gay Pride parade, which was supposed to run through Jerusalem five days ago, it is fair to assume that his findings would have been no less severe than the distressing picture drawn by Major General (res.) Doron Almog in his report on the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces, and especially the Galilee Division (Division 91), in the second Lebanon war.
Almog identified a central failure at the command level of the division, which led to unacceptable results: It failed to meet its missions.
Were a professional to assess the conduct of the police leadership in Jerusalem last week, he would have to reach a similar conclusion: They failed unacceptably in their role. Just as the duty of the Galilee Division was to defend the northern border and prevent Hezbollah from carrying out its plans - thus was the duty of the Jerusalem Police District to enable the Gay Pride parade to take place according to the conditions delineated in the event's initial authorization.
The feebleness exhibited by the police in their willingness to defend the rights of citizens to carry out a legal demonstration is no different from the slackness exhibited by the Galilee Division in its ability to meet the missions it was assigned to carry out. There is no fundamental difference between the two arenas, or between the responsibilities faced by the two security-related organizations. Both were established by the state with the purpose of defending it - from external enemies and from domestic disturbances. Nonetheless, the public is willing to allow the heads of the police these reverberating failures, at the same time it demands answers of the IDF command.
Not only did the police fail in their duty to guarantee the right of the participants of the Gay Pride parade to demonstrate - but they also appear to have manipulated the situation in order to foil the event. The police fed the media with alarmist reports, whose purpose was to suggest that the public's safety would be threatened if the parade were to take place. With their official announcements, the police actually enticed the Haredi rioters to intensify their violence in order to prevent the parade. Even after the attorney general ordered that the parade must be allowed to take place, the police commissioner, Moshe Karadi, announced that if he came to the conclusion that the police would be unable to carry out their mission - he would inform the High Court of Justice of this, with a request that the police be relieved of the task.
In this way, the police commissioner gave a green light to the ultra-Orthodox rioters to step up their demonstrations. In essence, the police issued what amounted to a self-fulfilling prophecy. This tendency is also evident after the incident in Beit Hanun, which provided the police with a convenient excuse for canceling the parade: They declared a level-D alert, which was lifted a few hours after the gay rally at the Givat Ram stadium was completed.
We have the right to expect that the police, with a budget of NIS 6 billion and more than 27,000 police officers, will be at the front lines of law enforcement and of protection of citizens' rights. But, instead of exhibiting a fighting spirit, strength, determination and a commitment to democracy, Karadi and his aides proved their organization to be weak, hesitant and derelict in carrying out its duty.
In retrospect, police sources described their conduct in this case as following the dictum of "don't be right, be smart." But this is a particularly low form of self-embellishment - the police giving themselves high marks for not carrying out their duty.
This is not the first time that the police under Karadi have proved to be fainthearted. They behaved the same way in preparation for the disengagement from the Gaza Strip: Karadi responded with panic to the challenge he was assigned, claiming that he lacked the resources to meet it and taking action to avoid it. His efforts bore fruit - and most of the assignment of evacuating the settlers from the Gaza Strip fell on the IDF. This is not the kind of police force that the public can trust to protect it.
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