Israel Police Has Inflicted Unprecedented Destruction on Itself

When a major general visits a jail these days, it's by no means clear that he's there in an official capacity.

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
CartoonCredit: Amos Biderman
Amir Oren
Amir Oren

The regulations for an official police funeral require that six police major generals carry the coffin. That’s how many major generals the police have lost in the last 18 months due to criminal investigations or other embarrassing circumstances. They can now carry the coffin for the police force.

Under Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, now in the fourth year of his term, police have caught more criminals than ever before, but also more policemen. It is an unprecedented disaster for a law enforcement agency, a self-inflicted massacre.

What remains of the police brass was supposed to meet this morning in Shfaram for a ceremony marking the closure of the old police academy building. Nowadays, a patrol car would have ample room for the meeting, and would also be appropriate to the circumstances. It’s an open question whether a police major general will arrive at a jail as an officer or a prisoner.

Aside from the case of Menashe Arviv, which is still in limbo due to typical foot-dragging by the attorney general and the prosecution, most of the cases give off a clear stench.

They are fulfilling the prophecy uttered by the first of the lot, Niso Shaham, who warned that he was just one example of a general pattern of behavior that had previously been tolerated, but would now lead to the exposure of several of his peers.

There’s an enormous, painful gap between the pride most policemen and officers take in their uniforms and the shame they feel upon hearing of their commanders’ failures. Not only did these major generals let their urges overcome their common sense, but they didn’t even pay any heed to their predecessors’ falls. It’s as if an uncontrollable impulse was pushing them to destruction.

The popular saying about every institution having its rotten apples can’t explain the disaster that has befallen the police. Something is fundamentally wrong with a system that can neither identify character flaws in its officers in time nor deter those who reach the top.

Danino, who advanced through the ranks as a prime product of this system, has now become its victim. The commander isn’t always to blame, but he’s always responsible.

And above him is former Deputy Commissioner Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the first ex-cop ever to become public security minister. As someone who both knew the organization and had political power, he had an opportunity to improve it, to foment a revolution. But while he and Danino both had some achievements, the bottom line at the start of 2015 is that the police are on the brink of an abyss.

What is needed after the March election, is the appointment of a serious, professional public security minister — someone free of the fear of Aharonovitch’s party leader, Avigdor Lieberman — who will appoint a bold, creative police commissioner.

The police haven’t been blessed with such a combination since the 1970s, under minister Shlomo Hillel and commissioner Shaul Rosolio.

One such combination might be former police major generals Moshe Mizrahi and Yoav Segalovich. The chances of it happening look slim, but it would be the right direction to take.



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