Black Box / Nightmarish Territory

'How was Benny Sela as a lover, a boyfriend, with women?' That was the embarrassing, superfluous question of the week. Emanuel Rosen posed this question to Yael (not her real name), Sela's girlfriend for the past 15 years. 'A magnet,' Yael replied. 'He was very witty, very sharp, very funny.'

This week's television broadcasting at times resembled a protracted nightmare. It began with the capture of serial rapist Benny Sela a week ago and all the ugliness that has been - and continues to be - associated with this affair. The news shows continued their coverage of the investigation of Tair Rada's murder. We repeatedly saw this dead child's beautiful face looking at us coquettishly with a sidelong glance. Over and over again, we saw the school where the murder took place: From the outside it looked stable, solid, and very aloof. Over and over again, we saw the washroom door behind which the horrible crime was committed. And the camera went inside the washroom, which was now clean and empty, giving the impression that nothing had ever happened there and perhaps no one had ever paid a visit there.

Nightmarish territory. Baha Balousheh's three children, ages 3, 6 and 10, were murdered in Gaza on their way to school. The cameras showed the bullet-riddled car, now empty, its doors flung wide open, and the dead children's tiny bodies, covered with shrouds, kaffiyehs and flags and borne by the crowd.

A conference denying the Holocaust opened in Iran. Even though you can regard the entire happening as a non-event, look at the Neturei Karta delegation participating in the conference with derision and describe the entire gathering as something from a fantasy comic book, the event is still frightening.

From Chile, we were sent the image of former dictator Augusto Pinochet lying in his coffin. His enemies and admirers (there are still some around) took to the streets. In Britain, Jack the Ripper, who has never been forgotten, has emerged from the grave. Once again, Britain is plagued by a serial killer who murders prostitutes. From the more recent past, it was Princess Diana - who has also not been forgotten - on the eve of the publication of a report summing up the circumstances of her death. We again saw the mangled wreck of the car in the Paris tunnel where the accident occurred nearly ten years ago. We again saw the faces of the standers-by behind the guard rail trying to get a better view of the scene. We again saw the photographers climbing over that guard rail to document it.

"How was Benny Sela as a lover, a boyfriend, with women?" That was the embarrassing, superfluous question of the week. Emanuel Rosen posed this question to Yael (not her real name), Sela's girlfriend for the past 15 years.

"A magnet," Yael replied. "He was very witty, very sharp, very funny." The interview with Yael was part of a program called "Wanted: A Police Force" (Channel 2, Tuesday, 9 P.M.), which was defined as a "special broadcast" on the sorry situation of the Israel Police - its blunders, shortcomings and poor image.

The interview made me feel uncomfortable - there was no reason to interview this woman, whose relationship with Sela reminded me of women who correspond with serial killers and even marry them. When Rosen asked her whether she had wanted Sela to simply vanish or be caught, she answered, "I hoped that he would get away forever from society, from a place where people care about others. And I hoped that he would be caught - for the sake of all Israeli women." And also, the interview had nothing to do with the broadcast (except, of course, for the fact that the words "Benny Sela" and "police officers" were mentioned in the interview).

The only reason for this interview was for voyeurism and sensationalism. It was as ugly as the pictures of Sela and the police officers that accompanied us during this broadcast week.

This special broadcast on the police was full of strange texts. If, when the program was aired, I was sometimes reminded of "Le Gendarme de St. Tropez," Inspector Clouseau and, of course, our own movie, "Hashoter Azulai" ("The Policeman"), Amnon Abramovich's commentary during the program reminded me of Charles Bronson and "Dirty Harry." Speaking about the problems facing the Israel Police today, Abramovich said: "1. No money. 2. They are not alone. There is the phenomenon of our courts of law and their rulings that I would describe as super-liberal, postmodernist (parenthetically, arrogant). Rulings that favor criminals over their victims." He summed up with: "Postmodernist rulings cannot help the police fight crime, which is tough and cruel."

I really felt sorry for his studio guest Deputy Police Commissioner Major General Benny Kaniak, who tried unsuccessfully to express his position. You could see that he had prepared for the program and that he had formulated theses; however, they sounded confused. I shall present here one quote (readers can add the punctuation themselves): "The job of the Israel Police has always been to look after the strength of Israeli society and apparently the Jewish people's insight society's strength cannot influence existential strength and as a result we have always been pushed into a corner and as result of our being pushed into a corner this deterioration we have a situation in which the police is either too big or too small for Israel's citizens.