Go Complain to the Police

A teenage boy arrived at the central bus station in Tel Aviv last Friday afternoon, pulled a knife and tried to stick up a kiosk.

A teenage boy arrived at the central bus station in Tel Aviv last Friday afternoon, pulled a knife and tried to stick up a kiosk. The policemen who arrived on the scene treated him with kid gloves. They didn't investigate, didn't bother checking the levels of alcohol in his blood, didn't call the home for delinquent youth from which he'd come. Instead, they released him within 10 minutes. Why go to the major effort and open a file that wouldn't be dealt with? That night, the boy murdered Ma'ayan Sapir.

The policemen offered this convincing explanation as to why they didn't investigate the case: "The owner of the kiosk didn't want to file a complaint." As if anyone ever dreams of filing a complaint with the Israel Police. The policemen themselves laugh when they write up a complaint. They know that no one will look into most of the complaints, and if not for the demand by the insurance companies for these records, the number of complaints would decline so sharply that it would enable the police to report to the public that it had wiped out crime entirely.

Hundreds of police officers live in Neveh Ilan, a neighborhood in Yavneh. Barely a night goes by that someone doesn't break into one of the cottages there. So the cops, knowing the nature of their police force, decided to set up an independent "neighborhood watch."

This week, Nikolai Bonner confessed to murdering four people in Haifa and burning their bodies. "I was drunk," he said in his defense. Here, too, the state failed to protect its citizens. The Law of Return enables the interior minister to prevent the immigration of people who endanger public well-being or health. Bonner received extensive psychiatric treatment, including hospitalization, in his native Moldova, but no one in the Interior Ministry or the Jewish Agency bothered to check his background. The main thing was that they could report another new immigrant.

Later on in the week, 4-year-old Leah Katayev and her aunt Nadia Galibov were killed while innocently driving their car. On Wednesday, Rinat Roess was brutally murdered, making it the 10th murder in two weeks. The crime is getting closer and closer to us. When these things used to happen, we would say, "Chicago." Today, we can say, "Israel."

The prosecution and judiciary are also abusing their office. Even when a criminal is caught, the mills of justice turn so slowly that the victims are put through hell. The time that elapses between the filing of the complaint with the police and the completion of proceedings is so long that the trial becomes a perversion of justice.

However, it isn't only the government establishments that failed. We, the citizens, have also undergone a negative upheaval in the past few years. Parents have become "too good," or actually, too bad. We've turned into parents who do not enforce discipline and demand hardly anything from the child. He is permitted not to clean up his room, not to pick up after himself, not to do homework, not to read books, but to watch television nonstop, and even to play hooky from school. We've become parents who are scared of our children. We stopped setting boundaries because we want their love and approval so much - even though this unburdening is liable to lead the child to a psychiatrist or into the clutches of crime.

Schoolteachers have also ceased to educate. They are afraid to punish, they are afraid of the parents and the supervisors, and they prefer to swallow their pride in the face of violent and vulgar students. They, too, want to be liked by students and parents, and therefore prefer to give high grades, even in cases when there is no justification. The result of all these processes is a violent society without fear of the law and without respect.

If we add to that the long years of occupation that educated generations of young people about violence against civilians, abuse at roadblocks, patronization and the brutal racism of an apartheid regime - we will see that Professor Yeshayahu Leibovich's dreadful forecast, made immediately after the Six-Day War, is coming true right in front of our eyes.