Police Chief: 'Israel Sanctifies Life, Our Enemies Sanctify Death'

Alluding to controversy sparked on Army Radio, Roni Alsheich makes a distinction between Jewish and Palestinian bereavement.

Israel Police Comissioner Roni Alsheikh, in the Knesset, February 9, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

There is a difference between bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich told a gathering on Monday organized by Yad Lebanim, the national organization for families of fallen soldiers. In response to a question, and alluding to the recent furor caused by Army Radio host Razi Barkai, Alsheich told the families: “It is impossible not to feel the difference between the bereavement that accompanies and greets us in your gaze, and that which we have met intensively in recent years in the eyes of some of our neighbors.”

Two weeks ago, in an interview with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan over the demand by parents of East Jerusalem terrorists to receive the bodies of their children for burial, Barkai angered the parents of Israel Defense Forces soldiers who were killed in 2014's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whose bodies have not been returned to their families.

Barzai had wondered if there were a difference between the feelings of Palestinian and Israeli parents whose children’s bodies are being held by the other side: by the Israeli government or, in the case of the soldiers, Hamas.

The Goldin and Shaul families complained bitterly over the comparison; Barkai apologized but refused to take back what he said.

Referring to that controversy, Alsheich said, at the Yad Banim event in Eilat: “It seems that while we have chosen to sanctify life, to give it importance, to elevate the contribution the victims left to Israeli society, the legacy they left you for eternity – our enemies chose to sanctify death. Their hidden message: There is no importance whatsoever to life and at the push of a button or drawing of a knife, it is possible to move on to a better world ... That is, in fact, in my view, the antithesis of the values of Israeli society."

In Alsheich’s speech, posted on the Walla Hebrew website, he emphasized what he saw as differences in the bereavement experienced on the two sides. “Over the years as part of my various roles, I meet the bereaved families,” he said. “Those who have served in the security services over the years are, of course, more exposed to it and there is an accumulation over time of more and more families to whom their souls are linked.”