Israel Police Video Directed at Religious Zionist Recruits Focuses on Fight Against Arabs Over Crime

Video does not mention detective work, fighting crime or combating violence. Source explains video content as befitting recruits' interest in 'action.'

Police recruitment video.

The Israel Police have promoted a publicity video directed at potential religious Zionist recruits to the police force that, seems to highlight police anti-terrorism actions, as well as showing clashes with Arabs, but places no emphasis on traditional police work. 

There is no mention in the video of detective work, fighting crime and combating violence, for example, and a police source explained that the logic behind the message of the video is to show police work as "action," as he put it, "and that sells." 

The video was posted on the Internet last month, inviting young people from a religious background to join the police force. The 45-second clip featuring rhythmic music, shows terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the demolition of Bedouin homes in areas of the south where they settled without official authorization, raids onto Jerusalem's Temple Mount, demonstrations in the predominantly Arab Wadi Ara region and a soldier checking a Palestinian's identity card. 

A caption at the beginning of the film speaks of the significance of the current period. "Now is the time to enlist for the national task," the caption states. "Mission, vision, Zionism." And the film ends with the slogan: "Believing in the police," which is also the name of the recruitment project.

In further evidence of the absence in the video of classic police work, there is no mention of contact between police and members of the public, which some members of the force have said is important to enhance the confidence that the population has in the police. The film arguably conveys more of a sense of the police as an army - dedicated to fighting Arabs.

But the content of the video, the police source said, is what sparks the interest of potential recruits to join the force. "We are not evading responsibility for this project. It's important to the police, which also wants religious police in its ranks."

The leadership of the project also includes representatives from the religious community who have been given responsibility to screen potential police candidates, although it is not clear based on what authority that was done. 

In response to an inquiry from Haaretz about the video, the Israel Police issued the following statement: "The 'Believing in the Police' project began in 2011 as part of multicultural recruitment efforts, aimed at bringing the national religious sector closer to the police by integrating this sector into the organization. The police from the national religious sector serving in the police force, like the other recruits, are police in every respect and are integrated into a wide range of positions, including patrols, investigations, intelligence and detective work at police facilities around the country."

The multicultural recruitment drive is aimed at improving police work "among the various groups in society," the police statement added, "and to increase cooperation and their confidence in it. The subject film was produced by the 'Believing in the Police' non-profit organization as part of an advertising campaign that they initiated to encourage recruitment of religious [members of the] police force."

There has been criticism of the project within the ranks of the police - a project which is aimed at training officers with a bachelor's degree combining police training with religious studies. In January 2014, members of the force complained to Haaretz that the police training lecturers included rabbis who had been investigated in the past on suspicion of incitement and racism. 

They included Rabbi Dov Lior, who was investigated on suspicion of both incitement and racism, after giving his support from the standpoint of Jewish religious law, halakha, to the book "Torat Hamelech" ("The King's Torah"), which deals with when halakha permits the killing of non-Jews. One of Rabbi Lior's colleagues, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, in the past called the Israeli judicial system "rotten" and encouraged a refusal to follow orders in one context when he said, "There is no difference with respect to halakha between a desecration of the Sabbath and evicting Jews from their homes. My students will not participate in removing Jews from their homes."

At the time, the police responded to the report as follows: "In the context of their curriculum, the students go to meetings with rabbis of all shades of the halakhic and political spectrum, but these meetings deal exclusively with purely halakhic issues and there is no political or ideological discussion."