Look Who's Going to Be Israel's Police Chief

A Shin Bet agent from one of the most radical settlements in the West Bank, that's who.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Police commissioner nominee Roni Alsheich, September 25, 2015Credit: Tomer Appelbaul
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Roni Alsheich is a man with a very dubious past. In a law-abiding country, no one would even imagine appointing him police commissioner. In Israel, they place a crown on his head. The national chorus sings his praises. The Turkel Committee, a panel that will deal only with trivialities, won’t consider discussing in its meeting today the real stains on his past.

In a country where Yoav Galant was disqualified from being the army chief of staff for setting aside a few meters of public land for himself, and Gal Hirsch was disqualified from being police commissioner because of suspicions over some white-collar crimes, Alsheich is a legitimate and even admired candidate, who rises above any suspicion. However, the sins of Galant and the suspicions about Hirsch pale in significance to Alsheich’s past.

Alsheich spent most of his years in two rotten places, where upholding the law and democracy are far from being beacons. Now he will be law enforcer No. 1 in this No. 1 democracy. Because of his past, he is unfit for the job. He spent most of his adult life in settlements, and not just any settlement but Kochav Hashahar, one of the most ideologically radical. It’s not an address but a patently ultra-nationalistic, immoral worldview. Some of the most unruly outposts in the territories came from Kochav Hashahar, a few of which the state tried to evacuate, but in vain: Kochav Hashahar and its satellites couldn't have cared less about the law.

It is also a violent area. Just two weeks ago, vandals set fire to Bedouin tents not far from there, signing their work “the revenge leadership." Security forces raided the outpost of Habladim, another neighbor of Kochav Hashahar, in the wake of the burning of the Dawabsheh family home.

At least 65 of Kochav Hashahar’s homes were built on stolen Palestinian private land. Can a partner to theft of such magnitude be a policeman at all? According to a 2013 state comptroller’s report, Kochav Hashahar residents, like those in most settlements, do not pay leasing fees for their land, and this without any approval. The designated police commissioner is an ideological partner in practice with this act of theft, which is infinitely more serious than what Galant did. But Galant took land from Jews, Alsheich took from Arabs.

Just as the demand for labeling products from settlements is legitimate, intended to allow fair trade, labeling settlers is a legitimate demand, intended to allow fair appointments. Because this enterprise is entirely in violation of international law, every appointment of a settler is illegitimate, certainly when it comes to law enforcement positions.

Alsheich may have returned to live within Israel’s sovereign borders, but the shadow of his past cannot be overlooked. Following his appointment, people in Kochav Hashahar were saying he was "the right person at the right time." If that's what they think in Kochav Hashahar, there's no doubt he's the wrong person. The No. 1 cantor and gardener in the settlements, whose garden is chosen every year as the outstanding one, is unfit for the job of police commissioner precisely because of that garden he cultivated all those years.

The second rotting flowerbed in which the grandson of the unforgettable Bible Prize winner flourished is the Shin Bet security service. A chorus of commentators recited, as is their habit, the praises that were dictated to them to recite about his service there. Did you ever hear of a reigning Shin Bet chief who was not thought a genius, a man of values, brilliant and bold? Their true character, dismal on more than one occasion, only comes to light later.

The commentators sang Alsheich’s praises as an investigator. Anyone who knows a little about investigations by the Shin Bet, which are based to a great extent on blackmail and previously on torture as well, cannot help but laugh.

Now this fine investigator is going to be the police commissioner.

“Captain Benny,” “Abu Karpata,” “Bar Mitzvah,” “The Brain” – the cannon, the genius of the Shin Bet will be policeman No. 1. His wife already spoke about this “mission,” about “Zionism” - what else? - and the Yesha Council of settlements has welcomed the appointment enthusiastically. They have good reason to do so.