Opinion |

Rebuild the Israel Police From Scratch

The police force, which sees Arab citizens as enemies, is simply not committed to them. How can it be expected to fight crime in Arab communities?

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File photo: Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich during a Knesset discussion, October 16, 2018.
File photo: Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich during a Knesset discussion, October 16, 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

If a lazy tomato in some distant field wouldn’t ripen on time, it’s quite possible the Hebrew media would accuse the agriculture minister of criminal negligence. But after 70 Arab citizens of Israel have been murdered since the beginning of the year, it’s true the media isn’t silent but it turns all its firepower on the victim, the Arabs; those who have lost their loved ones and those who live in fear of murder.

After all, if we’re talking about Arabs in Israel, then the victim must be to blame, and if the police brass are invited to news studios they will address the issue like UN observers: They will analyze the situation and conclude that the Arabs caused it, either because they aren’t cooperating with the police, as if Jews fall all over themselves to cooperate, or because they are too busy dealing with “family honor,” as if of the 70 murdered this year, 71 are victims of this accursed honor, including the men among them. This claim is already more than worn out; the vast majority of the women murdered, like the men, are victims of crime in all its forms.

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And while the media have never (justifiably) summoned a Jewish mayor to explain how the Jews will fight crime, they regularly summon Arab MKs and mayors and start to crucify them, as if at the crucial moment MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, didn’t outflank the criminal from the left and MK Jamal Zahalka didn’t close in on him from the right, and those three Amazons, MKs Aida Touma-Sliman, Haneen Zoabi and Neven Abu Rahmoun, didn’t attack him with their swords drawn. How commercialized, wretched and shameful can the Hebrew media be?

In the Palestinian Authority, the police are more efficient, faster, and bring 1,000 times better results than the disgraceful police force here. Why? Because the ordinary policemen there, as well as their commanders, are committed to their own people. The policeman there lives the tragedy that follows every murder, and he is determined to catch the criminal and bring him to trial. So you see, Arabs know how to fight crime, they know how to catch criminals without blaming a lack of cooperation or that despicable “family honor.”

On the other hand we may ask, not quite naïvely: Is the Israeli policeman, such as the one who broke the leg of human rights activist Jafar Farah at a protest earlier this year, or such as the one who wrote a post saying the Arabs in Israel “are all terrorists who are exploiting your money for violence,” determined to fight crime in Arab communities, or is he perhaps saying to himself, “Let them stew in their own juice?”

Even worse, in the vast majority of cases these racist policeman are treated fondly by their commanders, and we can understand why; after all, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said, “While we choose to sanctify life, our enemies chose to sanctify death.” And as we know, Alsheich was using the word “enemies” to mean Palestinians, which Israeli Arabs consider themselves to be. And if the most senior commander believes that Arabs sanctify death, then why deny it to them? On the contrary, the more dead, the more sanctification.

And if this isn’t enough for you, watch last Wednesday’s confrontation between Odeh and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in the Knesset. While Odeh called from the depths of his soul upon the minister responsible for domestic security to do something, given that 70 people have been murdered, the minister looked relaxed, as if human lives weren’t at stake or as if he’d happened upon this discussion by chance. With chilling calm he accused Odeh of being a terrorist and supporter of terrorism who belongs in jail. If the minister responsible for Arabs’ security takes this attitude toward the Arabs’ leaders, we can understand why the crime situation in Arab towns is what it is.

Since time immemorial the police have regarded Arab citizens as enemies; it’s in their DNA. If we want a police force that will be concerned about the Arab citizen, we must dismantle the police and rebuild it from scratch.