The disparity between the flap over Gal Hirsch and the enthusiastic silence that greeted the news of Roni Alsheich’s nomination as national police commissioner could not be greater. To simply call him an Orthodox Jew is to be guilty of a generalization that is deceptive, even bigoted, ignoring the diversity within the definition. The director of the Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen, is a right-wing pragmatist, attentive to his boss and religiously observant. He doesn’t live inside theology.
Alsheich, the Shin Bet’s deputy director, is a different story: Kookian, a messianist, brilliant, he lives theology. Wise men who were his superiors in the Shin Bet feared his ideological influence were he to become its head, in the service of a theology that goes beyond Givati Brigade Commander Col. Ofer Winter. And with greater sophistication, ambition and creativity.
Despite the Shin Bet’s customary “voyeurism” regarding private life, the opinions of the nuclear family are not generally a public matter. But in the exceptional case of a person who lives under a screen of public secrecy, their opinions should be examined. Especially when they also represent the extremist settlement Kokhav Hashahar, parent of wildcat outposts par excellence, which the Shin Bet failed to come to grips with even though Alsheich and his family were for many years among the pillars of the settlement.
The Facebook pages of Alsheich’s wife and children are filled with two types of shared posts: pleas to help sick or needy individuals in the community on one hand and on the other, angry diatribes about the need for “we [Jews] [to] be the rulers here,” about police officers who “do nothing” in the face of the Arabs in East Jerusalem and in Umm al-Fahm and rage over the investigation of religious army officers such as Lt. Col. Neria Yeshurun for alleged misconduct, since it is “well known” that “the Military Advocate General’s Office has been taken over by Jew-haters.”
Now it is not the Shin Bet deputy head who is connected to this communal and familial anger, but rather the chief of the Israel Police, which is supposed to serve all citizens, regardless of religion, opinions and race.
The story is not the clever nominee, but rather the even more clever nominator. In the face of the indolence of the non-right that dealt with Hirsch and his business dealings in Georgia, Alsheich has been presented with the prime minister’s four demands from the police. Two of these accord with the demands of Alsheich’s family: a struggle against East Jerusalem and enforcement in Israel’s Arab community. Or, in the language of racism, against the Arabs “going to the polls in droves.”
Support such as Alsheich’s for the settlements is not another “opinion,” it is in effect beyond the bounds, certainly for the police commissioner. When you purposely create a situation, with the aid of theology, in which the Jews are citizens and their non-Jewish neighbors are not citizens, but rather have the status of a “ger toshav” (resident alien) who must be ruled over, it is illegal. When the purpose of the settlements is to prevent withdrawal by any future government and to maintain apartheid into perpetuity, it is illegal. The very fact of living beyond Israel’s borders in contradiction of international law is illegal. That is more grievous than Hirsch’s business dealings in Georgia.
Unlike the situation with Hirsch, it was Benjamin Netanyahu who brought in Alsheich, a known favorite of the prime minister. But hitting civil servants is a criminal offense. So is blocking access to ambulances and systematic abuse. They are worse than corruption. When it is done to state employees in the service of the prime minister and he doesn’t prevent these alleged criminal offenses of his wife, he cannot remain in office even one more day. But who will carry out the investigation?
Would the wise Alsheich dream of hurting the nominator, not to mention a right-wing, faith-based government? Would he dream of distancing himself from familial, communal, theological and rabbinical opinions which have influenced him, especially when the nominator makes it clear that he was nominated in order to execute some of those opinions? Would a person who believes in denying rights to noncitizens work to change a police force that has forgotten the weaker citizens? Will the public and the senior civil service appointments committee, better known as the Turkel committee, demand answers? Will everything come to light? Unfortunately, the most important issue has become a collection of rhetorical questions.