When Israeli Cops Assaulted an Arab Supermarket Worker, They Exposed the Government’s Brutal Face

As of this writing, no government leader, not least the prime minister, has seen fit to issue a condemnation of the off-duty officers who savagely beat Maysam Abu Alqian.

Haaretz Editorial
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A screenshot from a surveillance camera video showing police beating an Arab employee outside a Tel Aviv supermarket, May 22, 2016.
A screenshot from a surveillance camera video showing police beating an Arab employee outside a Tel Aviv supermarket, May 22, 2016.Credit: YouTube
Haaretz Editorial

Sunday’s vicious beating of Maysam Abu Alqian, a supermarket worker in Tel Aviv, reflects the violent public attitude toward Arabs in Israel, but more importantly it illustrates the violent and dangerous policies promoted by the government, among other ways through its law enforcement agencies.

Alqian, a resident of the Negev, was beaten by three border policemen who were out of uniform and walking around Rabin Square. They spotted him outside the supermarket where he works and asked him to identify himself, because they thought he might be a Palestinian working illegally. Alqian refused to show his identity card and the policemen began hitting him.

An eyewitness described what happened on his Facebook page: “An Arab worker at Super Yuda came out to throw out the garbage, when a guy in shorts came over to him and asked to see his identity card. [The worker said] my identity card is inside, who are you? He had barely finished speaking when he caught blows, but murderous blows, from [the guy] and a friend who was with him. These were blows I’d never seen in my life; teeth were flying in the air; the Arab was crushed.”

But the injustice done to Abu Alqian did not stop there. He was arrested in the hospital, although police didn’t seem to find it necessary to arrest his attackers. A district court judge agreed not to detain him, overriding a police request, but he was released to house arrest and ordered to stay out of Tel Aviv. Thus, in our distorted reality, the victim becomes the criminal and the criminal is part of the law enforcement system.

This injustice is natural in a country where the prime minister makes a supportive phone call to the parents of a soldier who shot dead a dying Palestinian terrorist in violation of the rules of engagement, and in which that soldier is considered by many to be a national hero; in a country where the defense minister, who defended the rules of engagement, is ousted in favor of someone who demonstrates support for the entry of barbaric anarchy into the military’s ranks, and in a country where a senior opposition figure meant to offer an alternative government says that everyone who takes out a screwdriver should be shot. Such injustice is natural in a country that uses violence against Palestinians across the Green Line every day, and that promotes popular and institutionalized discrimination within its borders.

Maysam Abu Alqian, who was beaten by off-duty Border Police outside the Tel Aviv supermarket where he worked, on Monday.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

It’s no coincidence that Alqian was assaulted by policemen. This is the face of the Israeli government.

The border policemen who beat Alqian were not wearing uniforms, but they represent the government nonetheless. As of this writing, no government leader, not least the prime minister, has seen fit to issue a condemnation. Beyond the probe required by the department for the investigation of police officers, Alqian’s beating ought to shock every Israeli citizen. It’s a symptom of the disaster toward which the government is leading us.

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