“My son was beaten by Police yesterday”

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62 Responses

  1. Harry Maryles says:

    the willingness of Israeli police to circumvent the law when it suits them. This happens all the time.

    Yes, let’s bash the police every opportunity we get. Maybe we should just disband them? Maybe we can have an all Charedi police force?

    Rabbi Menken, I am a big fan of this blog. I link to it on my blog. And I appreciate the high quality of the writers and their writing. But is it always so wise to be the first to criticize the police at every turn? Maybe they were wrong here. Maybe the e-mail you received is totally accurate and the media reports are not. Maybe. But have you ever considered the possibility that the police are just doing their jobs? Must they always be assumed to be wrong when there is any question?

  2. Yaakov Menken says:

    Harry,

    First of all, thank you for your warm words about Cross-Currents. And, ordinarily, I agree with you — everyone and every group deserves the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they were just doing their job. But that’s only true when there isn’t an established pattern of behavior.

    As I wrote early this year, I have personally experienced the way Israel’s police act contrary to law. Shortly after the events described in that post occurred, I described the incident to a friend of mine — Yoram Hazony, founding president of the Shalem Center and author of The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul. As if this was insufficient evidence of his Zionist credentials, he was also an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the latter was opposition leader (1991-1994).

    I’m not sure whether it was he or his wife Julie who responded that Israel’s police function like that of a third-world country, and this is well-known. Well-known, perhaps, to the politically active like Hazony, and the charedim, but the general public are often unaware of that fact. After Amona, Yisrael Valis, countless similar stories and my own experience, I think the police have long since lost the necessary level of credibility to deserve the benefit of the doubt when a complaint of this nature is lodged. And making people aware of the problem is the first step towards correcting it.

  3. kar says:

    “yet the Jerusalem Post interviews Aharon Rose, a “researcher of haredi society and thought” at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who proceeds to blame the charedim themselves for inflating this number!

    “Many believe that the leadership of the haredi world is happy about this,” Rose told The Jerusalem Post following the publication of the study on Tuesday. “According to this view, the perception of being hated helps them to keep their society separate from the general culture.””

    He isn’t saying they aren’t hated, or that they are to blame – just that the leadership makes use of this state of affairs. This is the rest of what A. Rose is quoted as saying:

    “For Rose, however, there is also much hatred in the general society that is reflected in the study. Rose doesn’t believe that self-perception of the haredim is the whole story.

    “I think the haredim are hated in part because they represent to secular Israelis a Jewish past that the secular world hasn’t dealt with,” he said. “The secular blame the haredim for supposedly causing them to hate the Jewish bookshelf.” To put it simply, he adds, “This is a lie. Who has kept that bookshelf alive?” ”

    These are not the words of someone who is blaming the victim.

    The name Aharon Rose rang a bell, and lo and behold, Aharon Rose is the person who wrote this essay “The Haredim: A Defense”

    http://www.azure.org.il/magazine/magazine.asp?id=307&search_text=rose

    The poll was about perception of who is most hated; the percentages don’t reflect who actually hates charedim. You omitted to mention that the poll asked who is responsible for this division, and :

    “A sizable 42.1% of Israelis believe politicians are responsible for the divisions in the people. The media follows closely on the heels, with 39.4% calling it the main culprit for rifts among Israelis. The rabbinical establishment was blamed by 9%.”

  4. mb says:

    What happened to Yisroel Valis?

  5. Ahron says:

    My own friends were victims of a police riot around the Meah She’arim neighborhood several years ago. I avoided that one by the sheer luck of not walking with them that night. A good friend in Jerusalem was arrested for watching (yes, watching) an anti-expulsion protest in summer 2005. And of course there was the brutality against teens at Amona….Yisrael Valis’s case….the Western Wall Shofar arrest…etc. etc. etc.

    The community of American olim in Jerusalem are well-aware of the modus operandi of the Israeli police and generally fear them. That is likely a situation that the police are pleased with, as would any unaccountable organization tasked with enforcing “order”. (The Founders of America for one were familiar with such abuses of power, terrified of the prospect, and took a few measures to help prevent it.)

    My simple recommendation is to simply do the obvious thing when you, as a citizen, get abused by the government of a foreign country: Go to your Embassy. Go to the US Consulate in Jerusalem and the US Embassy in Tel Aviv–(the Jerusalem consulate has long been accused of being an unfriendly environment for olim. In any event it is not even located in Israel according to the State Department.)–report the abusive behavior and forward a copy of the report to the Israeli police commissioner, the Minister of public security, your hometown Jewish Week…etc. etc. etc. In most cases of government abuse embarrassment is the best medicine.

  6. HILLEL says:

    I think it is important to understand that the armed police forces and the armies, in any country, are delegated the power to kill or maim people at will.

    The only thing that prevents them from abusing that power and harming innocent people is a system of effective administrative controls (police review boards, etc.).

    Anyone who is familiar with the Israeli Police knows that such administrative controls are virtually non-existent.

    Unlike the police forces in a large urban city like New York, the Israeli police are not subject to the authority of the Mayor of Jerusalem. The Police are a law unto themselves.

    In their table of organization, they are subject only to the authority of a Knesset minister, who doen’t normally pay attention to “minor” incidents, such as beating up Hareidim on the streets of Jerusalem or firing water cannons indiscriminately into the homes of innocent Meah Shearim residents and ruining their funrinture and belongings.

    As the Amona massacre proved, it takes a major Knesset investigation to get some semblance of justice for Police thuggery in Israel.

  7. Yisrael Moshe says:

    R’ Menken,

    Now that the Chassidish, Yeshivish, Chareidi, and Religious Zionist communities are in complete agreement about the danger posed by the Israeli police and their anti-Torah commanders (going all the way up to Prime Minister Olmert), shouldn’t we all unite to phisically defend ourselves against their unprovoked attacks?

  8. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Ahron, when you are a dual national, and are abused by one of the governments you are a national of, the other government may not be able to help you. Olim who become Israeli citizens may not get help from the US consulate.

    The general idea, to raise as much of a stink as possible, is good. May I suggest also contacting a few Haredi members of the Knesset?

  9. Nachum says:

    Nu, and I was walking near the Republican Convention in 2004 when I was almost caught up in a police dragnet. When there are protests, riots, whatever, things get crazy. Sure, the police are sometimes to blame, but often it’s a sum of all the circumstances.

    As to Valis, he was let go, right? So the police, faced with suspicious circumstances, got the wrong guy. Hardly grounds to indict the police as an institution.

  10. HILLEL says:

    Nachum:

    Your comments are appropriate for a country like the US, where there are strong administrative controls to prevent police abuse of the citizenry, and where the Police are under the command of a civilian administrator, like a mayor, who is accountable to his constituency.

    Under those circumstances, we can presume that the Police will at least try to do the right thing, even if things sometimes get out of hand.

    There are no such effective civilian controls on the Police in Israel. The Police function as an independent paramilitary organization headed by Police commander Moshe Karadi. The Mayor of Jerusalem is powerless to restrain them or even to investigate them.

    In fact, Commander Karadi has just requested that 2000 regular military border patrol soldiers reinforce his command during next week’s GayPride demonstration on August 10, an intermingling of police and military that would never be allowed in the United States.

    The sordid record of gratuitous police brutality in Israel has destroyed their “Chezkas kashrus.”

  11. Shimon says:

    Nachum, I would expect more than that from you. They lied thru their teeth about the whole episode with Vallis. They tricked him and lied to him. Lied to the public. That episode alone – and the coverup that came along with it – cost them a lot in terms of credibility.

    Couple that with Amona and the Pesach Pogroms and the illegal asault with which they abuse those that try to preserve the sanctity of the Kevarim and you have yourself a loong list

  12. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Hillel, may I correct you on a few details?

    1. Border Patrol (= Mishmar Hagvul) is part of the police, not the military.

    2. In the US the National Guard, which is a bit like the Israeli Miluim, can and has been used in a law enforcement capacity. See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings .

    3. The Israeli police are not answerable to a mayor, but they are answerable to a minister and to the prime minister, in much the same way that the Texas Rangers are answerable to the governor, or the FBI is answerable to the president. The problem is not that civilian controls do not exist. The problem is that they are not enforced.

    Of course, none of these details affect your main point.

  13. Ahron says:

    Nachum,

    Not really a great example. Getting “caught up in a police dragnet” around a political event with strategic national security implications is simply not comparable, to say the least, to the regular abuses of power conducted by Israel Police as a matter of daily operation. Have you any idea how many local police, state police, FBI, Secret Service, military, and other security agents were deployed to protect the Republican convention? Undoubtedly thousands, and for good reason. It was an ideal target of opportunity for terrorist-types who could have aimed to wreak mass terror and murder–the government’s security agencies responded accordingly to the potential threat. And even under that looming dark cloud……were you beaten by the police???

    So, were the Israeli Police at Amona concerned that teenage girls were about to release anthrax? Was the Satmar yeshiva harboring Hamas leaders? Was the minyan blowing shofar at the Kotel back in September concealing WMD under their tallitot? Let’s be serious. The issue is indeed a case-by-case “sum of all circumstance”, and over a simply enormous number of cases the sum of the circumstances and the data add up to a corporate culture of police aggression and brutality…. not much different than what you would expect from any government following third-world standards. And that’s one reason why these sorts of attacks occur much less frequently in the US. And when abuses do occur they tend to be less flagrant, and there is asupervisory framework with a mandate and power to probe and punish them.

  14. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Rabbi Menken says he’s experienced the behavior of the police first hand. Well I’ve experienced the behavior of the Chareidi Zealots first hand. Let’s just say it’s not as clear cut as many hear would have one believe. And since the police are entrusted to keep the peace by using force if necessary, then they always get the benefit of the doubt.

    I’ve watched the response of the police to the chareidi rioters and it’s no different than police response in other places. I put the blame for the injury mentioned above squarely in the court of the rioters.

  15. former yu says:

    It is very well known amongst the american yeshiva boys in the chareidi neighborhoods, (Mir and Brisk) not to get curious at one of the frequent demonstrations in their neighborhood because the Israeli’s know how to run and the innocent bystanders take a beating from the police or the special unit known as the men in black.

  16. Bob Miller says:

    Ori Pomerantz,

    You (November 2, 2006 @ 8:03 pm) supplied a link about the Kent State events. I’d like to point out that the US Army took the National Guard failures at Kent State very seriously. In late 1972, while taking US Army Ordnance Corps officer training at Aberdeen Proving Ground (MD), we were shown an Army movie detailing all the National Guard blunders at Kent State, and we were given a clear message of what should never be done again. If a similar soul-searching and follow-up has gone on after Amona and other incidents in Israel, I’m not aware of it. Are you? To me, it seems no lessons were learned there by the people responsible.

  17. Nachum says:

    To all who responded to me: True! All true! However, I’d like to echo Charedi Leumi here: First, the demonstrations can get violent from the other side too. I see no reason why anyone should be implying that there’ll be violence at the (hopefully not to occur) parade, even if only to get the police to cancel it. Indeed, there’s already been violence (on both sides) at mere demonstrations against the parade. And this is coming from someone who detests “both sides” arguments.

    Second, this is hardly limited to religious Jews. All sorts of secular demonstrators have similar complaints against the police in Israel. And I can chalk up a list of reasons why that might be so without saying it’s (only) anti-Orthodoxy. Should it be so? Of course not.

    By the way, Ori, the National Guard is a state-run body, which doesn’t exist in Israel. The regular Army Reserve (a bit of an oxymoron, but whatever) is like the Israeli Miluim.

  18. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Bob Miller, first let me thank you for your service. I appreciate the sweat, toil and blood that lets us live here in freedom and relative safety.

    Second, I only mentioned Kent State as an example of US military involvement in civilian law enforcement. I used it to show Hillel that such a mingling is not unthinkable here. The fact that you were trained on what happened and how to do the job properly next time only strengthens my case. They wouldn’t have wasted time training you if they didn’t think the training might be required. Maybe I should have picked a more positive example, but I grew up in Israel and I’ve only been here for eight years – I don’t know recent US history well enough.

    For the record, I have no objection to using the military to control riots. Life under martial law is bad, but life in the middle of a riot is much worse.

  19. Bob Miller says:

    Ori,

    Thanks, but my active duty was actually pretty short. Coming out of grad school in mid-1972, it would normally have been time to do the two years active duty that ROTC students committed to. However, earlier in 1972, the Army sent a letter around that they didn’t need all the officers becoming available for active duty (this was the period of “Vietnamization” of the war), so they let many of us opt for “active duty for training” or ADT, leading into reserve status after the training. So it was ADT that took me to Aberdeen.

  20. Yaakov Menken says:

    Chareidi Leumi has demonstrated via previous comments, his blog, and at least one personal endorsement, that he is both intelligent and reasonable. So to borrow a turn of phrase found in the sefer Bedek HaBayis (and elsewhere), his words weren’t written during the day (but rather at night, when one’s thinking is less clear). The attitude reflected is so troubling and so wrong on so many levels that one wonders where to begin.

    It is simply not possible to blame every group for the miscreants within it in the same way that one expects our public service agencies to perform their paid responsibilities — and to discipline those members who fail to uphold the law in their conduct. And besides, any claim that a “chareidi zealot” has ever beaten a person in the fashion filmed recently in Amona and the Satmar Beis Medrash is absolute mythology. Lo Haya v’Lo Nivra, it has never happened and never shall happen. Anyone believing otherwise is welcome to film the evidence proving me wrong — should you succeed, I will post the video (bli neder) with my apologies. But I am quite confident that “it just ain’t gonna happen.”

    This year as every year, riots near college campuses will celebrate or bemoan success in various NCAA tournaments (search “NCAA riot” and you will find a host of references). According to Chardal police can charge the crowd and beat all the innocent bystanders they wish, for we should blame the entire student body for what transpires.

    “It’s no different than police response in other places?!” If he means in China, he’s right. But imagine exactly how far the repercussions would travel if what is done regularly to Israeli demonstrators were delivered to college students here.

    “And since the police are entrusted to keep the peace by using force if necessary, then they always get the benefit of the doubt.”

    Exactly how far does that go? The KGB? The Chinese in Tiananmen Square? Himmler’s security police? Look up the term “police brutality:” at some point the police lose the benefit of the doubt through repeated misconduct. The Israeli police crossed this line so long ago that one wonders if Ben Gurion used the gunmen who sank the Altalena to set it up.

  21. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Rabbi Menken, you seem to think I’m somebody else. I haven’t posted to your blog in quite some time and I don’t have my own blog. If I’ve adopted someone else’s moniker I apologise.

    To your comments. You seem to read a lot into my comments that I did not say. I did not say the Chareidi Zealots behave in the same way as some of the police who have acted over-aggressively. (Though I hope, in keeping your promise you did extensively cover the stabbing by a chareidi at the gay pride “festivities” last year.) However, there is no reason to make that equation. Chareidi zealots do, frequently behave violently and dangerously. The do throw rocks at cars, they do set fires in public places, they do illegally block traffic. This behaviour is not disputed. And if you haven’t seen it then you really haven’t spent much time here.

    Do these miscreants in any way represent the greater majority of peaceful chareidim? Of course not. However, that greater majority is largely silent. Has anyone ever seen a Kol Koreh admonishing people for throwing rocks at cars on Shabbos? I haven’t but I would love you to post one if it exists. However, I’ve seen numerous such posters for such horrifying sins as a merchant allowing people to sit down in his restaurant. Chalilah! The Chareidi rabbinic leadership has been cowed into silence. I know for a fact that they are scared to speak out. So to some extent the greater community does bear a measure of responsibility for the behaviour of the zealots. And furthermore, though most chareidim do not condone such behaviour many do silently appreciate the affect that it has, e.g. of course I wouldn’t throw a stone at a passing car, but I’m happy if he doesn’t come back because of it.

    Another example where you’ve read too much into my comment is that I do not endorse police abuse. I said to give them the benefit of the doubt. Clearly, in some of these riots and in Amona some police stepped over the line. And of course they should be punished. But you have such a knee-jerk negative reaction to police activity that you’ll believe anything negative with virtually no proof. Amona is a good example, while there was clearly police abuse, the protesters and rioters were far from innocent. Many of them came to Amona with the stated aim of doing battle with the police. And to borrow a phrase from the summer’s war the police have no obligation of “proportionate” response. They are legally empowered to use violence to maintain law and order.

    Your examples of China,etc. are absurd. Nobody has been systematically gunned down. Please.

    I do stand by comment about this happening elsewhere, and I mean in America. I have also seen riot police in action in the US and there is quite a bit of indiscriminate clubbing that goes on.

    It’s very easy to be someone who sits on the outside and cherry picks “bad” events. In Israel, nearly on a daily basis, you will find chareidim (and others) protesting something, somewhere. In the vast majority of cases these protests pass uneventfully. All summer long on shabbos I witnessed chareidim protesting chiloni driving, often violently by throwing rocks and placing debris in the road, not once did the police act in a way that even came close to the horrid behaviour of the Zealots. So here you had a bunch of orthodox Jews being mechalel Shabbos and making a chilul Hashem while these chiloni policemen behaved in-line with Torah ideals.

    While there is much to fault the current secular government of Israel with, your personal vendetta against it goes beyond the pale. In my opinion your relentless attacks make you the equivalent of a modern day meragel.

  22. HILLEL says:

    Ori:

    The difference between police and military that we expect in America is nonexistent in Israel.

    The “rules of engagement” for mulitary personnel–in presumably hostile territory– allow much wider latitude for action than domestic police, who are not allowed to create “collateral damage,” while military units do so routinely.

    Last night, my son reported that police in Jerusalem entered homes in Geula without warrants and beat-up entire families on suspicion of harboring “fugitives.” My son was one of these “fugitives.”

    He was coming home from visiting his brother on Saturday night when he noticed a tumult in Sabbath Square. As he watched from a doorway, a group of policemen arrived on the scene and some ran toward him with obvious malicious intent. He immediately ran into the nearest house to take shelter and didn’t stop running until he found an open door on the fourth floor, with the Police hot on his heels.

    He managed to slam the door in their faces. They started banging on the door and demanded entrance or they would break the door down. The shocked father, who was in middle of conducting a Melave DeMalka with his family reluctantly opened the door and asked the Police what they wanted here. The Police demanded that he hand over the “fugitive”(my son). When he refused, the Police went around the table taking everyone’s pulse to see who had a higher pulse rate from running up the stairs. When this “proof” failed to show results, they finaly left.

    Minutes later, someone from the neighborhood came running up the stairs to report that the Police were coming back with reinforcements. At that point, my son managed to escape.

    Later, speaking to his friends, my son learned that there had been many such pogroms in Jerusaelm that night. Entire families had their homes invaded by Police, and men, women, and children were beaten bloody.

    Personally, I don’t think these incidents are aberrations or “mistakes.” I believe that Police terrorism against the civilian inhabitants of Hareidi Jeruaelm are part of a well-planned strategy to terrorize the frum community into submission to the dictates of the Israeli Secular community and its flagship institution, the Israeli Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court and the Police want to force the Hareidi community to accept the desecration of Jerusalem by Gay Pride activists by all means necessary.

  23. Ahron says:

    We need to try our hand at the competitive sport of chewing gum while walking. There is obviously a certain lawless element of unclear (but apparently small) size within Israeli Haredi society and that element is tolerated (or at least not bothered too much) by the rest of the society. (Please, let’s not start discussions that include phrases like “But Haredi-ism is a religion of peace…..”).

    Part of the reason for that toleration is the decades long government hostility and police aggression against traditional Jews who dissent from political diktats and/or dislike being assaulted by armed men employed by politicians. The Haredi leadership’s unwillingness to reign in its community’s nuts is simply a non sequitur to the issue of the systemic unprofessionalism and pervasive thuggishness of the Israel Police. At this point, Charedi Leumi, the police most assuredly do not deserve the benefit of the “doubt” by any stretch. On the contrary they have earned the burden of proof–proving that their actions, in any and every particular incident, do not violate the standards of police conduct vis a vis citizens that are expected by free Western societies. You are willing to give the police near carte blanche to do whatever they like as long as they can claim it’s under the rubric of enforcing “order”. If it means assaulting children and breaking some heads well….that’s life. We have enough examples in history to know where that kind of policy will lead, and has already led.

    If the Israeli police simply existed as the internal law enforcement service of a free society against criminals–as police basically exist in the US–then they would have earned some benefit of the doubt. But the Israeli police largely act as an unaccountable agency of legalized thugs used by politicians to ensure public submission. This is a multi-dimensional problem: There is the problem of the Police force’s legendary unprofessionalism, and there is the larger structural problem of insufficient separation of powers and roles, an absence of accountability, and the perverse exploitation of the police–and the law–for purposes of power and political control. I will say as somebody making aliya that I don’t see why it’s meragel‘ish to note these problems. They will not change without exposure, and intensive internal and external pressure upon Israeli politicians. Those who care about and love Israel the most are the only ones who will have an impact.

  24. alfie says:

    This is especially important now, since there will be a massive anti-GayParade demonstration on Friday, November 10, and I am concerned for the well-being of the participants.
    ——-
    Well then voice your concern to those who plan to demonstrate and urge them not to. It is logical that if danger to life or limb allows you to violate the shabbos, then such danger should certainly forbid you from going out to demonstrate. Demonstration accomplishes nothing. Urge your friends to go to shul and daven. Then they will be safe.

  25. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Violent demonstrations do influence the Israeli government. If you can read Hebrew, see http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/501/588.html . They’re going to reroute the parade. The police wanted to cancel it.

    Of course, it does not logically follow that fighting the gay pride parade takes priority over the Mitzvah to safeguard one’s life and health. That is a separate Halachic question. Pirkey Avot counsels against rebuke that is unlikely to be followed:

    ב,ה הלל אומר, אל תפרוש מן הציבור, ואל תאמין בעצמך עד יום מותך, ואל תדון את חברך עד שתגיע למקומו, ואל תאמר דבר שאי אפשר לשמוע וסופו להישמע. ואל תאמר לכשאפנה אשנה, שמא לא תפנה

    This kind of violent rebuke might cancel the parade, but it won’t change anybody’s sexual orientation.

  26. Bob Miller says:

    The rabbinic leaders on the scene should call the shots on this. There are times to takes risks to avert Chillul HaShem and times to lay low.

  27. HILLEL says:

    Alfie:

    You wrote “…demonstrations accomplish nothing.”

    If that is the case, then why have the Israeli para-military Police instituted a reign of terror against the demonstrators?

    If that is the case, then why do the Homoexual/Lesbians insist on having their demonstration on the streets of Jerusalem?

    Obviously, demonstrations can accomplish a great deal.

    Rav Moshe Sternbuch, one of the great Torah leaders of Jerusalem has stated clearly, verbally and in writing, that it there is no loud outcry (read demonstrations) against those who raise the flag of Sodomy in Jerusalem, there could be dire consequences for all of the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Yisroel, Chas VeSholem.

    That is why virtually all of the great Torah personalties in Eret Yisroel have called upon the community to demonstrate against this parade of Sodomy scheduled for November 10 in Jerusalem with the approval of the Supreme Court of Israel.

  28. David says:

    Why can’t we get people to take positions from windows and rooftops with videocameras to record any police brutality, ala the Rodney King incident?

  29. HILLEL says:

    David:

    It’s not necessary. There are press phtographers all around, and their pictures of steel-helmeted policemen beating Yeshiva boys with batons, while the boys are on the ground are published in all the papers–Jerusalem Post, Yediot Achronot, etc.

  30. Chareidi Leumi says:

    I know many of you truly believe that the police in Israel are some kind of horrible monsters. I also know that many of us do not hold that opinion. Even after reading the relentless efforts of this blog to make us believe otherwise.

    I do have a theory which I’m sure you’ll have a grand time with.

    This applies equally in the US (where many of you believe the police are far better behaved). Regular, law-abiding citizens do not come into contact with police all that often. When they do it’s generally just to get a speeding ticket or some such rather benevolent activity.

    People who do come into contact with the police by acting against the law, generally do not have such positive feelings toward them. A cohesive community that has a subset of its people who regularly run afoul of the law, whether chareidim in Israel or say blacks in the US, developed a very negative image of the police. Nobody likes to see “one of their own” forcibly arrested. Certainly not repeatedly. And yes, in these situations over time the police may developed a bias against the broader community due to the lawlessness of a minority.

    Take a look at the Amsterdam News or listen to WLIB radio (both in NY). There they talk about the NY police much in the same way that many of you are talking about the Israeli police. In NY we regular white folk generally give the police that benefit of the doubt when Al Sharpton starts shrieking about police abuse. Well, Rabbi Menken is pretty much the Al Sharpton here. Sure, underlying Al’s charades there is a kernel of truth, and so too here. But on balance here you pretty much have police doing what police do, using force to deal with violent lawlessness. Of course, nice white Jewish boys and girls NEVER deserve to be treated that way, no matter what they do.

    As added support it’s illustrative to see the reaction of the Daati Leumi community to Amona. Generally the DLs where not so anti-police as the chareidim. Then came Amona. Sure a few police went overboard, but a lot of people came to Amona to make war on the police. When the police reacted with force the DLs freaked out. All of a sudden they were on the other side of the fence. The chareidim were “thrilled” in that the DLs now had their eyes “opened” to what they had been suffering. But really it was just another case of people acting lawlessly have the law applied to them.

    Fire away.

  31. Ahron says:

    David,

    That would be a very important start. More effectively, having a citizens’ review board tasked to monitor police practices and review complaints would be one of the most important reforms possible to the present lawlessness of the Israeli police. Such boards exist across America, and they work across America. (It is for this reason that some police departments hate the idea).

    Religious Jews especially should be on the cutting edge of demanding this. A little self-organization would go a long way here–especially because the need for such a system is virtually self-evident and impossible to argue against.

  32. David says:

    Hillel,
    The still photographs don’t prove anything by themselves. Someone looking at the pictures won’t judge the situation if they didn’t see what happened beforehand. On the other hand a video of something like the person in this post claimed happened to him is much more effective. The police also behave differently if they know people are videographing them.

  33. Yaakov Menken says:

    David, we have videos — I linked to one each from Amona & Satmar in comment #20 in this thread. We have more than enough proof to go around. It’s interesting seeing current news photos with captions talking about “violent protests” and “haredi violence” — where the photo shows a policeman on horseback or a group of police accosting a charedi Jew lying on the ground. And these are just today’s examples.

    Chareidi Leumi, indeed I am sorry that I apparently confused you with another person using the same or similar nickname, author of the chardal blog.

    Chareidi Leumi has a great theory. The only problem with it is reality, and everyone willing to ignore reality should be happy to adopt his theory as a feasible explanation of what never happened.

    The reality is that there are blessedly few similarities between myself and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who lost a multi-million dollar libel judgement to Steven Pagones for his slanders in the case of Tawana Brawley, who fabricated a rape allegation against multiple white men. Rev. Al also helped incite the Crown Heights race riots.

    Chareidi Leumi is right that the police have the unpleasant task of “using force to deal with violent lawlessness.” However, police do not have the right to continue to abuse even a violent felon once arrested (as may have happened in the Rodney King case), or to violently accost peaceful demonstrators (even those engaged in civil disobedience), or to violently assault bystanders.

    Whether or not there were those at Amona who went to “make war on the police” is simply irrelevant. None of them were in evidence on the video which we have all seen — or should have seen — in which the police enter a room filled with seated demonstrators and proceed to ferociously beat several of them with their truncheons. What we saw went beyond run-of-the-mill “police brutality” into violent thuggery, barbarism, even savagery — any of a host of terms incongruous with appropriate law enforcement in civilized countries.

    In my own personal case, I was standing by the side of a road when I was grabbed by a policeman. He knew exactly what I had or had not done, because he announced it to his comrades — hu tzilem. “He took a photograph.” Whether or not Ch.L. believes it, taking a photograph is not lawlessness, whether violent or otherwise. The street was not a closed military zone — photojournalists had been doing exactly what I did, all day, but they weren’t dressed like a Yeshiva student and were trusted by police to take only the right pictures. For the “crime” of being a Yeshiva student with a camera, I was dragged, kicked, and had my film stolen. I would even have been thrown in jail had the cop in the wagon not insisted that there was no more room for me. David has it exactly right — the police were extremely concerned that their behavior might be captured on film.

    Yes, “people acting lawlessly [should] have the law applied to them,” and that applies even if the violent goons in question are wearing police uniforms. When we catch them in the US, we discipline them. In Israel there is no such accountability, with the result that behavior of the kind displayed towards myself, the seated protesters at Amona, and the mispallelim in the Satmar Bais Medrash is nowhere near exceptional.

  34. Ahron says:

    I think we have arrived at a valuable moment of clarification here:

    Posters like Chareidi Leumi believe that police have the right to do essentially whatever they wish, so long as it is done under the rubric of “enforcing the law”. Smash the heads of seated teenagers? No problem–that’s law enforcement. Launch a riot against yeshiva students? Just part of the job. What right do the simple plebian citizens have anyway to question the wise uniformed protector tossing the teenage girl into a paddywagon?… Because distasteful characters like Al Sharpton have in the past demanded police accountability, that is a reason why we should not demand it. The term “abuse” is an oxymoron when applied to the Police. Civil disobedience should be treated equivalently to armed robbery. The State and its Authorities must be respected.

    Posters like R. Menken believe that police need to follow standards of restraint and responsible behavior–principles that have been adopted by the US and most Western nations. When police commit abuses against citizens the police must be investigated, held accountable and punished. The police are obligated to employ good judgement and sophistication in their duties, and be discriminating in their determination of when (and how much) force is required, when force is not required and when force would be immoral.

    Two essential options. One way lies systems like Burma and Iran. The other way lies systems like America. I suppose it is up to us to decide.

    Regarding Chareidi Leumi’s argument regarding Al Sharpton and police brutality–It is said that the Nazis used to do things like eat sandwiches and protect their leaders: should we therefore avoid sandwiches and bodyguards? There are few more vivid logical fallacies than the attempt at guilt-by-association.

  35. Bob Miller says:

    Now that we have identified a problem, what is the solution within the Israeli political system?

  36. Steve Brizel says:

    In the meantime, yeshiva and seminary students are being locked down so that this march can prove that Israel is genuine about its devotion to “human rights.” If any event other than the decisions of the High Court of Justice or an Intifada should have provoked an Asifas Tefillah/Tehillim across the hashkafic spectrum, this parade warranted such a response instead of the burning of garbage cans by a few kanoim. One wonders why our communities have allowed Jerusalem to be considered as if it is a Middle Eastern equivalent of San Francisco, Soho or the West Village instead of Ir HaKodesh and the capital of those who understand what “toevah” means and the absolute disapproval of Chazal ( Chulin 92a-b) of a society that allows same gender unions and the writing of marriage documents for the same. Where is our sense of Tefilah Bes Tzarah Lmaan Yerushalayim?!

  37. HILLEL says:

    To all:

    I think we should note here that there is a double standard in Police behavior in Israel.

    They behave brutally only when they know that the secular/legal/Government elite will wink and look the other way, i.e. when their violence is directed at the hated hareidim.

    If they dared to behave that way in Tel Aviv or Rechavia, they would instantly face disciplinary proceedings.

    “Melech MakShiv Al Dvar SheKer, Kal MeShorSov ReShaIm.”

  38. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Ahron, you knocked down a lovely straw man you built out things I didn’t say. I do not advocate the beating of innocents. What I’m trying to point out is that there is an imbalance in how things are reported here. The police are not all bad and the chareidim are not all innocent. Even in the Heilega US with all of its safeguards and boards of inquiry the same types of things happen on a regular basis. It’s the nature of police vs rioting. Yes, it’s probably worse here, for which there are a host of sociological and political reasons, but its not the dictatorships some here are making it out to be.

    Steve, there is now a call for a tefillah rally at the kotel and/or on the har habayit for Thursday. That is the appropriate response. Halevi were it only a “few” kanoim burning garbage cans. Chareidim have been engaging in violent behaviour including stoning police, busses, and cars.

    Bob, the solution is for you all to move here. There are something like 400-500 thousand orthodox Jews in the US. If just half of them came it would make a huge difference in the political environment.

    R Menken, yes police can be abusive, maybe more so here, but that’s dog bites man. You regularly post these types of stories to an audience that is largely in agreement with your orientation. What’s the chidush? In most of these cases the catalyst is the behaviour of ostensibly Torah Observant Jews in a way that is a chilul Hashem and anti-Torah values. That’s man bites dog, that’s the chidush, and that’s what IMHO you should be challenging your audience to find a solution for.

  39. Baruch Horowitz says:

    A secular Israeli journalist made an interesting point when responding to complaints about Israeli democracy by pointed to the cause: the country is less than sixty years old compared to American democracy of many more years. Many instances of police brutality would not occur in the USA without heads rolling, and Israeli democracy indeed needs improvement. This of course is not an excuse, but it is one of a number of causes for the police’s actions.

    That having been said, I am pained by responses as has been reported in the media(stone throwing, trash burning). There is also talk of the “Pulsa Denehuara” curse; while I don’t like the latter, it is not my place to tell those who do it what to do.

    While leadership strongly condemns violence, one can not control all Kannoim(zealots) when there is civil disobedience. When the parade issue is over, we need to give thought to see if the entire community acting in unity can effectively ostracize Kannoim in Ramat Beis Shemesh and elsewhere, instead of merely engaging in Monday-morning PR.

    There was an article in Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society about the obligation to demonstrate and protest in general. The issue in this case is what does Hashem want from us: some will say a Tehillim counter-rally to express our pain is enough, and we do not have to play G-d in preventing the parade.

    Others will say that if we don’t engage in civil disobedience like blocking streets, Hashem will kill innocent people, G-d forbid. According to the latter, the fact that some Kannoim will not listen to leadership’s call against damage, is an inevitable consequence of our action. On the other hand, others may feel that the Chilul Hashem, and the hatred towards Torah and charedim resulting from negative press coverage(I’ve seen this on the blogs) is worse than the Gay parade defiling Yerushalaim.

    It is not my place to agree or disagree with Eida Hachardis or others’ decisions; I am merely analyzing both sides. Either way, charedim are held guilty by association for tolerating zealots. I would like to see this issue brought up for discussion at the Agudah convention and at forums of other groups.

  40. Bob Miller says:

    We should also consider that an absence of kannoim would not mean an absence of government agents posing as kannoim. There is a long tradition of agents provocateurs stirring up dissident action to give the authorities a pretext to do their thing.

  41. Baruch Horowitz says:

    Regarding protests against Shabbos desecration and Kannoim(zealots), a different issue, I quote from a Jewish Observer article by Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz:

    “…Having said that, don’t we, too, need to undergo a cheshbon hanefesh? Whose insane idea was the rock throwing anyway? Step back and think about it. Two generations of young charedi men threw rocks to impress secular Jews about the kedusha of Shabbos or to enforce its observance? Why in the world did we ever allow a fringe element to frame this debate and why did we not forcefully and repeatedly distance ourselves from the violent actions of those who shamed us so? I am not discussing the somber and proper expressions of public and respectful protest at the pain of public chillul Shabbos sanctioned by our Gedolim. We are discussing the lawlessness and desecration of Hashem’s name that took place in the guise of promoting Shabbos observance… “

  42. Baruch Horowitz says:

    I would also like to link to an article titled “A good cause can never justify forbidden means” by Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum who quotes his Rosh Yeshiva that:

    “the stone-throwing on the Ramot Road did more to temper the first wave of the teshuva movement in Israel than anything else, as the entire hareidi community became associated in the public mind with te stone throwers.”

    We need to look at the long-term picture.

    http://www.jewishmediaresources.org/article/531/

  43. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Baruch, Bulls Eye! Yasher Koach.

  44. Steve Brizel says:

    IMO, both the Agudah and OU’s rabbinic and lay leadership should look at the pictures of who is engaging in acts of Chillul HaShem and then wonder why they could taken the lead together with the Charedi, Chardal and RZ groups in Israel vis a massive coordinated Asifas Tehilim/Tefilah both in Israel and NYC. Anyone with a memory of the NYC tehilim gatherings against the High Court’s decisisons and the Intifada will recall that these Sunday asifos packed the Wall Street area and were a massive display of achdus.

    Only a massive Kiddush HaShem in which we state via Tefilah and Tehilim with real tears that we are (1)appalled by the (1) the deliberate choice of Ir HaKodesh for this march (2) proclaim that Ir HaKodesh is not San Francisco, Soho or the West Village and (3) emphasize by an absence of any banners, etc that tefillah bes tzrah -“zu haderech.” Anything less will allow images of a massive Chillul HaShem to remain instead of what can still be a tremendous Kiddush HaShem.

  45. Ahron says:

    Since we’re on the subject of police brutality and lawlessness: I would have no problem at all if the police decided to shoot people who throw rocks through bus windows and the like. In a very rapid time, the assaults would stop as the rock-throwers would suddenly come to fear receiving recompense for their violence. I do not understand why the Israeli police don’t at least use rubber-bullets against people who are threatening the lives of drivers and their passengers.

    Now that we’ve addressed the issue of Chareidi society’s own segment of brigands and bullies (and we would do well to acknowledge their identity as bullies, not kannoim), let’s also acknowledge that the wrongdoing of a certain gang is simply non sequitur to the Israel police’s habitual malfeasance and unprofessionalism….just as the brutality of Israeli organized crime gangs is non sequitur to the problem of Israeli police brutality. The issues are separate and should not be conflated. (Nor should rock assaults be conflated in any way with civil disobedience–the two are as different from each other as day from night). At the very least, let’s remember our competitive efforts at chewing gum while walking–there’s no reason why rejection of one lawless element should weaken our rejection of its opposing lawless element as well.

    (As for solutions: yes there should be a nonstop stream, nay flood, of American orthodox Jews moving to Israel (bringing themselves and their standards of competent governance and security from police assault). Of course that would require awareness and caring on a large scale. And I hate to quote myself, but for a more rapidly attainable proposal see here.)

  46. Yisrael Moshe says:

    “We should also consider that an absence of kannoim would not mean an absence of government agents posing as kannoim. There is a long tradition of agents provocateurs stirring up dissident action to give the authorities a pretext to do their thing.” -Comment by Bob Miller

    Thanks a lot R’ Bob, I was itchin’ to write that exact statement, but you beat me to it by approximatly 9 hours.

    But I will add one unique thought. I strongly suspect that a large portion of the Kanoiyish activity is in actuality the doings of these rouge provocateurs. While I have no proof, I will rely on R’ Ya’akov’s statement, with which I wholeheartedly agree, that the burden of proof rests solely on the corrupt police and the related corrupt gov’t institutions.

  47. Michoel says:

    I tend to doubt the provocateur theory and it would be a disaster if that belief caused us to become callous about what some charedim are doing in EY.

  48. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “But I will add one unique thought. I strongly suspect that a large portion of the Kanoiyish activity is in actuality the doings of these rouge provocateurs.”

    “let’s also acknowledge that the wrongdoing of a certain gang is simply non sequitur to the Israel police’s habitual malfeasance and unprofessionalism…”

    The provocateurs is certainly an aspect to consider, but as Ahron stated, one has nothing to do with another. It is time that we take responsibility for excesses of the “charedi street”, even if their actions are condemned by leadership and do not reflect the essence of the goodness and extrordinary kindness of the vast majority of the charedi community.

    The circulation of pictures from Getty Images of teenagers throwing rocks distorts our image, and is a desecration of God’s name of cosmic proportion, to use the phrase of the Noverminsker Rebbe regarding a different incident. While the situations are certainly not analogous, if we don’t all come together to ostracize such behavior and see how we can prevent it, the perception in the secular world is that we are putting ourselves in the company of those in the Moslem or in the Black communities who cover up for their own. Chilul Hashem is judged based on perception, according to the Mesilas Yesharim.

    I am not convinced that we have done all that we can to stop the fringe elements from putting us to shame. I would also consider the possibility that Hashem considers the damage caused by one picture from Getty Images of rock-throwers to be worse than the defilement to Jerusalem caused by the homosexual marchers.

  49. HILLEL says:

    To All:

    May I add a little food for thought here.

    It ocurred to me that the violence on the part of some hotheads may be an unverbalized response to pervasive Government violence.

    What I mean is this: When a small group of Supreme Court oligarchs decree that an ugly abomination, like a Gay parade should be forced on the hareidi public (and on non-hareidi publics) at gunpoint (an unprecedented 12,000 police and border patrolmen), that is a form of violence that dwarfs the rock-throwing by unruly teenagers.

    As Newton establish inhis well-known law of Physics: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”

  50. Rabbi Zvi says:

    Steve Brizel is correct.

  51. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Ahron, let me get this straight. You want the brutal, unprofessional, lawless, abusive, malfeasent, police to open fire on Chareidim who throw rocks? Wow, and I thought I was tough just cause I wanted the police to actually arrest these Zealots. You da man!

    The provacateur claims are nonsense and illogical. The police, the government, Martians (whoever you people think are behind this “conspiracy”) have nothing to gain in this case. Unless you think they’re doing it just so they can get their jollies beating up Chareidim, but then according to many people here the police don’t really need an excuse to do that.

  52. Baruch Horowitz says:

    By the way, I’ve seen posters that Rav Elyashiv, as well as Roshei Yeshiva from Kol Torah have forbade people from participating in the riots(ie, damaging property). Rav Elyashiv is quoted as saying that “this is not the way of the Torah”.

  53. alfie says:

    Steve Brizel, you are right. Except I think you haven’t got enough emuno. We should stay away and allow the Ribbono shel olam to take vengeance on the sinners.

  54. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Ahron makes a fair point that the lawless behaviour of some Chareidim and the lawless behaviour of some policemen are not mutually exclusive issues. However, there is a corelation between the lawless behaviour of some Chareidim and how much the lawless behaviour of some cops affect all Chareidim.

    Furthermore, there is not a whole lot that can be done by so frequently publicizing the police behaviour on this blog other that to have, as one of the posters mentioned, a “maragel” affect, i.e. by publicizing loshon hora about Eretz Yisroel the already negative attitudes toward living here by many in the Chareidi community are just being reinforced. Whereas, placing more emphasis on the issue of Chareidi lawlessness, if done properly with the intent of working on a solution, has much more of a “toeles”.

    Also, in terms of relative importance, the issue of police lawlessness pales in comparison to the sinas chinam that is being generated by Chareidi lawlessness.

  55. bochur says:

    As a bochur learning in chevron yeshiva, i can personally testify to the disgusting, thuggish behavior of the police here. A friend of mine who was arrested for participating in a demonstration, was, while already in police custody, repeatedly beaten and spat on by policemen, for the sole reason of being accused of lying. When a few bochurim threw stones at the policemen, the police responded by throwing the stones back at the boys. If even someone as deluded as charedi leumi can justify this behavior or find parallels to the systematic Israeli police policy of unprovoked violence in any half-civilized country, I will be very impressed. The problem here is not that ‘incidents occasionally occur’ as some would like to convince themselves, It is rather that the police and the special units in general (as anyone who has looked into a yasamnik’s (shem reshoim yerakev) eyes can tell), constantly behave with no respect for basic human rights whatsoever. If this is how the police behave with Jews, perhaps we should start having some rachmonus on the Arabs!

  56. Ahron says:

    Of course I want the police to use all the force necessary to protect innocent people who are under assault by lawless brigands. And I want the brigands to be met with overwhelming force in response to their violence. I also don’t want the police to be those brigands. These are two different issues here. Walk and chew gum….

  57. HILLEL says:

    Given the recent jackbooted Nazi behavior of the Police in Jerusalem, I’m beginning to wonder: Do the Arabs have a point when they claim that innocent men, women, and children in their communities are being assaulted by police?

  58. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Wow, so if Hillel is allowed to make a generalization like that, I guess it would be OK for me to start off a post saying; Given the recent terroristic behavior of the Chareidim in Jerusalem…

    Of course I would never make such a generalization, but I’m truly surprised that R. Menken allowed this through.

    Nevertheless, I’d like to address a couple of issues in Hillel’s post.

    First abusing the Nazi metaphor in this way is a gross insult to the kedoshim of the Holocaust.

    Second, whether the Arabs have a point or not is irrellevent. The soldiers who operate in Palestinian neighborhoods are doing what they do to save innocent lives. Nothing about what we are forced to do visa-vis the Palestinians is pleasant, but our lives are on the line. Believe me there has been a heck of a lot of abuse of Moslems in the past 5 years by US forces to prevent another 9/11. And you people wouldn’t have it any other way.

  59. Yaakov Menken says:

    Speaking only for myself, Ch”L is mistaken. I don’t see where Hillel engaged in a generalization. He referred to jackbooted Nazi behavior in Jerusalem. We have quite enough stories from Bayit Vegan through Meah Shearim to know what he was talking about. I do not share Ch”L’s certainty that some of these police wouldn’t be happy to kill a charedi, and it is well known that certain secular parties would prefer a charedi-rein Israel. So I don’t think the Nazi language, though nasty, is entirely out of bounds.

    If a post began “given the recent charedi stone-throwing” this would be acceptable, even though only a tiny minority engage in it. Nothing the charedim did is “terroristic” which is why Ch”L’s attempt to create a parallel is a non-sequitur.

    Ch”L is right to the extent that one in chareidi “uniform” who misbehaves does cause a Chilul HaShem — but one should not magnify it inaccurately by saying that “chareidim” behave that way. When it comes to the police, however, there is an endemic problem: police in uniform represent their police force, and those within the Israeli police who behave barbarically are not being punished but rather promoted.

    And, in the end, Hillel has a point. When Palestinian Arab women speak about needless abusive behavior and humiliation at checkpoints, what I saw with my own eyes does make me look at those stories with far more willingness to accept them as true than may perhaps be warranted. Yes, those checkpoints are needed. Yes, potential terrorists need to be interrogated, even roughly. But there’s no excuse for a Jew to be reduced to a barbarian, even when faced by barbarians.

    That applies both to the police, and to the Meah Shearim demonstrators — the most perceptive comments I’ve seen referred to the need for non-violent civil disobedience.

  60. Ahron says:

    I agree: I want Israeli counterterrorism and security agencies to do everything necessary and possible to save innocent lives–including converting terrorists and their enablers into unidentifiable ash molecules.

    But there is really no excuse for brutishness against ordinary Arabs in settings such as security checkpoints. If policemen have behaved indecently there using the same kind of thuggish superiority-by-uniform that they employ against Israeli Jews it’s a phenomenon that should be stopped. There’s no need for brutality that serves no security purpose. And Israel’s dire security situation is not an excuse for caving into natural battlefield temptations towards inhumanity. We really do have to be better than that.

  61. Bob Miller says:

    How long before these special police become some official’s private political army? They’re no good against a real fighting army but have been well trained to beat up civilians. They have no place in the military and no place in a true professional police force. Disarm and disband them before it’s too late.

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