Legal proceedings follow the hopeful capture of the accused murderers. Even then there remains the doubt the murders will get what they deserve? What punishment is suitable for the crime?
As difficult as this stage will be by reliving all these events, the case finally coming to court, often brings a feeling of relief. The family will have to make decisions and choices about whom, if anyone attends court; the family may have to travel a long distance from home, which may cause the family a great deal of strain physically, emotionally and financially.
The legal process is not an easy road to travel down. The preparation for the trial takes so long. The investigation process involves different authorities. In this particular case the army, the police, the security services (Shin Bet), and the court authorities (prosecution, lawyers and judges). There are many confusing and frustrating delays. There is not always a clear channel of communication between the family and officials, or even a certainty of whom to turn to. Often the family’s only option is to seek legal counsel. This is what Michael Palmer wisely did (Adrian Agassi – a former military court judge).
Last but not least, the press. What is it that makes them interested? What makes them tick? What role can they play in the ongoing representation of the victims rights both inside and outside the courtroom? Can their involvement change the outcome of the court’s decision, public opinion and of course the healing process of the victim’s family? How does a family deal with the inaccuracy of the press and negative press releases?
When asked about many of these issues, this is what Michael Palmer responded:
Rivkah: Victim or survivor? What comes to mind when you hear these words? What is the politically correct word, or preferred title a family like yours who has been through such a tragedy prefers?
Michael: As you know the family can give a victim’s statement in court. Everybody is a victim, but not everyone is a survivor. First there is the psychological and/or physical blow. The victims can only begin envisioning themselves as survivors, if they can successfully get through the chain of events that follow in the recovery process.
Rivkah: Recovery – is there such a thing? There is the expression time can heal all wounds. Is this true?
Michael: Time does not do much. If you compare this to a physical tragedy – it alters one’s interaction with the world. The person must learn coping mechanisms. A person can lock themselves up in a room, close themselves off from the world and basically exist. Or, they can find ways to cope, to rebuild relationships with people and move on with rebuilding their lives.
Rivkah: What does the term alleged mean to you when you hear it, or see it used in the media?
Michael: To me this is simply part of the vocabulary used by the press. It is a term used during the process of the investigation and trial, until such time the accused becomes convicted and sentenced.
Rivkah: What support if any is available for the victims and/or their family members? You mentioned in the video with “In the Last Days” that the support available was not helpful.
Michael: There is a special department of Bituach Leumi that deals with terror victims and/or their family’s needs.
- Government Agencies: Were fine and the people were professional
- Private Organizations: Fine and very helpful
- Army: Showed up during the Shiva (One week of mourning for the loss of a Jew) spewing untruths, perhaps buying time. They are inept in dealing with these situations. The army claimed they have worked hard to thwart similar attacks. How hard could they have tried to avoid this? In Sept there were at least 25 other cases involving these guys alone?
Rivkah: What impact has the media had on your family?
Michael: What is disappointing is the lack of representation of the Israeli press.
- The greatest representation of positive Israeli press presence has been from “Chaim Levinson” and News, who have given the greatest amount of positive representation. Others news agencies have been sporadically represented well.
- The strongest representation of negative Israeli press was Amir Haas – also from.