Kudos to Israel’s public broadcast corporation, which has not let us forget for one moment that a police officer kicked an Arab leftist protester in his leg over the weekend. Police brutality, particularly when it is directed at detainees, is a very serious matter, and I am happy that it is being spotlighted.
But after an opening monologue on the matter and 20 minutes more of discussion on Israel Broadcasting Corporation, I switched over to Israel Army Radio to hear other news. No luck. The discussion on this channel was also exclusively about the same item.
Zehut’s platform deals with the problem of police brutality. We completely oppose police brutality and administrative detention – for both Jews and Arabs, alike. But something is wrong here. Last week, the sixth Arab home in the village of Duma was burned. When the second home was burned and three of its residents were killed, the media was up in arms. Somebody had written “revenge” in Hebrew on one of the walls of the house and nothing more was necessary. The media was absolutely convinced that the perpetrators were “hilltop youth.”
“Why hasn’t anybody been arrested yet?” The media mantra reached a crescendo, and Defense Minister Bogi Ya’alon hurried to supply the goods. Tens of hilltop youth were arrested and severely tortured with the backing of the relevant legal counsels.
This was not about a kick in the leg, which did or did not take place, but rather actual severe torture perpetrated against minors over many long weeks – all supported by the media (and, shamefully, also with the support and encouragement of Ministers Bennett and Shaked, who joined in the frenzy and even stoked the fire).
What came out of all of the arrests? Out of the tens of boys tortured, there were two indictments, which rely mainly on confessions under torture. The two are still in prison in harsh conditions and their trial has not yet begun. In the meantime, a preliminary trial is underway to determine if it is legal to accept confessions obtained under torture.
All the while, the houses in Duma continue to go up in smoke. All of them belong to the same extended family, all of them on the same street. So who keeps burning the houses in Duma? Perhaps it is simply a clan war, common in Arab society, and had nothing to do with the hilltop youth?
Yes, it is good to bring police brutality out in the open. It is good that the media is talking about the police officer who kicked the Arab protester. But has anyone heard any media station open with a monologue on the tens of youths who were tortured for naught and never indicted? Don’t the continued arsons in Duma demand the release – at least to house arrest – of the two detained youths?
So allow me to doubt the honesty of the public broadcasting struggle on behalf of human rights in Israel. It is actually all about politics. Just politics.