On July 31, 2015 a house in Duma, an Arab village in Samaria, was firebombed by unknown persons, and a child and his parents were tragically killed. The entire gamut of Israel’s “Who’s Who” condemned the unknown persons, whom they labeled “Jewish Terrorists” because of questionable grafiti in Hebrew.
The condemnation was not enough to satisfy the New York Times, which quickly published an article titled, “Israeli Justice in West Bank Is Seen as Often Uneven.” This was picked up by all the foreign media and our government was pressured into taking hasty, precipitate action.
Among those arrested was my grandson, Meir Ettinger, named for his late grandfather, Rabbi Meir Kahane, who had a reputation for promoting unpopular opinions. He was the perfect scapegoat. He was arrested on August 3 and interrogated using illegal physical force, including punching and shaking him. On Sunday, August 9, he was taken before a judge to extend his arrest, but the court hearing he should have had was cut short by the arrival of an administrative detention order straight from Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon.
Administrative detention means detention without a trial, meaning it does not allow the accused to challenge the allegations against him.
Leaks to the press by the Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency), had prepared the ground for Yaalon’s order so as to gain public acceptance for this undemocratic act, On August 3, when Meir was first arrested, Israel’s Channel 2 television broadcast a lengthy, detailed report that named Meir Ettinger, “the primary target of the Shin Bet.” As Meir himself said in a televised report from court, there was no truth in the declaration that the Shin Bet considered him a “primary target.” When he was arrested they did not even know that one of his sidelocks, payot, had been torn off while he was working on a construction job. It happened when his right payah was caught up in an electric drill and in all the photos of him in court the length of his payot are uneven, which makes him look unkempt.
There are many inaccuracies in the Channel 2 report, possibly intentional.. For one thing, it claimed that Meir was suspected of writing a document found in his computer titled “The Uprising.” In itself, even had this been true, this is a purely ideological statement.
However, as revealed by the weekly magazine Olam Katan (February 12, 2016), there is another document, written by someone else who has no connection with Meir Ettinger. That document, “A Guide to Harming Arabs,” calls for violent acts against Arabs. The Shin Bet knows who wrote it. He is currently in prison, being held until his trial ends. But they deliberately leaked parts of that document as if it were part of the document found in Meir Ettinger’s computer, creating a negative impression about him in the eyes of the public.
The TV report implied that Meir and a group of young people “invaded” Kusra, an Arab village in the Binyamin area, in order to destroy property there. Actually, they were hiking far from the village, completely unarmed. Police were unable to find any evidence of paint cans, brushes, tools or any weapons that could be attributed to them. The Kusra villagers attacked them and bloodied them and they were photographed by Reform rabbis visiting the village. One photo showed Meir comforting one of his friends who had put a kerchief over his bloody nose. This became a photo of “Meir Ettinger and a masked man.”
The report on Channel 2 hinted that the Shin Bet had implicated him for the firebombing of a Christian church near the Sea of Galilee and it quoted a “friend of his” saying, his voice disguised, that Meir had charisma and was “cunning and devious.”
He has been in jail for six months on an administrative detention order and the Shin Bet has asked the court to approve four more months. The judge said he would issue his decision in 20 days, i.e. February 23. The court proceedings are held behind closed doors; only one judge is shown the “evidence.” Neither Ettinger nor his lawyer are told what the charges are and there is no way to argue in his defense.
If the Shin Bet had even one iota of of evidence that Ettinger allegedly committed an illegal act they would have, and should have, charged him in open court.
Instead of being tried in court, where there are rules of evidence and procedure, Meir Ettinger is the victim of a media trial, subjected to a stream of rumors, perhaps even spread by the Shin Bet, creating a false media image of Meir Ettinger and demonizing him. This should sound a red alarm to all honest, decent people.
Anyone can read what he has written openly on his Internet blog. One can disagree with the opinions he has expressed but his right to express them is completely legitimate in a state where the Hezbollah is permitted to freely express its intention to destroy that state, Israel.