Photo Credit: Liebig collectors' card, 1939
Hercules cleans the Augean stables by redirecting two rivers, on a Liebig collectors' card, 1939.

Eurystheus the king of Tiryns assigned 12 labors to Hercules as a penance after the mythical hero killed his own wife and children in a feat of madness, according to an epic poem––now lost––written by Peisander around 600 BCE. Those labors included slaying the Nemean lion, slaying the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, capturing the Ceryneian Hind, capturing the Erymanthian Boar, slaying the Stymphalian birds, capturing the Cretan Bull, stealing the Mares of Diomedes, obtaining the girdle of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, obtain the cattle of the three-bodied giant Geryon, stealing three of the golden apples of the Hesperides, and capturing and bring back Cerberus, the three-headed hound of hell.

And then there was the twelfth assignment (actually, it was fifth on King Eurystheus’ list), which is the one everyone remembers, and which was the only one not involving killing and capturing: clean the Augean stables in a single day. There were 1,000 heads of immortal cattle in those stables, and their dung had not been cleaned in 30 years (the half-god Hercules did it in one day by diverting two rivers into the stables – DI).


If you listened to Monday night’s Channel 12 interview with the recently sacked deputy chief of the Machash (Acronym: Dept. of Investigating Police Officers – the equivalent of police internal affairs in the US – DI) Moshe Saada, the level of corruption he described in the Israel Police certainly brought to mind those 1,000 heads of cattle standing in their own filth for 30 years (to watch you’ll have to suspend your ad blocker  DI).

And this is why I am grateful this morning for the fact that whatever yeshiva Religious Zionism Chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich attended endowed him with enough classics to make the inference to the Augean stables.

“This is a sad day for the citizens of Israel when reality surpasses any good television series,” Smotrich said, which may or may not mean he has a Netflix subscription or Kan TV. “Too much power in the hands of entities that are too powerful is corrupting the State of Israel. Tonight, it turned out that they marked Netanyahu as a target and all the means were kosher.”

Saada told Channel 12 interviewer Amit Segal that former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh viewed Machash as a hostile entity and adopted criminal norms to fight it, including issuing threats, lying, and obstructing an investigation.

According to Saada, Alsheikh disrupted the investigation into the shooting of Yacoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, a 47-year-old Israeli Bedouin schoolteacher who was killed by the police in the village of Umm al-Hiran in 2017 and threatened to disband Machash.

Saada also claimed that former State Attorney Shai Nitzan “is a man to whom the truth is not a candle at his feet (meaning he is a liar – DI),” who achieves his goals “even at the cost of a miscarriage of justice,” and that he protected Alsheikh and strived to appease him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the start of his trial at the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2020. / Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Segal asked Saada, “Why did Shai Nitzan and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit defend Alsheikh,” and Saada replied: “Simple reason, there is one and only one consideration – the Netanyahu cases, which at that time become the most important thing, the whole system is oriented toward the Netanyahu cases. They don’t want to ‘please those who want to harm the law enforcement system.’ Nuff said.”

“Too many times in recent years we have been exposed to rot and corruption among the bodies entrusted with the enforcement of law and order in the State of Israel,” Smotrich said in his statement Monday night, adding, “The Religious Zionism party carved on its banner the cleanliness of hands and the strengthening of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. If we do not act now to clean the stables it may be too late.”

The stables of Israel’s law enforcement system, alas, have more than 1,000 heads of unsanitary cattle. Only this past Sunday, Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai claimed at a cabinet meeting that the situation in the south is “better than ever before.” Naturally, this elicited a storm of protests from Israelis living in the south who say they can’t go out of their houses during the day, never mind at night, for fear of being attacked and molested by raging gangs of Bedouin. It’s the Wild South not only on the highways but in downtown Beer Sheva, too. If you thought Israel Police couldn’t get a chief who was worse than Roni Alsheikh, you were wrong.

“Religious Zionism under my leadership will work for a fundamental and profound change that will restore public trust in the legal system and enforcement entities,” Smotrich promised. “Only the sunlight will disinfect the terrible flaws that were revealed tonight. It’s a commitment.”

What do you know, he also knows the wise teachings of Justice Louis Brandeis. Probably from law school.


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