Friday, August 14, 2009

The Truth about the Israeli Police

One of the reasons there has been such massive protests in Meah Shearim of late is because of the firmly held belief in the Charedi world that the police are extremely anti Charedi. And to that end they will never miss an opportunity to harass Charedim. So when secular doctors in a secular hospital accuse a Charedi woman of child abuse, and then the police arrest her and put her in jail, naturally all they see is Reshaim – evil people bent on torturing religious Jews.

The protests turn violent very quickly. Damage to property and creating an atmosphere of chaos and danger is the almost immediate reaction by this crowd. They see the accusations as nothing more than anti Charedi propaganda on the part of a Charedi bashing establishment - with an Israeli police force used as a ‘Gestapo’ - ready to do their 'Nazi' thing and bash in a few Charedi heads.

Any rational argument made by anyone that even suggests that the police are only doing their jobs to protect a child from danger is completely dismissed. The police are instead accused of an anti Charedi agenda willing to resort to blood libels in the best spirit of anti Semitic Czarist Russia – in order to advance their cause. The idea of protecting the child by separating him from his mother is not considered. It is not possible that a Meah Shearim mother is guilty of what she was accused of.

All this because the State of Israel is seen as an evil empire - and the police as its henchmen. But is that the reality?

Of course not. If one is not brainwashed in this belief one can easily see the truth. The police are human beings in every sense of the word. Most police join the police force because they want to serve and protect the public. The whole public. Not just the secular public. They do not join the police force in order to torture Charedim. Or even the more right wing radical settlers who are not much better than the Meah Shearim crowd. They both view the police through the same Nazi-like lens.

The fact that they are not anti Charedi became evident recently in an event reported by VIN. It was a story about a search for a young lost Charedi boy from Bnei Brak by the police working hand in hand with everyone else concerned. The boy was found and returned to his parents.

Indeed the photo posted there (and reposted here) tells the whole story. Here is an excerpt from VIN which I think faces the truth about the Charedi mindset on this issue. And does not coincide with the oft citied fantasy by ‘State of Israel bashers’ about the police being ruthless Nazis:

A police officer hugging a religious boy and everyone is overjoyed. All of those who were already celebrating the disintegration of Israeli society would do well to enlarge this photo and hang it in their offices. Those who wish to understand the secret of the Jewish people should closely examine the photo…

This photo is worth more than a 1,000 words. It shows there’s nothing you can do about it – the Jewish glue is still working. Each and every one of us is willing to do anything in order to save one child…

Cynics, such as myself, will ask: What’s the big deal? A child was rescued by security forces merely doing their job. After all, it happens everywhere: In Buddhist, Christian, and communist states. In addition, we’re already hearing the voices: “Oh, those haredim! They go on a trip and take along tefilin instead of water!” All of this is true. Yet why would an Indian in Punjab care about a Sikh child going miss in Mumbai? The anger and criticism are a clear sign of caring. The indifference is what concerns us, and thank God, I did not find indifferent people in the State of Israel.

So indeed, we are willing to badmouth each other in talkbacks and scream at each other on television. We are also able to refer to security forces as “Nazis” and to the haredim as “parasites.” In short, we know how to hate our brothers in our heart just like good Jews know how to do.

I’m glad to see some self examination on this issue. Unfortunately the Meah Shearim crowd – and their leaders - will very likely not have any part of it. They will continue to see all police as Nazis. They will point to the Bnei Brak incident as the exception that proves the rule.

If my estimation of the reaction of the Meah Shearim crowd is true, then it will be impossible to change them for the better. And as they grow in population size they will get stronger and even more strident about their goals.

I hope I’m wrong. I don’t want to see yet another illegitimate break off from Judaism. I would rather they do Teshuva. But if they continue along this path - I maintain my call for cutting them off. There should be a Cherem - complete severance of their association with any form of mainstream Orthodox Jewry until they repent of their ways.