Beyond the Cusp

January 10, 2019

Will Youth Investigation be Another Embarrassing Fiasco?

 

The Shin Bet is hot on the trail of some heinous Jewish terrorists from the Shomron and likely will once again not allow anything to get in their way of getting their confessions. We went through this scenario over a more serious episode where a home in Duma (pictured below), an Arab town in the Shomron southeast of Nablus, was the victim of an arson attack. There were fatalities from the arson and Hebrew graffiti with the words “Price Tag” written large. Immediately the Shin Bet was on the case. They smelled Jewish terrorism, which is a number one priority, and they will stamp it out no matter how minor. There were problems with their immediately believing it had to be over-zealous youths from some Yeshiva who perpetrated that horrific murderous act. First was the claim that whoever had set the fire was a group of two masked assailants who managed to force the inhabitants of the home, including an infant, to remain in the structure as it burned down causing the fatalities. There were many who had their doubts that any Jews, youth or adult, had perpetrated this act. Their evidence was short of compelling but should have raised at least some doubt or at least caution leading to a more wide-spread investigation. That was not what we had as the Shin Bet laser focused on their list of Jewish “fanatical youths” who simply had to have committed this act. After all, they had a secret hideout where they planned their attacks and pseudo-names by which they referred to one another when planning and so much more which made it obvious. The fact that two families in and around Duma were in the midst of a feud and that this house and other homes belonging to members of the two clans had been firebombed before and after never entered the picture of the investigation. There was graffiti in Hebrew and even the words “Price Tag” which made it evident that it could not have been perpetrated as part of the ongoing feud, it had to be the Jewish youths.

 

Village of Duma

Village of Duma

 

There were a few other items which made suspicions rise amongst many Israelis who looked into the evidence. There was the fact that there were supposedly witnesses who did not intervene. The two houses which were torched that night lay in the center of Duma which would have made any escape for Jewish youths doubtful. Further, Duma sits atop an open region which would have made escape difficult at best and improbable at least. The Shin Bet arrested a number of youths over the ensuing weeks and kept them in a secret place denying them any access to their families, lawyers or anyone other than Shin Bet operatives. In the end and after months of intensive interrogations the Shin Bet got their confessions from a small group which were immediately branded the nucleus of a Jewish youth terrorist gang. This nucleus included at least one youth under the age of fifteen. The end result was the court throwing out some of the confessions as they were procured under extreme duress bordering on torture. Later, it was found out that the Shin Bet had set up a stage prison where the guards and inmates were all Shin Bet and they attempted to use interrogations, threats from their agents posing as prisoners while other agent prisoners attempted to cajole confessions acting as protectors and friendly to the youths. These youths, at least one was seventeen and attempted to commit suicide to avoid further torturous treatment including sexual threats from operatives in cell with him. The youths were denied, after requests, being transferred to cells for youths and not being kept with adults. This had to be refused as everyone was Shin Bet and thus they were merely only at risk for as long as they claimed their innocence. If they would only admit they committed the arson, then they would have been treated better, but no kindness for these known miscreants. We could even use the phrase that the Shin Bet arrested all the usual suspects, as that was basically how they proceeded. Read this article explaining how the Shin Bet wrung their confessions from juveniles whom they treated worse than the usual respect maintained with Arab terror suspects. The argument that the treatment of these youths was not overly zealous was that they did nothing beyond what they usually do to receive confessions from Arab suspects. One then need worry if the Shin Bet is setting up fake prison settings all over Israel and making threats on suspect’s lives as their ordinary methods of operation. We think not and the courts apparently agreed that the Shin Bet had gone way too far in their pursuit of a confession from these youths simply because they were so sure that the act was perpetrated by Jewish youths.

 

This would not be the first time that acts of violence between two groups of Arabs used graffiti reading “Price Tag” in order to try to obscure the perpetrators real identity. But these were all actions from the past and nothing can be done to undo any of the trauma and psychological damage resulting from the Duma investigation. What remains mostly untold was the fact that the Shin Bet had arrested close to if not exceeding a half dozen youths, with one under thirteen, who were released after their run through the gamut of Shin Bet treatment with at least one being held for six weeks before being released. The Shin Bet was seeking victims who were weak enough to be broken so they would get their confession almost as much, if not more, than they were seeking the truth. That was the feeling that many got from this fiasco. Now we are at the leading edge of another incident of a similar nature. It was released by the Shin Bet that the incident was a terrorist “stone-throwing attack in which Aisha Rabi, a resident of Badi and mother of nine, was killed while riding in a car on Friday night, near the community of Rahelim on October 12, 2018,” according to the Shin Bet. There were a number of arrests made and according to reports by the Shin Bet, “The suspects were arrested for serious terrorist offenses, including murder.” All of the suspects “are minors studying at the Pri Ha’aretz Yeshiva in Rehelim near the site of the incident.” In preparation for what is expected to come, the Shin Bet has “identified a concerted and ongoing effort by those with an interest in slandering the organization and its employees and delegitimizing its activities. This attempt is worthy of condemnation and non-cooperation, and it does not deter the Shin Bet from continuing its activity to prevent terrorist acts, whether Jewish or Palestinian, under state values and for the security of the state.” They further emphasized, “It should be emphasized that Shin Bet interrogations are carried out according to the provisions of the law and the ruling, are subject to the supervision of the State Attorney’s Office as required and of the courts, and thus also in relation to this investigation.” They concluded their statements with the main statement which is presented to clear them of any possible misconduct because (emphasis ours, we hope), “During the year, the Shin Bet foiled hundreds of terrorist attacks throughout Judea and Samaria, among other things, including Jewish terror attacks.” The Shin Bet has even received the full faith and backing of Prime Minister Netanyahu shown in the below video.

 

 

Was this a terrible and criminal act, of course and regrettable. Were these youths the first individuals who would come to mind for such an act on a Friday night during the Sabbath? Well, it would not be the first place we would look, but we realize we are biased and thus incapable of free thought and a truly open mind. What this was is a tragedy but stone throwing at vehicles with large projectiles is not something which is particularly Jewish in this region. If these youths are guilty of these horrific actions, they are in far deeper trouble than what the Shin Bet has in mind; they will have to answer in there hereafter for their desecration of the Sabbath. In Judaism, you can break the rules on any other holiday and it is less serious of an offense than desecration of the Sabbath. Why, some may ask. Well, the Ten Commandments list only one holy day amongst its list, so we will quote from Shemot / Exodus – Chapter 20 verses 8 through 11, where it states,

Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.
Six days may you work and perform all your labor,
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities.
For [in] six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.

Breaking the sanctity of the Sabbath is very serious and one would pray that no Yeshiva youth would ever consider such a desecration before Hashem. The fact that this occurred on the Sabbath makes one suspicious that any Yeshiva youth would be acting with such an offence and breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Should any of these youths be found to have participated in such an act, they might also warrant being expelled from their Yeshiva or any suitable punishment their Rabbi decides. The incurring of the shaming before Hashem and their community will be the lasting guilt they will face should they have committed this shameful act. Breaking the Sabbath and committing an act which resulted in killing an innocent makes it two commandments that were broken should any of these youths prove to be guilty. We can only pray that they are exonerated.

 

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

 

But the problem is the suspicions that the Shin Bet is once again going to use extreme tactics and actions bordering, if not crossing into, torture to pry confessions out of any of these youths. Rabbi Haim Druckman has done something unprecedented for him, and any call from a Rabbi with such standing who has respect of both religious and secular Jews should be heard and weighed heavily, has called on the Prime Minister to command the release of these youths. His call comes amid reports that since then it has been reported that two more minors from the same yeshiva as the three arrested last week were arrested that night. Rabbi Druckman was quoted as stating, “I appeal to the prime minister from the depths of my heart to order the immediate release of the three young boys, the three youths detained by the Shin Bet.” Would this have been sufficient to garner actions from the Prime Minister to release these youths, well, actually not. But there is more and we suspect that Rabbi Druckman was made aware of what follows before he made his request, and if so, he was being excessively polite. The Rabbi of community of Kochav Hashahar (pictured below) has reported that he was told that the head of the Yeshiva testified to police that these boys were sitting with him at the same hour for the Shabbat meal. Now, unless these youths are capable of being in two places at the same time and breaking the laws of Physics, one must take this information as a verified alibi from a very credible person. We already know the response from the Shin Bet will most likely be, how many boys were having dinner with you at the time and can you verify that these three, now five, youths attended and had not skipped out and gone to commit mischief and desecrate the Sabbath all at once. Even should the response be that the head of the Yeshiva can verify that these youths were present, the interrogation must go on as the Shin Bet once again has their favorite meal, Jewish terrorists.

 

Rabbi of community of Kochav Hashahar

Rabbi of community of Kochav Hashahar

 

We suspect that the same routine they used before will be implemented again except this time they will require a more immediate form of persuasion as the tactics used previously are now known thus minimizing their effects. Still, enhanced interrogations more often than not get exactly the desired response, in this case an admission of guilt to the crimes committed. Their dogged determination is to be admired much of the time, but even should they get an admission in a confession, resulting from enhanced interrogation techniques, once the head of the Yeshiva testifies to the youths being at dinner with him at the time of the commission of the stone throwing, that will likely be the end of their case. The probability that the prosecuting attorney will be able to break down the head of the Yeshiva and throw into doubt his ability to witness the presence of the youths in question is, how does one say this politely, out of the question. Once the prosecutor relents and releases the witnessing head of the Yeshiva, the defense attorney is going to motion for the dropping of all charges, and he will receive what he requests. The Shin Bet already has sufficiently damaged their reputation for fair treatment of these youths as they have previously, in addition to the Duma scars to their image, have arrested religious youths from the Shomron before only to have the crime be solved exonerating them. This also casts doubts onto their activities in this case. Perhaps, in this instance, looking beyond their framing of this crime as religious youths targeting Arabs and throwing stones at their vehicles as they drive past on the road, this might be seen as people targeting Jews, Arabs or (insert name here) driving past on that Friday night. Those throwing the stones do not always know who is in the vehicle and behind the wheel. As for identifying the targeted vehicle by its license plate, have you ever tried to read the license plate of a vehicle doing fifty-plus kilometers per hour at night, even in the dusk of the final light of the sun? It does not always allow for discernment that your target has the correct license plate identifying them as Arab, Jew or whatnot. But, as the victim in this case was a Palestinian Arab, there is absolutely no possibility of Arab stone throwers misidentifying their selected target and striking a fellow Palestinian Arab. It is a well-known fact, according to some Shin Bet and other Israelis, that the Jewish youths are out throwing rocks at passing vehicles just as often and with similar sized projectiles as the Palestinian Arab youths. Further, the Shin Bet might even go so far as to claim that when it comes to terrorism, there is no difference between Jews and Arabs. Should that receive raised eyebrows and some tart-remarks, they may adjust the sentence to claim amongst youths expecting everyone to simply agree at that point. The only thing we can be assured of is that they are unlikely to allow these youths go as they have their teeth into their favorite meat, they will not allow such a tasty delight as proving that when it comes to religious people, they are all equally vile and there is no difference in the actions of Islamic and Jewish religious youths, they are all extremists and capable of anything with equal propensity for terrorist acts. The Shin Bet has drawn an equality between graffiti and slashed tires by Jewish youths with stabbing attacks and murders such as the Fogel family by Arab youths. What could be more obvious than that?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

August 7, 2017

The Death of Venezuela

 

Seemingly, things could not get any worse in Venezuela until they do. Maduro has taken the final steps and initiated himself as their dear leader. The Venezuela legislature, the National Assembly, being held by the pro-democracy opponents to Maduro, as the citizens, in a recent polling, were eighty-percent anti-Maduro are being sidelined as Maduro has taken steps using the Supreme Court which he appointed to bypass the will of the people and their elected legislature. Maduro simply gathered five-hundred-forty-five supporters to be the members of the Constituent Assembly with which he will present a new constitution for Venezuela making him its sole holder of power. So, things are not going to improve in Venezuela until they get worse and until Maduro will no longer be capable of bribing the military. Of course, that situation may not be as far off as Maduro hopes as the military recently was proudly handing out toothpaste, soap and toilet paper as rewards to grateful soldiers as such items are actually prized in today’s Venezuela. Imagine a military handing out toothpaste, soap and toilet paper and being proud enough that they distributed pictures of these “awards” (see below). Despite claims that the voters demanded he write this new Constitution, all observers counted a vote total cast at best at half of the votes Maduro claims his side received. That absolutely reeks of fraud, yet as he has the military, and thus all the guns, he will get away with this. Venezuela is the proof positive that in the United States it is the Second Amendment which keeps everything closer to legal, absolutely legal.

 

Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph

Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph

 

Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph

Official Venezuelan Military Awards Photograph

 

In the past, the military was accepting, or demanding, bribes from citizens to hand out paltry amounts of food, and the people accepted this as it was the only source for food. For now, Maduro has the support of his officers but should he falter in providing them with the comforts they are accustomed to, they are just as likely to turn on him and serve the people the current Constitution requires of them. One only has to wonder how far this can go with the soldiers being satisfied with the little tokens which they are being “lavished” with by their superiors. The military were very efficient the night of the big announcement about Maduro and his five-hundred-forty-five supporting members of the Constituent Assembly when they arrested the leadership of his opposing parties. Leopoldo Lopez, the outspoken leader of the Popular Will Party as well as the former mayor of Caracas, and Antonio Ledezma, supporter of the failed 2015 coup, were both dragged from their homes in the middle of the night claiming they had “violated the terms of their house arrest” by having contacts outside their homes criticizing the steps being taken by Maduro and his custom built slavish government. As Antonio Ledezma was being taken there are reports of a woman risking everything yelling out, “They’re taking Ledezma! Please neighbors! It’s a dictatorship!” Fox News reported last May about the arrest of at approximately sixty-five lower-ranking military officers by the regime charging some of them with “instigating rebellion.”

 

It will not be long before there will be a new Constitution which will probably dissolve the National Assembly and replace the elected legislature with the Maduro appointed Constituent Assembly. The new Constitution is likely to allow, or at least not forbid if not instruct, their to be a special military group which will operate as the regime’s secret police arresting opposition leaders in the middle of the night never to be seen again. Eventually they get to arresting even lower level pro-democracy people eventually overstepping their permitted authority, after all, we are talking about a nation in South America where once upon a time, not that long ago if memory serves, the people watched governments change with the calendar year. Eventually the people reach a point where, when all too many people know of a person who disappeared in the deep morning under the dark before the dawn. Eventually, there will be a new dawn which will come to Venezuela, as Maduro has another problem, he will never overcome, he is no Hugo Chavez.

 

Hugo Chavez could give speeches which left the people mesmerized and upon which they could feel that everything was going to be perfect if they just allowed him the time. Maduro is more of the bull than the matador. Where Hugo Chavez could dodge the rushing bull, Maduro is the charging bull. Every bull will eventually meet a matador which has his number and he ends up as just another trophy, a picture of the awful past. How long before Maduro meets his matador is impossible to know as the matador will be the man who can rally the people while remaining silently in the background thus beyond the reach of the secret police. This might not take as long as some will predict, as over three-quarters of the Venezuelan public are pro-democracy and desire to resist Maduro. They very likely are more than simply concerned about the direction of their governance and should, as suspected, the new Constitution dissolve the elected legislature the people might rise up and save Venezuela from Maduro and escape the socialist trap which holds their economy in meltdown. We will hope that the people of Venezuela will be saved and soon as they have been through far too long a period of being deprived of a decent life and any economic opportunity as the government has taken over more and more of the private sector and running these industries one-by-one into the ground forcing the next take-over. For now, Maduro will continue his running roughshod over the people of his nation.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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