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 3, 2015

Despicable Violence Condemnable, Period

 

An Arab Palestinian child, a one-and-a-half year-old baby, was killed and four other people were wounded as a result of an arson attack on a house in the village of Duma, northeast of Ramallah. To the best of our knowledge the perpetrator of this horrific crime has yet to be named or arrested. Whoever committed this crime should pay dearly for their crime whether Jew or Arab and that is the truth. The international outcry and the hand wringing within the Knesset, the President’s residence and from the Prime Minister is righteous anger and is completely and honestly expressed, or at least we pray their concern is as they have acted. The strange thing is that this is what it took to get them to condemn violence against people simply out of what we have thus far assumed was interracial violence out of pure hate. It is refreshing to have them demonstrate such human emotion and abhorrence to such violence but it begs a question, why all of a sudden and only now when their public outcry had been muted by comparison when the perceived violence has been in the other direction. Before waiting for the answer, allow me to try and see if I can venture a guess. It is due to the apparent first instinct that this was committed by a Jew against the family whose house was incinerated and whose infant died as a result of this criminal and hateful act and that is an aberration and completely unacceptable by Jewish laws and we are shocked beyond words so instead we issue an avalanche of condemnations even before we know who committed this crime.

 

Arab Palestinian child died as the result of terror attack was only one-and-a-half year-old baby, while four other people were wounded and were initially treated at a Palestinian Hospital but have been transferred to an Israeli hospital where a more intensive level of burn care is available as specializes in burn care which is needed as the wounded suffered burns as a result of the arson attack on this house in the village of Duma, northeast of Ramallah

Arab Palestinian child died as the result of terror attack was only one-and-a-half year-old baby, while four other people were wounded and were initially treated at a Palestinian Hospital but have been transferred to an Israeli hospital where a more intensive level of burn care is available as specializes in burn care which is needed as the wounded suffered burns as a result of the arson attack on this house in the village of Duma, northeast of Ramallah

 

 

May the wounded be given speedy and total recovery from their wounds by the tender mercies of Hashem as any human suffering is to be eased wherever and whenever possible. May the perpetrator of this heinous crime be caught and brought to trial for this crime. Beyond that there is little we can honestly assume or conclude in order to condemn this act with any more or less severity than we could have any other such horrific act where the life of one so young was snuffed out so early that they barely were able to get beyond the innocent amazement moment to moment as the wonders of the world were unfolding beyond their curious eyes and experiencing new sounds at every bird chirp or leaves rustling in a breeze. Such a senseless loss of one so innocent is always seemingly more horrific a loss but a life taken is a life taken and when it occurs accidently it is a tragedy and when done as a result of an act with malicious intent it crosses into abhorrence and our shock is doubled. This should be true no matter whose infant is so cruelly taken and the mourning should be just as heartfelt whether the loss is a Jewish child or a Arab child as a child so young has no hatred within them and only wonder. Much of the reaction to this loss by the Jewish leadership is due to the shock at the possibility that this act of spite and hatred may have been committed by a Jew making this a truly shocking act in an additional manner. I understand that should this have been an act resulting from an act of a Jew they are to be spit out of our community and ostracized for committing an act unacceptable no matter the reason motivating the individual.

 

That is the difference and why the reactions appear to be so out of place and amplified beyond our normal reaction to violence taking the life of an infant, an innocent from amongst the families of all mankind. We as Jews suffer the end of the life of an innocent whenever such occurs in our neighborhood for we love life and abhor senseless death of any kind. When it becomes apparent that such taking of a life of an innocent may have been committed by another Jew our abhorrence for the act is increased astronomically as we all feel we are guilty by association. We are reacting to the possibility that the stain of this act may fall on our heads as we are all to some extent feeling the extra pain of responsibility. There is the truth behind the reactions we are witnessing within our community. If the perpetrator of this horrific act does indeed turn out to be a fellow Jew there will be no candies handed out in our streets, no street named for this shameful person, no celebratory parades honoring this act, no praise for a victory in some perceived struggle, and no excuses made as we will meter out justice probably with just that extra amount of force and severity in the punishment and all because we, each and every Jew, feel the abhorrence and pain that such an act could emanate from amongst our community. This is what is behind the gnashing of teeth and the heads hung in shame.

 

What is also apparent are the reactions from outside Israel which came and each one felt as if the target was each and every Jew in Israel. The truth is that many of the accusatory fingers were pointed in just that accusatory manner blaming the entirety of Israel for this crime. That is what was different in the outside world’s reaction to this murder, an extra seeming feeling that this lost life was somehow worth just a little more of a loss than the deaths of previous infants. There were true expressions of pain and somehow no call for restraint as they expected and desired no restrain, just a wholly vindication as this one potential criminal act if perpetrated by a Jew now vindicated every crime committed against the Jews as they are now deserved. This outcry from the rest of the world was the equal of the outcry for the death of Mohammed al Dura and the special editing performed by some French media to the taping of the event in order to make it appear to fit the scripted tragedy which never occurred. When the investigation eventually revealed the hoax the reaction by much of the world was a big sigh and the comment that well, it could have been real. There is a continuing outcry heard in Europe and the United States at rallies against Israel where the cry goes out demanding remember ‘al Dura’ and the appropriate yells abound.

 

Now there will be an echoing outcry for this loss and all the more so should the evil person who committed this crime prove to be a Jew and even continued if not committed by a Jew because a Jew was suspected of committing this criminal act. This additional outcry is the result of the need to blame the Jews so that the next fifty such crimes against Jewish children will be excused because of the incrimination abounding now, simply because this may have been an act of Jewish terrorism and thus so much more of an abhorrence. Remember why it is such a greater abhorrence if a Jew committed this horrific act, it is a greater abhorrence because it flies against everything that is expected of Jews to never take an innocent’s life. The difference in the outcry against this act as it stands as potentially an act of Jewish hate is decried by both the outside world condemning this act and the equally loud condemnations from the Jews who doubly are outraged by this possible act by one of our own. When the victim has been a Jewish child the outcry usually comes only from inside the Jewish community while the outside community denounces the act couched within a demand for diminished action and for understanding of the motivations of the perceived act of vengeance more so than an act of hate.

 

There is the difference as the Jewish community is in a search of our communitive soul seeking where the cancer of hate may have invaded and we seek to excise this hate before its vileness has the chance to spread. Jews react with horror at even the possibility that such an act could have come from within our societal body and we seek it out in order to remove it from the body of our community and fulfil the act of punishment of the perpetrator and punishment we will mete out to ourselves as if a Jew committed this barbarism then we all have a small part in this act of animalistic hate. As Jews we feel the responsibility of our community when such hatred appears to have emanated from one of our own and we seek to find and denounce the perpetrator of this crime. We refuse to accept any excuse from within our community as such barbarity is never to be accepted from a Jew, and this is the additional outcry from every corner. The sorrow is that similar calls for communal purging are seldom made when the act is in the opposite direction. We are witnessing the long held belief that ‘Arab Palestinian Lives Matter’ and they apparently matter more if a Jew is to blame for their death. On the other hand we seldom see the opposite that ‘Jewish Lives Matter’ being expressed anywhere outside the Jewish community as a reaction to equivalent acts against Jews as there is always some mitigating reason which makes the act against a Jewish life somehow partly the fault of the Jews, even if it is only for being the victim.

 

How many people remember an act of equal if not superior barbarism in Itamar? How about the overturned car resulting from a rock attack on a vehicle on Route 60 near Hevron which took two lives, one not quite two years in age? Does anyone remember the tragic last year of the life of Adelle Biton who was struck in the head by a rock crashing through the family car window in an ambush where we eventually were to learn that the infant barely two years old was actually targeted when the gang of youths saw a child in an infant seat in the back of the car. The young Adelle Biton hung on to life for a little over a year succumbing to her wounds just after her third birthday. The list of Jewish children murdered are never listed as reasons to mitigate the criminal act such as this case because their deaths are irrelevant except as a metric to understand the difference in the reactions both within and outside the Jewish community and within the Arab community. The contrast that needs be made is the official reaction over time between the criminal, vicious and murderous act against an Arab child will be echoed on by those choosing to exploit those rare, though not rare enough, acts of hatred potentially by a Jew compared to an apparently similarly motivated criminal act brought against a Jewish child where immediately upon it being committed by somebody from outside the Jewish community the uproar consists more towards the demand that the Jews just suck it up and take it as just another act of senseless violence.

 

In a different look, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, also known as Joseph Stalin, has been credited with making the callous statement that, “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths merely a statistic.” While a slightly differently quote attributed only as coming from a Frenchman in a review written by Charles J. Rolo writing in “The Atlantic Bookshelf” section of the magazine claimed the quote was, “Scourges as immense as fascism and war present the novelist with a knotty problem of ways and means. A Frenchman has aptly remarked that ‘a single man killed is a misfortune, a million is a statistic.’” Giving credit once again to Stalin when as Commissar of Munitions during a meeting of what was described as some of the highest ranking Commissars discussing the continued deaths from hunger in the Ukraine, as the figures were being listed Stalin interrupted exclaiming vociferously, “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.” In another instance during an interview where Stalin was questioned by Lady Astor presumably with George Bernard Shaw present according to the article in the Christian Science Monitor dated 1932, as she queried, “Mr. Stalin, how long are you going to continue killing people?” to which Stalin calmly and sternly replied, “As long as it is necessary.” The original quote of “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths merely a statistic,” can be said to apply as an explanation of the uproar largely due to the suspicions that this heinous crime was perpetrated by a Jew places it in the “single death being a tragedy,” while the murdering of Jewish infants or children fall under, thanks to a long history of such events being merely recorded rather than denounced and protested, fall into the category of “a million deaths merely a statistic.

 

My last commentary will be on the reported quotes of the graffiti found at the scene of the arson attack where the scrawling were in Hebrew, not necessarily damning by itself, but still the main lead putting the sleuths to seek a Jewish perpetrator, as only Jews are capable of writing on walls of crime scenes in Hebrew. The graffiti, which according to Walla! News read “יחי מלך המשי” which translates to, “long live King Messiah” as well as the word “revenge” while next to each phrase was the Jewish star. Revenge is a universal concept and is more often than not insufficient an excuse for taking matters into one’s own hands. Revenge can be the motivation for any arsonist though arson is rather peculiar method for extracting revenge though such has been the case. The other quote, “יחי מלך המשי”which translates to, “long live King Messiah” strikes me as somewhat odd as in Judaism the Mashiach has yet to come, though we are to live our lives as if he will appear in the next moment such as we have no way of determining the arrival of the Mashiach and thus must always be in a state of holiness just in case the improbable occurs and the Mashiach were to appear. Since the Mashiach, the Messiah, has yet to arrive one really cannot wish them long life and anyways, the Mashiach is an eternal entity and thus has infinite life, or at least life for as long as there is existence which we all pray is infinite despite the mutterings of physicists and astronomers or, dare we say, astrophysicists. I may be out on a limb all by myself on this one but it just struck me as rather a strange thing to write, especially at the scene of a horrific act of arson and murder. Hopefully the perpetrator of this unspeakable horror which caused the death of a one-and-a-half year-old baby be brought to justice and through the ordeal learn that revenge lies not in our hands but only in the hands of the state and ultimately in the care by Hashem.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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