“On 27 Nissan, a police detective disguised as an Arab shepherd and three Arab shepherds approached [the West Bank Jewish settlement of] Kochav HaShachar in an incident staged to provoke a disturbance. In total, five residents of Kochav HaShachar were detained on suspicion of assaulting the group, despite a lack of evidence implicating them.”
Haredi Journalism: When Darkness Is Light And Light Is Darkness
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
In what is perhaps one of the most biased ways of reporting possible, Yeshiva World’s Israel correspondent writes:
“On 27 Nissan [May 16, if YW is correct – although as you can see from the what follows, this is almost certainly the wrong date], a police detective disguised as an Arab shepherd and three Arab shepherds approached [the West Bank Jewish settlement of] Kochav HaShachar in an incident staged to provoke a disturbance. In total, five residents of Kochav HaShachar were detained on suspicion of assaulting the group, despite a lack of evidence implicating them.”
What Yeshiva World’s correspondent calls “an incident staged to provoke a disturbance” is pretty standard undercover police work in most countries, even in most Western democracies.
In this case, Jewish settlers are accused of regularly assaulting Arab shepherds and of committing other crimes against non-Jewish locals, and using an undercover officer to prove that is perfectly normal police work.
Further, the idea that “a lack of evidence implicating them” is not a fact. Instead, it is an assertion being made by the settlers’ neo-Kahanist attorney.
Yeshiva World continues:
“At the end of April 2015 [sic?], three of the defendants were released to complete house arrest after being held in remand since the incident. On their behalf, Honenu [the right-wing neo-Kahanist nee-fascist legal aid organization] attorney Rehavia Piltz filed a request to allow them to attend minyanim on Shavuos [synagogue of Shavuot]. The Attorney General’s office opposed the request and even though rulings from various Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court of Israel, authorizing Arabs under similar circumstances to attend prayers in a mosque during Ramadan were presented, the court accepted the opinion of the Attorney General’s office and Jerusalem District Court Judge Aryeh Romanov rejected the request.”
Are there similar requests from Arab detainees that were not honored by Israel’s courts?
But Yeshiva World’s Israel correspondent does not report this. Instead, he goes on to immediately quote Piltz, the Honenu attorney, and uses Piltz’s quote to end his report.
“It is a shame that the court did not schedule an urgent deliberation on the matter of the defendants’ request to be allowed to [pray] with a minyan. It is very sad to see that the judges do not understand how important [pray]ing with a minyan is to a Jew, particularly on the Shavuos on which the Jewish People celebrates the Torah being given, the Torah in which the entire people of Israel together heard the Ten Commandments.”
Yeshiva World’s Israel correspondent doesn’t even attempt to deal with the possibility the suspects are guilty or that there have been many alleged unprovoked attacks by Jews against Arabs in the area, or that price tag hate crimes against Arabs – both Muslim and Christian – have become endemic.
In fairness to Yeshiva World, much of its Israel reporting is posted overnight while its New York staff is sleeping, so it isn’t as if an editor looked at the piece and approved it before publication.
And I also don’t think its Israel correspondent intends to misrepresent. He lives in a place where many of his friends – for whatever the initial cause may or may not be – are subjected to constant threats of Arab terrorism, indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza and the like. And for people who live in Israel and who are vested in it, that reality very often skews opinion and perception of facts in ways many Israelis don’t even realize. Living under constant threat of terrorism is not easy.
But whether you think a two-state solution is possible or not, advised or not, the right thing to work for religiously or not, misrepresenting facts on the ground and acting as a mouthpiece for racist demagogues and their followers serves no one well.
Even a cursory look at Jewish history shows that each time similar demagogues and their followers gained significant power, Jews suffered, both at their hands and at the hands of others.
The lesson, of course, can also be learned multiple times over from recent world history, as any Cambodian or Rwandan, for example, can tell you.
And that’s a lesson we all need to learn and take to heart.