Friday, July 27, 2007

Reflecting on Israeli Justice

An open letter to Judge Ayala Procaccia

(from my neighbor here in Shiloh)

".. he hoped for justice but behold oppression; for righteousness but behold a cry". Yeshayahu (5:7)

My name is Moshe Belogorodsky. I decided to write this letter after I read of your decision to allow the promotion of Niso Shaham to the position of deputy police chief of the Jerusalem district. The same Niso Shaham who, during the expulsion from Gush Katif, gave the following orders to fellow police officers:" I am a pro in dealing with these Orthodox Jews. S**t on them. Let them burn. Hit them from the waist down. I will f**k the hell out of them". Those orders were directed against demonstrators in Kfar Maimon.

After a video of the episode was broadcast on channel 10 national news, Shaham was brought before the police disciplinary court where he was reprimanded and deprived of pay for six days. The police court apparently decided that this was punishment enough for his words which insulted a whole segment of Israeli society. And now you, a judge of the Supreme Court of Israel, have demonstrated your apparent concurrence with the police court's decision. Indeed, you went much further, by deciding to allow Shaham's promotion(!) based on the fact that Shaham expressed regret over his words. In your decision you speak of the need to forgive in the following terms: "a candidate's failure in the line of duty does not necessarily disqualify him from promotion on the count of breaching the public's trust. Public trust is a term that also recognizes penitence, asking forgiveness and seeking answers." You even go so far as to scold the petitioners against his promotion for their "inability to forgive".

All the flowery words notwithstanding, allow me to question the justice of your decision. And if you ask who am I, a simple citizen of this country, to dare question the decision of the Supreme Court, allow me to remind you.

I am the father of Chaya, the 14 year old girl who was arrested during the expulsion. It was you who decided to keep her under arrest until the end of proceedings against her, all because one police woman claimed that Chaya insulted her by saying "shut up and arrest me". And because of your concern for the honor of that one police woman my child spent 40 days in Maasiyahu jail. You kept her in jail even though she too expressed her regret and promised not to make the same mistake again. We asked you to release her to full house arrest so that she would not have to sit in jail ( p.4 par.8 of the protocol). Unfortunately, you could not find any room in your heart to "recognize penitence", nor to accept my child's "asking for forgiveness". To the contrary, you sent my child to jail because she " insulted a police officer in a crude way" (p.5 par.10). It appears you thought that her words were infinitely cruder than those of Shaham. You spoke of the " outright lack of respect for the police officer" as another justification for keeping Chaya in jail. It seems that Shaham's lack of the most basic respect for the citizens of this country is much less "outright" in your eyes.

There is one more sentence in your decision to keep Chaya in jail - a sentence which you must have forgotten when dealing with the Shaham case. " ...her behavior does not leave me a choice except to isolate her from the center of her ideologically motivated activities (meaning Chaya's home - M.B.) which swept her into committing the crime"(p.6 par.11) I ask: Is it not fitting to "isolate" Niso Shaham from his "center of activities which swept him into committing the crime"? Is it possible that in any normal country a high ranking police officer be allowed to get away with these types of statements? Is my child's "crime" more heinous in your eyes than Shaham's truly criminal orders to perpetrate a pogrom against the demonstrators in Kfar Maimon? Lastly, how can you justify on any grounds, moral or judicial, your outright discriminatory treatment of my child versus the treatment Shaham benefited from in your court?

It seems to me that it is no coincidence at all that you handed down your decision regarding Niso Shaham on the eve of Tisha B'Av - the day we mourn the Destruction caused by baseless hatred.

Allow me to end my letter with this: We were "privileged" with Niso Shaham's apologies. We are still waiting for yours.

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