Cops in the crosshairs
Hebrew media review

Cops in the crosshairs

Weekend papers take aim at police — for raiding publishers, for planning new legal protections for officers, for contemplating a youth movement

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Police and medical personnel at the scene of a driveby shooting in the coastal town of Bat Yam, February 27, 2017. (Moti Karelitz/FLASH90)
Police and medical personnel at the scene of a driveby shooting in the coastal town of Bat Yam, February 27, 2017. (Moti Karelitz/FLASH90)

The Hebrew-language media often uses Friday to launch weekend campaigns on any number of issues ignored or pushed to the back pages during the week, and this Friday is a case in point.

Yedioth Ahronoth takes a firm stance against a police raid on its publishing house, Yedioth Books, in Rishon Lezion earlier this week. Police called the raid in order to search for classified material that may have been provided by jailed former prime minister Ehud Olmert. Police correspondent Adi Meiri calls the move a “moral travesty,” accusing the cops and other government agencies of endangering the democratic foundations the Jewish state.

“The heads of the investigative units did not think this through to the end,” Meiri writes. “Above them, the representatives of the State Attorney’s Office working on the case did not think through, and above them the State Attorney… I would like to think that I live in a state in which all people are equal… Where the guards at the gates truly safeguard. Where they explain that this extreme action is undemocratic and looks like a witch-hunt,” Meiri continues, adding that she is concerned despite being a fierce critic of Olmert’s, and despite the fact that she is vehemently opposed to the possibility of the ex-prime minister’s early release from prison.

“In a country where the police, backed by the Justice Ministry and the judiciary, raid a publishing house, and afterwards becomes frightened and attempts to remove responsibility from itself, they will quickly raid journalists and lawyers in the name of state security,” the Yedioth writer concludes.

Israel Hayom focuses on the Wednesday meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and senior White House official Jared Kushner, in which the former refused to agree to even watered-down demands that Ramallah cut off payments for the worst 600 convicted terrorists and their families.

Quoting an unnamed official in Ramallah, the Israeli daily reports that while Abbas did, in principle, agree to dismantle the current office charged with paying convicted terrorists and their families, the Palestinian leader also plans to establish non-government organizations to fill in the task.

Israel Hayom explains that the prisoner payments are considered to be a sort of “sacred cow” for almost every Palestinian, and that cutting funding for the families of convicted terrorists would cause in uproar in the West Bank.

The publication explains the dilemma in the words of an adviser to Abbas, Nabil Shaath, who, reading a speech in Abbas’s name at Thursday’s Herzliya security conference, said that “the payment of salaries to the prisoners and their families is our social duty.

“These are innocent people who have been affected by the occupation due to murders of their loved ones or imprisonment,” Sha’ath-Abbas added. The curious definition of the word innocent, however, is surprisingly not dwelled upon by the right-wing Israeli daily.

Haaretz‘s main op-ed takes a swipe at Israeli police forces at large, and at Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich in particular, after he suggested that his organization may provide funding to cops who have been the target of social media shaming by private citizens. “Are police officers more prone to shaming than others on social media?” Haaretz asks. “And what is the police’s message to those harmed by incitement that do not work in an organization that can fund reparation suits with the public’s money?”

Haaretz also does not take kindly to Alsheich’s recent proposal to set up a police youth movement, a plan quickly panned on social media for what critics said were fascist overtones. “Value-oriented education is important and youth movements are a positive component of the entire structure of factors that contribute to the forming of a youth’s personality,” the op-ed reads. “But it is definitely not a police mandate… The police are there to maintain the law and protect the public order.”

The daily concludes by advising Alsheich to focus on educating members of his own force as to their duties, rather than setting out to fix the public. “It is important that Alsheich sees before him the values of Israeli youth… but it is better that he deeply address the cases in which officers act in complete disregard for police values, the same values that he wishes to bestow on the nation’s youth.”

Yedioth’s amusing back page reports that several women clothed in long red dresses and white bonnets which fully covered their faces traveled across some of the main tourist attractions in Tel Aviv, raising more than a few questions among passersby. The publicity stunt is aimed at pushing the new Hulu series — “The Handmaid’s Tale” — which is broadcast on Israel’s HOT network.

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