Sunday, February 12, 2006


From Ha'aretz:

"In October 2000, Israel police killed 12 Arab citizens in disturbances that erupted in the wake of Sharon?s visit to the Temple Mount. Immediately the demand arose for a commission of inquiry. The left demanded a commission, the right bridled: What for? What is there to investigate? 'The prime minister is prepared to sacrifice the police on the altar of his survival,' said MK Silvan Shalom from the Likud. 'Toadies!' shouted MK Benny Elon from the National Union at members of the government who supported the establishment of a committee in the Knesset plenum. 'You are spineless!' 'What do you want from the police?' cried MK Uzi Landau of the Likud. 'It stood in the breech to protect the rule of law.' MK Landau announced he would propose a law that would prohibit commissions of inquiry from submitting findings against individuals, but only 'recommendations for improving the system.' MK Zvi Hendel from the National Union said he was ashamed: 'Instead of giving the police a medal, the Knesset is spitting in their face.' And MK Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party expressed real concern about the continued functioning of the police in such conditions: 'The police are liable to feel castrated and will be afraid to grapple with manifestations of nationalist violence in the future.' Philosophers from the right published sharp articles in the newspapers. What will happen, asked one of them, if, heaven forbid, the next time riots break out the police will be afraid to use force and 12 of them get killed? What will we say then to their families? The head of Meretz at the time, Yossi Sarid, welcomed the establishment of the commission. "It is too bad the government had to be dragged into this and did not initiate and lead," he said. The Arabs welcomed it. Yossi Beilin and Matan Vilnai, who were Labor ministers at the time, warmly supported the commission of inquiry. The point of this reminder does not need to be stated, because it is so clear and obvious. But anyway: Five years and a bit have gone by. Governments have come and gone. Ministers became Knesset members and Knesset members became ministers, but the hypocrisy and the double standards that characterize the politicians have not passed from the world with the strong wind that blew here yesterday. This week, in the Knesset plenum, the Kadima, Labor, Meretz and Arab factions voted against the establishment of a parliamentary (not even state) commission of inquiry to investigate the events at Amona. The right, headed by the Likud, voted in favor. The arguments and the justifications were absolutely identical to what was heard in the plenum in November, 2000, but the advocates and the opponents had traded roles. They had their say with the same fervor and with the same profound inner conviction that the minutes tolerate everything, and so does the microphone.
The details are unimportant, the conclusion all-important: don't trust politicians (or anyone with unaccountable power over you). How long will it take before people learn that and do something about it once and for all?