Thursday, April 6, 1995

Where Have All The People Gone

Where Have All The People Gone                                                                                                    
April 6, 1995

    Yesterday evening it happened again. Arabs in Hebron started throwing rocks at Jewish children, and the children, not being overly passive, returned the favor.  And then the army showed up and so did the police.  Who did they go after?  In this day and age of political enlightenment, not the Arabs.  So they beat the (Jewish) children arrested some of them and arrested the adults.  So, you say, that’s what they deserve?  Here are two examples:
   1) Rivka Lebovitch, a 15-year old Hebron resident was walking toward her home in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood of Hebron. A police car drove by her and stopped.  “Stop”, they told her, “you are under arrest.  Get into thecar”.  Rivka asked them why, what had she done.  “We are looking for one of Rabbi Moshe Levinger’s daughters.  You are under arrest.”  Rivka proceeded to explain to the police that her last name is not Levinger, but Lebovitch, to no avail.  She was still under arrest.  However, not wanting to be in a police vehicle alone with policemen, Rivka stated her willingness to accompany the police to the police station, but she preferred to walk.  And they agreed.  So, 15-year old Rivka, surrounded by SEVEN police strolled the five minute walk to the station.  There, the police proceeded to interrogate her.  Israeli law forbids police to question a minor without an adult present, but that didn’t seem to bother them.  After a little while, when Rivka’s parents showed up at the police station, it wasn’t enough that they claimed to be her real parents.  The police demanded that they PROVE it.  Finally, convinced that Rivka’s last name was not Levinger, but Lebovitch, they released her.
   2)  My boss, Ronen Cohen, the director of the Jewish Community of Hebron Organization, is not a violent person.  However, father to eight boys, he has some understanding of how children think and act.  The rock throwing took place on the street in front of his home, as did the ensuing police activities.  After some of the children were arrested and thrown into the police van, other children sat down in front of the van to prevent it from driving away.  The driver, seemingly ignoring this, prepared to drive off.  Ronen, seeing this, called to the police driver to be careful and not to run over the children.  A little while later, FIVE policemen broke into the Cohen’s home with no warning (of course, they didn’t have time to knock on the door) and dragged Ronen away.  He was taken to Jerusalem, where, following a lengthy police interrogation,  he was released several hours later.  (When his wife came to release him, she too was taken into custody and questioned for three hours.)
   I cannot finish without another story.  Yesterday, the infamous Baruch Marzel, after turning himself in to Hebron police, was taken to the Jerusalem district court, where he was on trial for beating an Arab women three years ago.  After the prosecution concluded its case, Marzel’s attorney, Dudu Rotem, asked the judge to examine the date of the crime, as testified to by the witnesses, and supported by the police. They claimed that the crime had taken place on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.  Rotem then proceeded to inform the court that the date indicated in the indictment and testified to by the witnesses was not the Sabbath, but a weekday, and on that particular day, Baruch Marzel had appeared in court before the very same judge presiding at the present trial!  (Marzel is an amazing guy, but to the best of my knowledge, he still cannot be at two different places at the same time.)  So, after examining the calendar and the court diary from three years ago, the judge threw the case out.
   One more.  This week my wife was questioned by Kiryat Arba-Hebron police at the Kiryat Arba police station.  She is suspected of having cursed police and called border policemen “goyim” at the Tombs of the Patriarchs at the end of February.  She told the police that she hasn’t been at the Ma’arat HaMachpela in over a year.  The last time she was there was  a year ago, three weeks before Purim, at the wedding of her friend Chaya Ya’iri, , (whose husband Rafael was killed in a terrorist attack 3 months later).  So the police proceeded to ask her the same thing, again and again, for about an hour, before the session ended.  Why is she a suspect?  Your guess is as good as mine.
   There is a problem here, that seems to be recurrent. And it greatly troubles me.  Why?   Because fifty years ago we, the Jewish People learned again, in the most brutal way possible, a number of lessons about human nature.  One of the most important things we supposedly learned is that nothing can be done in a vacuum.  Passivity is innate agreement.  That’s why I’m having a difficult time understanding what’s going on today.  It sort of reminds me of the old PP&M tune of many years ago...
“Where have all the people gone,
Hope they’ll come back very soon,
When will they ever learn,
When will they ever learn?”

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