Reprinted from Gush Shalom
The Israeli Police needed a new commander. The last one had come to the end of his term of office, several senior officers had been accused of molesting their female subordinates, one had committed suicide after being accused of corruption. So somebody from outside was indicated.
When Binyamin Netanyahu announced his choice, everybody was amazed. Roni Alsheikh? Where the hell did he come from?
He does not look like a policeman, except for his mustache. He never had the slightest connection with police work. He was, actually, the secret deputy chief of the Shin Bet -- the internal secret service.
Malicious tongues whispered that there was a simple reason for this strange appointment: the Shin Bet chief was about to move on. Netanyahu did not want Alsheikh to succeed him. So he sent him to command the police instead.
The name Alsheikh is a corruption of the very Arabic al-Sheikh -- "the old one". His father is of Yemenite descent, his mother is Moroccan.
He is the first police chief to wear a kippah. Also the first who was once a settler. So we were all waiting for his first significant utterance. It came this week and concerned mothers mourning their sons.
Bereavement, Alsheikh asserted, is really a Jewish feeling. Jewish mothers mourn their children. Arab mothers don't. That's why they let them throw stones at our soldiers, knowing that they will probably be shot dead.
Sounds primitive? That's because it is primitive. It is also rather frightening that our new Chief of Police, the man responsible for law and order, has such primitive perceptions.
A FEW days later, our Minister of Defense, Moshe Yaalon, who controls a vastly larger empire, repeated this assertion. Arab bereavement, he declared, cannot be compared to Jewish bereavement. That's because Jews love life, while Arabs love death.
When our gallant soldiers (all our soldiers are gallant) sacrifice their life, it is to defend the life of our nation, while Arab terrorists carry out suicide missions in order to go to paradise. Their mothers encourage them. That's how Arabs are.
All these super-patriots are too young to remember that Jewish mothers in Palestine encouraged their sons and daughters to join the underground organizations in the fight against the British occupation (a fight for life, of course). Perhaps the British policemen imagined the same about the Jewish mothers -- forgetting that just a few years earlier millions and millions of white Christian Europeans joined the armies with their mother's blessing and killed each other. For life and freedom.
When two such high-ranking officials repeat such mindless nonsense almost verbatim, there can be only one reason: they are reading from the "explanation sheets" sent out daily by the Prime Minister's office to all government ministers and high-ranking officials. (In Israel we don't like to use the word "propaganda" -- we call it "explanation" -- hasbara in Hebrew -- instead.)
ONE WORD about police chief Alsheikh's kippah.
When I was an adolescent in Tel Aviv, I hardly ever saw anyone wearing a kippah. Neither in school (I left at age 14 to work for a living), nor in the Irgun underground, nor in the army did I see a fellow pupil or comrade wear such headgear. Young people were ashamed to wear it.
Nowadays almost half the people on TV proudly wear kippot. True, some of them wear them in such a way or of such a size that the camera cannot see them. But government appointees wear them like a badge of honor, to signify that they are true believers in the ruling ideology. Like a red star in China or a tie in the US.