A video showing an Israeli Border Police officer demonstrating admirable professionalism and politeness in his interaction with activists has gone viral in recent days. But behind this purportedly exemplary civility is a much grimmer reality.
The two-and-a-half minute clip shows a Border Police officer, who introduces himself as Alon Tiff, interrupting a verbal altercation between a security guard and a minivan full of Ta’ayush activists wielding video cameras at a checkpoint near Jerusalem that leads deeper into the West Bank. We don’t know where the activists are going, but it’s reasonable to assume they are on their way to participate in a grassroots political activity in some Palestinian village. Ta’ayush is active on behalf of Palestinian land and farming rights in the Hebron Hills, where they are frequently attacked by extremist settlers.
Tiff walks over to the passengers in the van, who are involved in an argument over whether or not they have the legal right to film at the checkpoint, with one of the security personnel ordering them to stop filming while the activists chorus that they have every right to film him, since he was a public servant carrying out his job in a public place. Angry at having his authority challenged, the young man asserts that he is no one’s servant. At which point Alon Tiff intervenes.
Tiff introduces himself with exaggerated politeness and gives the passengers his full name and ID number at their request, as he is required to do by law. He does not press the passengers when they assert their right to refuse to tell him where they are coming from. Then Tiff shows them what he says is a military order that gives him the authority to decide who goes through the checkpoint. He allows them to photograph the order. Then he informs the minivan passengers that he has decided to exercise his legal right, as described in the very loose wording on the order he reads aloud to them, and refuse to allow them through the checkpoint. He does not give any reason for his refusal; nor is he required to do so.
While the interaction is going on, one of the minivan passengers points to another private car that goes whizzing through the checkpoint, unimpeded, and sarcastically asks Tiff if “blondes” get to go through, since the driver of the private car happened to...Read More