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The difference between Israel’s violent, racist cops and America’s

It’s in how Israel and America, especially their respective leaders, react to these cops’ most outrageous crimes.

Israeli police are not the only ones with a habit of getting trigger happy when they come up against members of a feared and hated ethnic minority. While many Israeli cops (and soldiers) have a tendency toward overkill with Arabs, many American cops have the same tendency with blacks. But there’s a crucial difference – not necessarily between American and Israeli police, but between the way American and Israeli society, especially their leaders, react to such killings.

After police in Ferguson, Missouri killed teenager Michael Brown in August following a struggle, and “Ferguson” became a watchword for American police brutality and racism, Attorney General Eric Holder went to Brown’s family’s home to pay his condolences.

After a private security guard killed Trayvon Martin in July after a struggle, President Barack Obama said, “I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.” He went on to say, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.”

When video showed Los Angeles police in 1991 beating Rodney King at length and without mercy after a high-speed chase, President George H.W. Bush said, “What you saw, what I saw on the TV videotape was revolting. I felt anger, I felt pain. I thought, ‘How can I explain this to my grandchildren?'”

Compare that to the reactions of Israel’s leaders after video showed Israeli police shooting Kheir Hamdan while he was running away, his back turned to them, after he stabbed at the windows of their police car, and how they dragged his body on the ground and threw it into the back seat, after which he died in the hospital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rubbed in the insult by threatening Israeli Arabs: “We will not tolerate disturbances and rioting. We will act against those who throw stones, block roads and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel. Whoever does not honor Israeli law will be punished with utmost severity. …

“I have instructed the interior minister to use all means, including evaluating the possibility of revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, the rising power in Israeli politics: “A crazed Arab terrorist attacked our policemen’s vehicle with a knife in an attempt to murder them.  A policeman shot him. That is what is expected from our security forces.”

Yesterday on TLV1 radio I interviewed Ze’ev Nir, the attorney for the policeman who killed Hamdan. I mentioned to him that his client was getting plenty of backing from the government, starting at the top. “We are very happy for that,” said Nir. I bet they are.

Meanwhile, the “liberals” said nothing about what they and everyone else saw in the video.  Not a word was heard from Isaac Herzog, leader of the Labor Party and the opposition. Not a word was heard from Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Mr. Nice Guy Yair Lapid said, “A man was killed and the police are in trouble.” Noncommital, timid, a far cry from the truth, like Lapid always plays it, but compared to the reactions of others in the government and the Labor Party, this was a regular “J’Accuse.”

The only leader of a Zionist party who showed honesty and courage was, once again, Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On. “Not only should there be an investigation into the killing of the youth from Kafr Kanna at point-blank range by police,” she said, “but there should also be a probe into the responsibility borne by the public security minister [Yitzhak Aharonovitch], who just this week said that ‘a terrorist who harms civilians is worthy of death’ and who gave license to murder with an order that is patently illegal.”

The most conspicuous silence was that of President Reuven Rivlin, who is being lauded as the voice of Jewish-Arab equality and tolerance. He has not been heard from on the Kafr Kanna killing, and I have no doubt that the most he’ll do is urge calm. He will not dare raise the slightest doubt about the behavior of the cops in the video, even though the video is damning in the extreme, because Jewish Israel won’t stand for it. The president of Israel, no matter what he might like to say, cannot speak about Kheir Hamdan like presidents of the United States spoke about Travyon Martin and Rodney King, and a U.S. attorney general spoke about Michael Brown in person to the boy’s family.

America has plenty of racist, violent cops, but America has learned that racist violence is not acceptable. Israel hasn’t learned that at all, and is a long, long way from learning it.

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    1. Joel


      An obvious difference between, say Rodney King and Kheir Hamdan, is that Rodney King never tried to stab a cop. Same for Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

      What did I have to point this out?

      Reply to Comment
      • Trayvon Martin may have beating up George Zimmerman. Rodney King was fleeing from the cops and made suspicious moves that cops said were threatening. Kheir Hamdan did not try to stab police, he stabbed the closed windows of their police car. He was never a threat to their lives.

        Reply to Comment
        • Joel

          Trayvon was unarmed and did nothing except cross paths with an vigilante asshole. Rodney King never menaced the cops. He was resisting arrest only.

          Kheir Hamdan tried to pull open the van door in order to stab cops.

          It’s more than moronic to compare the deaths of these unarmed victims to the death of Kheir Hamdan. It’s disrespectful.

          Reply to Comment
          • You’re 0 for 3. Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and head, his back was wet and covered with grass – he said Martin had been on top of him beating on him. L.A. cops said King made a move that looked like he was going for a weapon. Hamdan DID NOT try to pull open the door – the cop inside pushed it open, Hamdan stabbed at the closed window, and the cop pulled the door shut. I think Zimmerman, the L.A. cops and those in Kafr Kana were all in the wrong – you, on the other hand, seem to be all liberal when it comes to America, but not so much when it comes to Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Stop lying Larry. The video clearly shows the perp grabbing the handles of the front passenger door trying to pull it open as he is hitting the window with his hand with the knife so that he can stab those inside. He also slashes at the police officer as he attempts to exit the back passenger door.

            Trayvon Martin, Rodney King and Michael Brown did not have a knife and they did not wield against the police.

            The following is an excerpt from an article on the shooting of Kajieme Powell who was shot by police in the United states. Kajieme Powell was holding a knife.

            “David Long is a former Department of Labor special agent who conducted firearms trainings for other agents, and now a criminal justice professor at Brandman University. He has been critical of many instances in which police have fired deadly shots when they would have used nonlethal force. As he put it, “I don’t find myself siding with the police very often” in deadly force situations. He has also been an outspoken critic of militarized police tactics that coincided with the War on Drugs. But in this instance, he said, even he likely might have done the same if he had been in the officers’ shoes.

            I watched the video about ten times and I have to say I hate the idea of another young black man being shot down by police in the street but that actually looked like a good shooting to me. The young man had a knife. The thing about knives is that somebody with a knife is potentially more dangerous to you than somebody with a gun because somebody with a knife can be on you so fast so I was trained to be especially more vigilant with somebody with a knife.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Pedro X you’re such a fake. Larry Derfner is one of the most honest people on this planet. And he knows both the USA and Israel as an insider to both countries in a deep way few people do. You clearly don’t. You’re just an ankle biter.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            No. I’m 3 for 3.

            Trayvon Martin was returning from an errand and had been allowed on the property of the gated community where his father lived. He got into a fist fight because Zimmerman started his vigilante shit for no reason except Martin’s skin color.
            Rodney King’s video beating went on for at least four minutes. He resisted arrest outside of his vehicle and no weapon was ever found on him, his friends or in the vehicle. If you don’t see Hamdan trying to pull open the front door of the van with his left hand, than you have no business being in journalism.

            You’ve stepped in it again, Larry, move on.
            As for my liberal credentials, they come along with being a defense attorney in New York.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, I see what appears to be Hamdan trying to pull open the front door and failing. I’m not saying he wasn’t trying to get at the police, I’m saying he was never in a position to do so. But most important, the video shows he was running away when the cop or cops shot him. He was no threat to their lives at that point. That’s what he has in common w/Brown (probably), Martin (probably) and King. By justifying that shooting on the basis of that video, you show that you are definitely qualified to be a defense attorney, of a sort.
            And while Hamdan, unlike Brown, Martin and King, initiated the fight with the cops, we will find out more about the cops’ arrest of his cousin right before – Hamdan seemed pretty freaked about something to stop a police car and start whaling away like that. And the larger meaning of this incident is that Hamdan’s outburst was part of a phenomenon that everyone outside Israel has been predicting for years: Israel is screwing over the Arabs in general around here in the most callous way, it’s just a matter of time until they lose control; Hamdan’s attack was part of that. Ultimately, Israel picked a fight with him.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel


            Hamdan’s cousin had thrown a stun grenade because of a ‘family feud'(hamula?). Somebody in Kfar Kana called the police. Obviously something is rotten in Kfar Kana and the police had to come and clean up their mess.

            No Larry. The larger meaning is that you’ve indicted the State of Israel for Kfar Kana’s failure to effectively govern itself. Nice.

            Reply to Comment
          • We don’t know how that arrest went down, we don’t know what happened right before Hamdan went off on the police. This is not about Kafr Kana’s ability to police itself, it’s about the police shooting an assailant to death from close range while he’s running away. And about the larger meaning, I’d say Israel has fully earned an indictment for its treatment of Arabs. You can go on defending it, but you’re defending in Israel what you condemn in America.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben Zakkai

            Being a Jewish defense attorney in NYC doesn’t give you liberal cred on Israel-Palestine. It just makes you one of the many American Jews who are PEP — Progressive Except for Palestine. Your tribal instincts overwhelm your humanitarian sentiments. Too bad.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joel

            @Ben Z

            I live in Israel and I see more Arabs in a day than you’ll see in a year. We treat each other fairly here. Not a lot of love, but enough mutual respect to get us through the day.

            Where did you say you live?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben Zakkai

            I have said I live in Jerusalem, and believe me Joel, you have no idea how many Arabs I see in a day. I gather (I hope) that you’re not a defense attorney here in Israel as well. If you are, I’d hate to be one of your Arab clients, where the only thing standing between me and jail is a defense attorney who doesn’t like or respect Arabs. Plus, your imperfect command of Hebrew, to which you alluded above, wouldn’t give me much confidence as a defendant.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      While this is true in principle, the sad truth is that America is undergoing a change in its national security apparatus that aims to make it more like Israel. More and more American cops get trained in Israel by Israeli cops, and the results are plain to see (Ferguson).

      Max Blumenthal has reported that Avi Dichter recently gave a lecture to some of America’s top cops about how Israel blurs the lines between law enforcement and anti-terror activity, and suggested to his audience to do the same. Again, we have already seen the implementation of the Israeli model on American streets, and this will unfortunately continue, as the Israelification of America’s law enforcement seems to be in full swing.

      Reply to Comment
    3. American police are becoming increasingly militarized – as one activist put it “kind of like an occupying army” in some communities.

      It’s worse in some states than others. A US contact who has a goatee and likes a little toke now and then said he wouldn’t drive in parts of Texas for fear of being pulled over for, as he put it… “an old school beating”… just for the way he looks basically. He claims he knows guys who have been targeted for that and related reasons and subjected to a roadside workover.

      The swat squad tactics being increasingly used in some black neighborhoods are totally outrageous. It’s like having paramilitaries invading your home, hyped and armed to the teeth. The overreaction and lack of anything approximating a balanced response is part of the reason the cops themselves are become targets of drive-bys etc. When you quit serving and start dominating and scaring people… that’s the result in some cases.

      It will only get worse given current trends.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Police states. And the parasites in Washington and Jerusalem just laugh it off and count the money.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Average American

      U.S. National Defense Authorization Act (S.1867) passed in 2012. This declares the entire U.S. soil as war zone of the war on terror. This neat little step allows U.S. military to act on U.S. citizens to phonetap, arrest, detain, interrogate, whatever, totally outside of civil or criminal law requirements for evidence, charges, legal representation, length of detainment, etc. We ARE the same as Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Exactly. No wonder israelis feel so at home in the states. This is a nightmare.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Vadim

      No context what so ever. Just evil trigger happy policemen waiting to shoot an innocent Arab.

      No Jews murdered by Arabs in recent days. No violent riots (whitewashed as clashes or demonstrations). No cars or trains with Jews stoned by Arabs (AKA youth). Nothing.

      The policemen should have felt no danger from a man with a knife trying to open the door of their vehicle, especially if he backed away a few meters (AKA run away). They should have exited their car and made a peaceful arrest or better yet, wait in the vehicle until the youth finishes and walks away. After all, he was just expressing himself.

      The thing is – I think that if it was a Jew killed in the same manner by the police there would be nothing wrong with it. You waive a knife at a policeman – you risk being shot. You think that Arabs should be treated differently. That’s called being racist.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Richard

      Its the difference between Obama and Bush, or Clinton for that matter…not America per se. Silly thought piece. Not accurate.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Roza

      They did not say anything, of course, as you have not said anything against violence or as sympathy for the slain
      ( killed) Israelis. Everybody speaking for what thay are paided to speak. Cheers.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Ben Zakkai

      Police shootings of suspects are often complicated, and each one should first be evaluated on its own merits, whether in the US or Israel or elsewhere. Often the suspects, Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown or Kheir Hamdan or whoever, were allegedly or apparently acting in a stupid, violent and threatening manner. Sometimes it’s clear the police overreacted, sometimes not; in any event, it’s not always easy for cops to keep their heads in very stressful and potentially dangerous situations. There’s no denying that law enforcement often has sadistic and/or racist aspects, but it shouldn’t be assumed in every case. And politicians should maintain judicious silence until the facts become clear, rather that immediately drawing conclusions one way or the other.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        A Jew acting exactly the same way would never ever have been executed like this.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben Zakkai

          You may be correct, although it’s always dangerous to say “never,” because there may be counterexamples we don’t know about. My week-to-week encounters with Israeli police have not led me to conclude that all of them are shining beacons of intelligence, professionalism, integrity and restraint (major understatement there), and it is possible that a Jew who went apeshit on a police vehicle with a knife would get a bullet in him too.

          Reply to Comment
      • From the video, it looks like the guy getting out of the back seat shot him, but we can’t say for sure. The cops’ claim is that the driver shot at Hamdan’s knife hand but the bullet went into his stomach and killed him. Even if the first cop didn’t shoot Hamdan and the driver did, the driver was pretty far away to be shooting at Hamdan’s hand. Sound like bullshit to me.

        Reply to Comment
        • Yeah, right

          LD: “The cops’ claim is that the driver shot at Hamdan’s knife hand but the bullet went into his stomach and killed him.”

          Well, considering that he wasn’t firing over the bonnet of that car (we can see the bonnet, and he isn’t there) then that would mean he “shot at Hamdan’s knife hand” from over the roof of that van.

          Which would require him to be, oh, roughly, 12 feet tall.

          I’m definitely calling “bullshit” on this one.

          And it’s deliberate bullshit, designed for one purpose only: to swing the narrative over to the driver, after which they’ll declare: “What? Are you crazy? He’d need to be 12 feet tall! Clearly the perp just fell on the bullet.”

          Reply to Comment
    11. Mordi P

      The similarity between the Blacks in America, and the Arabs in Israel is they both oppressed minorities who have been dealt severe injustice by the ruling powers.The nice words of two American Presidents albeit that one is himself an African American are infact meaningless. Words come easy to politicians, it’s their stock in trade. What is needed is not words but justice for both, and indeed all oppressed minorities. there is though one difference between the two situations. The US President can at least express sorrow at the shootings, in Israel it would be more than any politicians career, if not his life to express regret at the shootings of an Arab by the police.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Victor Arajs

      As legitimate resistance to the zionist occupier, Hamdan had the right to kill the policemen, a right enshrined in international law. The policemen, being illegal aggressors, have no “right” of self defence. They have committed a war crime. I am suprised that Larry, who I nornally admire, has not brought up these facts

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben Zakkai

        Victor, are you for real? First of all, Hamdan was an Israeli citizen not living under occupation. And even if he’d been a West Bank Palestinian, the general right of resistance to occupation doesn’t give every member of the occupied nation carte blanche to kill any member of the occupying nation. Killing or maiming another human being is a serious matter. It may be justified when one is fighting for one’s freedom and dignity, AND the use of violence is likely to be effective in achieving that goal, AND there is no other effective, non-violent course of action at hand. And incidentally, in my book, if you kill in the name of God, you’re a bad guy, period.

        Reply to Comment
        • Victor Arajs

          There you go again, making the silly distinction btween pre 1967 and post 1967. The existence of the zionist entity is illegal and racist, and therefore none of the people enforicng “law” there has any right to self defence

          the general right of resistance to occupation doesn’t give every member of the occupied nation carte blanche to kill any member of the occupying nation….another really vacuous statement. You are a total hasbarat

          Reply to Comment
          • Alan

            “Victor Arajs” was a Nazi who murdered thousands of Jews during World War II. Apparently “Victor,” who inveighs against the “Zionist occupier,” is proud of his anti-Semitic credentials.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben Zakkai

            Thanks for the tip, I read the wikipedia on Arajs with interest. What on earth would make a talkbacker here adopt that name? Just a sick indiviudual. The attention he gets here is probably the only thing he has. Sad.

            Reply to Comment
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