Just as nobody seriously believes that Israel upholds Palestinians’ basic human rights, it should come as no surprise when it fails to bring to justice those who violate those rights — even if the victim is an American citizen.
I had to rub my eyes and reread the headline in Haaretz this morning: “Cop Who Beat Up Palestinian Teen Gets Six Weeks Community Service.” I must have misread. Not six weeks jail time? Or at least six months community service? No. Just six weeks (45 days) of community service for a policeman who repeatedly and brutally punched and kicked 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir in the stomach and head after he was already in custody — and unconscious.
Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American from Florida who was on a family trip to Jerusalem during the summer of 2014, was arrested near a protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. The arrest came just days after his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by three Israeli Jews. Tariq maintains he was not involved in any protest.
In handing down the lenient sentence, the judge took into account the fact that the police officer had no criminal record and had positive character references. Police officers — the people tasked with upholding the law — should not have criminal records in the first place. And if for some reason they do, they should not be rewarded for that when committing a crime. And positive character references? The guy beat up a kid in handcuffs. This very act overrides any positive character references, presumably from fellow Israeli security personnel.
This is just perverse. A police officer who is supposed to serve as a role model of respect and civility, beats up a minor while after he is already restrained and in custody.
What kind of message does such a lenient sentence send to other officers? That they can beat up arrested Palestinians, even minors, and get away with it. Apparently that’s no big deal. Apparently that’s not considered a flagrant violation of their most basic duties.
And what does that say about Israeli society? That Palestinian lives are not as valued as Jewish ones. That it is not an aberration from the norm, but rather part and parcel of Israel’s policy of crushing the enemy — another example of the double standard inherent in Israel’s legal system when it comes to apprehending and trying Jewish assailants.
A week ago Israel sent over a dozen elite, undercover officers to raid a hospital in Hebron and arrest a Palestinian man accused of stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli. And yet no one has been arrested or charged in the murder of three members of the Dawabshe family in July of this year. Another example of the double standard was attack on Rabbis for Human Rights head Arik Ascherman by a masked settler last month. The culprit has already been caught and indicted, yet countless other incidents of settler violence against lesser known Israeli Jewish activists and — not to mention those against Palestinians — rarely even result in arrests. According to statistics compiled by Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, only 7 percent of Palestinian complaints of settler violence result in indictments.
Just as nobody seriously believes that Israel upholds Palestinians’ basic human rights, it should come as no surprise when it fails to bring to justice those who violate those rights. For anyone still under this delusion, today’s news should be another nail in the coffin. The notion of justice and the rule of law — in any way that benefits Palestinians living under Israeli rule — has lost all meaning. Israel’s judicial system, like all of its institutions, serves the agenda of the Jewish hegemony.