This is neither the police nor the Hasbara. This is a bad regime

By Kobi Niv • (Translated by Sol Salbe)

There was nothing in Shireen Abu-Akleh’s funeral that would have justified the police presence, certainly not in such a massive way, not the intervention in the funeral procession, and certainly not the beatings suffered by the coffin bearers. But “they started it.”

When was the last time, if at all, that you saw on TV pictures of police officers kicking, and beating with batons, mourners bearing a coffin in a funeral procession? And in broad daylight and in front of the cameras and the world? What regime in the world would dare to act like that? Perhaps the Apartheid regime in South Africa, which passed from the world a generation ago, and even then, if at all, it would have been far from any prying eyes. But who does? Israel. In 2022. And to make it even worse, at the funeral of a woman whose own soldiers may have killed her. Revolting.

If during the Mandate in in Palestine, British coppers would have kicked and beat up people bearing the coffin of a Jewish journalist, who was killed in a shootout between the British army and one of the underground Jewish groups, in which mourners waved blue and white flags and chanted nationalist slogans like “Hebrew state! Free Immigration!” what would you call it that? “Black Friday”. And it would have been taught in your schools to demonstrate the cruelty of the British occupiers, right? Great.

And if you (and we’ve all been there) soldiers or police officers, and your commander had instructed you to beat the coffin-bearers with batons during a funeral procession, would you have carried out the order? After all, this is a manifestly illegal order. [To paraphrase the Israeli Supreme Court] it’s an order with a black flag flying above it. Would you do that? Would you like the police, in any country, behave like that at your mother’s funeral? Of your aunt’s? Of your friend’s? Of your neighbour’s? Of anyone at all?

There was nothing in Shireen Abu-Akleh’s funeral that would have justified the police presence, certainly not in such a massive way, not the intervention in the funeral procession, and certainly not the beatings suffered by the pallbearers. But all the Israeli media, the “leftists” (that is really such a joke), repeat, this time as well, like well-worn parrots, the mantra from 1948 — “but they started it”.

Sure, sure they started it. So they hoisted Palestinian flags, so what? What’s the problem with that? Totally legal. As if you don’t wave Israeli flags at your funerals? So they chanted nationalist chants loudly, so what? At your funerals you don’t scream “Death to the Arabs”? Have the police ever beaten up those who shouted “Death to the Arabs” at the funeral of a Jew? “But they threw stones,” you say. Who threw stones at whom? At themselves? No. At the police? Yes, but if there were no police there, they would not throw stones at them. And the police should not have been there.

Any sane person, apparently there’s none in the State of Israel, neither in the government nor in the police and not anywhere at all — should have understood that this funeral was a volatile occasion, and that everything must be done for the procession to proceed smoothly, without the presence or intervention by the police, unless human life or the public safety were threatened. But there was nothing like that at this funeral. So what were you there for and why did you intervene in such insane brutality in front of all the world cameras? Why are you so stupid?

Why did the Minister of Internal Security, Omer Bar-Lev, about whom it is unclear whether he is a fool by birth or a senile from old age, a member of the “leftist” Labor Party, not order the police to exercise maximum restraint in the demonstration? Why was he not personally present at police HQ for this volatile occasion? Why did the entire chain of command under him, from the commissioner to the bashing coppers, act with the same stupidity and cruelty? Why?

As you look back and turn into this disgraceful incident, where cops kick and beat with batons coffin-bearers in front of everyone, you are forced, sooner or later, to realise that there is no one here — neither Naftali Bennett nor Bar-Lev nor [Chief Commissioner of Police] Kobi Shabtai — nor anybody, government, Army, police, who can be blamed or pointed out as being responsible for what happened. It’s us. It’s all of us. This is our country. This is our form of governance. That’s what we are like. And if until now we have somehow hidden it, from the world and ourselves, here now the pus has exploded straight in our face.

In any normal country, and I’m not talking about communist North Korea or Islamist Iran, such sights of coppers kicking and hitting coffin bearers at a funeral, would have turned the country upside down the next day. The media would have been screaming with rage. Rightly so of course. Tens of thousands of citizens would have come out in huge demonstrations against the government and the regime. And of course, all those responsible, those who gave the order, those who did not prevent its execution, and certainly those who carried it out, were not only flung out of office but would have been tried and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

And in our case? Nothing. And why nothing? For all of us, all of us, from the Prime Minister to the last of the citizens (except the 700 ordinary “traitors”, but they don’t count), support and collaborate — in thought, action, speech and silence — even in this case, as in previous horrible cases, in the regime, in power , In the government, in the police, in the army, in the Shin Bet, in the Border Police, in the High Court, in everyone who kills and beats and plots and oppresses, dispossesses and robs. This is our country and this is our regime, a rare combination of unreceptiveness, arrogance, cruelty and stupidity.

How unreceptive, arrogant, cruel and stupid it must be, to be able at all to think (not to say actually carry out) about hitting coffin-bearers with batons at a funeral procession; Not to understand at all that it hurts the Palestinians, and not just us, when someone among them dies; to imagine at all that such a thing is permissible and legitimate. That who among us, and there have been many of us, who would be able to strike at coffin-bearers. Not to understand what damage these sights, seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world, will do to us.

Still, there is no cloud without a silver lining. Now, hopefully, the world will finally realise who we really are. An abominable colonialist state. This insight is truly valuable.



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