Sir, – I am disgusted that six “nationalistic” Jews, even if in the name of revenge, burned alive an innocent Arab teen (“6 Jewish nationalists arrested in slaying of east Jerusalem teen,” July 7).
I am disgusted that two policemen unjustifiably beat and kicked an Arab youth (“Justice Ministry to probe alleged police beating of Arab-American rioter,” July 6). It was a despicable act no matter what the reason and I hope they will be suitably punished.
I am disgusted that the perpetrators of the long-running “price-tag” attacks against lawful minorities who live in our country go unpunished. Why have these perpetrators not been brought to justice?
Sir, – With regard to “Justice Ministry to probe alleged police beating of Arab-American rioter” (July 6), how interesting that the US State Department reacted in record time and called for a full investigation. I don’t recall a similarly rushed response by the State Department to the abduction and subsequent murder of Naftali Fraenkel, also a US citizen.
As for the Arab-American teenager, according to police he was participating in riots in Jerusalem and was apprehended with a sling shot on his person. If this is true he should be deported from Israel immediately and banned from reentering for 10 years. Perhaps this type of response will deter young tourists whose idea of a cool vacation in Israel is putting our policemen and civilians in grave danger and destroying public property.
Sir, – In “Official: Three of 6 suspects confess” (July 8), one sentence in particular is most glaring, saying “the six suspects – between the ages of 16 and 22 and from Beit Shemesh and the West Bank settlement Adam – have been refused legal representation as Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents continue to interrogate them.”
As an American living here almost 28 years, it continues to both confound and astound that this is the way it is.
If one tunes in to the old police or courtroom drama films, one will find that while someone is held in police custody and read the charges, it is standard for the police to offer the suspect the right to remain silent until legal counsel is sought. This safeguard against the exercise of interrogative procedure in isolation is sorely lacking in our justice system.
REBECCA ESKOLSKY WEINBERGER
Sir, – I recently hooked up with an American group on a study tour of the Sephardi Balkans.
After four days in Macedonia and northern Greece, I thought of a new name for the tour: The rise and demise of Balkan Jewry. With only a handful of exceptions, the Jewish communities in both countries were decimated in the death camp of Treblinka. Fortunately, and conversely, the Bulgarian Jews were saved through the intervention of a number of brave and influential personalities.
On June 13 I boarded an El Al flight for home, anxious to be back on “safe,” moral Israeli soil. My first telephone call came from a friend asking me to recite Psalms for three missing youths. Throughout the ordeal of waiting for news, their families comported themselves with grace and faith. It is impossible to conceive of better examples of Jewish response and behavior in the face of evildoing. During those weeks my regard grew for the Jewish nation, its practices and humane values.
And then came the news that an Arab youth was brutally murdered in the wake of the funerals for the three Jewish boys. We now know that the perpetrators were Israeli Jews who were, evidently, acting out of revenge.
How could they have possibly thought that setting an innocent boy on fire could right the wrong of the triple killing that took place beforehand? It is tragically ironic that instead of trying the Arab killers of Jewish children, the courts in Israel will be trying the Jewish murderers of an Arab youth.
Israel is probably the only country in the entire Middle East that is capable of seeing that justice can and will be done in this horrendous case.
Sir, – Democracy demands that if a Jew is convicted in the death of an Arab boy near Jerusalem last week, the killer must receive the same severe punishment meted out to Arab murderers.
In other words, he must be released from prison after a few years and given a hero’s welcome by the prime minister.
His family should enjoy a comfortable government pension, and Tel Aviv streets should bear his name.
As in the Palestinian Authority, a full-time Israeli cabinet minister must be assigned to work for his release, and Knesset members should be encouraged to lobby on his behalf. Members of the Meretz and Hadash parties would be best qualified, being champions of “equal treatment” for Jews and Arabs in Israel.
Until now they have excelled in the release of Arab killers only.
Sir, – The time has come for our rabbinic leadership to show some control.
At least one rabbi, Elyakim Levanon, has stated that the dastardly crime of murdering innocent Muhammad Abu Khdeir deserves the death penalty under Jewish law (“Chief rabbis call killing of Arab teen ‘outrageous murder,’” July 8).
This poses all sorts of legal problems. But the rabbinate can impose a herem (excommunication) on these thugs, and they should be refused access to Jewish burial when the time comes.
We need punishment that will deter others. Real punishment, not a slap on the wrist.
Sir, – The murder of an Arab youth is criminal and painful to us all. However, I am ever proud to be an Israeli citizen at this time.
When the tables are turned, our enemies’ society and government treat the murderers of our youths as heroes and provide them with lifetime pensions and protection for “services rendered.” My society and government condemn such actions and treat murderers as the criminals that they are.
Sir, – Although we have a war on our hands, it’s no excuse for turning off the brain. Here are two examples of fuzzy thinking.
1. We were all saddened and horrified about the grizzly murder of the Arab boy. But now, knee-jerk reactions have set in.
We read: Who are the rabbis of these Jewish killers? Shall we also punish the rabbis? A few weeks ago, the country was horrified at another grizzly murder in which a father murdered his own two little children.
No one asked who the father’s high-school teachers were.
2. A young Arab-American boy claims he was beaten up by the police. Why was he there? Why did he not heed the almost daily warnings issued by the US State Department, which lists specific places to avoid? (“The Shufat [sic] neighborhood of Jerusalem remains off-limits...”) The end of the latest warning stated: “Be aware of your surroundings at all times; monitor the media and avoid demonstrations and other crowds, as they can turn violent without warning.”
The reports that he was wearing a keffiyeh at the time of his arrest seem to enable us to identify his role in the rioting.
He was most definitely not “avoid[ing] demonstrations and other crowds.” He was participating.
These are indeed dangerous times. But please, people, keep your brains in gear.
Don’t be influenced by pure demagoguery.
IRA L. JACOBSON