Analysis: Don’t judge the new police commissioner by his cover

It’s inevitable that there will be some who resent the new commissioner.

By
September 29, 2015 00:48
2 minute read.
Roni Alsheich

Roni Alsheich. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Looks can be deceiving, and that’s rarely been more apparent than this weekend, when the mask was pulled from “R.,” deputy Shin Bet head Roni Alsheikh, revealing the man the pixels, to the glee of countless Israelis on Facebook, WhatsApp and beyond.

Bearing a strong resemblance to the US actor Kevin James in Paul Bart: Mall Cop, the spymaster does not look the part of a clandestine warrior, but maybe we’ve all seen too many movies. According to associates and former Shin Bet officials, Alsheikh is one of the agency’s most talented and impressive officers, a skilled manipulator and interrogator, an agent and commander who excels at field work and has left his mark on plenty of top secret operations.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Considered a favorite to take over the Shin Bet after director Yarom Cohen steps down next year, he now faces what is arguably the greatest challenge of his career – righting the Israel Police, a giant organization that has been riddled with scandal in recent years and is at the center of some of the country’s most sensitive battles – including the situation on the Temple Mount.

Alsheikh will leave the culture of the Shin Bet for a radically different one in the police. Lacking the prestige and public admiration of Israel’s internal intelligence agency, the Israel Police lacks the same expectation of excellence, from both the public and itself. It’s also far larger than the Shin Bet, with around 30,000 officers and tens of thousands of volunteer police. Righting such a large, important organization is more like turning around an aircraft carrier than a small, dynamic espionage agency like the Shin Bet.

Alsheikh will have several advantages entering the post.

He will have the credibility afforded a top Shin Bet commander and with no background in the police, he will owe nothing to subordinates in the force whom he never served with. He’s not part of their boys club, even though the Shin Bet, as an investigatory agency, does resemble the police in some ways and cooperates with the force on a daily basis.

It’s inevitable that there will be some who resent the new commissioner. The Shin Bet is second on the prestige ladder of Israel’s security agencies, below the Mossad.



If the IDF is put in a separate category, the police is a distant third and not afforded the prestige or public approval afforded the spy agencies – which much of the public seems to think are largely without incompetent employees, failure and mistaken decisions.

Furthermore, he won’t have many of the same tools at his disposal as he does with the Shin Bet. He will have to operate with greater transparency, without the network of Palestinian informants and ultra-sophisticated technology at the agency’s disposal in the largely lawless West Bank.

Regardless, Alsheikh is a very strong candidate and will bring powerful credentials with him when he enters the commissioner’s office in Jerusalem.

He’ll find there are no quick fixes for an agency as large and scandal ridden as the police, but he knows that already. With the backing of the public and the knowledge that the police needs a serious shaking up on almost every level of the organization, he has a chance of moving the force in the right direction.

Related Content

 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wears a bulletproof vest and a helmet as he gives a pep talk t
August 22, 2018
Jerusalem embassy move will be raised when Philippine’s Duterte visits

By HERB KEINON