When life is larger than art

Rivlin said that it would be erroneous to describe the exceptional individuals who had been singled out for recognition solely as defenders against crime.

January 23, 2019 01:45
4 minute read.
President Rivlin meeting Israeli heads of diplomatic missions, 10 December 2018.

President Rivlin meeting Israeli heads of diplomatic missions, 10 December 2018.. (photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)


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The video clips on the large screen in the main reception hall at the President's Residence on Tuesday showed scenes that would have kept any fan of action thrillers riveted in their seats.

But the different scenes inside prisons, on mountain tops, in ravines, on highways and in busy urban areas were not previews for some television crime series. They were real life documentary evidence of the multitude of safety and security activities undertaken on a daily basis by the four entities that operate under the aegis of the Ministry for Internal Security – the Israel Police,  the Israel Prison Service,  the National Fire and Rescue Authority and the Witness Protection Authority.

The occasion was the annual ceremony recognizing outstanding individuals from all four branches, who received certificates of commendation from Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan and the heads of the individual branches  - acting Police Commissioner  Moti Cohen,  acting commander of Prison Service Asher Vaknin, Fire and Rescue Commissioner Asher Simchi and head of the Witness Protection Authority Avi Neuman.

Several of the 28 men and women who were recognized for their professionalism, dedication and valor were partially disguised and referred to only by their initials and not their names.

The ceremony was held in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin, only a few hours prior to his departure for France at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

In his address to the law enforcement personnel and their families, Rivlin, alluding to recent incidents in which police may have circumvented the law in order guarantee the safety and security of members of the public who might otherwise be injured or killed, said in his opening remarks that law enforcement is not always a pleasant task, and sometimes requires the use of force against  citizens of the state – many times in impossible situations.

Rivlin lamented the erosion of respect for the rule of law, which he said has been interpreted in recent years as artificial, oppressive, repressive and annoying.

This is a serious mistake in the comprehension of the significance of the law, he said. "The law is our social and national institution.  The law is the consensus of all sections of society to live together. This is the way in which society transforms chaos into a success story."

In illustrating the importance of the rule of law, Rivlin said "we only to have to see what's happening in our neighboring countries to realize that the rule of law unites us as a people."

Rivlin said that it would be erroneous to describe the exceptional individuals who had been singled out for recognition solely as defenders against crime. The internal security network in all its divisions stands on the frontline in combating terror, battling violence and crime, fighting fires and securing prisons. The police fight shoulder to shoulder with the IDF in the struggle against terrorism, he said.

Erdan said that "despite the neighborhood in which we live" people feel personally safer in Israel than in most of the western world.

Addressing the personnel of all four agencies under the umbrella of his ministry, Erdan said: "Every citizen of Israel owes you a great debt of thanks."

Erdan, in praising Israel's safety and security said that the whole world looks to Israel in the field of internal security send many law enforcement agents come to learn from the Israeli experience.

His personal belief, he said, is that there is no substitute for police presence in the field. This is why seven new police stations have been established in Arab villages, with four more on the way.

There has been an increase in the number of Muslim men and women serving in the police force and this has helped to reduce crime and violence, and has had a tremendous impact in downsizing the acquisition of illegal weapons.

Erdan was also proud of some of the ground-breaking achievements which he credited to police technology and intelligence.

As of Monday of this week, Tel Aviv police are equipped with body cameras and eventually this will be the case with all police throughout the country, he said, noting that this will add to transparency and greater public confidence in the police.

Among the worst crimes today, he said, are threats to the safety of children, not only via the internet, but by pedophile predators who are tracked by the police.

Erdan was equally proud of the prison reforms which help to rehabilitate prisoners so that they can return to the outside world and build new lives for themselves and their families, and he was full of praise for firefighters and rescue volunteers who risk their lives to save the lives of others.

During his long address, Erdan, stopped from time to time tto drink some water, explaining that the (Likud) primaries have affected his voice.

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