SHABTAY GARBARCHIK 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy of Shabtay Garbarchik)
Israel Police Headquarters this week appointed its first ever spokesman
specifically for the ultra-Orthodox sector, tapping veteran crime reporter and
radio journalist Shabtay Garbarchik for the position.
Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday the position is meant to strengthen the police
connection with the haredi community and help get its message across, especially
in terms of larger events involving police and the haredim, including changes in
military and national service for haredi men expected to take place
Garbarchik, who worked for a decade at the religious radio station
Kol Hai where he was the military reporter and later chief news editor before
becoming the crime reporter for the Makor Rishon newspaper, said he will help
police “translate” the police message to a sector that has traditionally been
detached from and suspicious of it.
“This doesn’t mean translating it to
Yiddish, I’ll be speaking to them in Hebrew, but they have a different way of
speaking and different understandings and the position is meant to help
establish a connection between police and the haredi public in order to help
them understand events involving police,” he said.
Jerusalem resident is not himself haredi, but says that he forged a deep
connection and understanding of the community over his years with the radio
station and in the years before. He has a strong familiarity with the burgeoning
haredi online, print and radio news landscape, which has largely been detached
from the police.
“It’s not a secret that not all but most of the
reporters in the haredi press don’t have great connections with the
My connection with police has been on a daily basis and much more
intense and our goal is to establish this daily connection with the haredi
public and media as well as greater transparency and a greater transfer of
information,” he said.
While he said that with only three days on the job
he’s still not sure how this dialogue will be organized, he said that he plans
to reach out to haredi journalists, rabbis and community leaders about police
issues on the macro and micro level, while working under the head spokesmen of
the different police districts. He added that he will remain a civilian and has
not been drafted into the police force, and will not wear a uniform or carry a
Saying that just as the police have hired spokespeople for the
Arabic and Russian speaking population, yet saw the need to reach out to the 20
percent of the public that is haredi, which though it does speak Hebrew, has a
different sort of understanding.
When asked about phenomenons like haredi
rioters calling police “Nazis” or throwing rocks at officers, he said he hopes
that through outreach the haredi public will gain a greater understanding of the
Israel Police as a “giant organization that is not just mounted cops and
officers, and we’ll be able to do this the more we’re able to bring the two
Garbarchik isn’t the first crime reporter to cross the
thin blue line – in 2009 long-time Ma’ariv police reporter Ami Ben-David was
appointed the spokesman of the Police Special Investigations Branch and was
given the rank of chief superintendent.
When asked what it’s like to go
from being a reporter covering police and internal security – a job that
typically entails working to uncover stories of police wrongdoing to working as
a spokesman, he said, “I don’t think it’s really a problem. As a reporter you
know your boss is your editor and here I know my boss is the [police] public
relations branch. We’re all grown ups and know what our red lines
He said he took a year long “cooling-off period” before taking the
job during which he worked in marketing for a number of publications, before
adding “either way, if you look around in Israel most of the spokespersons used
to be journalists.”