Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Cheshvan 5760 - October 27, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
How Can a System Like This Command Respect?

For several weeks we have seen the suffering of former Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife as they are thoroughly investigated for possible crimes in the full glare of the media spotlights.

First there was a suspicion that a contractor had done work for the Prime Minister and had not received payment. The newspaper that uncovered these suspicions reported them to the police even before they published the scoop.

The story was duly published, and the investigation was fully reported in the press, including who was questioned and for how long, and even what was said during the questioning. This information is supposed to be private. There is no public right to know about suspicions and investigations that often turn out to have no basis. Nonetheless, the public was force fed many details of the investigation.

Apparently, nothing substantive was found along those lines. However, a new line of investigation was opened, that perhaps Netanyahu had kept some of the gifts given him during his tenure as prime minister. This is not even really a legal crime, but only a violation of the regulations governing public servants. No one has even been investigated on similar suspicions, though there were publicized cases of other government officials who took gifts.

The cameras were already present when the police arrived to search the Netanyahu family's home, office and a government storage room that did contain belongings of the Netanyahu family but to which they did not even have the keys. Mr. and Mrs. Netanyahu were questioned for 8 hours (!) about this matter.

Many observers noted that the desire of the police for publicity and political interests certainly appear to play a very large role in the conduct of the entire affair.

The humiliation to which the Netanyahus were subjected without any protest from the legal establishment, stands in stark contrast to the standards that the High Court set in respect for the human dignity of suspected terrorists and even those thought to be "human time bombs" who have information that could prevent the murder and maiming of dozens of innocent people.

"A reasonable investigation is an investigation without torture, without a cruel or inhuman behavior towards the person being questioned, without behaving towards him in a demeaning manner . . . Human dignity is also the dignity of a person under investigation." (from the decision of the High Court to ban the use of limited methods of physical pressure in interrogating suspected terrorists)

The High Court insisted that these standards be applied to people who are the lowest of the low, since they kill wantonly. Yet we see that the system does not even behave this way to a former prime minister.

The police behave this way time and again, and their actions are only defended by the ministers in charge of them. It was reported that the Minister of Internal Security ordered an internal investigation of the leaks, but Yated has reported in the past on the efficacy of police investigations of themselves, which is very low.

The Justices of the High Court are clearly not in touch with the nature of the system they head. From top to bottom it needs a thorough overhaul and the implementation of standards of decency and propriety -- which should include former prime ministers no less than suspected terrorists.

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