A Guest Post on Israel

Another informative piece from our expert:

What Will the Israelis Do? Their Security Professionals Provide a Possible Answer

Adam L. Silverman, PhD*

“At first it was like ‘Oh No, they broke the Law’. They killed people, they wanted to blow up the country, etc. Later they said ‘they are our own flesh and blood’. Then the delegitimization process was transferred to the Shin Bet.” – Carmi Gillon; Head of Shin Bet, 1994 – 1996**

John asked earlier about what the Israelis will do in regard to what appears to be a revenge/reprisal murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Specifically he was interested in what would happen now that arrests have been made of a group of young Israeli extremists. The short answer is that Israel will follow the Rule of Law. The suspects will be held, interviewed by investigators and prosecutors, a determination will be made if this was murder or part of a more detailed and organized plot, and then charges will be brought and a trial will ensue. While the Israeli suspects are being referred to as extremists, current reporting indicates they were not part of an organized extremist group or organization. Rather they took matters into their own hands in response to the murders of three Israeli settler youth near Hebron.

The long-term answer is that we simply do not know. The quote at the top of the post is from a previous director of Shin Bet – Israel’s internal security agency. It is in reference to the Shin Bet’s successful investigation and arrest of the Jewish Underground, as well as the political aftermath of the conviction of the group’s members. The Jewish Underground members, several of whom had been planning since the late 1970s to blow up the Dome of the Rock, were tried, convicted, and sentenced to very long terms – up to life in prison, before a clemency law was passed in Knesset and they were released back into the community. The social, political, ethnic, and religious response to the Jewish Underground plotters may be one of the long-term outcomes.
Another, and I would think in this case equally, if not more likely outcome, maybe what happened to Yigal Amir. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. He’s not getting out any time soon. Given that the abduction and murder of the three Israeli settler youth, followed by the murder of Abu Khdeir and the beating of his cousin, as well as shelling from Gaza and Israeli responses to it have everyone on edge, it is possible that the Israeli political system will be able to resist calls for leniency for “three of our own”. The sooner Shin Bet and the appropriate Israeli and Palestinian police department are able to identify suspects, make arrests, and a transparent criminal justice process takes place in the murder of the three young settlers***, the more likely that the status quo, no matter how sub-optimal, can be restored.

If you really want to have an excellent understanding of what is really going on between the Israelis and the Palestinians, I cannot recommend strongly enough The Gatekeepers. It is an Israeli documentary that interviewed, at the time, the immediate six previous heads of Shin Bet. I will leave you with one more quote from it, also from Carmi Gillon, in regard to the extremist religious leadership and their response in the wake of Yigal Amir’s assassination of Yitzhak Rabin as this also gets to John’s question. Gillon was the Shin Bet director at the time of Rabin’s assassination and resigned his position as a result of what he perceived as his professional failure. In describing the outcome of that event he says: “On the contrary it is only getting worse. I believe we’ll see another political assassination over the withdrawal from the West Bank. It will come from many directions, mainly from the rabbis, because the rabbis have no reason to learn any lesson. As far as the extremist rabbis are concerned the system proved itself.”

* Adam L. Silverman is the Cultural Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College and/or the US Army.

** This quote is from the Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers. Specifically it is at 55:20 to 55:45 in the movie.

*** Hebron, and the area around it where the three Israeli settler youth were found murdered sort of straddle Areas B and C of the West Bank. The areas were set up to denote who has control in the post-Oslo Accords transition phases. Area A is full Palestinian control. In it policing, Rule of Law, and criminal justice are administered under the laws and regulations of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is joint Israeli-Palestinian control and Area C is full Israeli control. It is unclear from the reporting exactly where the murder was committed or the bodies were specifically dumped, other than “fifteen miles from where they were abducted”. Given that the area around Hebron straddles Areas B and C the Israelis will either share jurisdiction or have complete jurisdiction over the investigation.

Discuss.






61 replies
  1. 1
    SuperHrefna says:

    I really appreciate these posts from Adam Silverman, thanks! I find it frightening that the six arrested suspects are being barred from consulting with a lawyer while they are interrogated. And I find it frightening that it seems the same gang tried to kidnap and murder a nine year old the night before. I just generally found that Times of Israel article frightening. What kind of country is Israel? What are they doing to themselves? They are turning into a Jewish Saudi Arabia.

  2. 2
    Heliopause says:

    Discuss.

    Delighted. This bit is especially delusional:

    The sooner Shin Bet and the appropriate Israeli and Palestinian police department are able to identify suspects, make arrests, and a transparent criminal justice process takes place in the murder of the three young settlers***

    What the everloving fuck would this accomplish? Israel has already made its official response; collective punishment including multiple assassinations, mass arrests, and the invasion of privacy of thousands.

    What earthly reason do Palestinians have to trust the Israeli process on this?

    The USA provides unequivocal diplomatic cover for the atrocities of Israel. Even when the US is genuinely angered by Israeli behavior the response is measured and mere words. Please stop wasting our time with steps that Israelis and Palestinians might take; ball’s is USA’s court. All other talk is bullshit.

  3. 3
    billb says:

    I can solve this problem today. As an architect-guy my solution is to build something. I will build a eighty foot high stone wall right between these people. We can put laser cannons on top to shoot down rockets and drones. Listen folks just stop fcking with each other and get on with life. They need to never see each other again.

  4. 4
    SuperHrefna says:

    @billb: Ich bin ein Berliner!

  5. 5
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Heliopause: so true. By carrying out the ( collective ) punishment already the Israeli government has made any criminal justice procedure completely irrelevant. Yes, rational people want to know who killed those three poor children and get justice for them, but such a huge injustice has been carried out in their young, innocent names that I don’t see how justice can be done at this point. You can’t execute the accused and then start a murder investigation.

  6. 6
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @billb: Israel’s been doing that…but they keep pushing it further into Palestinian lands.

    You want a solution? Neutron bomb over Jerusalem. repeat yearly.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki: I have to say – no matter how badly Israel behaves, and I am offering no defense for a lot of the shit it is doing – eliminationist rhetoric regarding Israeli Jews is probably something to be avoided. If you know what I mean.

  8. 8
    gian says:

    ahh crap FYWP ate this.

    listen to the Nixon-Billy Graham tapes. Israel has no trust that the US will ever help them.
    their right wing is obsessed with always being the best armed, biggest bully on the block
    and using the arms to prove it.

    they trust no-one. – not saying it’s right or wrong for them – but that’s their point of view

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Roger Moore says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki:

    Israel’s been doing that…but they keep pushing it further into Palestinian lands.

    This. A wall won’t solve the general problem that Israel exists on land that was taken from Palestinians within living memory. And it won’t solve the religious issues around Jerusalem, which would require wisdom beyond Solomon’s.

    ETA: Put another way, building a wall between Israel and Palestine isn’t a construction problem, it’s a problem of where to build it.

  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    @Roger Moore: Yeah, but it doesn’t just require wisdom. It also requires negotiating in good faith from both sides, and I no longer believe Israel is acting in good faith.

  12. 12
    LanceThruster says:

    “As the Arabs see the Jews”

    One of the money quotes from the piece –

    “I have the impression that many Americans believe the trouble in Palestine is very remote from them, that America had little to do with it, and that your only interest now is that of a humane bystander.

    I believe that you do not realise how directly you are, as a nation, responsible in general for the whole Zionist move and specifically for the present terrorism. I call this to your attention because I am certain that if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly to admit it and assume it.”

  13. 13
    Roger Moore says:

    @LanceThruster:

    I call this to your attention because I am certain that if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly to admit it and assume it.

    He’s giving us way too much credit. We might do something to solve the problem if we believed we were responsible, but we’ll never accept that as long as there’s any way to deny it. We are simply too willfully blind to our own faults to admit that the problems might be our doing.

  14. 14
    LanceThruster says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    Compare that to this – I am, and will always be – Palestine the Holy Land

    Don’t lecture me sir don’t show me your frown.
    I held it up long enough, it withered, and the leaves had fallen down,

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Roger Moore: To be fair, saying “All y’all are a bunch of assholes, ” does not work well as a persuasive argument.

  16. 16
    LanceThruster says:

    @Roger Moore:

    At the time written, he did not see the track record ahead of the official narrative.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @LanceThruster: Your point is?

  18. 18
    LanceThruster says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    An attitude independent of what people outside of the region think should be done. It’s a pretty powerful piece whether you agree with it or not.

  19. 19
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Stopping sending our money to Israel might work as a persuasive argument.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @LanceThruster: I guess I am confused as to how that should be compared to my comment that eliminationist rhetoric should be beyond the pale.

  21. 21
    LanceThruster says:

    @Violet:

    That would require being able to wrestle the money tap out of the hands of those committed to keeping it flowing.

  22. 22
    Violet says:

    @LanceThruster: As usual, oligarchs rule all.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: Not really responsive to what I was saying, was it?

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Thought my point was quite responsive to what you were saying.

  25. 25
    LanceThruster says:

    @Violet:

    That’s a sad truth.

    Why Bother – Sam Smith

    http://prorev.com/pocket.htm#why

    Why bother?

    Let’s turn off the television, step into the sunlight, and count the bodies. As we were watching inside, the non-virtual continued at its own pace and on its own path, indifferent to our indifference, unamused by our ironic detachment, unsympathetic to our political impotence, unmoved by our carefully selected apparel, unfrightened by our nihilism, unimpressed by our braggadocio, unaware of our pain. Evolution and entropy remained outside the cocoon of complacent images, refusing to be hurried or delayed, declining to cut to the chase, unwilling to reveal either ending or meaning.

    We shade our eyes and scan the decay. We know that this place, this country, this planet, is not the same as the last time we looked. There are more bodies. And fewer other things: choices, unlocked doors, democracy, satisfying jobs, reality, unplanned moments, clean water, a species of frog whose name we forget, community, and the trusting, trustworthy smile of a stranger.

    Someone has been careless, cruel, greedy, stupid. But it wasn’t us, was it? We were inside, just watching. It all happened without us — by the hand of forces we can’t see, understand, or control. We can always go in again and zap ourselves back to a place where the riots and tornadoes and wars are never larger than 27 inches on the diagonal. We can do nothing out here. Why bother?

    Why bother? Only to be alive. Only to be real, to be made not just of what we acquire or our adherence to instruction, but of what we think and do of our own free will. Only, Winston Churchill said, to fight while there is still a small chance so we don’t have to fight when there is none. Only to climb the rock face of risk and doubt in order to engage in the most extreme sport of all — that of being a free and conscious human. Free and conscious even in a society that seems determined to reduce our lives to a barren pair of mandatory functions: compliance and consumption.

    Life is a endless pick-up game between hope and despair, understanding and doubt, crisis and resolution.

  26. 26
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: My point was that King Abdullah would have gotten nowhere with his efforts if he had been combative. He was attempting to appeal to our “better angels,” and that was his best play. I was not making any suggestions about current policy. If you follow the links back, it should be pretty clear.

    @LanceThruster: And still the justification for eliminationist rhetoric is?

  27. 27
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):
    From the first comment that kicked off that thread of comments and responses, including yours:

    “I have the impression that many Americans believe the trouble in Palestine is very remote from them, that America had little to do with it, and that your only interest now is that of a humane bystander.

    I believe that you do not realise how directly you are, as a nation, responsible in general for the whole Zionist move and specifically for the present terrorism. I call this to your attention because I am certain that if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly to admit it and assume it.”

    I think the US sending money is a key contributing factor to what’s going on. US money and support are certainly what enables Israel to do whatever it wants without much if any repercussions. Stopping that money–which would mean stopping support–would change that.

    As is said in the quote, America is responsible.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: You know what, I don’t feel like getting into a semantic argument at this time of night. OTOH, all I said was that calling the US a bunch of assholes would not have been effective. What would be effective, I did not address.

    ETA: Please don’t take limited comments and run with them. Too many people do.

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): Generally, calling people assholes isn’t an effective communication technique to get what one wants. No argument from me on that.

    Not sure what you’re getting at with the rest of your comment.

  30. 30
    Gator90 says:

    @Howard Beale IV: The article is half right. The full truth is that neither side has any interest in a peace that would require recognition of the legitimacy of the other’s rights and aspirations. Hence the relentless settlement project, and hence the Palestinian rejection of any two-state solution that would allow one state to be Jewish. There will be no peace in the foreseeable future because the parties to the dispute simply don’t want it. Rather, each side wants to win. Israel thinks it can win with superior might; the Palestinians think they will win with time and demographics. And so it goes.

  31. 31
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: My original comment was specifically addressed at a specific comment. It was not intended to be a general statement of any kind. Your response to my comment was a big expansion – if you were riffing off of what I said that is one thing, but It really isn’t a direct response. That was all I was saying.

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    Someone linked to this at the Jewish Daily Forward on the other comment thread:

    Ex-Shin Bet Chief: Israeli Illusions Fueled Blowup

    Israel’s own security agency keeps trying to tell the Likudniks they’re making things worse, and they refuse to listen.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @billb:

    It will never work. A lot of Israeli industry has moved into the Palestinian areas because they don’t have to pay minimum wage — that’s what the controversy over Soda Stream was all about, and they aren’t the only ones.

    Whether they admit it or not, Israel can’t continue without access to Palestinian land and labor on the Bantustans they’ve created. And I am deliberately using that word to describe it.

  34. 34
    jjs110 says:

    @Heliopause: When you have killers on the loose and the police is looking for them, everyone suffers the consequences. Remember the search for the Boston marathon killers? Entire blocks were cordoned off. Collective punishment? Get real. Besides, every time Hamas or its surrogates fire rockets from Gaza, since they can’t aim at any military target, they commit a triple war crime: shoot from civilian areas, shoot INTO civilian areas, and inflict thereby collective punishment on literally millions of people. And you want to whine about a search for killers in the West Bank that merely inconvenienced a few thousand Palestinians? Try again.

  35. 35
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @Gator90:

    Rather, each side wants to win. Israel thinks it can win with superior might; the Palestinians think they will win with time and demographics.

    The Palestinians don’t think they can win anything. They are just desperately hoping they can get to keep what they have. A hope that gets remoter every year.

    Israel on the other hand is winning handily, as it gets more Palestinian land every year.

    The central problem for Israel is not a fear of losing. It’s a fear of getting the Palestinian land but having to keep the people that currently live on it. It’s a problem that they are working on.

    As an aside, Israel does not need US money. It’s nice but it’s just extra pocket change. Israel is now in the OECD and has a $300 billion economy. The GDP per capita of Israel is nudging $40,000. For the US it’s around $50,000. It’s kind of as if France spent billions to subsidise Belgium.

    Israel would gladly give up the money if it meant retaining its influence on Capitol Hill.

  36. 36
    Tim in SF says:

    I just will never understand the Israel / Palestine thing. If three teens were murdered here, by cops, and it was captured on video, and the teens were tortured first, it might get one day on the news. Maybe. Certainly not if they were black, though. But three teens die in Israel? It’s like the end of the fucking world.

    I doubt i will ever understand it.

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    @Heliopause:

    What the everloving fuck would this accomplish? Israel has already made its official response; collective punishment including multiple assassinations, mass arrests, and the invasion of privacy of thousands.

    This.

    It drives me insane that it’s already been framed as a Both Sides Do It with crazy Arab child-killers on on side and crazy Israeli child-killers on the other and the Israeli government as just a good cop in the middle trying to control the crazy child killers… and the entire “mass reprisals” phase by the Israeli government somehow gets sweeped under the carpet, or else is just part of the police work.

    It’s almost like saying that, sure, black and Latino inner city dwellers are targeted by the American justice system in egregiously disproportionate ways, above and on top of measures that discourage them from voting and deny needed resources to their inner cities, but the American justice system is color blind, objective and impartial, it can’t be racist because it occasionally locks up white skinheads as well…

    … wait. We do that too, don’t we?

  38. 38
    James E. Powell says:

    @LanceThruster:

    I call this to your attention because I am certain that if you realise your responsibility you will act fairly to admit it and assume it.”

    Stunning naivete from King Abdullah. Or was he just trying to be polite?

  39. 39
    Barry says:

    @Heliopause: note, the comments reply system does not display right on an iPad,

    I xecond Heliopause, and go furtther. This guys is a fraud. Not only does he not mention the massive punishment inflicted on a people, but he fails to mention that the Hebron settlers have gotten away with a lot of killings.

  40. 40
    debbie says:

    @billb:

    As an architect-guy my solution is to build something. I will build a eighty foot high stone wall right between these people.

    This morning, I heard that Malicki has ordered a wall to be built somewhere in eastern Iraq to keep out the extremists. Wonderful. Concrete contractors everywhere must be salivating at the potential for future business. Soon, this world will be nothing but walls.

    I’m not sure if your post was snarky or not, but walls aren’t the answer. They’re just one way to avoid having to solve the problems leading to the violence and difficulty.

  41. 41
    Barry says:

    I have a question for John – considering just how bad and dishonest Adam’s post was, WTF did you allow it? All that his Ph.D. means is professional liar, in his case.

  42. 42
    Wag says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The solution isn’t to build a wall separating the two parties. The solution is to build a wall around the two parties to contain the contagion of their hatred and to prevent further spread of their mutual behavior. Couple that with a complete jamming of all broadcasts to further isolated both parties from their respective bases, and eventually they will tire of killing each other, or they will succeed in killing each other off. Either way, problem
    Solved.

  43. 43
    WaterGirl says:

    @James E. Powell: Sometimes giving people credit for being a certain way can help them see themselves in that way and aspire to live up to the positive assumptions.

  44. 44
    Gator90 says:

    @Viva BrisVegas: You may be right, but it seems to me that if the Palestinians just wanted their own piece of land co-existent with Israel, they would long ago have endorsed a two-state solution that included recognition of a Jewish state. Their continued refusal to do that speaks for itself, IMO. (This is in no way a condemnation of Palestinians, who have perfectly understandable reasons for feeling as they do.) When most Westerners think of “peace” between I and P, they envision a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one. But that vision does not appear to be shared by enough Israelis or Palestinians to be a realistic possibility. Some conflicts, unfortunately, really are intractable.

    You are certainly right about the money. American subsidization of a reasonably prosperous country is ridiculous. But it makes some Americans happy, and it makes American defense contractors rich(er).

  45. 45
    Barry says:

    @Gator90: “… they would long ago have endorsed a two-state solution that included recognition of a Jewish state. Their continued refusal to do that speaks for itself, IMO.”

    The day that Israel wants a two-state solution is the day that the Palestinians can be criticized; right now it’s not honestly deniable that Israel is quite happy to annex all lands in the West Bank, and only hadn’t expelled the Palestinians in toto because that would cause more trouble than it’s presently worth.

  46. 46
    Gator90 says:

    @Barry: I don’t think I am criticizing the Palestinians; nor do I think, as you seem to, that they are above criticism.

  47. 47
    LanceThruster says:

    @James E. Powell:

    I think he was giving the US the benefit of the doubt in hopes of appealing to the angels of our better nature.

  48. 48
    WaterGirl says:

    @LanceThruster: That’s what I was trying to say, only you said it much better. Thank you!

  49. 49
    LanceThruster says:

    @WaterGirl:

    You expressed yourself wonderfully.

  50. 50
    Barry says:

    @Gator90: “I don’t think I am criticizing the Palestinians; nor do I think, as you seem to, that they are above criticism. ”

    That’s sorta odd, since that’s what your comment does. Please have somebody read it, and tell you what you actually said.

  51. 51
    Gator90 says:

    @Barry: I guess you didn’t read the part of my comment that explicitly stated, “This is in no way a condemnation of Palestinians, who have perfectly understandable reasons for feeling as they do.”

    The Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state in Palestine is simply a fact. Stating it is not a criticism, particularly when one takes pains to acknowledge that the Palestinian position is “perfectly understandable.” However, their position, while understandable, is not the same thing as seeking permanent coexistence with a Jewish state (which is what most Westerners imagine when they think of I/P “peace”). It just isn’t.

  52. 52
    some guy says:

    no matter how subtle, nuanced, or reasoned, Gator90’s continual shilling for the apartheid regime is both tiresome and duplicitous.

  53. 53
    LanceThruster says:

    MURDER as COVER for THEFT is NOT *self-defense*! ~ LanceThruster

    Pass it on.

  54. 54
    LanceThruster says:

    MURDER as COVER for THEFT is NOT *self-defense*! ~ LanceThruster

    Pass it on.

  55. 55
    Ivan X says:

    @some guy:

    Did you just openly declare that you are unwilling to entertain subtlety, nuance, or reason when discussing an issue?

  56. 56
    WaterGirl says:

    @Ivan X: That’s not how I read it.

    What I thought some guy said is that no matter how much spin you put on it, Gator90 is shilling for the apartheid regime, which some guy finds both tiresome and duplicitous.

  57. 57
    Ivan X says:

    @WaterGirl:

    Yes, but what you called “spin,” he described as “subtle, nuanced, and reasoned,” suggesting there’s something wrong with those attributes when discussing an issue.

  58. 58
    WaterGirl says:

    @Ivan X: He’s not suggesting there’s anything wrong with subtle, nuanced and reasoned. He’s saying no matter how you dress it up, it’s still shilling for the apartheid regime. Lipstick on a pig and all that.

  59. 59
    Ivan X says:

    @WaterGirl:
    Sure. But a pig is a pig is a pig. No one will disagree that it’s a pig. “Apartheid regime” is a subjective evaluation of the I/P situation; some will agree, others won’t. If it’s a subjective evaluation, then we, at least in this community, would hopefully be open to having that evaluation changed by subtlety, nuance, and especially reason. Dismissing these strikes me as the essence of closed-mindedness, the kind of thing we usually accuse the Fox News crowd of. If someone’s mind is already made up, impervious to argument or perspective, why bother having a conversation? Why even bother coming here?

  60. 60
    LanceThruster says:

    THIS IS NOT THE AGE OF DEFEAT

    This is the age of loss, not the age of defeat.

    […]Goodness can lose, but it cannot be defeated. It can be balked, but it cannot be quelled. In every single moment of existence, the choice for goodness is there. Every single moment – the choice. And you can make it at any point, you can begin the process of accepting, enacting, igniting goodness at any point, even the darkest and most degraded.

  61. 61
    Pococurante says:

    It’s nice to see a nuanced front pager regarding the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

    For any interested, Diane Rehm had a great segment this morning on the issue, with all panelists staying on the core issues and exploring practical external reactions.

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