New Immigrant Welcomed to Israel with Police Arrest

Arutz 7 Analysts,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Arutz 7 Analysts
Insightful and analytical, passionate and authentic, with biting wit and masterful writing - our bloggers are a source of crystal clarity in this time of confusion.

New immigrant Jeff Daube tells of his first experience exercising his right to freedom of speech in Israel:

Welcome to Israel!

Having arrived on a Nefesh b'Nefesh flight less than two weeks ago, the following was the last thing I expected to happen during my first few weeks here:

Since President Bush was in town, it was decided by a number of lay and rabbinical leaders that it would be good idea to distribute the latest report from David Bedein's Center for Near East Policy Research to the press covering the President's visit. The report, Fatah as "Moderate" A Hard Look Post Annapolis, can be found on-line at: http://israelbehindthenews.com/pdf/ModerateFatah.pdf and was authored by Arlene Kushner.
20 minutes later, a policeman comes down to the corner where I had been standing and taps me on the shoulder... and tells me to come with him.

At a National Council of Young Israel briefing by David Bedein last Friday attendees were asked to place themselves at various locations where the press was supposed to be to distribute literature and engage them in polite conversation about how Fatah and Abbas were not really the "moderate" alternative to Hamas.

I was assigned to Kikar Safra between 3PM and 5PM on Wednesday, January 9. This location is where the foreign press corps gets its security clearance. It appeared as if there were no more correspondents around so we decided to go to the Dan Panorama Hotel where the foreign press was staying. After President Bush's press conference we assumed that the correspondents would be returning to the hotel so we were in front with our literature when the police told us that we could not stand there and we should move to the corners which I did.

Approximately 20 minutes later a policeman comes down to the corner where I had been standing and taps me on the shoulder asks me for my teudat zehut (ID card) and tells me to come with him. He then told me to get into the police car with Yehudit Dassberg and Susie Dym, two colleagues who were there for the same purpose. They did not tell me at the time why I was being taken in but Susie told me in the car that they found the material either seditious or contain incitement -- I am not sure which. Later it became apparent that they claimed we were creating a public nuisance.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I was standing on a street corner quietly minding my own business, following the instructions of another police officer. We were brought to the police station at the Russian Compound and told to stay in a waiting room. I, not being totally fluent in Ivrit yet, allowed Susie to do all the talking. We called David Bedein and Rabbi Aaron Tirschwell and they in turn made a number of calls and we were released after being held for approximately 40 minutes. At no time were we questioned or asked to sign anything. The police said absolutely nothing to me and I said nothing to them.

I learned later from Susie that she was listed as an "arrest" while Yehudit and I were ONLY "detained." I am struck by the police's total arbitrary and capricious behavior in this incident. After having read and heard about these types of police actions, and now having experienced it first-hand, I can only say that I am saddened by the fact that the police force of the Jewish State employs tactics which are unethical in the extreme and still has the gall to call itself a democratic country where the rule of law prevails. Granted at 60 years old, the country may still be young, relatively speaking, but it still has a long way to go before it reaches minimum standards of respect for a citizen's civil rights -- even a brand new citizen.

Regretfully yours,
Jeff Daube