Exclusive: 'The Shin Bet Won't Leave My Husband Alone'
Chaim Perlman's wife, Keren, had trouble sleeping last night due to her excitement after hearing of the court decision to release her husband to house arrest yesterday. "I look forward to the moment when Chaim will come out of the dark hole where he is right now. Our children miss him so much," she told Arutz-7 in an exclusive interview. Perlman has been held for nearly a month on suspicions of involvement in the killing of four Arabs ten years ago.
Following the decision of Petah Tikva Magistrates Court Judge Nahum Sternlicht, this moment seems closer than ever, but Keren, a devoted wife, is trying not to celebrate too early. Together with faith and hope, she is trying to keep both feet on the ground.
"The Shin Bet [Israel's General Security Service] is the most powerful body in the country," says Keren Perlman. "During the court hearings, I saw cases where the very fact that the request to extend Chaim's detention came from the Shin Bet, was enough to make judges automatically acquiesce and prolong Chaim's detention, even though there was no material proof to support the decision. Judge Sternlicht is a worthy judge, but there aren't too many judges like him in Israeli courts, and I would not be surprised if the Shin Bet finds a judge who is more 'agreeable' who will extend Chaim's detention for a few more days."
When Keren speaks she sounds like a veteran jurist, but she says the situation in which her family finds itself is like a nightmare, from which she hopes to wake up quickly and return to routine life.
"I met Chaim in the Kahane Youth Movement," Keren says. "Chaim was a youth leader there and I was an activist. We participated in bus trips from Pardes Hana to Jerusalem to distribute leaflets... Our activities centered around demonstrations and educational campaigns aimed at convincing the public that the land of Israel is in danger."
Keren was 19 years old when she and Chaim decided to get married. "Chaim is the most amazing person I ever met. His sensitivity, his dedication, his innocence, were all things that drew me to him." After their marriage they moved to the town of Tapuach in the Shomron, then to Givat Washington near Ashdod. "Chaim's dream was to become a physical education teacher and to work with children. He loves children very much, and looked for a profession where he could work with them."
But that dream was shattered when the professional committee of the Ministry of Education refused to allow Chaim to be a teacher in Israel.
"It was very strange," Keren recalls, describing the committee's decision to reject Chaim due to what was defined as a criminal record. "We brought all kinds of recommendations from around the world, proof that the files against Chaim were of political demonstrations, or raising the flag of Israel on the Temple Mount." Despite the fact than an absolute majority of the committee members believed that they shouldn't rule out the possibility of Chaim being a teacher, there was one member of the committee who was decisively opposed to the nomination: "The ministry's security officer argued that due to Chaim's criminal record and the fact that he was put in prison for demonstrating against the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, he must not be allowed to become a teacher."
"The next day the phone rang, and on the line was someone who introduced himself as a friend of Chaim's from the past. In retrospect, this conversation was the beginning of the roller coaster of our lives today."
This "friend" turned out to be a Shin Bet agent, who "played on Chaim's conscience and our difficult economic situation. He met with Chaim repeatedly and told him that for the sake of his new-born son, Yitzhar, going into first grade, he should cooperate. Chaim, in his innocence, agreed. The Shin Bet agents would talk to him about faith and and his economic situation, giving Chaim money. Chaim didn't share the details to me at the time, and he would come home each time saying that he made some money doing odd jobs in Ashkelon."
"After several meetings, the agents wanted to see some results from Chaim. They expected him to tell stories about what his friends were doing. Chaim didn't want to talk about others, so instead, he began to make up stories about himself. These weren't true, but the Shin Bet wanted to believe those made-up tales."
"At this point, when Chaim realized he had made a mistake, he let me in on what was going on and we turned together to Itamar Ben-Gvir and Noam Federman. They recommended that Chaim cut off contact immediately with the Shin Bet, and Itamar also began to involve the media, which turned out to be a brilliant step."
Chaim's connection with the media was carried out "right under the Shin Bet's nose," says Keren, "but that didn't stop them from sending an agent, code-named 'Dada', to try to incriminate him. It was clear to us from the start that Dada was an agent, and Chaim taped his conversations with him, where Dada tried to 'trip him up'. These conversations were then sent to the media, who published them so that all of Israel could witness the conduct of the General Security Service."
Once the Shin Bet found out that Dada was suspected and that Chaim was in possession of dozens of hours of taped conversations, they came to arrest him and to search for the recordings: "Late at night, nine 'thugs' came to our house looking for the tapes. When they found them they were quite happy," recalls Karen. "But they did not know at the time that Itamar Ben-Gvir had passed on several of the tapes to the media. As soon as Chaim was arrested, the media released the recordings to the public."
Keren says that Chaim was treated horribly during his detention. "They prevented Chaim from seeing a lawyer for ten days. They abused him, tied him to a chair every day for 16 hours, beat him, screamed in his ear, kept him from sleeping, put him into a refrigerator where the temperature was 6-7 degrees Centigrade and prevented me from giving him a sweater," she says. "When I came with a sweater to the interrogation facility, they said it would interfere with the investigation."
During all this time, Keren says she kept believing in G-d, "Who performed miracle after miracle for us in this story. When I think of what happened, my belief in G-d is strengthened. First of all, the very fact that Chaim did not break down is a miracle. Anyone else in that situation would even have admitted to killing Arlozoroff!"
She made sure to mention the names of several people that "I want to thank who helped us to no end." Here she named Shmuel Medad, head of the Honenu legal rights organization - "a genuine angel" - as well as others from Honenu, in addition to friends and neighbors from Givat Washington, and others.