Critical Crisis of Confidence

It will be years before we know the guilt or innocence of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the three indictments that are being filed against him (the prosecution has 333 witnesses to call against him). But the verdict is already in on the police and prosecution.

A poll conducted by Maagar Mochot for Yisrael Hayom shows that only 22% of the public has a high degree of confidence in the police, 28% in the prosecution and 38% in the courts.

The Israeli left blames Netanyahu and his unbridled attacks on the law enforcement agencies. However, the problem isn’t what Netanyahu says, but what the public sees and hears of the police, prosecution and courts.

For instance, just last week, police detectives beat up a security officer at Ben Gurion Airport for having had the audacity to ask one of them for ID. After handcuffing him, they dragged him to a police station at the airport and beat him mercilessly for half an hour, to the point that he needed stitches to close a cut on his face.

If it had been just one officer who lost it, that’d be one thing. But there were four policemen, not one of whom felt pangs of conscience or feared getting caught.

Adding insult to injury was the pareve police response: “[It was] a painful incident that should have concluded differently. The matter will be investigated.”

Similarly, the prosecution acts as if it is above the law. Details of the Netanyahu probes have been routinely leaked to the media to make him look bad in the eyes of the public, even though it is illegal for a government employee to do such a thing, upon punishment of prison.

But prosecutors are answerable to no one, having successfully torpedoed all efforts to set up an effective body to supervise them. And when the prime minister filed a complaint about the leaks, the attorney general brushed him off, giving notice that he had no intention of investigating the matter.

If that’s how the prime minister is treated, what chance does a regular citizen have at getting a fair shot?

As far as the courts go, judges are held to a different — lower — standard. When suspects in the Bezeq-Walla case were brought to court for a hearing on the police request to extend their remand, they never had a chance. The decision had been made beforehand by the judge and an Israel Security Authority official, who were acting in collusion.

The revelation set off shock waves and led to the dismissal of Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz, but the High Court decided to give her another chance, so she’s back on the bench (with some temporary restrictions).

Stories like these chip away at the public’s confidence in the country’s law enforcement system. And when people no longer believe in their police, prosecutors or courts, that’s cause for concern, whether you’re left or right, secular or religious.