Police Violence in Israel-the case of Jafar Farah
In the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to explore Israeli current events in the way that they relate to IRAC’s issues. As an American Jew living in Israel, my focus has been primarily on the issues of religious pluralism and gender discrimination, as these are the issues that I see most clearly living here. An issue I have not explored as much is the treatment of Arab citizens in Israel, and following last week’s arrest of protesters in Haifa, I felt the need to address the issue now.
Last Friday, Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center (an equal rights organization for Israeli Arabs) was arrested during a protest against the IDF’s actions in Gaza. Farah’s leg was broken while in police custody, and following his release, he declared his intent to sue the police for the damages caused to him. The arrest and subsequent injury of Farah could be an indicator of police brutality in Israel, an issue that is often in the spotlight in the US.
Israel and the US are both open societies, and allow for free expression of ideas through protest. In the US, there have been many protests over the past few years against police brutality, specifically the killings of unarmed black men. I have seen many different reactions to these protests, with some saying they are an expression of constitutional rights, while others claim that they are disturbing the peace. Even though I may not agree with what Farah and others are protesting for, I fully believe in their right to hold these protests.
IRAC has since responded to the treatment of Farah, and, together with 37 other organizations, they sent a letter to the Attorney General, demanding he investigate police action taken against Farah. IRAC has worked with the Mossawa Center in the past, as partners in our lawsuit against Avodah Ivrit. By supporting the investigation of police actions against Farah, IRAC is not only helping someone who has helped them, but also supporting his rights as an Arab Israeli citizen.
Following Jafar Farah’s release, his son Bassel was quoted saying, “The only democracy in the Middle East does not need to break the leg of a protester while he is under arrest”. Israel’s police must do better in responding to protests such as these. Fortunately, IRAC and other organizations are working to hold the police accountable.
Until next time,