Criminal Criminology in Israel

For those who might not know, Israel will be holding a conference entitled “Pink Crime?Women, Crime and Punishment” on 30 May 2011. As the title implies it is all about female criminality: women as drug use offenders and drug traffickers, women murders, etc., as well as how the media covers female offenders. This is an international conference, drawing to it not only Israeli criminologists but also scholars and researchers from abroad. The United Kingdom and the United States will each have at least two participants.

One might ask what the big deal is? True, the internationals are ignoring a growing boycott of Israel by various elements of civil society. True, the Israeli criminologists should actually be giving priority to their government’s criminal acts. True, there is something sexist about the entire affair. What is so unique about crime committed by women? Why “Pink”? Still, there is something else that marks this gathering as out of the ordinary. The “Pink Crime”Conference is being held at an illegal Israeli settlement sitting on stolen Palestinian land. It is scheduled for the “University Center” in the settlement of Ariel on the occupied West Bank. To put it more directly, Israel is to hold in conference on crime in a criminal place.

The Israelis do these sort of things? the kind of things that blur the lines between the seemingly normal and the abnormal?a lot. For instance, back in early August 2010, I wrote a piece on the eviction of 200 Bedouin Israeli citizens in the village of al-Arakib. Kicking non-Jews out of their homes is quite “normal” in Israel. Then it was revealed that the Israeli authorities were using busloads of high school aged “police civilian guards” to “extract” the residences’ “furniture and belongings” prior to bulldozing the houses. During this process these kids “smashed windows and mirrors…and defaced family photographs” with apparent impunity. The use of high school kids in this capacity is that added touch of Israeli abnormality.

Higher Crimes

If Israel’s criminologists want to get serious about their society’s problems there are a myriad number of issues, touching on higher crimes, that they could take up?and do so at any number of sites within Israel’s 1967 border. Most of the outside world would deem those locales legitimate (despite they too having been stolen from the Palestinians). Here is a run down of just a few of the current felonies that should interest a serious Israeli investigator of criminal behavior:

1. The recent revelation by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper of the illegal and surreptitious cancelling of the residency rights of 140,000 Palestinians who traveled abroad between 1967 and 1994. Most of these travelers, legal residents of the Occupied Territories, were going to visit relatives or to study abroad. Upon departure they were required to surrender their id cards. When they tried to return they were permanently denied entrance. A conscientious Israeli criminologist should easily recognize this as criminal behavior under the Geneva Conventions.

2. The collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza. The use of a draconian land and sea blockade against Gaza since 2007 and the drastic reduction of the standard of living of over a million and a half people is so blatantly criminal it just cries out for attention by Israeli criminologists. Yet they can, with apparent easy conscience, prioritize “pink crime” while their own government is replicating the Warsaw Ghetto within easy driving distance.

3. The on-going nationwide campaign to suppress academic freedom, free expression and dissent by a growing number of right wing organizations with friendly government connections. These groups harass and seek the firing of any Israeli educator who is publically critical of official policies toward the Palestinians. If this sort of behavior is not illegal, it certainly ought to be. Asked if he “feared for the future of Israeli democracy?” the Israeli academic Neve Gordon answered, “We don’t have to imagine a dark future, we’re already there. Democracy is severely curtailed, we’re on a dark path, and unless something radical happens….I think that within not so many years, the last remnants of Israeli democracy might be lost.” Given that Israel claims that its government institutions are democratically based, is not the undermining of democracy a criminal act?maybe even an act of treason?

Inevitable Consequences?

The probability is just about nil that any of the “Pink Crime” criminologists (Israeli or otherwise) will even notice that a) by participating in the conference at Ariel they are accessories to a crime or b) their expertise is desperately needed to check the illegal behavior of the Israeli nation at large. They all appear to be wearing tight fitting moral blinkers that confine their worldviews. What is obviously illegal and abnormal from the outside looking in, is legal and normal on the inside the conferees share. And indeed, as Gordon suggests, the consequences of this tunnel vision lay not in the future. It is with the Israelis right now. A recent poll of Israeli teenage youth found that 60% of them believe that the rule of law is less important than “strong” leadership. Fully 70% see “state security,” which presumably includes maintaining the state’s “Jewish” nature, as more important than “democratic values.” This is a strong indication that Israel’s democracy is fast transforming itself into something much more autocratic for all its citizens, and not just the Palestinians.

Actually this outcome is almost inevitable. If you create a country for one narrowly defined group only you are going to end up with a discriminatory psychology and corresponding policies toward out-group elements. The larger the percentage of out-group folks there are in the general population the more strident the discrimination is likely to be. Presently, the Total Fertility Rate for the majority Israeli Jews is 2.90 and for minority (presently around 21% of the population) Israeli Arabs 3.73. Education in support of institutionalized discrimination and, of course, its actual consistent enforcement will, in turn, brutalize the dominant in-group. Since 1917 and the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, Zionists have purposely molded a discriminatory society for themselves. The behavior we now witness, both from the Israeli government and the majority of its Jewish citizens, is the abnormal and often criminal product of that effort. You reap what you sow.

The Outside Consequences

But, as we well know, things are even worse. The Zionists, through the use of their lobbies in the United States and Europe, have drawn the Western governments into their world. They have used money and political scare tactics to cause Western politicians and officials to support what the Israelis decree as normal and legal. And since the average voting Western citizen’s default position is one of ignorance and disinterest to happenings beyond their local sphere, there is little or no constituency counter pressure to this process of Zionist corruption. It is not only the “Pink Crime” internationals booking into Ariel who are aiding and abetting the breaking of international law, it is also just about every Western government. Things are pretty bleak.

Alas, none of this is very original. The great 18th century historian Edward Gibbon once commented that “history…is indeed little more than the register of crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind” (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 2001 edition, page 335, section 6). Does that mean that Israel’s abnormal behavior is really normal? No, it does not. Mankind, even though historically prone to “crimes, follies and misfortunes” still knows them for what they are and can label them as behavior to be avoided and, when possible, punished. We do this all the time on the domestic front. What we need to do is start taking the breaking of international law as seriously as we do the breaking of domestic law. And, do so not just for the trespasses of the small time political crooks of the third world who end up before the International Criminal Court now and again. Enough with the double standards already! Go after the big time crooks, at home and abroad, who have the capacity to intimidate and manipulate our own governments. When it comes to that category of criminals one place to look is Israel.

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University in West Chester PA.

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Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University in West Chester, PA.

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