I was "invited" into talk with the Shabba"k (General Security Services) Tuesday, apparently as part of its investigation into the attack on Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, which took place a couple of weeks ago.
I hadn't even heard of this professor until I heard about the attack on him. I hadn't even known his name, until the Shabba"k agents mentioned it. That's surprising, as Ariel Ben-Yochanan reports that this attack received much more media coverage than the attack on 9-year-old Tovia Shtatman of Yitzhar who was stabbed weeks ago by an Arab terrorist who managed to infiltrate the town. At least that was the case in Israel's mainstream news sources.
The Shabba"k agents who spoke with me began by asking me general questions about myself. I got sucked into the idea that if I talked about myself then I would be able to avoid talking about anyone else,...even though I have nothing to say about anyone anyway. I kept talking about myself. Eventually, they brought me to the topic of the poster which was found regarding the attack on Prof. Sternhell. They said very clearly that they know that I had nothing to do with it.
Um,...gee, I hope so, as I never heard the guy's name until that meeting.
They are pretty clever interrogators. It was hard to know when to stop. One minute I was talking about how I arrived in K'far Tapu'ah, and the next the topic was that of the Sanhedrin.
The agents also said they wanted to see me again. They did not seem to want me to talk about this with anyone. But I never agreed to this condition. They told me that if anyone asked why they wanted to meet with me, I should tell people that it was concerning the poster found in the area of the attack. Personally, I think they may be trying to find Jews to work for them.
I would tell you more details of what was discussed, so that I can point out all of the mistakes I made. But the truth is that talking to them at all was a mistake. I was advised to tell as many people as I could that I spoke with them. So, perhaps, no one will ever trust me again. But I doubt that the Shabba"k has much use for a patpatan (chatterbox), which I told them I was three times during the interview.
I sought legal advice, which resulted in being scolded [sort of] over the phone for talking to them in the first place. I was also told that I had no obligation to talk with them, and to tell them that I did not want to talk them, and that's it.
Another attorney sent me a copy of Know Your Legal Rights! A guide to protecting Jewish civil liberties in the land of Israel by Noam Federman.
I was told by one friend that the Shabba"k wants people to feel that the focus is on them, that they're all alone. So, when I showed up to Shabbath lunch today, and was asked how I was, my response, was good, because I have my friends. I am not alone.
A Voice Of Judea e-mail I recently received describes their current activities well:
Witch Hunt Continues Against Right Wing Nationalists in IsraelSome, like David Wilder , Hevron community spokesman seem to believe that the Shabba"k itself engineered the attack:
The Israeli Shin Bet continues to interrogate "settlers" and known nationalists throughout Israel in a monumental effort to find suspects for the recent explosion of a small pipe-bomb outside of Professor Sternhell's Jerusalem home.
Agents identifying themselves as "Ron" and "Guy" have been working overtime interrogating, harassing and threatening dozens of people who are believed to maintain right-wing nationalist views.
Additionally, over recent days, police investigators from the anti-Jewish units have been stopping and interviewing any "new faces" in a continued effort to instill fear in the hearts of new residents and visitors in "settlements" and hilltops throughout Judea and Samaria. New comers are asked to identify themselves, and often brought in for random questions and to ascertain if they are interested in enlisting as informants against "right wing extremists".
Police detectives in the special anti-Jewish squads are often put on traffic detail near "problematic" "settlements" such as Tapuach and Yitzhar to attempt to find traffic offenses in cars driven by known activists.
Voice of Judea Commentary:
Ironically, the more the police leak information about the Sternhell incident the more obvious it is becoming that the perpetrators have nothing to do with the nationalist camp. For example, the flier that was allegedly left on the scene does not have the traditional "beEzrat Hashem" marking on the top of the page. Also, the name of the group that supposedly took credit, refers to themselves as the "Mamlachti" brigade, a term that is anathema to any hardcore right wing nationalist.
Sternhell is an old nutty professor who likes media attention. Could it be that the nut placed the pipe-bomb to get some attention? Could it be a leftist provocation? Arabs are killing Jews and plotting attacks daily, and these morons continue to waste millions of dollars to harass innocent people who they have no evidence whatsoever to connect to Sternhell in any way.
The right needs to challenge the harassment and selective treatment in the courts constantly. This is one of the reasons a group of young activists have enrolled in law schools in Israel to master the system that is so regularly used and abused to neutralize legitimate and legal right wing activities.
Sponsors who are interested in helping these activists finance law school and living expenses while they study are welcome to call Yekutiel 0544876709
Delegitimizaion of the right in preparation for continued abandonment of Eretz Yisrael and expulsion of Jews from their homes or in expectation of Oslo War – Round three – and guess who's to blame?
The Israeli Government (shades of Avhshai Raviv!!!) and to conclude – who might really have done it? My friends, this is a classic Shabak (Israeli intelligence) kindergarten exercise: Let's make the other side look bad. Leave a small bomb at his home, causing little damage but making a 'big bang' (remember – Srak srak), and then let the Rottweilers (Israel radio, television, internet, etc) out of their cages. And then let public opinion gobble up all those nasty right wingers. And then…. Israel will continue playing 'let's make a deal,' without anyone to disturb the game.
I wonder what they will think of my blog, if they know about it, one of the issues that came up in the interview was that of free speech, and that the professor's free speech should be protected, whether one agreed with it or not.
Will my free speech be protected or will it now be subject to scrutinization? Do I now have to be careful about what I write? We already know that at least one [English-speaking] blogger has been taken in for questioning by the Shabba"k.
Well, now that I actually see some of the things the good professor has written, I no longer think that all of his speech should be protected.
In an article in Ha'Aretz on May 11, 2001 [he] wrote,
"There is no doubt regarding the legitimacy of the armed resistance in the territories themselves. If the Palestinians had a bit of sense, they would concentrate their struggle against the settlements…"
And in the Davar newspaper in April, 1988
"Fascism cannot be stopped with rational arguments. This can be stopped only by force, and when there is willingness to risk a civil war. When necessary, we shall have to forcibly deal with the settlers in Ofra or in Elon Moreh. Only a person who is willing to advance against Ofra with tanks will be capable of curbing the fascist drift that threatens to inundate Israeli democracy."
Sounds like incitement to me. I don't happen to see how killing him, though, would help matters.
And so, as I write this I await the Shabba"k's phone call. Will they come after me anyway? Will I lose my job, when I am late, or a "no-show" at work, and don't even call? I know at least one person who had this happen to him.
It doesn't matter; it can't matter. All through Yom Kippur I thought about whether I was to be more afraid of HaQadosh Barukh Hu or of mere human beings. The answer is clear.
I guess I'll find out what they can actually do to me. Either they will send the police out to bring me in, and hold me for a while, or realize that there really isn't any point to it. One colleague suggested the Shabba"k functioned like the agents of Latin American juntas. I hope not. But if so, there's nothing I can do about that. Stayed tuned...
In the meantime, please keep me, Ya'aqov Yonathan ben Bashah, along with all of Am Yisrael in your prayers.
We are living in difficult and confusing times, but we'll get through it, b'Ezrath HaShem.
Shabba"k Encounter Update