Integrating Arab Security in Israeli Policing
"They are not going to disappear, and hopefully we are not, either."
"[The challenge in enlisting more Arab Israelis into the police force is how to do it in a sensitive manner; to manage it] for them and not against them."
Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, Israel
"My cousin was a shepherd. Now look at him: He has a house. He has a future."It would seem to make sense that enlisting more Arab-Israelis into the Israel police force units will alter the mentality that Mr. Odeh complains about. It is more than reasonable to assume that enlisting from among Arabs will result in a police force knowledgeable about the Arab street in Israel, aware of cultural attitudes that Jewish Israeli police are not sensitized to, and in knowing what and who they are dealing with, Arab-Israeli police are better able to handle crime in areas and within demographics they are familiar with.
Ahmad Sarhan, Arab-Israeli police recruit hopeful, 22
"More police isn't the solution. Changing the mentality of the police is."
Ayman Odeh, MK, leader, Arab lawmakers bloc, Parliament
Last year, according to the Abraham Fund Initiatives (a group promoting coexistence of Palestinians and Jewish citizens) Arabs were charged in fully 58 percent of robberies, 32 percent of burglaries and 27 percent of drug-trafficking cases; obviously disproportional to their numbers in Israeli society. In Arab communities, sixty percent of the murders that Israel suffers, take place. It stands to reason that Mr. Erdan's plan represents a worthwhile and obvious effort to try to solve the prevalence of violence in Arab-Israeli communities.
"The police don't care for the Arabs", Amneh Freij countered bitterly. Her 24-year-old son Suhaib was shot to death last year in the Arab town of Kafr Qasim. Her husband Mohammed, just happens to be the deputy mayor of Kafr Qasim. Very often, Arab citizens who know things useful to aid police in solving violent crimes will not divulge the information they have to police when requests are made to the public for assistance. Yet even when a young man is killed whose father is a local authority, clues are not shared. The young man's killer remains unknown and at large.
Now, in response to this initiative by Israel's public security minister, 700 Israeli-Arabs have made application to join the police force. It is expected that about 200 of those applicants would likely qualify for positions. This will represent an entirely new experience for many; names like Mohammad Hreib, Ghadeer Ghadeer, Munis Huwari and Arafat Hassanein are preparing to take the police academy exam.
Currently representing 1.5 percent of the 30,000 national police force, Mr. Erdan visualizes a hoped-for recruitment success in bringing in 1,350 new recruits of Arab origin. There are currently 1.7 million Arab citizens of Israel. The under-representation of Arab Muslims on the police force is a source of resentment within the Arab community, as well as a reason why many crimes among the Palestinians go unsolved.
One long-serving Muslim officer has been promoted by Mr. Erdan to the unprecedented position of deputy commissioner, the second-highest rank on the force. Highlighting this man as a sterling example of just how high a reach an Arab can ascend as an esteemed and capable member of the police force. The goal is to build trust among a demographic in which trust is in too-short supply.
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