Sunday, July 6, 2014

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Police statement regarding the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir:

Police announced they have identified the suspects they believe brutally murdered 16 year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The police have not released the identities of the suspects. A total of 6 suspect were initially arrested. From the initial six, three have been released. The three have been identified as Jews. Some of them are minors. They are currently being interrogated by the Shabak (General Security Service). They have not yet been charged with the murder, and the investigation is still considered as ongoing.

In another month, I will have lived in Israel for 21 years. Not quite half my life, but getting there. There are things, fundamental beliefs that I brought with me and carry always. Among the concepts that I carried with me when I moved to Israel was the concept that a human being is innocent until proven guilty. There are many things that can prove someone guilty.

I don't have to wait until the moment that the courts announce the verdict (although that is usually recommended), but to say someone is guilty, there must be some evidence. The mere fact that the police have pulled in suspects, even under arrest does not mean guilt.

The police, according to this statement pulled in six and the released three. Clearly, it states that there have been no charges and yet several websites and several of my Facebook friends have jumped in to announce their remorse that Jews committed this crime and urge us as a nation to accept the horrible implications of that burden.

And one post that really bothered me, on a site that I truly respect - Israellycool, was written by one of its contributors, Brian Of London, in Arrests that Send Shivers:

All we can do is add our voices of disgust and revulsion, pending an actual trial and conviction, that this act of senseless violence be committed by Jews no matter what the claimed provocation.

How about waiting until they are even charged, my heart cries out. They write:

Jews kill in self-defense and defensive wars. That’s it. We do not kill random Arab children as retribution even when our own children are plucked from the roads and murdered.

And I agree. I will be happy and relieved when the police catch the murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir because he was an innocent that didn't deserve to die. If it was Arabs that murdered him, I will "celebrate" because I'll be thankful that Jews didn't do it and that the culture of death that I have seen so often will be shown to the world.

More, it will relieve me of the horrible fear that Jew could do such a terrible thing when I want to believe, so desperately, that we are the people of life, not death. We cherish all children - our own and everyone's. We celebrate justice, not death. Abu Khdeir didn't deserve to die.

I mourn the death of any innocent child - Arab, Christian, Jew, Hindu, whatever. And here, I will be honest enough to admit that I would not mourn the death of an Arab caught trying to shoot, stab, firebomb, explode someone or whatever, even if was 16 years old, because I don't consider this an innocent, a non-combatant, if you will.

But Mohammed was, by all accounts, innocent and I am so sorry for his family and for the life that was taken from him. Mohammed's death is just as wrong, just as criminal, just as much murder, as the deaths of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. His death is no less a tragedy than theirs and he deserves to be honored and mourned and remembered no less. If it is Jews that murdered Abu Khdeir, I won't celebrate.

On the contrary, I will be choked with fury because I don't believe Jews behave this way. We don't burn people, we don't murder, we don't celebrate murder. We don't harm children. As an Observant Jew, I will say that if a religious person cheats and is dishonest - to me, that means despite the outer trappings, the person isn't religious.

Being religious doesn't mean you are perfect just as not being religious doesn't mean you are a bad person. The point of religious law is to help you be a better person or better than you might be without the strict and moral laws to guide you and shape you. As an Observant Jew, this means we should cherish our children and condemn victimizing a child in any way.

It is a well-known fact that my society does not produce or promote suicide bombers; we do not encourage our children to be martyrs. Does this mean I claim a moral superiority as one Facebook person claimed? I believe we have a moral obligation to hold ourselves, as individuals, to the highest possible moral standards. It is unfair that others hold us to a standard higher than they practice for themselves and wrong for us to endanger.

Our laws tell us that we should not murder. This is often mistranslated as a commandment not to kill. But there are times when we are commanded to kill - for example, if someone attempts to murder you, you have an obligation to kill them if you can; and you have a moral obligation not to murder an innocent to save yourself from being killed.

The concept of moral superiority is not what we promote. Rather, we believe in the individual obligation to live up to all that we are capable of achieving. We do this because ultimately person by person, if we make this commitment, we will see that as a nation, we will deliver it.

So if we each commit to doing acts of kindness - not demanding it of our neighbors, but taking it upon ourselves to do this, we will, ultimately, be a kinder nation. If we teach our children to love others and to give them respect - not demand that others teach their children but focus on our own, won't the nation as a whole be raised to respect the rights and needs of others?

If at the end of the day, the murderers are Jewish, they will be guilty not only of hurting this innocent boy, which is one crime, and his family, which is another, but somewhere in there is the fact that they would have hurt the families of the three Israeli boys that somewhere in their sick and misguided minds they thought they were revenging.

They would have stolen the world's outrage and for that too, I would condemn them. I am a mother. I have brought five children into this world, worried over them ever minute of their lives. I have moved them across an ocean because I thought here they would have a better life, a more meaningful one.

I do not believe ANY child should be abused as Mohammed was, as Eyal was, as Gilad was, and as Naftali was. Each had their lives stolen from them and from their families and that theft...that murder is just as wrong and just as cruel, whether no matter which boy, family, or religion is involved.

But at this moment in time - this exact second - at 4:05 p.m. on July 6, 2014, what we know from the brief statement that has been released is this:

Six were arrested. Three have been released. The three remaining suspects have been identified as Jews. This means that we already know that the three who were released were not involved or not involved enough to be of interest at this time to the police.

Some of them are minors. They are currently being interrogated by the Shabak (General Security Service). They have not yet been charged with the murder, and the investigation is still considered as ongoing. They have not been charged. By all that I was raised to believe, we have no right at this moment to condemn them, to assume their guilt.

The investigation is ongoing - the police need more time. For all those who have run to announce their agony to the world, you have trampled the fundamental principle that is justice. The guilty must be punished, but so too, the innocent must be protected and someone is innocent, until they are proven guilty. Perhaps they will soon be charged.

Perhaps too, they are even guilty. But the reality is, at this moment - perhaps their last few moments before an announcement is made, it is their right to be presumed innocent.

This site that I respect so much made this statement in the comments of the post:

Once this started being reported in the Israeli media, we felt it pivotal to post on this with our condemnation.

And I would counter that it is exactly at this time that it is of pivotal importance that we not condemn. Or, more precisely, we condemn only that which we know must be condemned - and that is the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. If we are to believe in justice, if we are to be a nation of justice and not a nation of lawless chaos, we cannot at this moment condemn those who were arrested but not charged.

We cannot condemn the society - Jewish or Muslim - that birthed these suspects. At least until they are charged. At least until the police announce that a conviction is merely a formal ratification of the evidence they have. Until that time, each tear we shed because Jews were arrested; each condemnation we give upon our society is a betrayal of justice. Justice must be served. The guilty must be punished. The innocent must be protected.

The innocent must be protected. Mohammed Abu Khdeir was innocent. Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were innocent. At this exact moment, so too are those three remaining suspects. That is justice, that is the society we must uphold and support.

5 comments:

Sammy Finkelman said...

What's important is that nobody should be pressed to make a decision yet as to who did it or what was the motive. And to do so is wrong, and any comments have no value.

This does not stem from any desire not to come down on one of "our own"

And the way the police have acted does not inspire confidence.

Sammy Finkelman said...

There could be conspiracies within conspiracies.

And people throwing in nonsense.

Sammy Finkelman said...

There could be conspiracies within conspiracies.

And people throwing in nonsense, like the idea the Arab teeneager was killed because of his alleged sexual orientation.

Leah said...

I do not believe for one minute that Jews did or *could* have murdered Mohammed Abu-Khder.

here's the scenario we are supposed to believe - a group of Jews went into an Arab town/neighborhood when all the Arabs are sitting around outside after Rammadan services at the mosque. (this is when it is a risk of life for Jews to enter Arab towns even to shop at the suk, or to even drive through Arab towns without stopping.) these Jews stop their car, talk to an Arab boy for a few minutes, force him into their car, and amazingly get out alive. no Arabs stop them, attack them, etc.

then it turns out that the boy was not just murdered but *burned alive*. and you are telling me that Jews would EVER do such a thing?

now - if the boy had been abducted while he was walking in downtown Jerusalem; and if he had been shot, not burned alive; then it would be possible to suspect Jews. but the above-mentioned MO *screams* that it was Arabs not Jews who did this.

add to this the fact that someone tried to abduct the boy's younger brother a few weeks ago; and that this is a "problematic family" that is "known to the police" - all points to the much-more-likely probability that this was an inter-clan vendetta. or the fact that he was apparently homosexual raises the possibility of an "honor killing". these scenarios are much more likely than the PREPOSTEROUS accusation of Jews.

however, after it is proven that the boy was killed by Arabs, the many news articles "suspecting Jews" will stick around on the internet forever. like Mohammed El Dura.

and regarding alleged "confessions" - in this case the Jewish "suspects", some of them minors, have been interrogated not just by the police but by the Shabak, which has refused to let them talk to their attorneys. do you know what that means? innocent people have "confessed" to things they didn't do, with less pressure.

http://honenu.org/six-detainees-banned-from-meeting-with-attorney/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=six-detainees-banned-from-meeting-with-attorney

Anonymous said...

Source for your facts that 3 were released? Sounds like more internet rumors masquerading as facts. Why are you contributing to the rumor mill with disinformation and made up stories?

"A Petah Tikva court ruled Sunday afternoon that five of the suspects will be held for an additional eight days, while the final suspect will be held for another five days."

http://www.timesofisrael.com/suspect-in-killing-of-east-jerusalem-teen-said-to-confess/

I'm guessing you won't post this comment and I'm guessing you won't correct your post.

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