Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Expulsion of Migron and the SPU

This is a hilarious classic comedy sketch from the British comedy series “Not the Nine O’clock News” featuring Griff Rhys Jones and Rowan Atkinson.

The punch line “…this is why I’m transferring you to the SPG…” is only understandable by those who lived in Britain in the 1970s and 80s. The SPG was a very controversial special Police unit to combat public unrest, named the “Special Patrol Group”. The unit was deployed to confront possible riot situations. Because they were trained in anti-riot techniques and crowd control, using non-standard police equipment that made them look like a South American Para Military force, they quickly became very unpopular and were seen as an affront to the British way of life. In 1987, after a public outcry due to a series of controversial court cases and accusations of brutality brought against the force, they were disbanded.

Photo shows Police tackling protesters in the Southall riots in April 1979 - Blair Peach, an anti-fascist protestor, received a fatal blow to the head minutes after the Special Patrol Group arrived at the scene. A Police report determined that he was killed by a member of the SPG although no officer was ever arrested.

Although it is tempting to see a need for such a force in times of crisis, at least in Britain, the consensus was that the danger to freedom, justice and democracy outweighed any possible advantage of having such a police unit.

Now look at this video taken on the 6th September 2011 in the Jewish settlement of Migron.

I have to say that I was shocked to the core and deeply ashamed after watching this, that anything like this could happen in Israel. This Police unit, known as the ”Yechida Siur Meyuchedet” (a direct translation being “The Special Patrol Unit”) or “Yasam” for short, has the almost identical  name to the British force which was disbanded all those years ago. This unit is an insult to everything we hold dear in Judaism and the State of Israel.

I would hope that anyone watching this video, whether left or right wing, religious or not, must surely condemn the existence of such a unit within Israel’s police force.

They seem to be made of trained inhumane thugs who have been given a license to be a law unto themselves.

They have no name tags and refuse to divulge their names which means that unwarranted assaults and abuse carried out by these men will go unpunished.

What happened in Migron is unacceptable in any freedom loving democratic country which claims to have a civilised legal system with full citizen’s rights. There needs to be a public outcry from everyone who believes in even basic human rights of Israeli citizens to dismantle this unit.

A leftwing friend at work said that being that this occured "over the Green Line" and not "in Israel proper" so regular civil rights do not apply and that in certain situations, the police must have the power to use more force than would usually be acceptable, if only to protect themselves and prevent a potentially dangerous situation. You know what, I can understand what he was saying but, and this is a huge BUT! No one, but no one should be beyond the law. There must be a way to hold these men accountable if and when they cross the line.

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