I am 80 years old and belong to the generation of Jews who were joyous to witness the birth of Israel in 1948. We regarded the new state as embodying democratic principles that respected human rights, particularly those who were in the minority. Our experiences living in Christian America or Russia or France or Germany made Jews sensitive to issues concerning human rights. Fast forward to 2010 and arrive in the state of Israel which currently is led by fanatic religious folk who regard Muslims as inferior creatures who are not entitled to fair trials. A petition demanding that Shin Bet security service release figures on the extent to which it prohibits detainees from meeting with lawyers has been rejected by the High Court of Justice(I doubt if judges captured the ironic aspect of their name and their ruling). The court accepted arguments by the government that revealing the number of detainees who were denied access to a lawyer somehow threatened the security of Israel.
According to a study released last month by the Public Committee Against Torture In Israel, and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Security between 70% to 90% of Palestinian prisoners are interrogated by Shin Bet without prior having access to a lawyer. It is common for such detainees to be forbidden to speak with a lawyer for almost a year.
I understand that Israel’s government shouts the battle cry of “state security” for every issue that might create any problem for interrogators. Oh well, the dream of a democratic Israel has died in fear.