By: HaRav Menashe Sasson
מאת: הרב מנשה ששון
The comedy of errors, resulting from incompetence and worse, that is the Israel government, never seems to end.
The one, and only, police department in Israel falls under the purview of the Ministry of National Security. The Israel Police department is commanded by a Police Commissioner. Israel is subdivided into police districts, based on geography. Each district is commanded by a District Commander, who is responsible to the Police Commissioner.
Recently, a political protest was held in Jerusalem. Some of those who participated in the protest set rubber tires ablaze near the Prime Minister’s official residence and blocked both a major highway and a light-rail public transportation line.
Following the protest, the National Security Minister verbally reprimanded the Jerusalem District police commander for the failure of Jerusalem police to maintain control over the protest. In response, the Police Commissioner issued a statement which reads in relevant part, “The Commissioner backs the Jerusalem District . . . for standing firm and exercising discretion in dealing with the protest and the subsequent breach of order.”
There are at least two glaring problems with these events. The first is that of a failure to utilize the chain-of-command. The National Security Minister, who was appointed by his political party, a party which was elected by Israeli voters, is responsible for establishing policy for government agencies, such as the Israel Police Department, which, organizationally, are within the Ministry of National Security. Thus, the National Security Minister should have reprimanded the Police Commissioner, not the Jerusalem District police commander. This was a “rookie” ministerial mistake, although not a serious one.
The second, and by far the most serious, problem is that of the response which was published by the Police Commissioner, who said that he “backs,” that is supports, the actions for which the Jerusalem District [police commander] had just been reprimanded.
The Police Commissioner’s insubordinate public statement is nothing short of a refusal by the Police Commissioner, an appointed civil servant, albeit a powerful one, to acknowledge and accept the authority of the elected, political elements of government.
In a democracy, those who wield the power of the sword (e.g., police and military) must always submit to the authority and control of the political officers of government. If they do not, what will exist is a totalitarian state, not a democracy.
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