Well-known Israeli investigative reporter for the Maariv Hebrew daily, Kalman Liebskind, had a Kafkaesque story to report this week, and the subject of the article was himself.
“Driving down the road that leads to our home in Gimzu, I heard the first bang”, he wrote in Hebrew in his weekly column. “ My wife, Ilana, who was driving behind me with some of our children, had gotten a direct hit to the front window of her car. By some miracle, the window didn’t shatter, but the rock hit the part of the window that was a little over a foot from my son’s head. I could hardly believe it was true. Rocks? On our road? An asteroid hitting us seemed more probable than rock throwing 100 yards from our home.”
Gimzu is a middle class, religious Zionist suburban community (moshav) located near the cities of Modiin and Lod, not in Judea or Samaria.
He continues: “Everyone piled into my car and we drove out of the community. The instant we reached the place where the rocks had been thrown, we heard another bang. This time the rock hit the front fender, and this time we saw who was throwing the rocks, a youth who looked around 18 and was standing about 3 yards away. He ran off with an accomplice into the wooded area nearby. We discovered only later that two other women had had rocks thrown at them shortly beforehand.”
Liebeskind and his neighbors called the police, who took some time to reach the community, but then went out to the wooded area with them to search for the rock throwers. They came upon a campfire with about 20 Israeli Arab young men from Lod and their bearded teachers or counselors wearing Muslim dress and headgear. “If we want to, we can burn all of Gimzu” said one of them to the shocked Israeli Jews.
The Arabs informed the police that they had left a mosque in Lod after hearing a lecture on the Koran and continued on their way to make a campfire. They had vandalized the woods by spraying the trees with Arabic words. "The police did not question anyone and only arrested the rock thrower whom we could identify," LIebeskind wrote.
Later in the week, Liebeskind received a call from the Lod Police Department asking him to come in to help complete the investigation of the incident. To his astonishment, within a short time of arriving there, he found himself being accused formally, under “suspicion of threatening the Arabs with a weapon” and heard an officer tell him “you don’t have to respond. Anything you say may be used against you.”
“Where did this ridiculous idea come from?” he asked the police officers. It turned out that the Arab who had thrown the stones and his friends had filed a complaint claiming that Liebeskind threatened them. The journalist suggested asking 50 people in Gimzu to serve as character witnesses for him. "That's useless, they will be your friends and not objective," was the response. "And these Arabs who threw stones at me and know that I filed a complaint against them are objective?" he rejoined. To no avail. After an hour of questioning, he found himself measured, photographed, fingerprinted and freed under personal recognizance.
Humiliated, the journalist described himself as shocked by the possibility that the police might believe the offender's version of what had occurred to him.
He had found himself in a situation that has happened often to residents of Judea and Samaria, who often find themselves falsely accused in the mainstream media, including the newspaper for which Liebeskind works, of crimes perpetrated by Arabs, from stealing and destroying olive trees to burning sheep and throwing rocks.