Esor Ben-Sorek
Esor Ben-Sorek

Protesting for Halak

An innocent 32-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem was gunned down by Israeli police. When he was ordered by their shouts to stop, his caretaker informed them that he was autistic and could not understand why they were chasing him.

Knowing that the young man had severe medical problems they nevertheless pursued him and shot him to death.

It is a tragedy that should not have happened if our police had listened to the caretaker. But over-zealous in their pursuit of what they imagined to be a possible terrorist they followed him and killed him.

He had been holding his cellphone which the police mistakenly thought was a gun.

Looking at the heart-breaking photo of Iyad Halak’s aged mother, tears streamed down her wrinkled cheeks, I could not remain untouched at the unnecessary murderous death of her beloved son. I am haunted by the grief portrayed in her photo. A mother in mourning for her son.

There was no record of violence in his history. He had never been involved in terrorist activities and lived a quiet life in his parents’ home.

He was killed by police bullets while he was on his way to the school where he studied with other autistic students.

There seems to be a rash of brutal police actions, rather, police crimes, around the world.

In the USA in the city of Minneapolis in state of Minnesota, a black man was murdered by a white policeman who put his knee on the man’s throat while the man cried out that he could not breathe.

The white policeman continued to choke him by force until the man died. That police officer now faces the charge of murder in the first degree. His wife is divorcing him. Thousands of Americans across the continent are marching in protests against police brutality. Cities are being blazed. Fires are spreading from city to city. And good Americans are raising their voices to demand justice for the dead man and criminal punishment for the policeman who murdered him.

Angry Americans, whites and blacks, are marching to show their anger at police brutality.

The two cases are similar and yet different. The tragic results are the same… death by police murder.

I feel pain for the parents of Iyad Halak, a clean-cut handsome young man. I feel disgust for our Israel police who only saw an Arab running away from them.

I cannot protest with my feet because the feet do not know where to lead me. I therefore protest only with my poor but sincerely heartfelt words and I encourage other Israeli decent citizens (of whom there are many thousands) to raise voices in a protest against police brutality.

The police who were responsible for the death of Iyad Halak must be punished and removed from their positions in the Israel police force. They do not represent the honor and decency of our citizens.

Policemen need more training in sensitivity. The officers who murdered Iyad Halak had been informed prior to their shooting him that he was disabled. It fell on deaf ears of police anxious to rid Jerusalem of another Arab… a completely innocent one.

I look at the photo of his grieving mother. I do not see an Arab woman. I see a Jewish mother wailing in grief for the death of her son, and I have compassion for her. My words of sympathy cannot heal her wounds. They can only make me feel a little better that I was humane enough to feel her sorrow… that a Jew can feel the pain of a non-Jew, that a Jew can feel remorse for the death of a young and innocent man.

There have been too many reports of police brutality not only in Israel or the United States but also with countries of the European Union. We must endeavor to put a stop to it by showing our support for innocent men and women brutalized and killed by supposed up-holders of the law.

I extend comfort to the grieving parents of young Iyad Halak. I would wish that their grief could be washed away. But that is an impossibility. The death of a child never heals the heart of parents.

May God shelter them in His presence. Blessed be the memory of their beloved son.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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