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While the Israeli government continues to discuss cracking down on foreign funding for subversive NGOs, the Egyptian junta did just that on a whim. Forty activists, half of them Americans, have been indicted.

Beyond rhetoric, the White House did nothing.

Netanyahu declared that further peace talks with Palestinian Arabs will be useless if Fatah signs a reconciliation accord with Hamas.

Well, the talks have been fruitless for decades, but that has nothing to do with any Fatah-Hamas agreement. We negotiated with the Arabs when they had a single government before their rift in Gaza.

An Israeli bankThe Knesset hearing on the current wave of bank robberies revealed two things: there is no “wave”; the number of robberies is below the historical norm, and only 10% of bank robbers are eventually indicted.

The second issue is important as it demonstrates the inability of police to deal with professional crimes with white gloves. Forbidden from planting evidence or applying pressure to suspects, and facing the highest standards of doubt in the courts, the police cannot prove their accusations in cases where robbers have worn masks and gloves. Alternatively, the police can charge them with other offenses, which usually carry lesser sentences.

The low number of indictments also reflects a cozy relationship between police and criminal gangs, one in which control is deemed more important than crackdown.

There is another dimension to the problem. Bank protection is very expensive compared to other police activities. Why should society expend disproportionate resources on protecting banks, which are perfectly capable of arranging their own security?

February 2012
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