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Friday, January 7, 2011

Difference Between the Prisoner and the Prison Guard

I'm sure that you've heard the saying that the only difference between the prisoner and the guard is the uniform.  That's based on the assumption that prison guards are sociologically and culturally a low class of police, that they have a lot in common with the violent prisoners.  It's a very tough, demanding job, and being gentle just isn't a qualification or requirement.

I never believed it until I heard the totally uncalled for verbal-plus violence of the bereaved families of the prison guard cadets who died in the bus accident during the Carmel fire last month.

As an Israeli, and no youngster, I'm no stranger to death, whether from terrorism, car accidents, war etc.  I'm sure that not only Israelis experience these tragedies.  I've been to more than my share of funerals and memorial ceremonies.  I'm always amazed at the quiet dignity displayed, even as tears are falling.  Most Israelis, at least in my circles, understand that bad things do happen to good people, as the saying goes.  Each family finds its own way of dealing with their tragedy, establishing projects etc., like my neighbor Moshe Keinan who led us marching to the Israeli President in Jerusalem after his son Avihu was killed in a badly planned army action.

One of the miracles of the Carmel fire was that besides the bus accident and subsequent deaths of the passengers, the prison guard cadets, there were almost no casualties.  Considering how much land was damaged and how quickly people had to escape, it was truly a miracle.  The media coordinated and initiated a "lynch" against the Minister Eli Yishai insisting that he was to blame for the fire and deaths, even though the head of the fire department insisted that Yishai had given them more support than his predecessors.  But, as usual, the media hasn't been interested in the truth.  They have their agenda and they're playing the bereaved families like philharmonic violinists.

The families want to blame the government for their losses, claiming that it should have been possible to save the bus passengers and stop the fire before it spread.  Unfortunately, that makes no sense, no sense at all.

I have blamed successive Israeli governments and the media for the drought which caused the fire.  We aren't getting sufficient rain, because we as a People are not obeying G-d.  Of course, you're not going to hear this from main stream Israeli media, but I have no doubt that it's true.  Winter is not a time for fires.  The land is supposed to be wet and covered with green.  But because the rains haven't come at the right time in the correct quantities the Carmel Forest burned and that's why the tragedy happened.

And as I heard the crowd screaming violently on the radio, all I could think of was that those cadets came from families who could be easily manipulated and that maybe it is true that the only difference between prison guards and inmates is their uniform.


JDL London Canada said...

I worked as a correctional officer at the federal level 16yrs ago and heard that same argument.It's not always true, plus we were a lot more, professional(which keeps down assaults against officers)elaborate and tactically skilled. We certainly did have anything in common with inmates or we'd be where they were; there is a stark difference. BTW I and two other inmates were the only Jews in the facility. I've also heard it said that policemen are just civilians with badges and some of them ended up as inmates in my facility. That said, I can understand the frustrations of the families. Let them vent - it will all pass ... I often wonder why the bus didn't turn around?

Anonymous said...

I understand that the bus DID indeed attempt to turn around but as the road was narrow a three-point-turn in a vehicle of that proportion just could not "make it in time". Unfortunately the term, "like wild fire" would pretty well describe the state of the unfortunate events. Alas! The flames consumed them "like wild fire". May their passing be a kapparah for Am Yisrael. Yehi zichrom baruch.
Bracha, Syd. Australia

Batya said...

It was a tragedy, but it wasn't the fault of Eli Yishai.