An Israeli Arab’s encounter with Jaffa’s finest
‘You’re suspected of stealing a motorcycle,’ one of the cops said as he beat me. I told him I owned the bike and I was the one who’d called the police, but he kept calling me ‘Mohammed” and two other cops started kicking me.
You never know how an evening might turn out that begins with an intimate dinner along the Israeli sea. The Manta Ray restaurant, located where Tel Aviv and Jaffa meet, was full on that Sunday evening three weeks ago, as it always is, with the elegant, international clientele that frequents it. The fish that I ordered was delicious and the atmosphere was serene. There was no hint I would end the evening wallowing in my own blood, humiliated and in restraints.
Because I had drunk a little over dinner and the sun had not yet set, I decided to take a walk on the seafront promenade and leave my motorcycle at the restaurant, which I had driven there. A short time later I got a call from a friend who works there. “Michael, listen,” he said. “Your motorcycle isn’t here. I think it’s been stolen.”
Because I was no longer near the restaurant, I called my brother, Peter, and asked him to go to Manta Ray. He rushed to the area and after talking to several passersby, told me that some of them had seen people dragging the motorcycle away.
In the past, every time the pampered cats that hang around outside the café that I own in an expensive, mixed Arab-Jewish part of Jaffa spread themselves out on my motorcycle, I would get a notification from my alarm company. But this time, even though the cycle was dragged a considerable distance, I never heard from them. I called the company to notify them of the theft, but a short time later I was pleased to be informed that Peter had already found it — thrown on a sidewalk. My helmet was missing.
I grabbed a cab and called the police to let them know that the motorcycle had been found, and I asked that they come to take fingerprints. It was already dark when I saw three men in civilian clothes approach me. In truth, I didn’t attach any particular importance to them. My sights were set in the distance, looking to see if the police were getting close.
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The three men came closer and one of them started rushing at me. With great force, he knocked me to the ground, turned me over and handcuffed me. He identified himself as a policeman and started punching me in the back. Three or four other men showed up suddenly behind my brother, who was standing closer to the motorcycle. They pounced on him, handcuffed him and started hitting him. One of the men also called for reinforcements.