Get this straight: Israel is in a constant state of turmoil, political infighting and worn-on-the-skeeve angst--and we're not even talking about the tensions (or worse) between the Jews and the Arabs.
Israel is beautiful in many ways, but it does gets downright goofy over there, as I witnessed during my recent adventure as a player for the USA Master's Fastpitch Softball team at the 2009 Maccabiah Games.
Police from the city of Petah Tikva actually raided the ballfield during a game between Israel and Mexico because the sponsors apparently hadn't gotten the proper permits.
One of the older Israeli players asked me during the Games about living in Arizona in the same jurisdiction as "that loudmouth guy who puts people in pink underwear."
You mean Joe Arpaio? I asked him.
Yeah, my pal replied, telling me that Arpaio has been on television here, and that
"we" can't believe what we're seeing, what with the jailhouse tortures, raids and general craziness.
What a joke, the Israeli said, except that it's not.
By the way, when my friend said `we' he meant law enforcement, not Israelis in general. He is a very high-ranking member of the equivalent of our Secret Service.
The dude has more battlefield experience than he would care to remember. To call him pro-law enforcement and pro-military doesn't quite do it justice.
Anyway, I got an e-mail from him this morning after he read news accounts of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raid of a county office a few blocks from the jail. The deputies confiscated computers said to contain info that the powers-that-be at MCSO had wanted for some time, but had been barred by a judge from getting.
In part, he wrote, "As you know, crazy things happen over here [in Israel] that make little sense, like the deal at the softball field. But it sounds to me like you've got this guy running totally amuck in your city. Raiding government offices sounds like what happens in banana republics. Is he mentally stable? Who works for him? Is he popular? Are the other agencies just letting him go wild? I don't know if it is safe to live there. Is it?"
As to the last question about the safety of life in Maricopa County under the Arpaio regime, I replied, "Not really," and let it go at that.