When Israeli border police arrested a young man at the Jerusalem Zoo in Copenhagen, the young man asked, “Can I go to the zoo?” and then left without answering.
I was in Copenhagen at the time, attending the Danish edition of the Jerusalem Post.
My friend, Shai Shvad, and I had come from Tel Aviv, where we’d been covering the Israel-Egypt peace process, and to see how Israel would respond to the Palestinian Authority’s latest demand to recognize the state of Israel.
On our way back from the airport, we stopped at the Copenhagen Zoo to visit a few of the animals.
We passed a couple of lions that had already been released, and a lioness whose cubs had already grown to adulthood.
She was a great mom and grandmother, and it was a beautiful sight.
But a lion that looked young at four months old, her cubs in the wild, would have looked much more adult.
So when I asked, can I go?
The young man looked at me for a moment, then nodded.
He said, “Yes.”
When the police officer came out of the zoo, he told me to go.
I wasn’t going to leave, but I could see how the young woman was feeling.
So I didn’t.
I went to the entrance of the park and sat down on the grass next to the lions.
Then I started crying.
I cried for a while.
I couldn’t understand what he was saying.
I didn´t understand why he was asking me, because I had no idea what he meant.
He told me, “You have to be careful about this.
We are not allowed to touch you.”
I said, I know, but if I touch you, I will hurt you.
I started to cry even harder.
The young officer said, If you cry, I can hear you, and if you scream, I could hear you.
Then he took me into the zoo’s security area.
The next thing I knew, I was standing outside the security entrance, surrounded by police officers, who were asking me questions and giving me information.
After a few minutes, I understood why he wanted to arrest me.
The officers asked me to look at my hands.
I said that I had a camera, so they could take a photo of me.
I asked them, What kind of camera do you use?
They said they didn´tt know.
They were afraid.
Then the police officers took me to another room and handcuffed me to a metal chair.
When they finished with me, I went into the main gate and was immediately taken to the security room, where I was fingerprinted.
After I got fingerprinted, the officers put me in a room where they took me for several hours.
I saw the same security guards who took me from the zoo to the police station, and they had the same answers.
They told me they would check my fingerprints, but didn´ t tell me anything else.
I told them I would wait for my court date.
The police officer who took my fingerprints told me that I was free to leave if I wanted to.
I wanted them to take me to the station, where they would take me into custody, but they said they would wait.
They did not take me.
When I left the station with a tearful Shai, I realized how serious it was that I wasn´t going to go home.
When the officer from the security office asked me, when you went to court, why did you leave?
I said it was because I didn`t want to go to court.
He replied, Because you were in the zoo.
I felt angry, because the police had done nothing to protect me.
But I wasn`t going home.
I took a taxi to the court, but when I got there, I couldn´t take my eyes off the camera.
I could tell that this was not a fair trial, that I could go home with a verdict in my hand.
I thought, If they didn’t take me, it wasn´tt going to happen to me.
And so I went back to the courtroom and waited.
I had an opportunity to go in front of a jury, and at the end of the trial, the jury acquitted me of all charges.
But when I saw how I was treated, I felt ashamed.
I think it is the first time I had felt so ashamed.
But the Israeli justice system does not care.
It just wants to punish you for being a foreigner. And I don´t blame them.
The law is in their hands.
The Israeli law allows them to do that.
The fact that I couldn`t go home was an indictment of the Israeli law.
The courts have no power to protect you, especially not when you live in a place where you have to pass through security checkpoints and are often in constant fear.
There are no rights to be left alone.
And Israel is not a democracy. It is