Israeli Court overturns acquittal of government critic

Israel justice

JERUSALEM — An Israeli court has overturned a lower court’s decision to acquit a Jewish dissident on charges of insulting a government official who played a major role in the expulsion of 16,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in 2005.

On July 19, the Jerusalem District Court ordered the re-trial of Jewish dissident Nadia Matar, who had been acquitted of insulting a public official. Matar, head of Women in Green, was the first Jewish nationalist prosecuted under a 1936 law of the British Mandate.

“It was once again proven that the judicial system in Israel pushes for the enemy of the Jewish people,” Matar, a mother of six, said. “That means it has no problem to persecute anyone who shows loyalty to the Land of Israel.”

The decision came one day after the Knesset Constitution and Law Committee approved a bill to cancel the indictments of non-violent demonstrators against the expulsion. The legislation must be voted by the full parliament.

In 2004, Matar wrote a scathing letter to Disengagement Authority director Jonathan Bassi, responsible for the eviction and resettlement of Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank to trailer parks in Israel. Matar said Bassi’s role was similar to that of the Judenraat, the Nazi-appointed Jewish administration that helped liquidate the ghettos in Eastern Europe during World War II.

Matar contended that her letter was a legitimate act of protest. The defense cited numerous examples whereby authorities refused to prosecute left-wing activists who condemned officials and military commanders. Defense attorney Yoram Sheftel pointed to the daughter of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who in a demonstration in 2006 called then-Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz a “murderer.”

“I have shown that the decision to prosecute individuals from one side of the political spectrum contrasts to the decision to prosecute individuals on the other side of the political spectrum,” Sheftel said. “The prosecutor’s office cannot decide what is legitimate for public debate and what is not.”

On Sept. 10, 2006, Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge David Mintz, himself branded a war criminal by a left-wing critic, dismissed the indictment against Matar. Two months later, the state appealed Matar’s acquittal in Jerusalem’s District Court.

In its ruling, the appeal court said Matar failed to prove that authorities had targeted her while ignoring violations by left-wing activists. The court ordered the case returned to the Jerusalem
Magistrate’s Court for another trial.

“If they think they can scare us, just the opposite,” Matar said. “We will increase our activities for guarding the Land of Israel.”

July 20, 2007 | Comments Off on Israeli Court overturns acquittal of government critic

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