Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From Moshe Belogorodsky

On behalf of Moshe, my neighbor.

Background Note:

Back on June 29, 2005, his daughter, Chaya, decided to lend moral support to her friends who went to protest Ariel Sharon's plan to expel Jews. What follows is a direct quote from the official indictment filed against Chaya. She is accused of standing on a sidewalk while her friends proceeded to block traffic.

After her friends were arrested a policewoman asked Chaya to leave the area. Chaya refused, saying that she wasn't doing anything illegal, that she had every right to stand on "every inch of the Land of Israel". The policewoman, unimpressed, warned Chaya that if she didn't leave immediately she would be arrested. To which Chaya replied: "So, shut up and arrest me then". That's it. This is the case that the State of Israel has against Chaya. And, because Chaya participated in a similar demonstration once before, the State prosecutor asked the juvenile court to remand Chaya into police custody UNTIL THE END OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST HER - a process that can last for MONTHS!! What is truly unbelievable is than this unprecedented request was granted. Judge Dalya Korn wrote a 10-page dissertation about the danger to society inherent in Chaya's disregard towards the law passed in the Knesset (Sharon's expulsion law). That, combined with the fact that Chaya participated in a similar "unlawful" demonstration before, has made her into a REAL PUBLIC DANGER, thus justifying her imprisonment until the end of the legal process.

Our appeal went all the way to the Supreme Court of Israel. Judge Procaccia, who heard the case, upheld the decision. The only leniency and compassion that comrade Procaccia agreed to show Chaya was that she could be released from jail to a house arrest - BUT NOT TO HER PARENTS' HOME. Ignoring the fact that neither of the parents has any family in Israel, Procaccia declared that Chaya must be sent "far away from this area of volatile emotions if she wants to get out of jail".

The most outrageous part of her decision was her agreement with the prosecution that Chaya represents a "danger to the society because of her ideological motivation". This is coming from a judge who had absolutely no problems releasing not only common criminals, but also even terrorists with blood on their hands!! Over the past few months’ alone Israeli government released hundreds of these beasts, and even though appeals for filed against this release, Procaccia and co. upheld the decision of the government. She never made the removal of these beasts from the " area of volatile emotions" a condition for their release. They were allowed to go back home. Comrade Procaccia is sure THEY won't be dangerous to our society anymore.

What is it like for a 14 year old to be in jail? Well, for the first week - including Shabbat - Chaya was kept in solitary confinement. She was not allowed to shower or call home. We could not send her clean clothes. The food she was given was not on the level of kashrut she could eat. For the first two weeks she was not allowed to have a fan in her cell - that's in the stifling, muggy Ramle summer, with temperatures reaching the high 90's. She is bored to tears and immobilized by the heat. Once a week she has to go through the degrading procedure of her cell being searched, with male jailers rummaging through all her personal belongings. She is not allowed out of her cell in the evenings, which means she has to eat her Friday night meal in the darkness of her cell. As of now we are not allowed to bring her any food from the outside, which means she gets almost no fruits or vegetables. We are only permitted to visit her for a half hour every week. This is how this young girl is being forced to spend her summer vacation - and I could go on and on.

And here's the end of the story:

Dear friends shalom,

The travesty of justice in Chaya's case has finally come to an end. Sunday, December 3rd, the trial came to an end. Being pretty certain that the judge would convict Chaya on at least one of four counts in the indictment, I prepared some remarks regarding our case, which I was going to deliver in court during the closing arguments. At that point the parents are given the opportunity to plead for reduction of the punishment which the child faces.

What follows is the translation of these remarks from Hebrew:

"I hoped for justice, but instead behold iniquity; for righteousness, but instead behold oppression" (Isaiah 5:7) Thus does Isaiah the Prophet describes the judicial system of his time. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.

Clearly, Chaya was not the one standing trial in our case. It was rather the State of Israel in general, and its judicial system in particular, who had to prove themselves innocent. The test was simple and clear: Will the judicial system remain true to those very values which it itself proclaimed as sacred; or will it willingly become a tool and an aide to political persecution of the opponents of disengagement.

To my great dismay the system failed miserably in this test. It brutally trod upon all those enlightened values it itself sanctified: civil rights of its citizens, the rights of children, freedom to protest, and most important - equality before law. Our case is a classic example of outright judicial discrimination, based on the political needs of the government.

The justice system made a complete mockery of its own judicial precedents. My 14-year-old daughter was arrested until the end of judicial proceedings against her. She spent 40 days in jail, under arrest for the very same "crimes" that the Israeli Left commits almost daily. They are never treated in the way my daughter was treated. Here is just one example of this outrageous discrimination.

On July 10th, 2006 Ms. Dana Olmert - none other than the daughter of our Prime Minister - together with a number of Left wing activists organized a demonstration against the IDF in front of the Chief of Staff Halutz's home. They carried signs saying, " Halutz is a murderer - intifada will prevail!" and shouted out to the residents:" Beware - a murderer lives next to you". Why didn't any of the more than 30 policemen at the scene arrest Dana for insulting a public official and supporting terror?

And what about the case of two Left wing radicals - Netta Golan and Shelly Nativ? { See attachment #2} In April 2001, at the height of the Arab riots, Netta & Co. decided to protest against the uprooting of Arab trees near the village of Dir Istyah. Hundreds of Arab attacks against Jewish motorists were carried out from this orchard. That fact didn't bother Netta and her friends, who chained themselves to the trees to prevent the IDF from uprooting them. Netta and Shelly were arrested for "preventing a police officer from carrying out his duties". They were prosecuted and convicted of this crime (which is more serious than Chaya's "insulting a police officer") by judge Maimon-Shaashua in a Kfar Saba court. The judge sent them to be interviewed by a probation officer (just as Chaya was) to determine their punishment. The probation officer recommended being very lenient with them, because "their actions were motivated by a positive humanitarian ideology". Judge Maimon-Shaashua was so touched by this that she overturned her own previous decision to convict them and acquitted them because they were motivated by positive humanitarian ideology. Maybe you can explain to me why protesting the uprooting of Arab trees is more positive and humanitarian than protesting the uprooting of Jews from the Land of Israel?!

You said in your decision to convict Chaya that "the criminal conviction causes a permanent stain on the accused, a stain that will follow him wherever he goes". Sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes, a criminal conviction causes a permanent moral stain on the judicial system itself. This was the case with judicial system in Soviet Russia when it used criminal law to persecute the refuseniks. And what about such famous criminals as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King? They too were convicted when they protested against unjust laws. It took decades for the American justice system to recognize its own injustice towards these people, and the moral stain that their criminal prosecution left on the system. Today, these "criminals" are considered national heroes and all of America celebrates the Martin Luther King day.

The time is near when the current Israeli justice system,too, will be replaced by a truly just system - the one based on our Holy Torah. But until that day, you should know that it is you - all the judges involved in this case - who have put the last nail in the coffin of our trust in this current system. After going through this whole mockery of justice we have come to realize that those teenage girls who refused to recognize your moral right to judge them were indeed absolutely correct. We cannot hope to get justice in your courts."

Needless to say I was cut off early on and not allowed to say all of the above for the protocol. The reason? In the words of the judge: "This court is not a political rally". No, it's not. At least not for the Right-wingers.

Chaya was acquitted, as I expected from the very beginning, of two of the more serious charges in her indictment - rioting and interfering with police work. None of the prosecutions' witnesses - police officers present at the scene - made any claims in their testimony that Chaya rioted. It will be interesting to find out how and why the prosecutor's office decided to indict Chaya for this crime, without having any facts at all to base this accusation on. As for interfering with police work, the only one who made this accusation was the policewoman who claimed Chaya insulted her. During her testimony, however, she could not explain or demonstrate in any way exactly how Chaya interfered with her police work. The judge, therefore, had no choice but to acquit Chaya of that charge.

I was fairly certain that the judge would convict Chaya on the charge of insulting the policewoman. It was the officer's word against Chaya's, and even though the officer was forced to admit a number of times that she didn't remember many of the details of the event, the judge accepted her version of the events over Chaya's.

So, if everything was so clear to us from the start, why did we go through with this farce of a trial? The truth is, I had a very faint glimmer of hope that the judge would have enough courage to throw this case out of court. Our case was so clearly political and discriminatory that any judge with an ounce of guts should have thrown it out of court. The guts, unfortunately, where nowhere to be found.

And so, Chaya was convicted. The punishment? 500 shekels fine. Even though Chaya had already spent 40 days in jail before her trial even began. Even though, according to their own rules, she should not have spent even 40 seconds there. So why the fine? It is clear to me that the judge wanted to add insult to injury. Throughout the duration of our trial none of the judges involved made even the smallest effort to pretend that they were interested in justice. To the contrary. Their message was crystal clear: We are at war with you, we want to break you and your child, and none of the rules we created for the justice system apply to you. What I saw was a vicious, brutal determination to break us, to show us our place - at the back of the proverbial bus.

Many of you will find the above rather disturbing. Please consider that I arrived at these conclusions based on my experience with no less than 6 judges, a year-and-a-half spent in courts, and statements made regarding our case by numerous lawyers and law professors (including those from the Left).

What can we do to protect ourselves? We must organize and unite behind our own civil rights organization - Honenu. Strong Honenu is the only way to stand up and fight these types of abuses. Honenu was there for us every step of the way. Just as it is always there for hundreds of other Jews, young and old, who are persecuted by the injustice system for being Right. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in getting involved.

May we live to see "Restore our judges as in former times...”

Chanukah sameakh,

Moshe Belogorodsky

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