Fifty attorneys this week signed a petition calling on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to reject a request by anarchist activists Kobi Snitz, Ilan Shalif, and Yonatan Pollak to stay the proceedings against them over a complaint filed by Israeli Zionist activist organization Ad Kan. The complaint accuses the anarchists of participating in violent protests where IDF soldiers were harmed.
More than 150 IDF soldiers have been injured over the past few years in riots held on Fridays near the separation wall, a cement barrier that was built during the Second Intifada of 2000, to stop the wave of violence against Israeli civilians inside the 1949 armistice line (a.k.a the green line).
Based on Ad Kan’s findings, the activists in question participated in more than 10 violent riots over the past few months since the complaint had been filed. Both were filmed carrying tires that were then set on fire and rolled by the rioters at IDF soldiers. In one recording, Pollak is seen rolling a large tire. Ad Kan adds that Pollak participated in a riot at a farm in the Jordan Valley only a week ago.
Gilad Ach, Director of Ad Kan, said: “We call for an end to attacks on IDF soldiers and we were shocked at how various legal officials openly supported anarchists who attack IDF soldiers weekly. We call on the AG not to grant the request of the anarchists to stay their proceedings and not to reward individuals who harm IDF soldiers and refuse to recognize Israeli courts.”
Kobi Snitz, a mathematician, has writtenthat his primary anarchist activity consists of “joining other Israelis in supporting Palestinian-led nonviolent protests in villages harmed by the planned or existing separation barrier.” He first became an activist as a student in Canada and the United States, where he participated in organizing a graduate student union and joined the anti-war movement during the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Israeli activist Ilan Shalif celebrates 80 at the weekly protest in Bil’in. He has been here for 466 demonstrations pic.twitter.com/IC2Fgq9Z8Y
— Haggai Matar (@Ha_Matar) August 11, 2017
Ilan Shalif, 82, a psychologist, author of The New Anarchist Cookbook, in 2003 told an Arab publication: “The Jewish religion is very racist and its most vicious exponents are the Religious Zionists.” He also said, “The day after they signed the Oslo thing, the government started to harass the Palestinians to force them into submission, both economically and by refusing to get out of the agreed areas according to the timetable.”
Yonatan Pollak co-founded the organization Anarchists Against the Wall, which protests the Israeli barrier. He participated in protests in Budrus in 2003 and 2004, and in the mid-2000s joined protests against the barrier wall in Bil’in. In October 2010, Pollak was fined $1,250 for participating in an illegal demonstration against the barrier, while Arab activist Abdullah Abu Rahma was sentenced to a year in prison at the same hearing. It’s good to be Jewish.
Incidentally, many rightwing Israelis are also not ecstatic about the barrier, which runs along the armistice line with some corrections to allow for some Jewish settlements, but essentially defines very large swaths of Jewish settlements as being on the wrong side of a future peace agreement border.
The current petition and the signatures of 50 attorneys was in response to a petition that asked the AG to stay the proceedings against the anarchists.
Former Attorney General Michael Ben Yair argued early on that the AG should issue a stay of proceedings against the anarchists in order to cancel the Ad Kan complaint and prevent similar future complaints. Ben Yair also suggested that should the AG fail to stay the proceedings, the High Court of Justice must order the AG to “do the right thing – namely, stop the proceedings in this complaint.”
In contrast, the petition filed by 50 attorneys who oppose the stay, argues that the goal of the attorneys in the prior petition was to “apply political pressure on the AG to stop the anarchists from being brought to justice” and that Ad Kan “is not ‘misusing’ the law in any way.”
The 50-lawyer petition notes that Yonatan Pollak has refused to attend the hearings on the complaint against him and his two friends. In June 2019, Pollak published an op-ed in Haaretz entitled “Why I Won’t Attend My Trial for Alleged Assault on Israeli Police in West Bank,” where he wrote:
“I will not go to court today. Not because I consider myself the victim of the raging right, which is destroying some fictional Israeli democracy, or the victim of the settlers, in their role as the villains in the children’s fairy tale of Israeli liberalism. I will not go because half the people under Israeli control are second-class citizens, in the case of the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, or subjects lacking any basic democratic rights, in the case of the Palestinians living in the occupied territory. Despite the complex bureaucratic mechanisms designed to disguise that fact, there is one regime between the river and the sea, and if part of it is a military dictatorship, we must treat all of it that way.”
“This is not the first time I stand trial, nor the first time the so-called offenses took place in the occupied territories. But today I am no longer willing to cooperate. The judge, the Magistrate’s Court, the High Court – none of them are any different from the military courts and military officers who serve as judges in uniform,” Pollak wrote.
He then concluded regarding the Israeli judges on the whole: “All of them, like different fingers of the same hand, are illegitimate because of their key role in legitimizing Israeli colonialism and thwarting the opposition to it.”
In response to all of the above, the 50 attorneys told the AG: “It is inconceivable that a defendant who declares openly that they will not attend hearings, will suddenly ‘benefit’ from a stay of proceedings by the AG. The AG should only take such actions under very special circumstances.”
The 50 attorneys conclude: “We call on the AG to reject the petition filed by ‘Anarchists against the Wall’ relating to a complaint accusing them of harming IDF soldiers. Granting a stay of proceedings would reward the defendants, who according to the complaint regularly participate in violent riots against security forces.”