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(en) Israel, Tel Aviv, [Including Media reports,] the anarchists' day in court

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 19 Oct 2004 11:40:44 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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Monday morning, 45 people of the Anarchists Against The Wall initiative,
sympathizers and media, converged in the Tel-Aviv "peace Court" of state -
(the lower level court for the less serious "offenses").
See: http://www.ainfos.ca/04/oct/ainfos00191.html (en) Israel-Palestine, We will not
be stopped! No to the apartheid fence! no to the state violence!
As preventive measure courthouse guards prevented comrades from entering
if they wore shirts with slogans (including part of the 11 defendants... needed
intervention of the judge to let them in. As the prosecution of the 11 defendants
for such minor disturbance of traffic seemed so out of proportion - even the main
media channels - dailies, public main radio and TV, included reported in a sympathy way.

The most extreme reservation of media from the state clumsy act of
persecution was the including in the main public TV news a lengthy
item - including the small demo in the court house in front of the chambers,
the court house guards forcing its end, the speeches of both sympathizers
and defendants.....

Israeli public opinion still insist on maximum democratic rights to the
Israeli Jews - even when we struggle in support of the rights of the Palestinians -
the trampling-on the same main stream media accept.

".... the sedate Magistrate's Court in Tel-Aviv got a whiff of the Wild
West Bank atmosphere when eleven of the Anarchists Against Walls
showed up to answer a variety of charges, ranging from holding an
illegal demonstration to obstructing policemen and assaulting policemen*
and up to "defacing real property" (i.e., writing graffiti).
The charges all referred to a single event, lasting less than ten minutes,
on the afternoon of February 25 this year - the day when the International
Court at the Hague started deliberating on the construction by the Sharon
Government of the Separation Wall which cuts through Palestinian
villages and towns.

The Anarchists had planned to mark this day by a joint demonstration
with the inhabitants of a village which lost most of its land because of the
Wall/Fence. But the army and police got wind of these plans, and the
group was intercepted at the West Bank border and forced to turn back -
whereupon they drove directly to the Defense Ministry in Tel-Aviv, sat
down on the street in front of its gates, and were immediately pounced
upon by the police. One of beaten to the point of losing consciousness,
another one needed to be hospitalized, and thirteen in all spent the night
in detention.

On the following morning, the police asked the duty judge to keep them
under house arrest "until the Hague Court ends its deliberations" but the
Duty Judge rejected this idea and granted them bail.

It was then that the police and public prosecutor decided to prefer charges
against them - leading to today's rather grotesque affair.

With a variety of tattoos and unconventional hair styles and accompanied
by several sympathizing, well-known artists and actors, the accused young
men and women stood in the court house lobby - displaying to the many
media representatives their T-shirts with the text "We will not be silenced"
and covering their mouths with strips of black sticky tape.

That was enough for the court house guards to snap into action, shout "No
demonstrating on court premises" and push the offending activists into an
empty courtroom, where they were made to take off the offending shirts
(of which the TV cameras already got their fill, anyway). It took quite a bit
before they finally made it to Judge Muki Landman's hall and sat down in
the overcrowded dock, with the spectator benches equally crowded with
their supporters.

Defence Lawyer Gabi Lasky began by asking the court to dismiss the
charges out of hand, on the basis of Natural Law (or "estoppel" in lawyers'
jargon). She began with a long exposition on the Wall and the way it disrupts
the daily life of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, quoting extensively
from the reports of various human rights organizations which she also
presented to the court as evidence. Many judges would have rejected all
this as irrelevant - Landman did not.

Adv. Laski made special reference to the inhabitants of the so-called "Seam
Area", where the accused originally intended to demonstrate on February 25.
"The Seam Area has been declared a closed military zone, where entry is
forbidden. Even if you were born there and your parents before you, and
even if you lived there all your life, you must apply for a special permit from
the army in order to stay in your own home and work your own field.

But by the same military order, citizens of Israel are exempt and may enter
the Seam Area without needing any permit. And not only Israeli citizens,
also 'those who have the right to Israeli citizenship under the law of return',
that is - Jews. Yes, a Jew from Brooklyn or from Timbuktu could land at Ben
Gurion Airport, go to the Seam Area and stay there as long as he wants,
without needing any permit - but a Palestinian who was born there needs a
permit from the army to live in his own home!

It was against this kind of blatant injustice that the accused tried to protest,
first in the Seam Area itself, then when this was denied at the Ministry of
Defence where this infamous military order originated. They acted according
to the Categorical Imperative of the great philosopher Immanuel Kant,
according to which every person must act as if his and her life is setting the
moral example for the whole world. They acted according to the Talmud,
which states that a man would not be considered truly righteous, even if he
followed all of God's commandmnents, if he had failed to cry out against an
injustice of which he was aware. On the basis of Natural Law, the case
against them should be dismissed".

"I will reserve my response to counsel's argument until later" responded Judge
Landman. "But first I must draw the prosecution's attention to some obvious
concrete defects in the charge sheet. For example, accused no.7 is accused of
assaulting policemen, but there is no concrete act attributed to her which would
substantiate that charge.* The same with accused no. 1 being charged with
hindering a policeman in the execution of his duties. Exactly what did she do, Mr.
Prosecutor? Sitting on the road for all of three minutes and refusing to get up
when ordered by the policeman, that's hindering him in the execution of his duties?

And about the rest of them, in what did the assault on the police consist? "Kicking
the police while being carried to the patrol car? Well, I suppose if you prove that
they did do that, yes, it would technically count as assault. Still, I seem to recall
that during the evacuation of Yamit and other Sinai settlements [in 1982] the
settlers did quite a bit more than that, and none of them was prosecuted. A good
thing, too. There should be toleration built into the prosecution policy, some leeway.

We are now entering a period of debate and controversy. We will have many
demonstrations by many people and groups who have something very urgent
to say, and I don't care if they are from the left-wing or right-wing, protesting
the erection of the fence or the dismantling of settlements. From the policy of
the prosecution in this case, I suppose we will see all of them marching into
this court-room by the dozen. We may have to set up a special court for
demonstrators, like there is already a special court for the deportation of
migrantworkers. If that's what you want, fine!

Anyway, I am giving the prosecution 6 weeks to reconsider, do they really want
to proceed with this case. If they still do, I will then state my ruling on the defence's
request with regard to Natural Law. Until then, every body is dismissed."

* Surprise surprise.... among the 11 defendants,
all the ones who submitted complains to the police investigating bureau were accused also with assault
while these not complaining got only the minor items.

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