Case ends in severe criticism of discrimination against the right-wing
Sunday, May 31, 2015, 12:02 Over four years after it began, the case against Uri Baram, who was convicted of incitement against Shai Nitzan, then Deputy Attorney General, currently Attorney General, has ended quietly. On the morning of Sunday, May 31, Judge Nava Bechor sentenced Baram to a conditional prison sentence of one year and 400 hours of community service, despite the demand by the Attorney General’s office for a prolonged prison sentence. According to Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who is representing Baram, the light sentence continues the severe criticism of the discriminatory practices of Attorney General Shai Nitzan against right-wingers – discrimination which continues to this day. Kedar stated that, “Judge Bechor’s sentence is the direct continuation of the verdict which was and still is a severe indictment of the discrimination in [verdicts on] incitement which continues to this very day. The penalty reflects the general circumstances of the case, also the personal circumstances of the the defendant, and constitutes a penalty which corresponds to the public interest.” Kedar is referring Judge Bechor’s September 2014 verdict in which she severely criticized Nitzan’s conduct, which she described as “scandalous”. On September 11, 2014, in a sharply worded verdict Judge Nava Bechor ruled that Attorney General Shai Nitzan and his staff had for years discriminated against residents of Yehuda and Shomron and right-wingers. Judge Bechor accepted the pleas of abuse of process filed by Kedar and ruled that Nitzan had selectively enforced the law by closing almost automatically – her definition – cases of complaints filed against left-wingers and Arabs for incitement to injure Jews, settlers and IDF soldiers. The case began in January 2011 when Uri Baram was detained after publicizing video clips extremely critical of Shai Nitzan, currently Attorney General and at the time Deputy Attorney General. On September 20, 2011 Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who represented Baram, presented preliminary arguments for a plea of abuse of process and discrimination. In September 2014 the court accepted Kedar’s plea and ruled that Nitzan selectively enforced the law by almost automatically closing cases of complaint filed against left-wingers and Arabs who were accused of incitement to harm Jews, settlers and IDF soldiers. Although Judge Nava Bechor did convict Baram of the crimes of incitement to racism and violence, destroying evidence and disrupting judicial proceedings, she fully accepted the pleas by Honenu attorney Adi Kedar who pleaded abuse of power. Judge Bechor brought as evidence the selective enforcement of the law by then Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan and classified his conduct as “scandalous”. “The evidence gathered by the defense concerning the period of time between October 2008 and August 2010 reflects difficult to understand treatment by the relevant law enforcement authority concerning exhibitions of extreme, dangerous and incendiary violence which incites to violence, terror or racism towards soldiers, Jews and even a minister in the Israeli government,” wrote Judge Bechor in her September 2014 ruling. “It is clear that the evidence presented by the defense indicates general treatment almost contaminated by an automatic response which negated the existence of a genuine possibility that the crime of incitement [had been committed]. How is it that that mobs calling out ‘Death to the Jews’, ‘Castrate the settlers’, and ‘Kill soldiers’, are not able to bring [individuals] to acts of violence against each of the publics mentioned above?!” wondered Judge Bechor. She added, “Are not each of them harmed by the results of acts of violence or terror on almost a daily basis?” Among the evidence Kedar presented to the court were complaints filed against left-wing individuals who called for “castrating settlers”, against an Arab woman who called out at a protest, “Death to Jews”, and against an exhibition at a museum which incited against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. All of the cases mentioned by Kedar were closed without a conviction, some of them without a criminal investigation, by then Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan. The most prominent case is of a complaint filed following a show at a fund-raiser for anarchistic activities in Israel during which a soloist of the band which performed at the event called for killing IDF soldiers. The complaint was filed with Nitzan, who decided not to file an indictment against the soloist because he apologized. “It is not clear why Shai Nitzan was satisfied with the soloist’s apology and not with the immediate apology of the defendant [Baram] to his interrogators,” wrote Judge Bechor. “Why was only a warning letter sent to the protester who called out ‘Death to Jews’?” Worthy of note is that Baram pleaded during interrogation that the purpose of the provocative short film he publicized was to show the public the discrimination with which Shai Nitzan handled investigations of complaints of incitement. In her September 2014 verdict Judge Bechor severely criticized the lack of treatment of complaints of remarks by left-wingers and Arabs and ruled that the lack caused a feeling of discrimination among right-wingers. Judge Bechor ruled that the lack of treatment of the complaints, “is what creates a slippery slope of intensifying and increasing incitement which does not stop or decrease during investigation or when a criminal stands trial, and additionally the feeling of unacceptable discrimination against those who hold an opposing opinion increases, and that is the result of the scandalous behavior of the [prosecuting] authority, which damages the principles of justice and fairness.” Additionally Judge Bechor criticized Shai Nitzan for taking an unreasonable length of time to give a response to complaints of incitement by left-wingers. “It is impossible to ignore the fact that the reply and response given by Shai Nitzan to the individuals who filed the complaints was given in most cases after several months and usually with a general ruling that there was not a ‘significant possibility’ of violence, and no more, and at times absolutely no criminal investigation at all was opened. “In the end I am of the opinion that sufficient evidence was presented concerning the selective enforcement of the law against defendants. While I am not able to rule whether an ulterior motive or an unacceptable goal is associated [with Nitzan’s conduct], however at the very least it appears arbitrary and harmful to equality.