Israeli Courts Used As Instruments of Political Coercion

Two recent ‘show trials’ provide clear evidence that the course of justice is being perverted in Israel, with coercion applied purposefully to intimidate those who challenge zionist brutality, land theft and ethnic cleansing.

High profile Jewish activist, Jonathan Pollak, attended court two days ago. Bearing witness in court were a throng of journalists and supporters. Joseph Dana provides an excellent account of Jonathan’s trial.

Tel Aviv Magistrates court judge Yitzhak Yitzhak convicted Israeli leftist Jonathan Pollak of illegal assembly for his participation in a January 2008 Critical Mass ride against the siege on Gaza and then sentenced him to three months imprisonment that will begin on January 11th, 2011. Pollak was the only one detained at the said protest, and was accused of doing nothing other than riding his bicycle in the same manner as the rest of the protesters.

During the trial, an Israeli supporter of Pollak was violently removed from the courthouse for wearing a shirt that said “there is no pride in occupation.” After the verdict was handed down, supporters began chanting in the courtroom against Israeli fascism and the occupation. They were forcibly removed one by one from the courthouse and subsequently held a demonstration on the sidewalk.

Despite evidence of Israeli wrongdoing in the course of the Gaza war, the only Israeli sentenced to jail so far is a leftist who choose to ride his bike through Tel Aviv in non-violent protest. The state of Israel sent a clear message with this verdict: that it will not tolerate dissent from the left. In fact, the state persecutor asked for a severe sentence in order to ‘make an example out of Pollak and those who engage in similar anti-occupation work.” Pollak said that he will continue to work with Palestinians against the occupation and repeatedly cited the much harsher verdicts given to Palestinians involved in non-violent protests. The only remorse that he showed was that he did not do enough to express dissent about the siege of Gaza. If peacefully riding a bike against violent aggression is a crime, Pollak said that we will happily go to jail.

Less well-known, and unreported in the western media, was the trial yesterday of Nuri al-Uqbi, a 68 year old Bedouin father of 8 children. Like Jonathan Pollak, Nuri was arbitrarily charged with a petty offence. Nuri’s punishment was increased by the magistrate to ‘seven months in prison for “running a business without a license”‘ to send a deliberate, vicious political message to other Bedouins who might have the temerity to oppose their dispossession. Five years ago, Nuri commenced a legal challenge against the state to regain his family’s lands in the Negev.

al-Uqbi’s expert, Oren Yiftachel, of Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, has countered that there was a well-established system of Bedouin land ownership and crop cultivation in the Negev long before Israel’s creation.

He says Bedouin deeds — though never formally recorded — were recognized by the Ottomans, the British and even early Zionist organizations such as the JNF, which bought land from the Bedouin.

A 1921 document from the public records office in London unearthed by Yiftachel shows that Winston Churchill, the colonies minister, signed an agreement with Bedouin in the Beersheva area that exempted them from registering their lands and set up a special tribal court to settle land disputes.

Al-Uqbi has kept a large store of documents passed on to him, showing that his father cultivated crops on the land and paid regular tithes on the profits to the Ottoman and British authorities.

He also has a copy of the treaty signed in 1948 between 16 Bedouin tribes, including the Uqbi, and the new Israeli army, pledging loyalty in return for a guarantee that they could continue living on their lands.

Clearly, the magistrate’s intimidatory message to Nuri and the outrageously harsh sentence relays the racist, predatory concerns of the zionist state. Will Nuri’s sentence be used against him by the state in his pending land rights case?

The Negev, constituting nearly two-thirds of Israel’s territory, has been almost entirely nationalized by the state, with the land held in trust for world Jewry. But the Bedouin have outstanding legal claims on nearly 80,000 hectares of ancestral property.

In recent months, the Israeli government has ramped up demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Negev to clear the way for more Jewish colonialists and Jewish National Fund pine forests. The village of al-Araqib was bulldozed for the eighth time since July last week, along with homes of 20 people in al Sadier village. Bedouins say Israel is demolishing homes “on a daily basis”.

Below is a google translation of the original Hebrew piece relating Nuri’s trial, pending a better version.

The judge wrote in the verdict: “worsened with the Okbi to deliver a message for the Negev Bedouin
by Noa Levy on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 21:28

Nuri al Okbi, rights activist Negev Bedouin Arab residents

Sentenced to seven months in prison for “running a business without a license”

The judge wrote in the verdict: “worsened with the Okbi to deliver a message for the Negev Bedouin”

Nuri al Okbi, chairman of the Association to protect the rights of the Bedouins who is also active in defense of rights and Arab residents of Lod many of them Bedouin origin, was sentenced today to seven months in prison for possession of a business without a license. Judge Zachary Yemini Ramle Magistrate’s Court verdict explicitly wrote that he had decided to aggravate the sentence – Okbi for being active in the Bedouin rights, and that the sentence is intended to “send a message Bedouin diaspora.”

After which the – Okbi guilty guilty several weeks ago the court referred him to community service, and – Okbi already expressed willingness in this work for the public good in a soup kitchen in Ramla was interested to receive it. But surprisingly, the judge decided to worsen and cut him seven months in prison instead of six which can be converted to community service.

Attorney Avi Dubin, lawyer of the Okbi, asked the court to delay the execution to allow the filing of an appeal, but the judge conditioned the implementation delay immediate deposit of thirty thousand dollars the court fund, a sum that is in his hands – and he was taken immediately imprisonment. In addition to imprisonment imposed on the court Nuri al – Okbi fine of forty thousand shekels or four hundred days in prison for them.

Business without a license is accused managed to – Okbi is a garage that opened in 1964 to Okbi Hasmonean 11th Street in Lod, when passed, like many other Bedouins from the Negev, to live in it. Over the years, changed the policy of the Municipality of Lod, which some in the garage and gave license to – Okbi other years denied him. “I feel discrimination and intimidation taken against me for political reasons, to keep me open my mouth and fight against the policy of the municipality – for example the destruction of seven homes of Arab residents about a week ago. I received a certificate from the Police, Fire Department, the Ministry of Interior Ministry of the Environment workshop working properly, but City Hall deprived me of the license while the people around me got business licenses started many years after my garage. I am convinced that if I was ready to walk the line dictated by the Town Hall, I had no problem obtaining a license. My garage is not their real problem, but a public activity.


Nuri al-Oqbi was hospitalised with his heart condition shortly after the trial – he collapsed after sentencing.

Following the harsh verdict, al-Okbi – who is 68 years old and suffers from a heart condition – felt bad and was hospitalized at the Assaf Harofeh Hospital, where he is hospitalized under police supervision and his hands and feet handcuffed to the bed. The police also prevented al-Okbi’s son, who came to the hospital, from talking to him.

Today’s Palestine / Israel Links

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Some Israelis Question Benefits for Ultra-Religious
TIBI: The tragedy of a two-state solution
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Conspiracy Theories Linking Israel to WikiLeaks Circulate on the Internet
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Shelling Reported in Gaza City
Students for Justice in Palestine condemns US government witch hunt
Israeli leaders, soldiers fear arrest over Gaza War Crimes
Culture Group Rebuffs Bid To Condemn Boycotts
Barrier separates Palestinian farmers from their land
Detained journalist questions right to freedom of speech for Palestinians
CNN reports on racist letters emanating from ultra-orthodox rabbis or their wives in Israel.

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