Thursday, December 21, 2006

After 40 Days of Prison, Trial of 14 Year Old Girl Comes to an End

Dear friends shalom,

The travesty of justice in Chaya's case has finally come to an end.

On 22 Sivan 5765 {29.06.05} 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.

To understand the severity of the above decision one must know that, as a rule, an average ADULT criminal - be he a thief, rapist, or a drug dealer - is never kept in jail until the end of proceedings. Even if he is a repeat offender, and even if he repeats the same crime while he's awaiting his trial!! The worst they usually get slapped with is a house arrest. And juvenile offenders are treated even more leniently.

The above holds true for all criminals, except for those whose crimes are "IDEOLOGICALLY BASED". And, according to the State prosecutor's words, herein lies Chaya's true danger to the society. You heard it right. What is even more outrageous is that the judge agreed!! 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 the Israeli government released hundreds of these beasts, and even though appeals for filed against this release, Judge Procaccia upheld the decision of the government. They were allowed to go back home. 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.

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 and Shelly 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 Martin Luther King day.

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."

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. 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


Keliata said...

What a remarkable young lady Chaya is to withstand this ordeal with the dignity that she did! I'm so please that she's finally been released, and pray that the efforts to prevent another travesty of "justice."

Justice, justice you shall pursue.

Itzhak Schier said...

Only in Israel are there "asirei Tzion."

It does not matter who is elected to high office, someone is pulling the strings. It could be the US State Department, it could be a shadow government of the Shabak or Mossad, it could be the result of some secret sleazy deals with the Arabs. I am old enough to remember when Sharon and Olmert were rightists. Something happened to them as they advanced in politics - ditto for Bibi who is barely one step above the rest.

seanbear said...

That's terrible! Jail time for simply voicing her opinion?

Sultan Knish said...

Olmert was never a rightist, he moved into the likud because of his father

Sharon started out on the left, his best friend was still Shimon Peres

The last few years demonstrated just how many people 'on the right' were really on the left

the next few years will demonstrate the same thing in america as it already has

Andy said...

I would love to have the guys address just to give him some encouragement. The girl was one of several like Esther Pollard and others who took part in lighting the first Hanukkah candle. I read the article by accident on Arutz Sheva because the one I printed out was about something Netanyahu said. Somehow this got printed as well so I read it. How appropriate was it to have her and the other selected people be part of the ceremony. The very ones who truly represent the people who love Israel and not turn their back on them like the government and all the liberals do who want to be so much like the rest of the world. It was uplifting to read about it and I'm glad that it was a printing accident because otherwise it wouldn't have caught my interest.

seanbear said...

Indeed is has, Sultan. I dont understand why the Republican party ( most of it anyway) is suddenly on the appeasement bandwagon.

I refuse to support that. Where does that leave me?

I sure as heck ain't voting for no "Israel is the source of all the Worlds woes" democrat.

marallyn ben moshe said...

and evil walks the planet and the inmates are running the world...great post...glad that chaya is home and...i was about to say 'safe'...shabbat shalom...

Keliata said...

May no child ever been imprisoned and abused, and certainly not on such a filmsy charge as insulting a police officer (reality, exercising free speech).

That charge floors me. By those standards I should have been incarcerated numerous times for the "crime" of "insulting" a police officer with things I've stated publicly.

Solitary confinement is typically reserved for the worst of the worst criminals. Shame on the Red Cross and Amnesty International for not coming to her aid and demanding her release.

Sultan Knish said...

sean, politicians in both parties mostly just jump on bandwagons. post 9/11 when national defense and war on terror was the bandwagon they jumped on, when it started becoming unpopular they jumped on the 'let's make a deal' bandwagon

the average politician, democrat or republican, is a lot more like bill clinton than winston churchill

Sultan Knish said...

you do see arrests on such charges involving police officers in the U.S. (interfering with a police officer is often abused that way) but solitary confinement, a 40 day jail term, release conditional on her being away from her parents and all that is all but unheard of

Sultan Knish said...

shabbat shalom maralynn

Yobeeone said...

I remember when this first happened. I had the event with pics on my then web site "Hazak", along with all the email addresses of everyone in the Israeli Government. I sent one email after another to Sharon. Eventually, I got a response back apologizing that Sharon was unable to respond to me personally because of an excessive amount of emails his office had been receiving lately. That one made me laugh. All those emails had to be from people protesting against his every action.

What they did to Chaya and everyone at that time taught me the truth about Israel. It is a communist/socialist regime. The other was, I lost total and complete respect for the IDF.

Sultan Knish said...

armies in the end follow orders and are therefore only as good as their leadership and unfortunately short of a military coup, the IDF is stuck answering to a corrupt buffoon

Yobeeone said...

I vote for a military coup. :] Of course, I also vote for Olmert to be smothered in honey and dropped on a fire ant hill, but that's beside the point.

Andy said...

I have to make a correction. I read the entire article and yes, there is an e-mail. But is this Chaya's dad? The story is kind of confusing because you get the impression that the narrative changes. Maybe I'm wrong. The girl I mentioned at the Channukah lighting wasn't her I believe. She was known by her initials O.S. because of her having to be in prison at a young age just like Chaya. Her name is Oriyah Shir-el and she's of Hevron. A remarkable lady nonetheless. By the way, this Channukah lighting wasn't an annual event. It was the central event. What it really was was a convention by Manhigut Yehudit which was headed by Moshe Feiglin. It took place at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel in Jerusalem and was filled to bust. Participants in the candle lighting were Esther Pollard, Shoshi Greenfield whose brother died in the last war and who gave an impassioned speech at his funeral against the governments withdrawal of settlers even affecting those who serve as soldiers, And I think than it's two girls which spent weeks in prison for taking part in pro-Land of Israel activities which Chaya must be one of them. Also the mother of Nati Ozeri and the wife of Neriah Ofan. The very same organisation seems to try to steer Israel in the right direction and is as of now a faction of the Likud. Can anyone give me anymore details on that?

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