The blog post that led to the investigation of an Israeli left-wing activist
A complaint was lodged against blogger Yossi Gurvitz by a right-wing organization over a blog post which, they claimed, was an incitement to violence against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens.
Blogger and left-wing activist Yossi Gurvitz was questioned by Israel police two weeks ago on suspicion of incitement to violence. Gurvitz gave an update on the investigation in a short post published on his blog “Friends of George,” on Friday morning.
The investigation was opened following a decision by the deputy state prosecutor for special procedures, the lawyer Shai Nitzan, after the right-wing organization “The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel” presented a complaint in August last year.
Under the headline “A Short, Personal Message” Gurvitz wrote on Friday morning that he was being investigated again for incitement following a blog post he had published.
“This was a political investigation, which originated with a complaint by a political foundation, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, whose goal is to keep mouths shut,” Gurvitz wrote.
“I did not commit any crime, and I am convinced the case will be closed. Until now I could not report on this, and I am unable to expand further on the matter because of police instructions and the advice of my lawyer.”
I spoke with Gurvitz on Friday afternoon in order to find out more. He politely declined to comment, explaining that he is not allowed to discuss the investigation.
“The questioning continued for a few hours in a pleasant atmosphere, and the investigator was very nice,” he told me. “After questioning I was asked to sign something declaring that I would not give any interviews or give details about the questions I was asked and answers I gave. This affects my ability to defend myself and to respond to the complaints against me, but these are the conditions the police presented me with.”
I approached The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel on Friday afternoon and they confirmed that they presented a complaint against Gurvitz as early as August last year. The Forum spokesperson, Shmulik Klein, also passed me a letter the organization received two weeks ago, which states that the decision had been taken to open an investigation into Gurvitz on suspicion of incitement to violence based on the article published on his blog.
The events started on July 21 2011, when The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel sent a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in which they asked that an investigation be opened against Gurvitz following the blog post in question, which he had published on his blog four days earlier.
In the post, under the headline “On Violence,” Gurvitz referred to an article he had written a decade earlier in which he argued that Israeli settlers were not Israeli citizens. He expressed regret over the things he had written ten years earlier, and expressed his opposition to violence against the innocent.
Gurvitz wrote that there are situations, “In which violence is required and justified, such as resistance to invasion or occupation. However, it is necessary to limit violence to people in combat roles or those who carry weapons, whether they are in uniform or not.”
This paragraph, together with Gurvitz’s response to a reader “talkback” on another blog post he published a few days earlier, are what led the organization to make the official complaint against Gurvitz. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel claimed that, in response to the talkback, Gurvitz wrote that thesettlers are, “A legitimate target for Palestinian military operations.”
“His writing suggests that violence should be used against Israel Defense Forces soldiers and citizens of Judaea and Samaria who carry weapons,” The Legal Forum for Eretz-Israel wrote to the government legal advisor.
“Within two days 190 responses have been published, so that it looks as if many people have read Mr.Gurvitz’s article, and his influence is likely to be broad…we are convinced that what he wrote could be considered as incitement and sedition….the fact that the article was distributed via the internet, and received many responses within only a few days, means that there is a real possibility that it could lead to organized use of violence against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens.”
Responding to Gurvitz’s comments on Friday morning that the investigation against him is political and aimed at keeping mouths shut, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel stated that, “Despite the importance of freedom of expression, and the importance of upholding it in a democratic society, it cannot be used as a cover and as a rationale for inciters and those who call for violence.”
The blog of Haaretz's diplomatic correspondent, taking a deeper look behind the scenes of Israeli politics and foreign policy.