Israeli AG Orders Criminal Probe Against Activist Jonathan Pollak Over Haaretz Op-ed

Pollak will be questioned on suspicion that he incited violence and terrorism over comments made in an unedited version erroneously posted on the Haaretz Hebrew site

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Jonathan Pollak released from detention in Abu Kabir, February 20, 2020
Jonathan Pollak released from detention in Abu Kabir, February 20, 2020Credit: Moti Milrod
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, said Thursday he was opening a criminal investigation against Jonathan Pollak, a left-wing activist and a Haaretz employee, over comments he made in a column he had written for Haaretz’s Hebrew online edition, headlined “Why I refuse to cooperate with the court.”

Pollak will be investigated on suspicion of inciting violence and terror.

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Haaretz Weekly Ep. 63Credit: Haaretz

Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri decided that there was no reason to open an investigation against Haaretz or its editors.

In a version of the article that was erroneously posted unedited on Haaretz’s Hebrew-language website, Pollak wrote: “Yes, we must cross the lines and break the law. Despite the price, we must join the children of the stones and firebombs. We must march in their footsteps.” These sentences were removed from the article a short time after it was published and did not appear in the newspaper’s print edition.

Jonathan Pollak being led to court in Tel Aviv, January 2020
Jonathan Pollak being led to court in Tel Aviv, January 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Pollak was released from custody on Thursday, after the attorney general ordered on Wednesday a stay on the legal proceedings against him and two other activists, claiming they were improper. Pollak was arrested last month for refusing to attend a hearing following a complaint filed against him by Ad Kan, a group which alleges that he and two other activists participated in violent protests against Israeli security forces in the West Bank since 2013 as part of their activities on behalf of the “Anarchists Against the Wall” group.

Deputy Attorney General Amit Merari issued a legal opinion in which she wrote that law enforcement is the job of the authorities and should not be conducted by representatives of political camps.

“It is in the public interest that state authorities enforce the law in these cases, by taking all relevant considerations into account, and that enforcement not be in the hands of the sides of a political dispute that is the basis for the protest,” Merari wrote.

From her standpoint, there is an absence of any evidentiary basis for the violations attributed to the three men. Merari also claimed that the legal proceedings should not be pushed by the Ad Kan associations, because they pertain to an issue that bears public rather than private significance.

“There is no room for enforcement to be conducted by a private entity. In light of the above the request for a stay of proceedings ought to be accepted,” she wrote.

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