Israeli Protester Fined Heavily for ‘Humiliating’ Banker

Attorney Barak Cohen was given a six-month suspended sentence and a $5,800 fine on Sunday for infringing on the privacy of Bank Leumi’s former CEO

Attorney Barak Cohen in court, August 25, 2019.
Meged Gozani

Attorney Barak Cohen, a leader of the social protests against the banks, was given a six-month suspended sentence and a 20,000-shekel ($5,800) fine on Sunday for infringing on the privacy of Bank Leumi’s former CEO by targeting her relatives.

His partners in the protest, Ilya Marshak and Moshe Menkin, were both given five-month suspended sentences and 2,000-shekel fines. All three were also ordered to stay away from the former CEO, Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, and her family for another six months.

They were convicted over fliers they distributed outside Russak-Aminoach’s home saying, “Dana isn’t to blame for her mother being a criminal,” referring to her daughter. Cohen was also convicted for protesting outside the daughter’s school, making phone calls to Russak-Aminoach’s mother and brother-in-law, publishing the transcripts on Facebook and revealing the access code Russak-Aminoach used to screen calls.

In his ruling, Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Shmuel Melamed wrote that “shaming and humiliating aren’t part of freedom of expression,” and therefore aren’t protected speech. While freedom of expression covers statements relevant to the topic of the protest, he said, “bringing in irrelevant issues, whose purpose is often to embarrass and humiliate the target of the protest, leads to contempt for freedom of expression.”

Several other charges, including extortion, harassment and assaulting a policeman, were dropped as part of the plea bargain.