Israeli Who Spat at Polish Envoy Amid 'Holocaust Law' Controversy Convicted of Assault

Polish representative says plea deal reached in case 'seems hard to understand'

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Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski with President Reuven Rivlin, August 2018.
Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski with President Reuven Rivlin, August 2018.Credit: Mark Neiman / GPO

An Israeli court convicted Monday a man who spat at Poland's ambassador of assault as part of a plea bargain.   

In May, Arik Lederman, 65, was arrested after spitting at Marek Magierowski while he was sitting in his car in Tel Aviv. The plea agreement doesn't include the count of posing a threat. Lederman's sentence is yet to be given. 

According to the plea deal, Lederman didn't know that the Polish ambassador was sitting in the car.

Lederman's attorney, Avi Abramoff, intends to ask the Probation Service to reverse the conviction.  

Lawyer Eva Koklis, Poland's representative in the case, said she was not aware of the plea agreement, nor did she receive a copy of the amended indictment.

"We should have been informed about the plea deal, if only for collegial integrity. I understand that according to the law, we are in no position to oppose the agreement. Nevertheless, the deal seems hard to understand," Koklis said.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Roee Peri rebuked the police, saying that "Since the Polish representative attended all the hearings [on this case], she should have been updated about the agreement."

Relations between Israel and Poland have been on a collision course in recent years because of the controversial Polish legislation known as the “Holocaust Law,” which criminalizes anybody accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes. The law was passed in the Polish parliament in late 2017, but six months later Morawiecki backtracked on it and asked the parliament to reopen discussions on the law following pressure from Israel and the United States.

In its current form, the law makes it a criminal offense to accuse the Polish people or Polish state of being responsible or a partner to the Nazi crimes and outlaws the use of the term “Polish death camps” in reference to death camps that Nazi Germany established in Poland during World War II. It also makes it an offense to blatantly minimize “the responsibility of the real perpetrators of the crimes.”

The Polish parliament’s approval of the law created a crisis in Poland’s relations with Israel and the Jewish community worldwide. Opponents of the legislation, including Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance authority and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, have claimed that the law promotes Holocaust denial and limits debate on the role that some Poles played in the Holocaust.