Activist Who Joined Bennett's Party Had Admitted to Uprooting Palestinian Olive Trees

Yamina candidate and self-employed group protest leader was also convicted for assaulting an officer. The party decries a 'shameful' attempt to hurt Abir Kara's image ahead of Israel's March election

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Abir Kara at a demonstration by small business owners in Tel Aviv, January 2020.
Abir Kara at a demonstration by small business owners in Tel Aviv, January 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

An Israeli protest leader who on Tuesday joined Naftali Bennett's right-wing Yamina party ahead of Israel's March election had admitted to uprooting 30 olive trees owned by a Palestinian man.

Abir Kara, founder of the "I am Shulman" protest group of self-employed Israelis who is expected to be placed high on Yamina's slate, was also convicted in 2006 of obstructing and insulting a police officer.

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Further incidents of threatening behavior by Kara were reported by two Israeli broadcasters on Tuesday, following Kara’s announcement.

Kara and his associates are to receive one of the top 10 spots on the Yamina slate in Israel’s upcoming election on March 23, two positions between slots 11 to 20, and two more from 20 to 25.

Yamina characterized the reports as a "shameful" attempt to try Kara for "old events that occurred sometime in his youth," adding that they are proud of Kara and his movement for joining the party. "Kara has already commented on these events and apologized to those who were hurt. Abir is a social leader and a true fighter for the rights of Israel’s self-employed," the party said in a statement.

"We knew that the moment he joined the attacks would begin. It only proves that we are on the right path," Bennett tweeted on Wednesday, in a post full of praise for Kara, "a Zionist fighter with great spirit and a fighter on behalf of hundreds of thousands of the self-employed who are fighters."

In 2006, sentencing Kara to four months of probation and 240 hours of community service for hindering a police officer in the performance of her duties and insulting a public servant, Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman recalled an event that had taken place years before: When he was 18, Kara had admitted to intentionally damaging 30 olive trees belonging to a Palestinian in the Givon settlement, but the case had been closed because of his age at the time of the incident.

"It seems the defendant has not internalized the forgiveness bestowed upon him in that case, and instead of learning a lesson, he has again carried out crimes," wrote Judge Friedman-Feldman – now the chief judge presiding over a three-judge tribunal in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial at the Jerusalem District Court. "In both his behavior and testimony in court, it was possible to discern similarities to the description provided by the plaintiff," she added.

"You don’t know who you’re getting into trouble with, I’ll show you who I am," Kara reportedly shouted at a police officer when she informed him that he was under arrest, according to the indictment that resulted in his 2006 conviction.

Kara had threatened and cursed at a police officer who had asked him to stop putting up election campaign signs in an area where campaigning was banned, alleged the indictment, refusing to identify himself and calling her an "idiot" and "retard." At the trial, another police officer who was at the scene testified that Kara called the officers "nobodies," and had said "They put uniforms on you, I’m a soldier, I’ll do what I want."

On Tuesday, public broadcaster Kan reported that Kara recently threatened former activists in his movement, saying he would place grenades outside their doors. "Pitiful cockroach, I’m dying to run into you on the street, my life’s dream," Kara reportedly wrote to another activist.

"I definitely felt threatened and I even considered filing a complaint with the police," another self-employed protest leader said of a meeting with Kara that almost deteriorated into a fist fight in a report published by Channel 13 News. According to him, Kara had been furious with him because of things he had said.

Kara referred Haaretz to Yamina in response to a request for comment.

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