Daphni in the Dock

Police used violence against Daphni Leef, and now they want her to serve time in prison for it.

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“Like a wolf lying in wait” is how a police detective described social protest leader Daphni Leef, who was thrown to the ground and dragged along it by a swarm of brawny policemen. That’s the kind of “testimony” being given to support the administration’s demand that the court sentence Leef to serve time in prison on account of the violence used against her. Soon the Rabin family will be sued for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s crimes – for having assaulted the three bullets that killed him and for having offended Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the rallies where the inflammatory chant “With blood and fire we’ll expel Rabin” was raised.

This Kafkaesque courtroom event – in which the regime’s prosecutors are submitting videotapes that don’t even show Leef, but just a few demonstrators shouting “democracy” – probably won’t end in a conviction. But who knows? And in any case, it doesn’t matter. The fact is that a minister convicted of using violence against a minor, Avigdor Lieberman, was granted a pre-indictment hearing, and the attorney general deliberated and deliberated some more. But the leader of the great protest of 2011 was effectively sentenced to violent legal abuse.

This is no accident – just as it’s no accident that the doyenne of Israeli humanism, Shulamit Aloni, was thrown out of the Education Ministry for the “crime” of supporting the teaching of evolution; that peace activist Abie Nathan was imprisoned for the “crime” of talking with Palestinians; that John Lennon was persecuted by U.S. President Richard Nixon and his regime; that Martin Luther King endured threats; that Mahatma Gandhi the pacifist was murdered; and that Yitzhak Rabin of all people, the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff who devoted his entire life to Israel’s security, became a target for assassination.

Always, the greatest threat to the reign of evil comes from the pure of heart, who devote themselves with all their might to the general welfare. Because I was present in the first hours of the 2011 protest, I was able to see Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli, for instance, arrive at the scene with one single thought in mind – their careers. Specifically, their place in the next Knesset. From the very first moment, that was why they were there. Like robots of the system.

And that is why Leef, who burns with genuine conviction, has been abandoned and humiliated in the dock. That’s also why she – like Lennon, Gandhi, King, Aloni, Nathan and Rabin – is the one who influenced millions. For the public, even when drugged by capitalist reality TV, knows how to discern who is a true leader, who is thinking about changing the world instead of only about himself.

The silencing of Leef is part of a general silencing and darkness perpetrated by the regime. Alongside the case of the teacher who is facing dismissal for voicing his opinions at the ORT Kiryat Tivon school – a case that arose, not coincidentally, because of a teacher with a conscience – there are thousands of other cases of silencing every day, which are building and reinforcing the generally accepted “truths” by means of regime terror.

Thus, for instance, at a Tel Aviv school, a child submitted a project in honor of the regime education system’s discussion of the legacy of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. A state commission of inquiry, the Kahan Commission, dismissed then-Defense Minister Sharon over his “indirect responsibility” for the 1982 massacre in Beirut’s Sabra and Chatila refugee camps. But the boy who mentioned this in his project was silenced and humiliated. The teacher wouldn’t let him present his project. And the teacher was backed by the principal, the supervisor and the Education Ministry itself, which ruled that the boy had tried to introduce “political” content into the classroom. A state commission of inquiry evidently has no place in the state education system.

This is the heart of the matter. Everything that doesn’t fit the regime’s political truth is sentenced to be silenced on the grounds that it’s “political” – the worst crime of all. Only what the regime says is the truth. Any doubts, questions or opposing views are “political,” and are therefore sentenced to be silenced.

This, and only this, is why Daphni Leef sits in the dock.

In the Middle Ages, a religious dictatorship controlled freedom of thought, research, religion and conscience – in short, freedom itself. The entire essence of human development has depended on one single thing: freedom of thought and opinion, the freedom to cast doubt. Without them, nothing in human civilization would exist. Without them, all that exists is the Inquisition.

What is happening in the State of Israel goes beyond fascism. The regime is inciting against freedom itself.

Daphni Leef.Credit: Daniel Bar-On
Police detaining Daphni Leef at a demonstration on Rothschild Boulevard in June 2012.Credit: Alon Ron

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