Monday, February 18, 2002

Ben Yair

Ben Yair
Feb. 18, 2002


Years ago, during the Rabin-Peres debacle, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin appointed a distant relative of his, Michael Ben-Yair, to the post of Attorney General of the state of Israel. The Israeli Attorney General is one of the most powerful people in Israel, having the ability to decide who will be indicted, and for what crime. For instance, Michael Ben-Yair, during the early days of the Netanyahu administration, decided to press charges against Raphael Eitan, then candidate for the ministerial post of Internal Security, with responsibility for the entire Israeli police force. Ben-Yair’s indictment of Eitan, and the subsequent trial forced Netanyahu to withdraw Raful’s candidacy. Of course, the suspect was totally acquitted of the charges against him, but was unable to return to the post originally slated for him.

Ditto, attorney Ya’akov Neeman, who was selected to be Netanyahu’s Justice Minister. He too was indicted and acquitted, but as a result of the indictment, lost the Justice ministry.

The Attorney General of Israel can make, or break, governments.

Michael Ben-Yair, as attorney general, labeled the Yesha council, known in Hebrew as Moetzet Yesha, “a rebellious body.”   He also authored the infamous “special rules” used by police and prosecutors to persecute Hebron’s Jewish Community.  And he might well be best remembered for indicting Moshe Feiglin and Shmuel Sackett on charges of “incitement to revolt,” for which they were later convicted. The motive for the charges: Feiglin and Sackett were the masterminds behind the “Zu Artzenu” movement, translated as “Our Land Movement,” which attempted to protest, originally, the Rabin-Peres policy stopping all building in Judea, Samaria, and Gazza, and later, the Oslo curse.

Feiglin and Sackett utilized an age-old system of protest, known as civil disobedience. They organized an operation called Mivtza Machpil, whose goal was to increase the land area of already existing communities in Yesha. They later planned massive demonstrations throughout central intersections all over Israel, tying up traffic, in an effort to make their voices heard.

For these activities, for calling on the masses to express their opinions via civil disobedience, Feiglin and Sackett were indicted for incitement to revolt by Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair.

Now, let’s play a little guessing game. I’m going to read you a quote from Daliya Yairi’s morning show on Reshet Bet Israel radio from yesterday, February 17, 2002. The subject of the discussion is support for a  petition letter signed by some 200 plus soldiers and officers, refusing to serve in Yesha.

Now I quote: “A democratic society consists not only of majority rule, but rather of other very important values which are the foundation of the society. And among these values is recognized the value of civil disobedience against the law. As an example, Martin Luther King, in the 1960s in the United States, etc.”

OK, now it’s your turn. Guess who said it. That’s right, our old friend, now the former Attorney General, Michael Ben-Yair.

Later in the interview Ben-Yair added, “It is incorrect to show these who refuse to serve in Yesha as if they were doing something undemocratic, this is absolutely wrong. It is permissible in a democratic state of law.  …An enlightened state, in my opinion, an enlightened army, in my opinion, must react with moderation…they should not be put on trial and their actions should not be examined, we shouldn’t attack them, because their movement, in my estimation, is going to increase…” etc.

So says the former Attorney General who prosecuted Feiglin and Sackett, defining civil disobedience as incitement to revolt.

In response, Hebron’s Jewish Community yesterday faxed the following letter to the present Attorney General, Eliyakim Rubenstein:

The Attorney General
Prof. Eliakim Rubenstein

We are honored to present you with a complaint against Mr. Michael Ben-Yair for incitement to rebel.

1.     Enclosed please find a transcript of former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair’s interview on Reshet Bet radio. Also please find an item from the Yediot Achronot newspaper, according to which Ben-Yair included his signature on the petition calling on soldiers to refuse to serve in Yesha.
2.     In the interview, Ben-Yair calls for mass refusal by Israeli soldiers to serve in Yesha. He defines such refusal as “civil disobedience,” and brings, as an example, Martin Luther King, who formed a mass movement of civil disobedience, leading to major changes in American law.
3.     With this statement, Mr. Ben-Yair contravened the law of inciting to revolt, as defined by the legal code (section 136).
4.     We request to commence with legal proceedings against Michael Ben-Yair.
5.     We request that the legal proceedings, from commencement until their conclusion be conducted in the framework of “the combined committee dealing with incitement and rebellion,” according to the rules established with formation of the committee by government decision 6317, including:
a.      to ensure that the police are aware of the offense, and commence with an investigation, gathering evidence, and weighing the necessity to indict and bring to trial.
b.     To ensure that there is no delay in proceedings and in transfer of the investigation to criminal prosecutors.
c.     To ensure that there is no delay in a decision by the prosecution.
d.     To ensure that an indictment is forthcoming and to weigh the possibility of requesting incarceration until the conclusion of proceedings.
e.      To ensure, should the need arise, to request to hasten hearings, due to public interest.
f.       To ensure full law enforcement against the suspect (Mr. Ben-Yair).
g.     To weigh the possibility of issuance of an administrative order, (including a restriction order) against the suspect.
h.     To update “at least once a month” those responsible for issues dealing with the subject.”

(Note: The quotes are taken from the instructions in “A combined committee to deal with incitement and rebellion” as were authored by Michael Ben-Yair in November 1995, and were confirmed by government decision 6317.)

6.     “The Combined Committee to Deal with Incitement and Rebellion” under the authority of attorney Taliya Sasson, has dealt for years with the ‘settlement’ population and right-wing activists, always emphasizing these rules, and others, with a severe, and even ruthless attitude towards right-wingers under her jurisdiction.
7.     The foundation of the rule of law is equality under the law, and we can only be thankful that this special opportunity has presented itself to us:

Together we will examine how Ms. Taliya Sasson deals with this case, and together, with a new suspect, who is none other than the same person who authored these rules, which have, for years, been the source of constant persecution against ‘settlers,’ and right-wing activists.

We suggest that this test be called: “The ben-Yair-Feiglin Examination.”

8.     We request return receipt of this letter and complaint.
9.     We request to receive updates concerning this criminal investigation.


Noam Arnon    Orit Struk
The Hebron Jewish Community Council

With blessings from Hebron.

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