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Im Tirzu Steals Confidential Documents from Lawyer’s Office

ronen shoval

Ronen Shoval testifying to a Knesset committee (David Venkin)

In a deposition in a libel case brought by the far-right Israeli group, Im Tirzu, its director, Ronen Shoval, admitted that he hired private investigators (Hebrew and English) who obtained confidential legal documents from the office of Michael Sfard, the Israeli human rights attorney.  The documents concerned his Israeli NGO clients, among them Yesh Din.  These stolen papers were transferred the documents to two far right Israeli newspapers.  Sfard noted his law office had been burglarized and documents stolen. All this means (and what follows are my own judgments, not those of the defendants or Sfard), that Ronen Shoval directed individuals to break and enter Sfard’s office and steal documents that were privileged and confidential. They also broke into the office of Yesh Din, whom Sfard represents.  This also means that the two newspapers received such stolen documents, probably knowingly.

The libel suit was brought by the highly litigious Shoval against those Israeli activists who created a Facebook page, Im Tirzu–Fascist movement–So There! The group’s claim is that calling it fascist constitutes libel because it is false and damaging to its reputation. Apparently, the group doesn’t think much of democratic values like free speech unless the values are ones THEY are exercising.

In a circumambulation through the miasma of Jewish ultra-nationalism, Sfard questioned Shoval for three hours.  Among other pearls of wisdom emanating from him were these notions: western culture is decadent, materialist and egotistical, Am Yisrael (the Jewish people) is a metaphysical entity and an organic vision of nationality.

The lowest of the low for the Im Tirzu crowd is to call someone a “post-Zionist.”  This is somewhat equivalent to a Haredi Jew who calls another Jew apikoros.  In other words, someone who’s betrayed the faith and gone over to the Dark Side.  There are blatant post-Zionists like Peace Now, the New Israel Fund and the like.  But then there are hidden post-zionists like Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Kadima, Olmert.  Shoval confessed that he didn’t believe in unfettered freedom of speech: the law should prevent human rights organization from publishing statements or materials that endangered the State.  You can imagine how sweeping the definition would be.

When questioned about his use of private detectives to break into Sfard’s office, Shoval was absolutely unapologetic.  In fact, this was a project he felt the police should be doing and so he found his illegal behavior easily justifiable.  He could not understand why law enforcement agencies have not already charged the attorney with treason.  Sfard is one of Israel’s leading human rights attorneys and represents the NGO, Yesh Din, which has led a campaign to bring war crimes charges in Israeli courts against IDF officers.

Shoval believes that the Israeli activists who founded the Facebook page are enemies of the State.  This somehow places them outside the bounds of legal protections. If you believe that leftists are a cancer against the nation, then there’s nothing that isn’t justified in the name of preserving the homeland (or should I say, Fatherland?).  This reminds me of the attitude of Augusto Pinochet that motivated the coup against Salvador Allende. In other words, Ronen Shoval is, if not a fascist then a proto-fascist.

During his testimony, Shoval also coined a wondrous ideological term: he accused Israeli NGOs like Yesh Din, B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence of engaging in acts of “mental terrorism.”  Apparently the mere act of advocating for human rights is terrorism in the minds of such cretins.

Im Tirzu has non-profit status in Israel.  This means that a portion of donations to the group are tax-deductible.  The organization touts its mission as educating the Israeli public about the history of Zionism and its continued relevance today.  But what Israel’s tax authorities should now examine is whether hiring private investigators to perform burglaries and using the tax-deductible donations of Israeli taxpayers to do so, is within legal parameters of an Israeli non-profit.  I have no doubt that given the far-right nature of the Israeli government the tax man will figure out a way to absolve Im Tirzu of culpability.  But we should make it as hard as possible for them to do so.

Im Tirzu is poison and Israeli society has been infected with this poison by its far-right ultranationalist ideology. Ronen Shoval has been brought up with a Zionist silver spoon in his mouth.  He believes he and his ilk “own” Israel and the very conception of the Zionist state. Everyone who doesn’t share his views (like “Arabs” and leftists) may remain by his sufferance. But that right may be rescinded at his discretion. That’s the Israel Ronen Shoval envisions. Lest anyone argue that the Shovals of Israel are flukes or a minority–that simply isn’t so. He is a prince of contemporary Zionism. Like Naftali Bennett, who stands to win 15 Knesset seats in the upcoming election (running to the right of even Avigdor Lieberman’s Likud-Beitneu Party), Im Tirzu is Israel’s future (if not its present).

Imagine not Ronen Shoval, director of Im Tirzu, but Minister Shoval, who gets the opportunity to direct the activities of the Shin Bet and Israeli police.  Then he can abandon the private investigators and use the machinery of state to persecute his enemies.

What liberal Zionists must ask themselves is how can they stomach an Israel that is run by unreconstructed fascists like Shoval and Bennet? How long can they defend an Israel run by and for not just Jews, but this particular aberrant version of the Jew?

Where have we heard another religion deal with such a problem?  Where have we seen a malignant perversion of traditional religious dogma take up the cudgel for its particular violent, intolerant, triumphalist Crusade?  Yes, of course–Al Qaeda and the jihadists.  You see, we Jews have the same problem that Muslims have.  We have those who’ve perverted the sacred texts and used them to justify hate and violence.  Now what are we each going to do about it?

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Deïr Yassin January 19, 2013, 4:17 AM

    Ronen Shoval participated in The Cafe, a well-known debate program by Mehdi Hassan/al-Jazeera-English in Tel Aviv this summer. Six participants of whom one was a settler leader, another J-14 leader turned Labour-politician (she was slick…), Shlomo Sand and Haneen Zoabi. That woman has guts, Shoval and the other settler-thug were just disgusting. If’s she doesn’t like the state of affairs, she’s free to leave, one of them says. If those guys get into power, they’ll probably make her leave.
    A little bit superficial, but still: Sand and particularly Zoabi have very good points. I love when that ‘revolutionnary-turned-politician’ says that her grandparents didn’t come to Palestine to take anyone’s place (or something like that), and Zoabi cuts her off: ‘but they did !’

    • yankel January 19, 2013, 10:06 AM

      “If those guys get into power, they’ll probably make her leave” – but those guys are already in power and do their best to make her and her people leave. For those guys, the fact that she and a handful of her people are still there is the result of negligence by the half-hearted, lefty perpetrators of the ’48 Nakba (and the fact that so many of her people are still in the occupied territories is the result of an inherent soft-hearted weakness of the ’67 lefties.)
      What those guys are waiting for is not getting into power as they’re deep in it. They are waiting for the right historical constellation to create a window-of-opportunity allowing them to rectify these soft-hearted omissions.

  • Joel January 19, 2013, 10:35 AM

    “When questioned about his use of private detectives to break into Sfard’s office, Shoval was absolutely unapologetic”

    What! Where was Shoval’s attorney, who should have stopped his client from incriminating himself at the deposition.

    I mean, isn’t the right against self-incrimination enshrined in Common Law?

    • Richard Silverstein January 19, 2013, 11:39 PM

      And do we really think any Israeli policeman is going to investigate or charge Ronen Shoval with a crime, even if he admits to one in court?

  • dickerson3870 January 19, 2013, 1:36 PM

    RE: “Im Tirzu is poison and Israeli society has been infected with this poison by its far-right ultranationalist ideology. . . Im Tirzu is Israel’s future (if not its present). . . Imagine not Ronen Shoval, director of Im Tirzu, but Minister Shoval, who gets the opportunity to direct the activities of the Shin Bet and Israeli police. ~ R.S.

    PERHAPS THIS VIDEO WILL HELP EVERYONE IMAGINE: Mussolini in Color: The Blackshirts [VIDEO, 02:23] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97nSCWU_hXQ

  • Michael Croydon January 19, 2013, 9:39 PM

    I don’t understand this. The guy is admitting that he hired PIs to obtain confidential documents, and there is strong circumstantial evidence that those PIs broke into Sfard’s office. Doesn’t that mean that at least the PIs could be suspected of committing a crime, and the prosecution should open an investigation? I’m not naive about the current state of affairs in Israel, but shouldn’t Sfard and others be calling for this?

    • Richard Silverstein January 19, 2013, 11:34 PM

      Sfard reported the break in to the police. But he now has to consider whether to file a criminal complaint. I don’t know what the considerations are–but presumably doing so might further compromise the privacy of those clients whose case files were stolen. Though I don’t know this for a fact.

    • Daniel F. January 20, 2013, 9:23 AM

      When Ronen Shoval admits to hiring private investigators,who may have committed felony crimes and who may be able to incriminate him,
      he knows that both he and the PI’ s are unlikely to be investigated and even less likely to be prosecuted……..Sad, but true.

      • Joel January 20, 2013, 12:16 PM

        Private investigators burglarizing a prominent attorney’s office? That doesn’t sound like any private investigator I’ve ever met, and I’ve worked with quite a few in my legal practice. Something in this story doesn’t add up.

        • Richard Silverstein January 20, 2013, 9:41 PM

          Really? You don’t know PIs in Israel who are dirty? Then you must not practice criminal defense law. In fact, I was almost tempted to write about a PI named Weig who is precisely the sort who’d do this if paid enough.

  • yankel January 20, 2013, 5:59 AM

    (Complete offtopic) Never mind the (English) article, just see the video (English) bearing in mind that the latest polls slate this unashamed terrorist to be a member of Israel’s upcoming coalition.

    • Deïr Yassin January 20, 2013, 1:24 PM

      I guess people like Michael Ben-Ari or Arieh Eldad thinks the same (and many more probably), but they’ve just never been caught on camera. Ben-Ari wants to expel all Palestinians from historical Palestine, so why leave a mosque….

      • yankel January 21, 2013, 6:56 AM

        True, but the people you mentioned are in the fringe and this guy is poised – if elected – to be part of a major party within the ruling coalition. Mind you, so will the Feiglins…

  • Nimrod January 20, 2013, 8:00 AM

    You didn’t seem to be bother by this law when Uri Blau used stolen documents.

    Aren’t you interested to know what the NGO clients are hiding?

    • Richard Silverstein January 20, 2013, 9:45 PM

      What a friggin’ hypocrite. I want Shoval’s PI to burgle YOUR lawyer’s office & tell us your dirty secrets. Then let’s see how you’ll squeal about such practices.

      Blau used documents that proved the IDF committed war crimes. He was a journalist & journalists do such things if the issue is important enough, as it was in this case.

      You make me sick.

  • Brian January 20, 2013, 6:09 PM

    Anyone who read’s your post may get impression that Ronen Shoval himself stole documents from the office of M.Sfarad and others, or directed others to do so. The hiring of a private investigator is not against the law either in Israel or the US, if the said investigator brakes the law, it’s his/her responsibility and he will bare the consequences for the said violation. For someone who published stolen documents in the past (leaked to you by Shamai Laybovitch) to criticize Shoval for taking a similar path…a bit hypocritical.

    • Richard Silverstein January 20, 2013, 9:38 PM

      That’s cute & you must either be a good bud of Shoval’s or his PR flack. There’s nothing illegal about hiring a PI. But there is something illegal about hiring a PI who you tell, or who tells you he plans to engage in an illegal act in order to fulfill what you’ve commissioned him to do. In other words, Shoval either told the PI to burglarize the office or in so many words agreed with that strategy. Or perhaps Shoval had another party (a lawyer?) tell the PI his job? Whatever the case, Shoval is dirty and you’re dirty for defending him.

      Plus you’re remarkably unconvincing.

      Shamai Leibowitz didn’t burglarize a lawyer’s office. He worked for the federal government & took those documents because he believed Israel wanted a war with Iran. Events of 2010 proved him right. He’s a whistleblower. Are you claiming Shoval & his dirty dick (PI, that is in old fashioned colloquial English) were whistleblowers uncovering the treasonous activities of Sfard & Yesh Din? Because that would be a novel & interesting legal strategy. Preposterous, but interesting.

      • Brian January 21, 2013, 8:36 AM

        1. Where did i defend Shoval ? I simply stated the facts, nowhere did i state my own opinion on the matter.
        2. Where is your proof as to what happened between Shoval and the PI ?
        3. Anyone can claim that you directed Libeovitch into leaking those documents to you, hence stealing them from the government. Without any proof of the matter such a statement would be extremely unfair and unjust. This is what you are doing to Shoval.
        4. I shower daily – your remark deviates from your own comment rules.

        • Richard Silverstein January 21, 2013, 12:40 PM

          You’re clearly ignorant of my history with Shamai Leibowitz. I didn’t direct him to do anything. He approached me and asked me to collaborate with him regarding the documents. You can accept my word or not, I don’t care.

          As for defending Shoval, you didn’t have to–that was clear from the substance of your comment. And don’t be disingenuous. It’s clear where your politics and sympathies lie.

          It’s one thing to shower daily, but when you make others feel they have to shower after reading your drivel, that’s another thing entirely.

  • Shmuel Kohn January 21, 2013, 12:17 AM

    See this piece that shows where Silverstein got things wrong:


    • Richard Silverstein January 21, 2013, 6:28 PM

      Holy crap, you just broke two comment rules in one comment. Linking to piece of crap FrontpageMagazine AND Steven Lout. Good for you! That’s quite an achievement.

      And you think anyone who reads this blog would even click a link to crap like that? Why? Because we enjoy reading outright lies, fabrication & hallucinations posed as truth? Or just because we enjoy flagellation & mutilation of reality for the sake of ideological purity?

  • Joel January 22, 2013, 9:08 AM


    I think Michael Sfard, Esq. is ethically bound to notify the Judge assigned to the case, that the plaintiff, Mr. Shoval, has admitted in his sworn testimony to having committed a felony.

    Like I said earlier, there something not right here. Something fishy.

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