Readers here know that I regularly report on Israeli miscarriages of justice. Sometimes about prosecutors, police or judges who do a piss-poor job; sometimes about suspects getting away with murder (literally); sometimes about outright corruption or brutality. There’s almost never good news to report. But tonight there is some small measure of comfort that justice is sometimes done in Israel. Imperfectly, to be sure–but done nevertheless.
Last year, Jewish terrorists (aka “price taggers”) tried to burn down Max Rayne Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem. They succeeded in burning several classrooms and did considerable damage. In addition, they scrawled foul graffiti saying: “Co-existence is a cancer.” In such cases, the security services immediately slap a gag order on the proceedings. Israeli journalists may not report the names of suspects. Sometimes they may not even report about the attack itself.
At the time, I was able to break the gag and report that the ringleader’s name was Nachman Twito. In a picture I posted, he sports a dashing mohawk (not usual settler hair-style). His Facebook page features no less than six different Beitar Jerusalem Facebook pages which he’s Liked. Beitar is the favored soccer team of the worst of the settler rabble. The most vicious of the fans form a cabal called La Familia, which is reminiscent of the Mafia. Beitar hooligans (aka “fans”) drew a black eye and a red card in Belgium when they shouted racist slogans and threw flares and smoke bombs on the field. One smashed into the head of the opposing goalie, injuring him. As a result, the team owner announced he wanted nothing to do with the team and would sell it asap.
And these vermin call the Max Rayne school a cancer!! They should look in the mirror.
At the time I wrote my earlier post, I didn’t know that his brother was his partner in crime (along with two other culprits, Shlomo Rachamim and Yitzhak Gabai). Yesterday, Maariv reported the Twito brothers were sentenced for their crime. Last year, I believed they’d get away with their crime. It appears they didn’t. For some reason, the State found it had to act and hold them accountable for their acts of terror. Nachman received a two and a half-year sentence. His brother, two years. They were also sentenced to pay $6,500 in restitution. I saw the arson damage and it was considerably more than that amount. So this was a paltry sum.
The prosecution removed a charge against the terrorists accusing them of a hate crime. The staff of the school have made known that the punishment was exceedingly light. They were troubled by the leniency and a statement from one of the attackers saying the crime was worth suffering the punishment.
The arsonists are activists in the Israeli equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan. Called Lehava, it shames Jewish merchants into refusing the employ “Arab” workers, and pressures Jewish landlords not to rent to “Arab” tenants. Like the Westboro Baptist Church, it also publicly shames Jewish-Palestinian couples by protesting at their weddings. Now, Israel can say that Lehava is a genuine terror group. It’s important to note that many Israeli MKs publicly support Lehava, which makes them an accessory to terrorism.
Lest anyone take any satisfaction from the jail sentence meted out, read how the arsonists and their family treated the courtroom and the sentencing:
Accompanied by a large and noisy contingent of supporters, the brothers Twito (Nachman and Shlomo, 18 and 20), heard their sentence after confessing to burning the bi-lingual school in Jerusalem. Afterward, they left the court quite pleased with themselves and smiling.
Last week, I broke another gag order prohibiting publication of the name of a young woman who killed 16 year-old Gal Beck in a traffic accident. Shani Palti-Schulz is the daughter of an elite, wealthy Israeli family and married into the family of a wealthy TV producer. It’s quite possible she was drunk on the night she killed Gal Beck. At any rate, there is no record of a blood alcohol test. The police refused to interview key witnesses who testified that she drove through a red light. A prosecutor later accused of corruption and association with Mafia figures dropped the case after a few weeks.
Israeli TV produced a documentary about the tragic case. But it could not name Palti-Schulz. I hope I played some small role in adding pressure for reopening the case. At any rate, the State just announced they would do so. However, ten years have passed. Since the police did a laughable job the first time, one wonders whether they can still amass useful evidence at this late date.
If anyone reading this chooses to interpret these small victories as proof positive that Israel is liberal or democratic or that it respects the rule of law–two positive developments do not a trend make. It will take far, far more than this to justify hope for change.
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NOTE: I published a new piece today in Mint Press News about the Israel Lobby’s $50-million gamble that it can defeat the Iran nuclear deal. Please read and promote in social media and among your friends.