Israeli State Implicated in Criminal Acts Against Human Rights Lawyer

Michael Sfard, Israeli human right lawyer, pictured before the Separation Wall (Rina Castelnuovo)

Back in 2010, Im Tirzu (Fascists) published the private legal work product of Israeli human rights attorney, Michael Sfard, regarding the human rights work of his NGO clients.  At the time, Sfard believed that Im Tirzu itself had broken into his offices to pilfer the confidential documents.  As one would expect, given the Israeli police record of defending the rights of left-wing NGOs, the police closed the case for “lack of evidence.”

These legal materials were published in Sheldon Adelson’s Yisrael HaYom, the newspaper founded by the billionaire to get Netanyahu into the prime minister’s office and keep him there.  The article claimed that Yesh Din, one of Sfard’s clients sought to classify IDF military assaults against Gaza as war crimes.  Im Tirzu believed that such exposure would shame the NGO in the eyes of the Israeli public and forever mark it as a traitor to the Israeli State.

Haaretz’s best investigative journalist, Uri Blau, who now lives in exile in the U.S. after being labelled a criminal for reporting IDF secrets, reported that the stolen documents were procured by another right-wing NGO, Regavim.  This group’s mission is to prove that rather than Israelis violating international law by stealing Palestinian land, it is Palestinians who are violating Israeli law in the West Bank.  It’s a warped and twisted view of reality, but that’s what characterizes latter-day Israel.

Regavim thrives in the Wild West atmosphere of Likudist Israel.  Like Ad Kan, it’s a rough-and-tumble outfit that uses whatever means at its disposal, legal or illegal, to bolster the Occupation and settlement enterprise.  In this case, Blau shows conclusively that Regavim hired a private detective to break into Sfard’s office and steal legal materials.  This is of course a grave offense.  Not that the police will actually arrest anyone for the crime.  The goal of the scheme was to prove that Sfard was collaborating with Israeli enemies in the EU in support of the BDS movement.

Blau discovered that Regavim had paid the PI for his work and that, since over one-third of Regavim’s funding comes from governmental entities (like Settler Councils and the like) that it’s quite possible that the Israeli taxpayer paid for the break-in.  The costs of the PI’s three-year surveillance of Sfard’s office could’ve have been as much as $250,000.

Bezalel Smotrich, who claimed the Dawabsheh murders “were not terror,” may’ve orchestrated illegal break-in.

The PI defends his actions by claiming that he never broke into Sfard’s office.  But rather that he sifted through the office trash and discovered all the documents there.  I interviewed Sfard, who disputed this characterization.   He notes that Im Tirzu released print-outs of e-mail and other electronic communication which would not have been in printed form in his office or in the trash.  He also notes that the rightist NGO made public actual notebooks, which would never have been disposed of in the trash.

The final indignity of this scandal is that Regavim’s chief legal officer, and the employee who would likely have approved the hiring of the PI, was none other than Bezalel Smotrich.  Though Smotrich coyly denies involvement, he is a devout Kahanist and Bayit Yehudi MK.  He is infamous for calling himself a “proud homophobe” who hosted a “Day of the Beasts” to protest Israel’s Gay Pride Day.  Which means that a sitting MK appears likely to have committed an act that in most other countries would be a felony.  And that he likely used state funds to do it.

What all this means is that the Israeli State itself has become a partner in crime.  There is a vast right-wing conspiracy to transform Israel into a settler state, in which the West Bank will become indivisible from Israel through annexation or another form.  While I would welcome annexation because it would expose for the world the fraudulence of Israeli policy and force the former to act, admittedly this is a very dangerous option.  If the world doesn’t stand up in full force to oppose annexation and impose a just solution, Israel will have gotten away with, literally, murder.

That being said, this doesn’t mean I back away from exposing the plans of the settler lobby. If their goal is to destroy the possibility of Palestine via annexation, I want to make their job as difficult as possible.