On the Legal Front: Chaya Belogorodsky

In support and encouragement for our efforts to free Chaya, we have been flooded with mail and phone calls, expressing outrage and offering help. We strongly suggest you read on and find out what is really happening in Israel today.

Moshe Belogorodsky,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Our 14-year-old daughter Chaya was arrested with several other girls on the 29th of June near Tel Aviv at a demonstration opposing the Disengagement Plan. The High Court of Justice ordered them held without bail, pending the outcome of the legal proceedings against them, a process likely to take a number of months.

In support and encouragement for our efforts to free Chaya, we have been flooded with mail and phone calls, expressing outrage and offering help. We strongly suggest you read on and find out what is really happening in Israel today.

Chaya's case is now being used as a legal precedent to incarcerate other protesters, including children, until the end of their legal proceedings. Thus, it is now more vital than ever to fight Chaya's case and challenge this horrifying state of affairs.

We have started the second round in the legal battle. In this round, parents of two other girls - Moriah Goldberg, age 13 (!), and Pnina Ashkenazi, age 16 - have decided to join our case. Moriah and Pnina were arrested at the same demonstration, and were jailed at the same time as Chaya. Our goal in this round of proceedings is to get a wider panel of judges to hear our case in the Supreme Court.

We filed an appeal to the lower court, claiming that a month in prison was enough of a "lesson" to ensure that the girls will not return to road-blocking activities again. We asked the court to release them into our custody, under full house arrest. We brought in precedents from Supreme Court decisions where the Supreme Court released rapists, armed robbers and drug dealers to house arrest - even those who were re-arrested for repeating similar crimes while they were supposed to be under house arrest.

The judge refused our petition, claiming that the "danger to public peace" would be too great if the girls are released. Rape, armed robbery and drug offenses are apparently less dangerous to public peace than standing on the sidewalk to protest.

What follows are some "gems" from the court protocol.

The words of the state prosecutor, Ms. Karni Davis, explaining the reasons for keeping these dangerous-to-the-public criminals behind bars: "If this court releases the accused to their village to complete house arrest, even if they learned their lesson, and even if they adhere to the house arrest - this is not enough. These girls will continue their protest from home. The prosecution believes that if the girls are released back to their villages, they will talk to other people there, tell them their stories and cause other people to participate in similar demonstrations. Therefore, the danger to public peace still exists, even if they are under full house arrest."

This, from the mouth of a state prosecutor in the only democracy in the Middle East. It is now illegal to talk. No, I am not making this up - it is a direct quote from the protocol of the court from July 27, 2005 (proceeding #000917/05 in the case #001487/05 in Tel Aviv Juvenile Court).

It doesn't end there. It gets better. Probation services and the prosecution proposed a "humane" solution to release the girls from prison: "We can arrange for them to go to a kibbutz." The girls turned down this offer. When asked by the judge why, they explained that the kibbutz would be very far from home, so they would rarely see their families. No less important, the religious level of most of the kibbutzim is not at their level of observance.

Here is the state prosecutor's response : "The accused have to decide between remaining in Maasiyahu prison or being on the kibbutz. I am certain they will choose the kibbutz, even if this means that they'll have to exercise more caution regarding the fulfillment of their religious requirements. This will not cause damage. On the contrary, it will be educational."

What the prosecutor is telling 13-year-old Moriah and 14-year-old Chaya - and the world - is that if they want to leave prison soon, then they have to be ready to compromise on their religious observance.

When I heard this, I could not sit quietly anymore. I got up and shouted that I couldn't believe my ears: "In Communist Russia, in the 1930s, the state took away the children of the 'enemies of the people' for 're-education'. I cannot believe the State of Israel is doing the same in 2005!"

Well, the judge ordered me removed from the courtroom.

Attempting to bring the plight of our girls into the public eye, we have appeared on numerous TV and radio stations in Israel. we have explained the threat every citizen of Israel faces following the legal precedent set in this case. The case has generated a strong response from both Right and Left, including lawyers for Peace Now, who condemned the arrests.

In conversations with a number of other parents whose children are held in jail for similar "crimes", an idea was born to form a committee that would represent all of us, before both the public and the state systems. The response was favorable, and the initial meeting of all the parents will be called for very soon.

On the parliamentary front, we participated in a special session of the Knesset Committee for the Protection of Children in Israel. Members of the committee, from Knesset Member Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party) on the Right to Knesset Member Ran Cohen (Meretz) on the Left, were visibly shaken by both the legal absurdity of this case and by the treatment of the girls inside the prison.

MK Cohen said that if they were not released by the end of the week, the entire committee - five MKs - will visit the prison once a week. MK Finkelstein was outraged by the obvious discrimination against the girls. She demanded an explanation from the police representative as to why a 14-year-old is in prison, while not one member of the Histadrut labor union, which blocks roads to get salary increases, are ever arrested. She promised to visit the girls on Thursday, July 28, bringing the whole Knesset Committee for the Protection of Children with her. Our special thanks go to MK Finkelstein for her continuous efforts on behalf of the girls.

In other efforts, we pasted 500 posters throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. The posters, headlined "Sharon can sleep peacefully - the enemies of the nation are behind bars", include pictures, a brief summary of the legal proceedings and a request for help to continue the struggle. We would like to raise $ 3,000 to conduct the next stage of the poster campaign throughout Israel.

We intend to circulate a petition demanding the release of the girls. The petition should be faxed to all of the Supreme Court judges. We want to flood them with petitions and send them a message that the public is troubled by the abuse of the basic human right that this case represents.

We will continue our struggle for the freedom of our children, but we need your help desperately.

Please send your contributions to:

Moshe Belogorodsky
House # 310
Shilo 44830

For tax-deductible contributions please send your checks to:

Am Yisrael Chai Foundation (please mark on the check "freedom for Chaya")
6 Hazel Place
Woodmere, New York 11598

Through the mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) of these girls, may we speed the Redemption of the Jewish People.