Women in Green activist Nadia Matar found herself back in court Thursday, with the state appealing its suit against her for a strongly-worded letter sent to Disengagement Authority chief Yonatan Bassi.
Prior to the 2005 Disengagement, Matar dispatched a letter to Bassi, a member of the religious Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, comparing the wording of the letter he sent to residents of Gush Katif to that sent by the Judenrat (“Jewish Council”) in 1942 Germany, which oversaw the “relocation” of Jews from Germany.
Matar’s trial revolves around the passage in her letter: “Yonatan. The truth is that you are a modern-day version of the Judenrat - in reality, a much worse version, because in the Holocaust, the Jewish leaders were forced to act by the Nazis and today it's very hard for us to judge them. Today, no one is standing with a gun to your head and forcing you to participate in the deportation of the Jews of Gush Katif and northern Samaria."
The Jerusalem Magistrates Court dismissed the indictment against Matar, ruling that the law had been applied selectively after hearing examples of incendiary statements by left-wing activists and politicians who were not prosecuted.
The state prosecutor appealed to the District Court, which accepted the appeal on the condition that the prosecution provide examples countering the lower court’s conclusion that the laws was applied selectively to right and left-wing activists.
Attorney Yoram Sheftel is confident that Matar will once again prevail. He says there are ample cases of selective application of the “insulting a public servant” law. “If a left-wing personality, extremist or traitorous says the most outrageous thing about a judge, minister, senior police officer or other civil servant, he will never be put on trial,” Sheftel told Israel National TV. “But the most minor statement by a right-winger – even a fourteen-year-old, like the girl who held a sign outside Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia’s house reading ‘Provocaccia’ (provocation, in Hebrew) – they will find themselves both arrested and prosecuted.”
Asked if she had any regrets, Matar said: “I regret only that I didn’t write even stronger words. What I wrote was too moderate when compared with the results of this expulsion. Our brothers were not only expelled from their homes, our land abandoned to murderous terrorists, but further destruction is now planned and I fear nobody is using strong enough language. My regret is that we were all too reserved in our protest of this crime and I promise that this time it will be different.”
At the first trial, Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann joined a protest outside the courthouse. "It is scandalous.- that freedom of speech is being attacked, just like in the cases of the soldier Hananel [Dayan – who refused to shake hands with the Chief of Staff due to his role in the Disengagement –ed.], the closing of Arutz-7, and the hearing that was held for [Disengagement opponent] Rabbi Druckman. Individuals are being singled out for expressing their views," he lamented.
Matar, during the early days of media condemnations that resulted in the determined government effort to have her prosecuted, explained her use of the term “Judenrat,” which many critics claimed implied the Israeli government were Nazis. Note that the words were written prior to the implementation of the Disengagement:
“The Jewish public in Israel and the world, from the left and the right, is divided on the question of the permissibility of the use of Holocaust terminology. Is it legitimate to compare then and now? Doesn't the use of terms from, and comparisons with, the Holocaust diminish the horrors of the destruction of European Jewry? Some say that the entire subject of the Holocaust is untouchable. It is sacred, and we are not allowed to use any word that recalls the Holocaust, because there is no situation today that can be comparable to what was then. I respect those who hold such an opinion, and I know that I cannot convince them to think otherwise. Since, however, they do not have a monopoly on the Holocaust, I am entitled to disagree with them and maintain that it is very important to make comparisons, to draw conclusions, and to act so that there will not be another Holocaust.
“I was born and raised in Belgium. A considerable portion of my family was destroyed in the Holocaust. Throughout my childhood I heard from my grandparents about the stories and about the horrors. Already at a young age I made a promise to myself to do everything so that it would not happen again, that I would act so that the murder of my family would not have been for nothing, that I would do everything not to forget, and not to forgive.
In my humble opinion, the Holocaust is an event that could recur, in some form or other, if we do not open our eyes and understand that the Nazi monster is still breathing, and attempting to continue what Hitler, may his memory be blotted out, did not have time to finish. I am speaking of the Arabs around us, who have been trying, even from before the establishment of the State of Israel, to eliminate any Jewish existence in Eretz Israel, regardless of our borders. The Arabs have been murdering us on a daily basis from the days of the pogroms in 1929 (when it could not be claimed that we were "occupiers"). They slaughter Jews at every opportunity, whether in war or in terror attack, cold-bloodedly firing at the heads of Jewish infants. Muslim suicide bombers explode buses, pizza parlors, and discotheques full of Jews. It is they who are the modern version of the Nazis. Every thinking person knows, or should know, that Hitler's legacy plays a starring role in the Muslim world. Hitler's book Mein Kampf is a bestseller in all the Arab countries. Everyone knows, or should know, that the hero of the Arabs, Haj Amin el-Husseini, was Hitler's close friend, and together they planned the Holocaust of the Jews of Eretz Israel. Every intelligent person knows, or should know, that all the wars and terror attacks by the Arabs against us have the same goal: the total destruction of the State of Israel, and the elimination of all its Jewish inhabitants. Every intelligent person knows, or should know, that every sign of weakness, submission, or retreat by Israel will encourage the Nazi-Arab enemy and incite him to engage in more and more terror.
“Consequently, every political plan that will merely play into the hands of the Nazi-Arab enemy and bring him closer to his final goal, that is, the removal of the Jews from Israel and the elimination of the Jewish state, is a dangerous plan against which we must sound the alarm. While, during the Holocaust, the Jews of the Judenrat played into the hands of the Nazi foe when they (unwillingly) collaborated and aided in the deportation of the Jews (without knowing the destination of the transports); today, Sharon's deportation plan also plays into the hands of the Nazi-Arab enemy, incites him to murder more and more Jews, and is liable - if, Heaven forbid, it were to be realized - to result in tens of thousands of murdered Jews, by Katushas and rockets fired from Gaza and northern Samaria to the densely populated centers in Gush Dan. In addition, Sharon's plan would give fuel to the antisemites in the world. They would rightfully say: "If a Jewish government can uproot Jews and deport them from their historic homeland; we in Europe can do the same and deport our Jews far away from here". Thus, in my eyes, the comparison between Yonatan Bassi (and Ariel Sharon) and the Judenrat is definitely appropriate. With the proviso that Bassi and Sharon constitute a much more horrible version, since, unlike the Judenrat of then, today, there is no one holding a gun to Sharon and Bassi's forehead and demanding that they commit the deportation crime.”