Daily Israel Report

'Ajami' Actor to Pay for Violence

A police officer who battered a protester is told to pay more than NIS 25,000 after his career as an actor in Ajami is revealed.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/26/2010, 9:20 AM / Last Update: 2/26/2010, 9:27 AM

Former police officer Eran Naim has been ordered to pay 25,000 shekels to a young man he battered during a protest in 2005. Naim, who went on to act in the film Ajami, had previously argued that he could not afford to pay the victim, Akiva Vitkin.

In 2007 Naim was accused of attacking Vitkin during a 2005 protest against the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria held in Tel Aviv. Naim put his fingers into Vitkin's nostrils and pulled backward, leaving the then-20 year old with facial injuries and bleeding. The incident took place after Vitkin was handcuffed. Vitkin had not resisted arrest.

The attack was filmed by Arutz Sheva cameraman Tuvia Lerner. Naim did not deny that he had attacked Vitkin as filmed by Lerner, but argued that his actions fell into the category of reasonable use of force by an officer – an argument rejected by senior police officers, who said the methods used by Naim were “not taught and not recommended.” The court found Naim guilty and sentenced him to six months public service. Naim was also dismissed from the police.

Following the verdict, Vitkin decided to sue Naim and another violent officer for damages. However, he was temporarily deterred when Naim responded by sending the court an emotional plea explaining that he had heavy debts, had been arrested for gambling, and was depressed and even suicidal.

Shortly after receiving the letter and feeling pity for the “depressed” former officer, Vitkin discovered that during the time when Naim had claimed to be impoverished and suicidal, he was in fact working as an actor on the set of the film Ajami. Naim's role was to play “good cop” Dando.

Vitkin expressed anger over Naim's new career, telling Channel 2, “It's like a rapist acting in a movie about rape.” He pressed forward with his claim for damages, and was awarded 25,000 shekels by Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court judge Yael Hennig, who in her verdict noted both the pain caused by Naim's actions and the fact that the former officer had never expressed regret for the attack.