The video-incitement scandal that led to a wide-scale media attack on the religious-nationalist camp has ended with the arrest of the secular, Raanana-based film-maker – and an MK’s demand to investigate whether he was a Shabak (General Security Serivce) agent.
The story began earlier this week when a video was circulated on the internet, defaming Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and even calling for his death. Nitzan had been under fire from the nationalist camp for his many investigations against pro-Land of Israel elements and few, if any, against the other side of the political spectrum.
It was therefore a natural step for many media commentator to strongly suggest, and even slant their broadcasts or articles in this direction, that “religious settlers” were behind the video and are, in general, a rabble-rousing and hateful group.
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) was interviewed on the Knesset channel and said that he believes the police should investigate the origins of the video, but added, “I would advise the police not to ignore the following line of investigation: Those close to Shai Nitzan. For after all, who has profited from this video? Shai Nitzan!” Ben-Ari explained that Nitzan has been the subject of much praise and adulation since the video was circulated, and his political enemies have been denigrated.
In addition, it was noted that the video was circulated in a strange manner, in that the journalists were informed of it before it had more than a handful of hits.
On Wednesday, the police announced that they had arrested the man behind the video and the call to kill Nitzan: Uri Bar’am, a non-religious resident of Raanana (within pre-’67 Israel), a father of one, and a past organizer of protests against the illegal influx of Africans into Israel, the left-wing bias of the media, and Obama’s anti-Israel policies. Though he is being represented by well-known Attorney Tzion Amir on behalf of the Honenu Civil Rights organization, the Petah Tikvah Magistrates Court extended his remand for six days.
Bar’am has apologized for his actions, and said he “wanted to arouse public debate on the topic of incitement and the selective law enforcement on the matter” – noting that incitement against nationalist figures often goes uninvestigated.
A nationalist camp source told Arutz-7 that Bar’am’s arrest was “strange and suspicious,” and that Bar’am is a “new arrival” in the nationalist protest camp. The fear is that he was an agent-provocateur of the Shabak, along the lines of Avishai Raviv in the months before Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination 15 years ago.
MK Yaakov Katz, head of the National Union party, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who officially heads the Shabak, asking if Bar’am was ever employed by the Shabak. “His lawyers have implied that he will be treated leniently,” Katz wrote, explaining the basis for his question.
“Was there not a very well-orchestrated and biting campaign against the hundreds of thousands of residents of Judea and Samaria following this video? Now that it is known that the suspect does not live in Judea and Samaria and is not even counted among the religious public, it appears that the attack was well-planned by the Prosecution and various media, as manifest via the broadcasters Anat Davidov, Aryeh Golan and Moshe Negbi, and former Civil Rights Association chair Prof. Ruth Gavizon… This approach is familiar from the past…”
The Shabak responded that it has never employed Bar’am.