Established in 2001 by Hevron resident and active IDF soldier, Shmuel Medad, Honenu is a non-profit legal defense organization that provides free legal counsel to those Israeli citizens and soldiers who, despite claiming that they acted in self-defense against Arab attackers,
find themselves accused of illegal acts by Israel’s law enforcement authorities.
Close to 100 people gathered at the Kingsway Jewish Center in Brooklyn last week to hear about the work done by the organization. The evening was hosted by the Zionism Museum and Education Center, headed by director Stephen L. Epstein.
Shalom Pollack, the assistant director of development for Honenu, delivered an address on the escalating assault on the legal rights of soldiers and citizens in Israel.
Mr. Pollack noted that the court system in Israel is heavily influenced and pressured by anti-Israel "human rights" leftist NGO’s such as B'Tselem, Peace Now, Machsom Watch, the New Israel Fund and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. These organizations receive funding, he said, from the European Union, the NIF and billionaire George Soros.
While serving in the Israeli army and having personally experienced the complicated and constricting realities of combat against a non-holds-barred enemy, when the strict rules of engagement often put soldiers deployed on life-saving missions at enormous, and even unnecessary risk, Medad created Honenu to care for Jewish preservation.
Honenu points out that any Jew who acts in self-defense against hostile Arabs or defends their fellow soldiers, families or property has quickly discovered "the bitter truth of an agenda to restrict self-defense and punish those exercising any such inclination."
In a matter of moments, says Honenu, a decorated and respected officer could become victim of an arrest and trial with serious consequences including dismissal from army service, home confinement, and incarceration.
Mr. Pollock, an American born Jew who now lives in Israel, comes to Honenu with an impressive list of credentials. Having served in the Counterterrorist Unit of the Israeli Navy,he is also a veteran tour guide, consultant, journalist and public speaker.
"I became involved in Honenu during the time of the expulsion of the Jewish residents of Gush Katif in the summer of 2005," says Pollock. "My son, who cares very dearly about this issue, went down to Gush Katif to see if he could help those living there and witnessed an Israeli officer severely beating an elderly man. My son tried to break up the altercation and was arrested. While in the pen with many other people, an attorney from Honenu appeared and intervened on my son's behalf and secured his release. It was then that I decided to devote my time to Honenu."
The audience was treated to a video presentation of Honenu's work in defending Jewish legal rights in Israel that featured an approbation from the late former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and personal narratives of those Jews who found themselves on the wrong side of the law for attempting to save their own lives.
Kalman Liebskind, a prominent writer for the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv and a secular Jew, was attacked by Arabs who stoned his car near his hometown of Lod, close to Ben Gurion Airport. In a state of shock, he reported the incident to the police. After apprehending the Arab culprits, the police informed Liebskind that the Arabs had lodged charges against him for threatening them with a weapon. He was then arrested and a police investigation was launched against him. He penned an article about his horrific experience.
Ze'ev Braude was pelted by stones thrown by a mob of Arabs. While he brandished his gun and shot and wounded some of them, they continued the vicious attack. After their arrest, the Arabs lodged an official police complaint against the real victim and Braude was arrested and interrogated. It was Honenu who came to his defense.
Most shocking of all was the case of a young man named Chaim Perlman, who as a member of the Kahane youth organization, had raised an Israeli flag over the Temple Mount. Several years later Perlman married and had several children, working as a physical education teacher. The authorities in Israel, however, labeled him as an "ideological criminal." Through a series of phone calls and meetings, agent provocateurs from the Shin Bet posing as right wing zealots attempted to entrap Perlman by enticing him to commit illegal acts such as murder.
Perlman caught on to the ploy and unbeknownst to the Shin Bet agents, started taping their conversations and distributed them to the media. The agents had Perlman arrested and charged him with the murder of four Arabs over 12 years ago. Honenu attorneys rushed to his defense and he was released from prison after spending 31 days there.
Taking note of the fact that the word Honenu means "have mercy upon us," Mr. Pollock said that "every year, Honenu helps over 1,000 people" and added that, "any Jew who finds himself arrested on behalf of Klal Yisroel [the nation of Israel] will be afforded an attorney." To date, Honenu has assisted over 15,000 Jews who have acted on behalf of the preservation of the Jewish people and among these are soldiers of all ethnic backgrounds, citizens of every corner of the country, including both men and women, old and young, secular and religious; city dwellers and farmers.
Assisting each client in every stage of legal consultation. Honenu begins advising and consulting with the client from the very first moment by providing an attorney who will remain at the side of defendant throughout the entire legal process. Honenu advises through the arrest process, the trial and possible plea bargain, and continues to guide and defend the client, if applicable, throughout the incarceration period. Honenu lawyers are also present for all court motions and appeals on behalf of each client. If an individual is either found guilty of a crime or incarcerated, Honenu will facilitate an appeal and will offer the individual and his family financial aid within the limits available to the organization. For more on Honenu, click www.honenu.org.
He added that, "the most crucial aspect of Honenu, is to educate people about grave situation that many of our brave brothers and sisters face each day in Israel. It is our duty to stand up and speak out against injustice and that is exactly what Honenu is doing."