Deputy State Attorney Shai Nitzan has explained his recent ruling that photomontages of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an SS officer’s uniform is not considered incitement.
The photos were recently published on a blog named HaOtzer HaEzrachi (“The Civilian Curfew”). It went offline after the press discovered the photos, and news of their existence began to circulate.
Attorney Hila Cohen from the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel demanded that Nitzan launch an investigation into the matter, but Nitzan replied that despite the photomontages being harsh and hurtful he has “decided not to launch an investigation.”
In his reply, Nitzan clarified that although there is a suspicion of the blog committing a crime of insulting a public official under section 288 of the Israeli Penal Code, in order to be able to charge the blog’s owners of this offense, it must be proven that “there is a near certainty that the act of insulting will cause serious damage to the official and hence also to the public service in the broadest sense.”
“In this case it would be difficult to determine that it is almost certain that the publication in this blog, which has relatively few readers, will deal a serious blow to the Prime Minister’s functioning and therefore there is no reason to launch an investigation into the case,” Nitzan wrote.
“It is hoped that public discourse will denounce people using obscene comparisons such as this,” he added.
In response, Cohen said that Nitzan’s decision is outrageous.
“This is an example of another case where the rules of interpretation of the law could lead to serious harm to government officials as we have seen, unfortunately, in the not-so-distant history of the State of Israel, in addition to the unacceptable harm caused by such statement to the memory of the Holocaust victims,” she said.