Daily Israel Report
Show More

OpEds


Police Arrest 'Extremists' For Anti-Pope Notices

Freedom of expression lost in Jerusalem as two youths arrested for 'crime' of posting notices, distanced for 'disruptive intentions.'
By Uzi Baruch, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/23/2014, 8:45 AM

Nationalist activists arrested (illustration)
Nationalist activists arrested (illustration)
Flash 90

Israeli police continue their crusade to arrest activists suspected of planning to protest Pope Francis during his visit next Sunday and Monday.

Two Jewish youths were arrested in Jerusalem on Friday morning for posting notices against the pope, which featured sentiments such as "impure, leave our Holy Land," and "return the stolen Temple tools," a reference to the tools and treasures stolen from the Second Temple by Rome.

The blatant infringement of free speech comes after police put restraining orders on several "right wing activists" this week. In one case, police were refused a restraining order by the IDF on a minor, and turned to a Jerusalem Magistrates Court where they were likewise refused. In another case, the youth in question was distanced from Jerusalem for four days over having handed out fliers.

Nationalist activist Baruch Marzel said of the most recent arrest "these were legitimate notices, the Jerusalem police forgot what freedom of expression is. We won't forget and won't forgive the crusades, the Inquisition, and the rest of the suffering Christian initiated against the Jewish people; the pope is a persona non grata in Israel."

The Vatican has revealed that the pope intends during his visit to demand the "Palestinian people's right to have a homeland, sovereign and independent."

Further, recent reports indicate Israel plans to let Catholics hold fixed prayers in the David's Tomb Compound in time for the pope's visit. The move would prevent Jews from entering the site, given that Jewish law forbids using a building used for idol-worship, a category Catholic worship with its effigies falls under in Jewish law.

"Right-wing extremists" arrested for the "crime" of disruptive intentions

A police spokesperson who announced the arrest Friday cited "intelligence information gathered by the Shabak (General Security Services) testifying to the extreme right-wing activists' intentions to disrupt the pope's visit planned for next week, and to take provocative illegal actions to cause inter-religious tensions ahead of the visit."

"In other to foil these activities, administrative orders were given to distance the extremist activists for a temporary period of four days, in order to balance as much as possible security needs with harm to individual rights," added the police.

Administrative orders are a relic of the British Mandate-era legal system, allowing the detention or distancing of individuals without any charges or due process, over suspicion they may harm public order.

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir addressed the recent spate of arrests, commenting "the time has arrived to teach the police about freedom of expression and democracy. The Jewish people are allowed to demonstrate against the pope."