“My 14-year-old daughter Chaya has spent the past three weeks of her summer vacation in jail,” Moshe Belogorodsky laments, "and now they want to take her away because her parents oppose expulsion?"
“She hasn't murdered anyone. Nor did she steal anything, assault anyone or sell drugs. All she did was go to a demonstration in ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ ”
Wednesday, Belogorodsky appeared in court once again as the public prosecutor attempted to have his daughter and her road-blocking friends placed in the custody of a family in an unnamed kibbutz until the end of their trials.
Belogorodsky described the accusations against his daughter: "Chaya decided to lend moral support to her friends who went to protest Ariel Sharon's plan to expel Jews. What follows is a direct quote from the official indictment filed against Chaya. She is accused of standing on a sidewalk while her friends proceeded to block traffic. After her friends were arrested, a policewoman asked Chaya to leave the area. Chaya refused, saying that she wasn't doing anything illegal, that she had every right to stand on 'every inch of the Land of Israel.' The policewoman, unimpressed, warned Chaya that if she didn't leave immediately she will be arrested. To which Chaya replied: 'So, shut up and arrest me then.' That's it. This is the case that the State of Israel has against Chaya."
Since then, Chaya, along with two friends, ages 13 and 16, have been held in Maasiyahu Prison, and an appeal to the Supreme Court to gain their release was rejected. Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia ruled that the girls could not be placed under house-arrest or confined to their communities – as is the standard practice during legal proceedings – due to the fact that her father was disqualified as a guardian for a house-arrestee because he "did not fulfill the task placed upon him" of preventing his daughter from engaging in anti-Disengagement activity of this nature.
Judge Procaccia further ruled that the girl's mother is similarly not acceptable because she lives in Gush Katif, which is given to "severe unrest and social tension connected with the Disengagement."
The alternative to jail-time, the judge wrote, "must be in an area far from the center of the existing social tensions, where the girl can remain until her trial is ended, or until calm is restored. If such an alternative is not found, the girl will remain in prison until her trial is completed."
Wednesday, a Jerusalem court judge asked the three girls if they were willing to be placed in a religious kibbutz. The girls said they were not, with one explaining, “I have friends in the kibbutz. I know what it’s like there. The food will not be on the same level of kosher supervision as we adhere to, the level of modesty will not be acceptable, and therefore we don’t want to go there.”
The prosecutor, Karni Grifit Davis, responded: “These girls will have to decide between remaining in Maasiyahu Prison or going to the kibbutz. They will surely choose to go to the kibbutz, even if this option, as far as they are concerned, means that they will have to use their judgment more carefully regarding their religious needs.”
At that point, an outraged Belogorodsky yelled out, “This is unbelievable! I can’t believe this is happening in a democratic state.” The judge ordered bailiffs to remove him from the courtroom for the remainder of the session.
“What the prosecutor is saying in simple terms,” Belogorodsky told Arutz-7, moments after his expulsion from the courtroom, “is that these girls have to choose between remaining in prison and maintaining their level of religiosity – which the judge is sure they will choose to disregard.”
Prosecutor Davis went even further than Justice Procaccia in asserting that even if the parents ensure that their children remain in their homes, releasing them is still out of the question because “they will tell their friends their stories, and their stories will have an impression on others… We must not return them to the heart of this popular uprising that these people are trying to cause.”
Shmuel Medad, chairman of the Honenu organization, which provides legal aid for those arrested in the struggle against the Disengagement plan, says the court proceedings are reminiscent of the atmosphere in Israel during the 1950's. At that time, many children of Yemenite immigrants were taken away from their parents to be raised on kibbutzim. "Today, just like during those times, we are seeing an elite that truly believes it knows what is best for our children," Medad said.
Belogorodsky was born in Russia and was raised in the United States before making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) from Miami. He fears his daughter’s case may be setting a precedent enabling the massive prolonged imprisonment of anti-expulsion activists without trial and without the use of administrative detention, a tool used by the Shabak (General Security Service) in order to imprison activists without trial. He says what is being done to his daughter and her friends is a new alternative form of administrative detention enabled by the "full cooperation between the justice system and the ruling clique aimed at breaking any minimal resistance to the proposed expulsion of Jews.”
“If they can do this to 14- and 13- year old kids, how much more easily can they do this to any adult citizen,” Belogorodsky said.
The girls are being represented in court by a public defense attorney. “He is an extreme-leftist,” Belogorodsky said, “but he is excellent – even he is completely outraged at the treatment of the girls.”
The defense brought several cases of adults who committed violent crimes and other severe infractions and were all released to their homes during the legal proceedings against them. In one case, a drug-dealer was released to house arrest, broke his house arrest, stabbed a person to death, and was released again by Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel. Arbel cited the legal principle that, ‘The arrest before proceedings cannot be in lieu of the possible punishment if convicted”
“This legal concept is used over and over again - except with regard to our girls,” Belogorodsky said. “Under the worst possible conditions, they will face just a monetary fine, if convicted, yet they are being imprisoned and threatened with removal from their homes for an indefinite period because they dared to oppose the expulsion.”
Belogorodsky wonders why the public and the media have not expressed more outrage at his young daughter’s treatment. “Chaya was kept in solitary confinement for a full week, including Shabbat," he wrote. "She was not allowed to shower or call home. We could not send her clean clothes. The food she was given was not on the level of kashrut she could eat. For the first two weeks she was not allowed to have a fan in her cell - that's in the stifling, muggy Ramle summer, with temperatures reaching the high 90's. She is bored to tears and immobilized by the heat. Once a week she has to go through the degrading procedure of her cell being searched, with male jailers rummaging through all her personal belongings. She is not allowed out of her cell in the evenings, which means she has to eat her Friday night meal in the darkness of her cell. As of now we are not allowed to bring her any food from the outside, which means she gets almost no fruits or vegetables. We are only permitted to visit her for a half hour every week.”
“This is how this young girl who opposes the expulsion of Jews from their homes is being forced to spend her summer vacation in the State of Israel.”
Moshe Belogorodsky can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org