Rabbi Nissimi, Using a Channel Ten Film, Plans to Appeal

Rabbi Rachamim Nissimi was freed from prison yesterday, serving three months for having given out orange ribbons at a road-blocking demonstration. He will appeal his sentence retroactively.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 16:40

Rabbi Nissimi said he plans to file an appeal for wrongful imprisonment, based on a video clip showing he did nothing to warrant his arrest.

Founder of the Shaalei Torah network of Torah core groups dotting the country, the rabbi was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers, including students and colleagues, as he exited the prison. He told them that he felt he was the emissary in prison of the "great concepts of Judaism" - forming a type of Shaalei Torah chapter in jail for the prisoners and jailers.

Speaking with Arutz-7 Hebrew Internet Radio, Rabbi Nissimi retraced the events leading to his arrest: "I was in my car when I heard that there was an anti-disengagement demonstration at one of the intersections [the turnoff to Kiryat Sefer near Modiin]. I passed by there in order to give them a package of orange ribbons [symbols of the anti-disengagement protest] and to be with them for a few minutes. After about five minutes, a police car stopped near me; apparently I looked like what they were looking for, the person responsible for the demonstration. One of the policemen asked me, 'What are you doing?' When I said that I was giving out orange ribbons, he pushed me far over behind the guardrail. I protested and said, 'What are you doing?' - and then immediately six policemen came and put me into the paddy wagon. This began a long trek of three months, with an indictment saying that I attacked a policeman, and bit a policeman, and interfered with a policeman, and everything possible that could be done to a policeman. It was a blood libel, pure and simple. Unbelievable."

Rabbi Nissimi said that Divine intervention was also noted: "There was a boy there, who I didn't know, but when I saw what was going on, I asked him to take pictures. In one of the pictures, which we found on the internet, we saw that there was a Channel Ten photographer videoing what was going on. This was exactly what we needed, because the judge didn't want to accept the stills because he said he couldn't know what happened in between each picture. But a video is different. So we turned to Channel Ten with a court order - they didn't want to give it otherwise - and we received the film, and we will show it on Arutz-7, and the whole incident can be seen clearly, showing that I didn't attack anyone."

He explained that the judge believed the policemen's version, despite the lack of evidence, and ordered him held until the end of the proceedings. "This meant that I had no chance to appeal anything, and so I had to agree to a form of plea bargain, and remain in prison for three months." It was reported at the time that had he not signed the agreement, it is probable that he would have remained in prison for nearly that long - and then still have to face charges.

"Now that we know of the existence of the film, we have filed an appeal for wrongful imprisonment," the rabbi said.

Arutz-7's Amatzia HaEitan asked, "It must be tremendously frustrating for a man of your stature, age and position to know you are totally innocent and yet have to sit in jail, leaving your entire family and important work behind."

Rabbi Nissimi responded, "There are two aspects. First of all, the way the Prosecution and police conspired together - not just to me, but to many people who have similar stories. They had a system: they quickly write out charges and indictments with the Prosecution, obtain a court order for incarceration until the end of the proceedings, etc. From this standpoint, it was very frustrating.

"But there was also another aspect: 'Man has many thoughts, but G-d's will is that which stands.' I felt every second that I was the emissary of the great concepts of Torah, and of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel. I wouldn't have chosen this path, but that's what G-d chose for me. We have to know that there are hundreds and thousands of people in jail, including the jailers, who can be taught these ideas... In general, they only hear one side, from the television and the papers - but I, with a daughter in Sa-Nur and a son in Kfar Darom and in Netzarim and the like, was able to tell them live stories of what was really going on, and they were able to understand that this wasn't something far away, but something real, with real people. They underwent a total transformation, from apathy and playing backgammon all day, to genuine tears and pain and solidarity with what was going on. It was even hard for me to part from them."

Asked what he plans to do first, Rabbi Nissimi said he would like to meet and support the people who were expelled from Gush Katif and northern Shomron. "We all underwent a national trauma, but for them it was on their own flesh - and I plan tonight to go and meet many of them in their different places, and embrace them."