Shai Nitzan
Shai Nitzan Flash 90

A court has leveled unprecedented criticism against State Attorney Shai Nitzan, who has previously been accused of a strong left-wing bias, over the "scandalous" bias he showed as Deputy Attorney General.

The details of the case emerged in the trial of Uri Baram, who three-and-a-half years ago published videos against Nitzan. On Wednesday the court accepted the defense's arguments against Nitzan, presented by Attorney Adi Kedar of the Honenu legal rights aid organization in his defense of Baram.

The court ruled that Nitzan enforced the law selectively by automatically closing complaints submitted against left-wing activists or Arabs who incited to harm Jews, "settlers" and IDF soldiers.

Judge Nava Bechor convicted Baram of inciting to racism and violence, destroying evidence and disrupting court procedures, over calls in videos he produced to kill Nitzan, as well as calls against Arabs.

However, Bechor also accepted in full the claims of Kedar, who brought evidence showing Nitzan's selective enforcement, which she defined as "scandalous."

The evidence, which included exhibits from 2008 to 2010, "exhibits a surprising attitude of the relevant enforcement authorities towards open publications of violence that are extreme, dangerous and incite violence/terror/racism, towards soldiers, Jews, and even a minister in the Israeli government," wrote Bechor in her ruling.

"It is clear that there is sufficient evidence in the hands of the legal defense to indicate a dogmatic attitude, that is general and almost reaches the point of being automatic, in negating the existence of all substantive components of incitement crimes," continued Bechor.

In particular Bechor expressed her shock that complaints against calls such as "death to the Jews" by Arabs, "castrate the settlers" by left-wing extremists, and "kill soldiers" shouted by an Arab woman in a protest, were dismissed and not considered incitement by Nitzan,

"Are all of these (targets) not harmed as a result in direct violent and terror on a nearly daily basis?" questioned Bechor.

Accepting apologies, not accepting apologies

The complaints ignored by Nitzan included a museum exhibit inciting against Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman; the most blatant example was over a fundraising performance for Israeli anarchists in which a band soloist called to kill IDF soldiers.

Over the call to kill soldiers, Nitzan decided not to submit an indictment because the soloist "apologized."

"It is unclear why Nitzan was satisfied with the apology of the soloist and not with the immediate apology of the accused (Baram) against his investigators. Why was merely a warning letter send to the (Arab) protester that called 'death to the Jews'?" posed Bechor.

It should be noted that Baram argued his provocative video against Nitzan was meant "to expose the discrimination that Nitzan has in investigating complaints over incitement."

Bechor ruled that Nitzan indeed ignored legitimate complaints against leftists and Arabs, conduct which causes feelings of discrimination among those on the political right.

The judge wrote that not treating the complaints "creates a slippery slope of escalating incitement," adding that Nitzan dragged his heels when it came to fielding complaints against the left.

Unprecedented criticism

Kedar, who presented the evidence in Baram's defense, praised the unprecedented criticism in the court ruling, saying "we hope these things will be received by the State Attorney's office, and that they immediately stop pursuing Uri Baram only because (the case of incitement) involves Shai Nitzan."

Honenu welcomed the ruling as well, saying it "strengthens our claims of many years. This is serious mismanagement that demands the State Attorney's office clean house."

The organization in its statement added that the state acts against itself, its soldiers and citizens, "and afterwards is surprised it doesn't have enough strength against its enemies."

MK Urit Struk (Jewish Home) also responded to the ruling, saying it should "shock the government. In a democratic country equality before the law is a supreme value of the rule of law, and when the State Attorney is touched with serial and continued inequality, as stated in the ruling - what have we come to?"

Struk warned that a shadow is cast over Nitzan's decisions, "and the most serious of all is that this was apparent, at least on the level of serious concerns, to decision makers already ten months ago, when they voted to appoint him number one attorney."