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Red Rag Weekly Column: Letters to Judges
By: Gideon Spiro

13 August 2013 (English translation 3 September 2013)


Over 30 years ago I began the “letters to judges” project, in which I rebuke,
criticize and condemn judges at all levels who hand down racist rulings that
support the Occupation and violations of human rights, or egregiously unjust
rulings in cases related to domestic violence, rape or the sexual exploitation
of children. The targets of the letters are mostly judges, but also others
associated with jurisprudence and legislation, such as attorneys-general,
ministers and Knesset members.

Between the first letter, sent in July 1982, and the most recent on 8 August
2013 are about two thousand letters. Some of the letters contain biographical
material that illustrates the process of change I have undergone in the period
between my days in a kibbutz youth movement, my military service and my work
as a journalist, and my current activism in human-rights and peace

Most of the letters relate to the Occupation and issues that stem from it. It
is natural, then, that those who read the letters in sequence will discern a
pattern of repetition of certain terms and expressions. It is therefore
important to bear in mind that every judge receives only the letter that is
personally addressed to him or her. And moreover I have made an effort to
focus each letter on the particular concrete issue that prompted me to write

My starting-point is this: a bad judge deserves the same treatment as a bad
politician, and as such he or she ceases to be “His/Her Honour”. The power
enjoyed by judges requires that bad judges be treated with whips and scorpions
in clear language devoid of flattery. As the Jewish year comes to an end, I
dedicate this column to the harvest of letters from the past few months.

A table of contents for the convenience of my readers:

1) To the judges of the Supreme Court on the the appeal against the use of
white phosphorus in populated areas;

2) To a military court judge on the issuance of an administrative detention

3) To the judges of the Jerusalem District Court on the sentences for four
Border Guards police who were convicted of abuse;

4) To a judge of the Jerusalem District Court on the acquittal of an abusive
doctor and the sentences of four youths who carried out a lynching;

5) To a judges of the Jerusalem local bylaw court on the sentence of a decade
in prison for a pretzel-vendor;

6) To a judge of the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court on the sentence of an
abusive soldier;

7) To the vice- president of the Haifa District Court on the conviction of
those accused of killing the terrorist Eden Natan-Zada;

8) To a judge of the Tel Aviv District Court on his order to pay financial
compensation to the settlers of Gush Katif.

*** *** ***


31 May 2013
To Edna Arbel, Hanan Meltzer and Yoram Danziger
Judges of the Supreme Court, Jerusalem


This month you began to deliberate on an appeal that called for the banning of
the use of white phosphorus in populated areas. The appeal was submitted by 16
human rights organizations and another hundred individual appellants (High
Court of Justice 4146/11). The appeal was initiated after the Israeli armed
forces’ use of white phosphorus in populated areas in Gaza during Operation
Cast Lead. White Phosphorus is a chemical weapon that creates vast zones of
fire, and its effects are unbearable. When it comes into contact with human
beings it causes serious burns and the body is scorched and maimed. It causes
agonizing death. If anyone survives it, they are left with disabilities, scars
and terrible pain for the rest of their lives.

The images of the children of Gaza and other civilians injured by white
phosphorus cause revulsion and anger, and bring to mind the images I saw at
the memorial for the victims of the atom bomb at Hiroshima. No one who has
seen them can forget the horrible sight.

The appeal that you have received is an opportunity to issue a divorce
certificate to the submissive attitude towards the Shin-Bet-Mossad-army-
police-settlers security establishment on all matters related to the

The holy cow of security has extorted from the courts, and especially from the
Supreme Court, rulings that support the Occupation, war crimes and egregious
violations of human rights. Those rulings constitute a certificate of shame
for the State of Israel and they will haunt us for a long time to come.

The preliminary deliberation (13 May 2013) does not bode well. Once again you
have used the deplorable technique of deliberation in the presence of only one
party (ex parte), in which you secluded yourselves with a
representative of the armed forces, a process that neuters any sensible,
humanistic and democratic judgement. In such deliberations representatives of
the security establishment tell you fairy tales, and you nearly always emerge
from those intimate meetings with the arrogant words “we are satisfied”. What
are you satisfied about, and why? Such judicial proceedings contradict the
basic principles of democracy, logic and justice. The other side cannot
conduct a cross-examination of what occurred in the closed room. The whole
shoddy procedure is done under the auspices of the “High Court of Justice”.
How such words can lose their meanings! I fear that once again you will
exhibit cowardice and make a criminal decision, wrapped in judicial deceptions
from the judicial lexicon that will permit the armed forces to continue to use
white phosphorus.

This grim scenario is reinforced in view of the construction of a settler base
in the High Court in the form of the settler Noam Solberg. The crime of the
settlements is a crime of the Occupation and the crime of apartheid and they
are all proceeding to conquer additional ground in the corridors of the
judiciary and the government.

Moreover, in the absence of a ruling on the duty of every person who fears the
Israeli lunge towards destruction to do whatever is in their power to prevent
the disaster, we must hope that a small fading democratic cell remains in your
hearts, which can be revived and restored to working order. I am endeavouring
to do that with my “letters to judges” project, which has passed the 30-year

And that is why I say to you, dear friends, that there is no room for
sophistry when it comes to white phosphorus. Every decent person who has not
distorted the concept of justice beyond recognition must oppose the use of
white phosphorus near a civilian population. You have an abundance of grounds
for making such a decision, from international conventions to the principles
of justice as written by the Prophets of Israel to the giants of philosophy
who promoted universal justice and morality to the honest person’s healthy
instinct that says: in our country we will not have an army that uses chemical
weapons that gravely harm civilian populations including women, children and
old people.

There is absolutely no need to wait for years for a ruling that is so clearly
correct. Every day of delay is a holiday for war criminals. Take courage and
hand down a crystal-clear ruling that comprehensively and unequivocally bans
the use of white phosphorus in populated areas, and open a new page in the
chronicles of the Supreme Court – a page that marks the passage from darkness
into light, from the fetters of submission to the army, the ISA and the other
security branches towards civilization, humanism, justice and human liberty.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***


17 July 2013
To Attorney Shmuel Ashual
Petah Tikva
And/or the Military Courts Unit

To our great shame, you are serving as a reserve military judge with the rank
of major. The newspaper Haaretz published on 3 June 2013 an article by
Amira Hass, according to which a sharp verbal argument broke out between you
and the attorney of a resident of the West Bank during a discussion behind
closed doors on the issuance of a second order for administrative detention.

The judicial proceeding for the issuance of the order is despicable and
perverse. The detainee, who was not convicted of anything, cannot defend
himself, because he does not know why he is being detained. The prosecutor, a
member of the army of Occupation like yourself, showed you the evidence in
secret, while the defendant’s lawyer was standing in front of a brick wall
with no capacity to fulfill his role.

The article stated, and I quote: “The detainee’s attorney, Labib Habib, tried
to defend his client to the narrow extent to which the procedure permitted
him”, and asked the prosecutor questions related to the nature of the new
material and not its content. The prosecutor, First Lieutenant Michael Dever,
refused to answer. Habib asked you to instruct him to answer, and you refused
and told him in a contemptuous tone, “evidently this is the first time you are
appearing in a proceeding of this kind.” This, when Habib has been appearing
at military courts for 12 years. In view of your behaviour Attorney Habib
requested that you recuse yourself, and again you refused. You stopped the
proceedings “due to the unusual and violent behaviour of Attorney Habib”. Here
too you transgressed the boundaries of chutzpah, even by Israeli standards.

You, complaining about violence? You yourself are the representative of
violence in the Occupied Territories. You yourself, through the military
court, are serving the cruel Occupation. You send innocent people to detention
by means of procedures befitting of tyrannical regimes. You are helping to
preserve the apartheid regime that Israel has set up in the Occupied

The fact that you are willing to forsake the role of a civilian lawyer by
wearing the uniform of the army of Occupation in the service of war crimes
qualifies you for membership in the list of lawyers to be put on trial at the
international court in The Hague. What you have done is particularly grave,
because there is not one civilian lawyer who is obliged to serve in the
Reserves as a military judge if it runs counter to his or her democratic
values. Your willingness to do that places you among the enemies of democracy
and human rights. The accounting that proponents of human rights have with you
is a grave one. I suggest that you reconsider your willingness to serve as a
military judge. If you announce that from now on you will refuse to serve in
any role in the military justice system in the Occupied Territories, that will
reduce the burden you face when the day of reckoning comes.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***


22 June 2013
To Rafi Carmel
Judge of the Jerusalem District Court

On the occasion of your sentence of the Border Guard policemen who were
convicted of abuse, a short video was broadcast on Rafi Reshef’s programme on
channel 10 (17 June 2013), in which those policemen, armed and equipped with a
dog, abused an 18 year old Palestinian, beat him, poured water on him and
threatened to sic the dog on him. The young Palestinian cries and begs for his
life, fearing death from the dog. The video was filmed by one of the policemen
and put on the Internet. At the time, when the video was first broadcast on
the news, it provoked strong reactions of shock, for after all, that is one of
the methods of abuse that Jews experienced under the Nazis. As a native of
Germany, who was forced to emigrate just before the outbreak of the Second
World War, I felt deep shame that in the State in which my family found
refuge, the Israeli Occupation is employing techniques of abuse that had been
employed against Jews.

A democrat who believes in human rights and has a historical conscience would
expect that in a “Jewish and democratic” state, a Jewish judge would hand down
a sentence of at least a few years in prison, as befits such a serious crime.

And so the shock was great when it emerged that you sentenced the four to
community service. The journalist who reported on it added that the four, who
had feared that they were facing long prison sentences, smiled with
satisfaction at the light sentence. That sentence signalled moral cluelessness
and racism that reflect the values of the Israeli apartheid state, the poison
fruit of which crossed the Green Line long ago.

The spirit of tyrannical regimes hovers over this sentence. The degree of
shameful contempt for the principles of justice stands out with particular
prominence when one considers what would have been the fate of four
Palestinians who had treated a Jewish youth in a similar way – a prison
sentence of several years. If Israel were a democratic state, you would have
been removed from any judicial position. But unfortunately it is more
racistly-Jewish than democratic, and so you will continue to hand down such
appalling judicial decisions.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***


14 July 2013
To Judge Yaakov Tzaban
Judge of the District Court, Jerusalem

Two serious screwups in the short period of one week is a rare judicial
accomplishment, which calls for special treatment.

The Internet edition of Maariv (25 June 2013) and the print edition of
Haaretz (4 July 2013) reported prominently on your decision to acquit a
doctor accused of indecent assault of a 13 year old girl. The girl went to the
doctor alone because of pain in her ears. The girl testified that the doctor
palpitated her abdomen and her genitals, and asked her if she enjoyed it,
implored her not to tell her parents and added that if she enjoyed it, she
should go to him alone again.

The doctor’s testimony essentially confirmed the girl’s testimony. He
justified his act as a preventive medical examination. You pointed out in your
verdict that the girl’s testimony was entirely trustworthy. In view of that,
the acquittal is distressing. In the verdict you point out that even if the
doctor’s behaviour was problematic, it was an entirely medical issue “that is
outside the sphere of a court’s judicial knowledge.”
Therefore there can be no avoiding the question: are you really stupid, or
just pretending to be an idiot?

Have you ever gone to a doctor for pain in your ears and the doctor examined
your sexual organ and your testicles, and then asked you if you enjoyed it?
You are making a mockery of your profession and you constitute a danger to
children. The gap between the words of the verdict and the acquittal is
intolerable. It is more than a hint to perverted doctors that under the cover
of a “thorough physical examination” they are permitted to take sexual
liberties with children. You need to be removed from the judge’s seat no less
than drunk drivers need to be taken away from their steering-wheels.
The ink was barely dry on your acquittal of the doctor when you once again
played a starring role in a scandalous judicial decision. The newspaper
Haaretz (9 July 2013) and Natan Zahavi’s weekly column “Zahavi Atzbani”
(12 July 2013) provided details on a ridiculous sentence you handed down to
three Jewish youths who had been convicted of the cruel lynching of Jamal
Julani, whom they did not know at all, he was just an Arab whom they happened
to come across. Neo-Nazi-style racism. They beat him nearly to death. Julani
was taken to the hospital with injuries that were nearly fatal. In your
verdict you speak sharply against the lynching and racism, but very quickly it
turned out that it was a misleading text, and the racist demon burst through
in the form of a sentence that is an insult to all who are struggling against
the racism that is spreading in Israel.

The primary defendant who was convicted of lynching, in judicial language:
“causing injury under aggravated circumstances and assisting a racially-
motivated aggravated assault”, was sentenced to 8 months in prison, and of his
two comrades, one was sentenced to three months and the other to a suspended
sentence of one month.

I share the view of Zahavi and others that if it had been Abdullah, Muhammad
and Ahmad who were convicted of lynching a Jew, they would have received from
10 to 30 years, and the Holocaust would nearly certainly have been evoked in
the sentencing-statement. As a refugee from Nazi Germany, More than a few of
the Jews of which were beaten to death with cruelty similar to that of those
who were convicted of beating Jamal, I see the sentence as an effective
acquittal and encouragement for the continued lynching of Palestinians.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

27 July 2013
To Judge Tamar Nimrodi
Municipal Bylaws Court, Jerusalem

In the newspaper Haaretz (27 July 2013), a story was published under
the headline, “pretzel-vendor from East Jerusalem sent to prison for a decade
for not having a licence”. The man is Zaki Sabah, 54, father of seven and a
diabetic, who had been selling pretzels without a licence for 15 years. Since
2005 he has received thousands of tickets from municipal bylaw officers, which
added up to a fine of 732 thousand shekels. That is of course a sum that no
pretzel-seller can pay. Every unpaid fine carries an alternative prison

The municipal prosecutor requested that Sabah be convicted and sentenced to
the all the applicable prison time. Your accession to the prosecutor’s request
left you with the simple accounting task of adding up all the prison sentences
that had accumulated in the prosecution’s files, which came to 3,554 days,
which is 10 years. You, Tamar Nimrodi, signed that perverse and shameful
sentence, which was handed down in the defendant’s absence. The question of
whether you signed the sentence out of stupidity, racism, a desire to
ingratiate yourselves with the authorities or professional ignorance, or – God
forbid – a combination of all four, is undoubtedly an interesting one, but I
will concentrate only on the racial dimension, which is particularly
conspicuous and revolting.

We do not need judges who know how to add numbers. Low-level accountants will
suffice for that. Nor do we need judges who are motivated by a desire to
bolster the city’s finances by increasing revenue. The judge’s profession is
justified by the application of judgement, in the framework of a democratic

In the case before us, it is clear that the municipality is conducting a
racist campaign of persecution against Sabah – and not against him alone. The
question that you should have asked the municipal prosecutor is, how do we get
thousands of tickets against a single unfortunate vendor who is working hard
to make a living? It is clear that he is not bothering anyone. Vendors who
carry trays of pretzels on their heads are a part of the fabric of the market.
The municipality’s policy, like that of the Interior Ministry, is to make life
difficult for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, to make their lives hell in the
hope that they will get up and leave. It is silent transfer. You are an active
partner in crime, which converts you from a judge to a judicial bankrupt. I do
not know if this will comfort you, but you are not alone. A substantial part
of the Israeli scales of justice has already been weighted down with racism.
The ongoing Occupation is also causing rot in the judicial system, from the
magistrates’ courts all the way up to the Supreme Court, where to our shame
the racist settler Noam Solberg sits on the bench.

Sabah and his comrades will not leave Jerusalem. If they cannot make a living
they will apply to Social Security for unemployment compensation. If that
right is withdrawn from them due to racist legislation in the Knesset, they
will find other ways to survive. Jews have a great deal of experience in
outsmarting adversity, and the Palestinians can learn from us. My friendly
advice to you: depart from the path of evil, and do not be a submissive
servant of the regime.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***


4 August 2013
To Cjana Miriam Lomp
Magistrates’ Court, Jerusalem

On 30 July, the news on Channel 10 broadcast the barbaric abuse by Michael
Gershkovitz, a soldier in the Israeli Occupation army’s Kfir Brigade, of a
group of unfortunate Palestinian workers who were waiting for transportation
to their place of work at a crossroads near the settlement of Petzael. The
security cameras documented Gershkovitz’ violent paroxysm. Using his army-
issue personal weapon he attacked the Palestinians with cruelty that can
scarcely be expected of one who has not lost his humanity. [1]

It was Clockwork Orange-style violence, cruelty towards people he did
not know and who had not harmed him in any way. And an additional storey was
added onto the structure of this violence, in the form of neo-Nazi racism. The
solider attacked his victims only because they were Palestinians. He had
evidently learned such behaviour during his military service in the Occupied

Such racist violence has been the lot of Jews more than once over the course
of their history. As a survivor of the Krystallnacht pogrom in Germany,
I know that more than a few Jews were attacked just as satanically by Germans
who had internalized the idea that the honour and property of Jews were of no

If the State of Israel were a democracy that respected human rights, it would
exhibit zero tolerance for pogroms against innocent Palestinians, and
especially for the deadly combination of violence and racism. The courts in
such a state, in which democracy takes precedence over Jewishness, would have
sent the aggressor to jail for many years in order to give him ample time to
think over what he had done, and at the same time to serve as a warning to
others who may be affected with hatred of the Other.

You have fallen into a deep and dark hole. Instead of sending the criminal to
prison for several years, you sentenced him to two months in prison and a
Gershkovitz will certainly not be very upset about that. I assume that the
fine and the measly compensatory payment imposed on him will be paid by one of
the settler associations that are drowning in the sea of money they receive
both from the government and from Jewish casino tycoons. And during his two-
month prison term he will receive pats on the back both from the guards and
other racist criminals. The four months’ community service you have given him
are part of the Israeli absurdity. He will not do any service work for the
Palestinian Authority, in whose territory he committed h is crime, for
example, in a Palestinian hospital where his victims were treated. He will do
service in a soldiers’ rest-house in Eilat. For attacking the oppressed, he
will do community service for the oppressors. An ingenious Israeli invention.

In your verdict you wrote that the accused’s actions provoked “disgust”, but I
do not believe you. One who had been disgusted would not have passed such a
derisory sentence. The extenuating circumstances with which you tried to
justify this judicial travesty are irrelevant, an artificial attempt to
mislead. Let us assume, as is alleged, that the defendant had a difficult
childhood – is that an extenuating circumstance for a pogrom against Arabs?
Has it ever occurred to you how many Palestinians have had difficult
childhoods because of the Occupation that has lasted for 46 years now?
Translated into Arabic, your sentence is a permit for all Palestinians who
have suffered from difficult childhoods to beat up any Jew (not including
settlers and Occupation forces) whom they happen to come across. Any person
with a sense of justice will be revolted by such behaviour.

An additional extenuating circumstance you invoke in the defendant’s favour is
“difficult conditions he underwent during his military service”. Those who
have been undergoing difficult conditions every day for decades now are the
Palestinians, who are groaning under the boots of the Occupation and its
legions. Indeed, the Occupation leaves scars on the occupiers as well, but the
solution is not more of the same. The soldiers who founded “Breaking the
Silence” [2] are the answer to oppression and abuse.

I had a fit of bitter laughter when I read “through his actions, the defendant
harmed the image of the colonists and the image of the State of Israel”. You
are living in La-La Land. Have you left Planet Earth, or is this just your
bizzare sense of humour? Is it really possible to harm the image of the
settlers (“colonists” as you put it), [3] those plunderers of Palestinian
lands? They already have the worst image possible. Is it possible to besmirch
the image of the State of Israel, in which the violence of the Occupation and
human-rights violations are daily occurrences? Does even a nucleus of a
positive image remain to a state where rabbis call upon people to refuse to
rent apartments to Arabs, and justify the killing of non-Jewish babies? Does
the apartheid state that Israel and the settlers have founded in the Occupied
Territories have a positive image that a criminal can harm? Maybe you were
referring to the “Hasamba Group” of the Price Tag Underground that burns
mosques? [4]

You are right about one thing: the criminal is ultimately a normative person.
His action is consistent with the norms of the Occupation, just as your
sentence is consistent with the Israeli justice system’s submissiveness to
those norms. This is called moral decadence, and it fits in with the process
of corruption that the State of Israel is undergoing.
The non-normative person in this story is I, who with every letter like this
one am running a risk of being charged under the “contempt of court”

That provision, intended to silence people, has a high corruption coefficient
of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, and carries a sentence of
three years in prison. I have already accumulated three thousand years in
prison and the poor prosecutor doesn’t know what to do with me – how can I be

In view of the above, I am inclined to think that you must have watched the
video over and over again, with increasing enjoyment, which was expressed in
the verdict. In effect, your verdict is an acquittal and encouragement to
others to continue on the same path. And so it deserves to be described as a
colonialist ruling. But don’t take it to heart. You are normative.

You will need a lot of bleach to remove this stain. Your account with those of
us who support human rights is a long one. At the same time, I do not wish
upon you or anyone in your family an experience similar to the one the
Palestinians have had.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

5 August 2013
To General Ilan Schiff
Vice-President of the District Court, Haifa

In August 2005, the soldier Eden Natan-Zada carrying a gun, boarded bus 165 to
Shfar’am. Suddenly he got up and began to shoot in every direction. Four
people were killed in the slaughter, and many others were wounded, all of them
Arab citizens of Israel who had committed no crime apart from the one
unforgivable crime of being Arabs, which rendered their lives of no account.
At the time of the act Natan-Zada was a resident of the settlement of Tapuah,
which is known as an extreme-right-wing stronghold which has carried out
pogroms against Palestinians more than once. A furious crowd of residents of
Shfar’am neutralized the Jewish terrorist. The police claimed that he was
lynched. Under the circumstances of this incident there were no grounds, in my
opinion, to put the neutralizers on trial, but the police and the prosecution
service thought otherwise. After 10 months the police produced seven residents
of Shfar’am, who were put on trial at the Haifa District Court for attempted
murder. The panel of judges included yourself as the presiding judge and the
judges Hani Horowitz and Zillah Kenan.

The decision to put them on trial was political and its purpose was clear: to
send a message that Arabs cannot kill a Jewish soldier even if he is a
terrorist who had just slaughtered them. Killing in the heat of rage or murder
in cold blood without punishment are privileges reserved for Jews who
kill/murder Arabs.

The court could have refused to go along with the political motives through
creative judicial thought, such as, for example, by applying to the case the
“Dromi rule”, which absolves those who kill breakers-in of criminal
responsibility. What is true of Bedouin thieves also applies in the case of a
murderer who was killed immediately after he committed his crime by those who
could have been his victims. And accordingly, you could say “we have decided
that in the consciousness of the accused they were neutralizing a danger, and
so we acquit them.” That did not happen.

You decided to play the game and collaborate with the prosecution and the
police, and to conduct a so-called regular criminal trial, when it was clear
to all that the acquittal that is clearly called for would remain an orphan.
And indeed, the trial has recently concluded with the conviction of six of the
accused. The Jerusalem Post Internet website published on 27 July a
report on a ruling according to which four were convicted of “attempted
homicide”, two of “assault under aggravating circumstances” and one was
acquitted. Thus was the appearance of a normal trial presented.

As I see it, the spirit of the military tyranny that you brought with you
hovered over the trial.

You are a product of the Occupation as well as a shaper of it. You joined the
army in 1969 and retired in 2001. You have dedicated about half your life, 32
years, to the military justice system of Israeli colonialism. You slowly
ascended the ladder of positions and ranks until you reached the top as
Military Advocate-General. In that role you were the judicial Czar of the
Occupied Territories, the commander of the military justice system in those
territories, an unjust, wicked and criminal system that collaborates with
torture, sends children to prison and arrests and jails Palestinians wholesale
while violating basic human rights. You were a senior party to the
construction and implementation of the regime of judicial apartheid. As
Military Advocate-General, you supported soldiers who killed Palestinians, and
in more than a few cases you declined to launch investigations into the deaths
of Palestinians at the hands of soldiers of the army of Occupation. In that
regard you have more than a little blood on your hands.

The irony is that you are bear vicarious liability for Natan-Zada’s act. The
Jewish terrorist was not a sophisticated man like you. He added one and one,
and maybe said to himself that if a senior Israel Security Agency operative
with the rank of general (Ehud Yatom) can murder a Palestinian in cold blood
by smashing his head with rocks and iron bars and not be put on trial, [5] and
soldiers who killed women and children of the Palestinian nation were not put
on trial, then their lives are not worth a fig. To Natan-Zada, an Arab is an
Arab on both sides of the Green Line, and so it is permissible to cut their
lives short. Now you are punishing those who tried to defend themselves
against him.

This criticism is also directed against your two colleagues, who to my dismay
share a value-system similar to yours.

Moreover, I hope that you will have the wisdom not to send the convicts to
prison. Try to find it within yourselves to come up with a shred of honesty
and ask yourselves what would happen in the opposite situation: the shooter
who mowed down bus passengers was an Arab, and his victims were Jews, and an
enraged Jewish crowd stormed the bus and did away with the shooter.

• Would the police and the prosecution service put any of those Jews on trial?

• And if they did, would you convict the accused?

• And if you did, would you do it under such serious provisions as attempted

• And if you did, would you send them to prison?
A fair person will answer those questions in the negative: no one would be put
on trial. And if so, they would be acquitted, and even if the incredible were
to occur and they were convicted, they would not be sent to prison.

An examination of Israeli jurisprudence in the 46 years of Occupation will
bring into sharp focus the erosion and decline that the courts have been
subject to. The discrimination, racism, support for the Occupation, the
settlements, extra-judicial executions and the acquittal of settlers who
killed/murdered Palestinians have burned the principles of democratic
jurisprudence. And so you could lightly leap from being the Czar of judicial
apartheid in the Occupied Territories to a district judgeship within the Green

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***


8 August 2013
To Eitan Orenstein
District Judge
Tel Aviv District Court

In August 2005 the expulsion of the settlers from the Gaza Strip, one of the
achievements of the Palestinian war of liberation from Israeli Occupation, was
completed. The settlements and the settlers were part of the state terror that
Israel was applying against the more than a million Palestinian residents of
Gaza. Under the cover of the tanks of the Occupation army, the settlers
invaded land in the Strip that was not theirs, stole its water and plundered
its lands.

It reminds me of the German settlers who were sent to occupied areas in Poland
during the Second World War “to colonize liberated parts of the Homeland”.
That is how Israel has acted in Gaza and the West Bank, under the same slogan.
What was a war crime in the occupied areas during the Second World War remains
a war crime also in the areas of Occupation of the War of the Territories that
Israel is waging.

This is confirmed by the Rome Convention, which was signed in 1998, and which
stipulates that the colonization of an occupied territory by the occupier’s
population is a war crime. This removes all doubt, for those who had any,
about the status of the settlements.

In the context of the robbery of lands and theft of water, there were also
settlers who worked in agriculture. During the years of the Occupation they
did very well for themselves, thanks in part to the cheap labour force that
was available to them. Thousands of Palestinians and Thais were exploited in
the settlements from dawn to dusk under poor conditions of work. The
Palestinians had the humiliation of working for the Occupier who had stolen
their land. More than once it found expression in attacks on settler employers
by frustrated Palestinians. That is understandable: while the Palestinians,
refugees who had been expelled from their homes in the 1948 war, lived under
harsh conditions in refugee camps, every day they saw the settlers living in
spacious villas. Showoffs as well as thieves.

As I said, Jewish terror was finally expelled from Gaza 8 years ago, and from
the government of Israel the evacuated people received generous compensation,
which added up to hundreds of millions of shekels. Some of them did not know
how to manage responsibly the flood of generosity that came their way. They
played the stock market and lost money. The evacuees very quickly learned that
even the government that was so friendly to settlers understood that there are
certain limits. It refused the evacuees’ demands to receive compensation for
“damages caused by the terror of the Second Intifada”, even after the
evacuation. So they turned to the courts. And indeed they found relief there.

In the newspaper Maariv (6 August 2013), it was reported that you ruled
that the State must pay financial compensation to the settlers of Gush Katif
for “damages caused by the terror of the Second Intifada”. It would cost
millions. In my view this was an incorrect decision. A reward for settler
terrorism, a reward for theft and plunder, a reward for a rapacious Mafia.
This is a creative reversal. At the stroke of a sympathetic judge’s pen, the
terror of the Occupation and the settlers becomes “the terror of the Second
Intifada”. And what was the cause of the Second Intifada, if not the terror of
the settlements and the army of Occupation that defended them? It is Israel
and the settlers who should pay compensation to the Palestinians for
plundering the land and water of the local population and unauthorized use of
their property.

And where will the millions you have put at the disposal of the evacuees come
from? It will come from the poor. From the budgets for children, senior
citizens, kindergartens and Holocaust survivors. The fatcats, the Israeli
billionaires, Tshuva, Arison, Denker, Lapid and all the other barons of
finance will continue to fly in their private planes and to jump from villa to
villa all over the world. You should have thought of that too, Mr. Orenstein,
before you distributed millions to war criminals.

Gideon Spiro

Translator’s notes

1. A video of the attack can be seen here:


3. In her verdict, the judge used the Hebrew term “mityashvim”, which means
“colonists” or “settlers” in the broadest sense (“settlement” = hityashvut).
The author uses the term “mitnahalim”, which is used almost universally in
Israel to refer specifically to Jewish settlers in Israeli-occupied
territories (“settlement” = hitnahalut). “Mitnahalim” literally means “those
who take possession of an inheritance”. The term reflects the nationalist-
religious Zionist belief that the land of the West Bank (and Golan Heights) is
the modern Jews’ legitimate inheritance from their ancient Israelite ancestors
and ultimately from God. (In Wikipedia, the Hebrew version of the article on
“Settlement” is called “Hityashvut”, and the English version of the Hebrew
article entitled “Hitnahalut” is called “Israeli settlement”)

4. “Hasamba Group” is an ironic reference to the protagonists of a series of
Israeli children’s adventure books that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
“Hasamba” is an acronym for Hebrew words meaning “The Absolutely Definitely
Secret Group”. “Price Tag” is the name of a campaign of destruction of
Palestinian property carried out by Israeli settlers and their sympathizers.


Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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