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Haaretz: “Leftist asks court for jail time after convicted in illegal protest”

NOTE: This article contains an inaccurate translation of the sentencing statement. It should read: “This trial, had it not taken place in a court of the occupation, in the ‘democracy’ imposed on 3.5 million Palestinian subjects, devoid of basic democratic liberties, would have been the trial of the Wall.”

by Nir Hasson, February 18th

A left-wing activist convicted of participation in an illegal protest against the separation fence on Sunday asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to sentence him to jail time, rather than community service or a suspended sentence. Despite his request, the court decided to issue him a three-month suspended sentence.

Jonathan Pollack, an central activist in the Anarchists Against the Fence movement, was convicted of participating in an illegal protest against the separation fence held in 2004 outside of the government compound in Tel Aviv. During the protest, the demonstrators blocked traffic on Kaplan Street.

Pollack said in his plea, “This trial – if it wasn’t administered by a court of the occupation, in the only democracy in the world in which 3.5 million citizens are homeless – was supposed to be a trial of the [separation] wall, the same wall defined as a legal jail by the highest legal authority in the world, the same wall that serves as a political tool in the campaign of ethnic cleansing Israel is running in the occupied territories.”

“It was not us who were supposed to stand here in the dock, but those who plan and carry into action the Israeli apartheid,” he added.

Pollack said later that he was not surprised when the court found him guilty, but could not accept his punishment as legitimate and therefore will not cooperate with the probation board and does not plan to perform the community service duties imposed on him by the court.

“I want to say that though this is my first conviction it certainly won’t be my last. I still believe that what I did was necessary and right considering the situation, and that the resistance against oppression is every man’s duty, even if it comes at a price,” Pollack said. “I ask that the court punish me with a prison sentence and not a suspended one. In a country where any gathering in the territories is considered illegal because of its widespread anti-democratic policies of closed military zones, any suspended sentence given to me will quickly become a prison term,” he added.

In conclusion, Pollack addressed the judge and said “If your honor thinks that a prison sentence is befitting the crime that I have committed, your honor will take the liberty and personally send me to prison right here and now.”

The prosecution in the case asked for a suspended sentence and a fine to be paid by the defendant. Judge Landman who presided over the case decided to sentence Pollack to a three-month suspended sentence. In the case that Pollack should participate in an illegal gathering within the next two years, he will be put in prison for three months. The other defendants in the case were sentenced to 80 hours of community service without convictions.

Landman said “it saddens me that a mature and articulate individual has come to the conclusion that the only way he can express his opinions is through the violation of the law, even if the law does not seem appropriate.”