Investigation to be launched into racist article in ultra-orthodox magazine

In a letter received by Adalah on 23 November 2006, the State Prosecutor’s Office in Israel announced that a criminal investigation for racial incitement into the publication of an article in Issue 160 of the ultra-orthodox Hassidic World magazine will be launched.

Adalah Attorney Abeer Baker sent a complaint to the Attorney General on 23 August 2006, demanding the opening of an immediate investigation on the grounds that that the article, written by Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, contains racist statements and opinions which constitute incitement against Arabs in general and Muslims in particular.

The article, entitled “All Arabs’ Intentions are Bad,” states that Arabs are an inferior, imbecilic people full of hatred, that they are deceitful and hypocritical savages similar to donkeys and take delight in killing. The author also describes Arabs as more cruel than the Nazis, and writes that Christians are pigs and Muslims are camels because they live in the past, just as a camel chews over food many times. He also calls the Prophet Muhammad a false prophet. The article was first brought to public attention by the Arabic language newspaper Kol al-Arab, which asked for Adalah’s legal intervention.

As Adalah argued in the letter, Ben-Zvi attempted to base his racist expressions on religious sources and rabbis’ statements, as if he was expressing their words. For example, the author calls on statements made by one rabbi who, in his opinion, asserted that the hatred and aggression of Arabs towards the Jews greatly exceeds that of the Nazis, and that it is natural that hate must have been sown in the hearts of the Arabs in the present day, too.

Adalah demanded that a criminal investigation be opened into the publication of the article for offenses such as racist incitement (Article 144b(a) of the Penal Law (1977)), and harming religious sensitivities (Article 179 of the Penal Law (1977) and Article 6 of the Anti-Defamation Law (1965)). Adalah argued that the criminal law prohibits the publication of material aimed at incitement, including the use excerpts from the Torah or the statements of religious leaders if the intention of quoting them is incitement. The enormous number of racist and insulting statements made in the article against Arabs purely on the basis of their national and religious belonging demonstrates that the author’s goal is racial incitement and to convince the readers of the accuracy of his racist views.

The State Attorney’s Office refused to open a criminal investigation for the offense of harming religious sensitivities, stating that: “There is a basis for suspecting that such an offense was committed. However, taking into consideration that it is our policy to minimize offenses which fall on the line of contact with freedom of expression, an investigation into this offense is not justified in this case.”

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