Israeli activist given three-month suspended sentence after anti-Wall protest

Eight of the defendants in court. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)


Jonathan Pollak, an activist with Anarchists Against the Wall, was sentenced to three months in prison that will be activated if he is convicted of a similar charge again. Pollak was sentenced today after he was convicted together with 10 other activists for blocking a road in Tel Aviv in protest of the construction of the wall. He asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to sentence him to jail time rather than community service or a suspended sentence, saying he has no intention to stop resisting the occupation. The ten other convicted activists were sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

In his sentencing statement Pollak said, “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 — was supposed to be a trial of the wall. The same wall defined as a illegal 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,” Pollak continued. He also stated that while he is not surprised by his conviction, he does not recognize it as legitimate, explaining that is the reason he refused community service or cooperation with the probation authorities.

To end his statement Pollak asked that the court punish him with a prison sentence and not a suspended one. “In a state of things where any gathering in the territories is considered illegal because of a widespread anti-democratic policy of closed military zones, any suspended sentence given to me will quickly become a prison term,” Pollak said, then turning to the judge personally, saying, “If your honor believes one should be sent to prison for such acts, please take the liberty and personally send me to prison here and now.”

The state prosecutor quickly responded by asking not to send Pollak to prison, but rather to pose a conditional sentence and a fine.

Jonathan Pollak’s full sentencing statement

From the first moment of this trial we took responsibility for our acts. We’ve never denied, even for an instant, that we sat on the road. Quite the opposite — we fully admitted this, and we explained why we did so. The defense was revolved around two central axes — exposing the police’s lies and their invention of fictional accusations, which the court has already addressed, and on the principles of civil resistance. In its decision, the court stated that we were attempting to drag this court into the political arena, which it should avoid like fire, lest it get burned. In fact, the state prosecution was the one doing the dragging. In every crime and in every trial, the question of motive is a central one. Our so-called crime is clearly a political one, and so are its motives.

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; that same wall that was defined as illegal by the highest legal authority in the world; that same wall that is used as a political tool in the campaign of ethnic cleansing being undertaken by Israel in the Occupied Territories; that same wall that in its previous route, that route of the relevant days, was thrown out even by Israeli courts! It was not us who should have been standing accused here, but rather the architects and enforcers of Israeli Apartheid.

To our assertion that there is a duty to violate the law at times, the court answered that in such times, one must accept the punishment as well. This response contains an obvious moral failure. The correct response would be that those who violate the law must expect punishment. Expect it, but under no circumstances accept its legitimacy.

I am not surprised that we were found guilty. But in spite of that, I cannot accept the legitimacy of the punishment. That is the reason I refused to cooperate with the parole agency, and I will refuse community service as well.
I believe that at this stage of the trial the defense tends to state that this is the defendant’s first conviction, that he is a normal human being, who is well within the bounds of civil society, that he works a steady job and so on and so forth. I will argue otherwise. I will state that while this is indeed my first conviction, it is unlikely to be my last. I still believe that what I did was necessary and morally correct, and that resistance to oppression is the duty of every human being, even at a personal price.

It is customary to ask for leniency — not to impose an active sentence, and to be satisfied with a conditional sentence. I will ask not to have a conditional sentence imposed on me, but an active one, since as things are, any demonstration taking place in the Occupied Territories is declared illegal assembly, according to the extensive and anti-democratic system of closed military zone warrants. In this state of affairs, any conditional sentence imposed upon me will quickly become an active one. If your honor believes one should be sent to prison for such acts, please take the liberty and personally send me to prison here and now.

Related Links

  • International Solidarity Movement
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  • Anarchists Against the Wall