Israeli anarchist released despite refusing to ‘play by the rules of a system that is rigged against justice’

Jonathan Pollak on his release from prison
Tom Anderson

An Israeli anarchist has been released from prison today. Jonathan Pollak was imprisoned after a right-wing group filed a proceeding against him. He was released after the Israeli Attorney General’s office ruled against the claim by right-wing NGO Ad Kan (Until Here).

Pollak had been in jail since early January.

The Active Stills collective tweeted:

Pollak had refused to pay bail to secure his own release. He said that he would not pay the bail because he refused to recognise the legitimacy of a system which refuses to treat Palestinians equally. Active Stills tweeted:

“A system that is rigged against justice”

Mohammed Khatib, one of Pollak’s Palestinian comrades, wrote about the arrest last month in 972 Magazine:

My friend Jonathan was arrested… (and not for the first time) on charges similar to those I [have] faced. Unlike me… he will face judgement in an Israeli civil court, one which is supposed to protect the rights of citizens but in practice protects settlers, soldiers, and those who uphold apartheid and occupation. Because he supports our cause, I don’t expect him to find justice.

Due to of the nature of his arrest, and because he is not Palestinian, Jonathan could pay NIS 500 bail and walk out of jail. But he is a principled person. He has seen me and countless other Palestinian friends arrested on false charges, powerless to prove our innocence. So, he has decided to refuse bail and remain in detention instead. He won’t play by the rules of a system that is rigged against justice.

A statement received by The Canary today from the Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF) reads:

The Human Rights Defenders Fund is proud of… the endurance of human rights activist Jonathan [Pollak], who was released from custody today. However, it is unfortunate that the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court chose to cooperate with Ad-Kan’s political prosecution and insisted on continuing a baseless and legally flawed proceeding completely lacking evidence.

Fresh investigation ordered

At the same time as striking out Ad Kan’s claim, the Attorney General’s office ordered that a criminal investigation be opened against Pollak for ‘incitement to terror and violence’, in relation to an article he wrote in Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

This new move is the next step in a series of repressive policies by the Israeli state and the far right against those who stand up against Israel’s colonial policies. It comes after Israeli defence minister Naftali Bennett indicated that he would issue ‘administrative restraining orders’ to prevent Israelis from attending demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians. On 18 January, Bennett said:

Tonight, I ordered the IDF, for the first time, to issue administrative restraining orders against left-wing anarchist activists, who carry out violent acts against IDF soldiers, mainly in events carried out against the [separation] fence in Bil’in, Naalin, Kadum and Nabi Salah – and are led by Jonathan [Pollak]

The Canary has been told that these orders have not been carried out. But Bennett’s threat, timed as it was to coincide with Ad Kan’s claim against Pollak, suggests that the Israeli state and far-right groups like Ad Kan are working hand in hand. According to HRDF:

This type of incitement against human rights activists by government officials is another testament to the close cooperation between extreme-right organizations such as Ad-Kan and State authorities and officials.

Joint struggle is more important than ever

Israeli citizens like Pollak, who are willing to stand alongside Palestinians, are integral to the struggle against Israel’s colonisation of Palestine. It is no surprise that the Israeli state is going out of its way to silence them.

The Israeli army is currently engaged in the repression of mass Palestinian demonstrations against Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu’s new plans for a massive land grab in the West Bank. Joint struggle between Israeli and Palestinian opponents of these policies, coupled with international solidarity, is more important than ever.

Featured image via Active Stills (with permission for use on this occasion)

Get involved

  • Check out the Boycott From Within website
  • Read Mohammed Khatib’s article on why he is proud to stand with Pollak
  • Watch this film about Anarchists Against the Wall
  • Get involved in your local Palestine Solidarity group

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  • Show Comments
    1. When Karl Marx’s father converted from Judaism to Christianity, he recognised Judaism as a choice. Being Jewish is not biological. However, the need for an absolute justification for Israeli violence towards and oppression of the Palestinians drives the Israeli lobby to try to claim it is. Pollack’s anarchism is a cultural feature. No one in their right mind would claim he is an anarchist biologically. Israel’s need to persecute opinion is closely linked to a strain of thought which denies opinion’s cultural nature, ie its contingency. Totalitarians are afraid of contingency. In the Jewish Chronicle on 14th February, the children’s writer Keren David published a ludicrous article: she had sent off her sample to an ancestry site and received confirmation that she was “100% Ashkenazi Jew” and “Our DNA is distinct”. Unfortunately for her, she shares 99.9% of her DNA with Yasser Arafat. There are 3 billion base pairs in the human genome (ACGT matches). 99.9% of them are shared by everyone on the planet. Of the remaining 0.1% (single nucleotide polymorphisms – SNIPS) most make no difference. Most of the rest make minor differences. The company that examined David’s spittle looked at that 0.1% and related it to reference populations. These are groups where a particular percentage of the population share a polymorphism, so if you have it too there is a possibility you have ancestry from that group. But only a possibility because there will almost certainly be other groups which share the same polymorphism. No geneticist on earth can tell anyone they are “100% Ashkenazi Jew”. Jew is not a biological definition but a cultural one. Ms David is a Jew by choice. Her biology has nothing to do with it. Like Marx’s dad, nothing prevents her from converting to Christianity or Islam. As for the DNA of Jews being distinct, 99.9% of it is shared by everyone else, by the Ayotollah, by the Palestinians, by atheists, by Pollack. Any distinction can be only, scientifically, in a bit of 0.1% of DNA, and in all likelihood any distinction will make no or trivial differences. Ms David’s desperate and scientifically ignorant and wayward attempt to find an absolute justification for her religion, gives the game away: she wants it true that biology is responsible for the oppression of the Palestinians. That the violence and racism of the Israelis is justified by nature. The pathetic nature of this would be merely laughable were it not destroying the lives of millions of Palestinians and risking conflagration in the Middle East. At the core of the Zionist view of the world is racism. At the heart of the Israel/Palestine tragedy is the belief in the biological inferiority of the Arabs. As Chaim Weizmann put it: “There is a qualitative difference between a Jew and an Arab.” Racism. Ms David’s claim that “Our DNA is distinct” is racism, as well as scientific idiocy. Ms David is 100% dishonest. 100% self-deceiving. 100% delusional. What she expressed is what drives the Israeli hatred of the Palestinians: a demented belief that she is biologically superior. On the one hand the Israelis try to justify their brutality by reference to the Bible, on the other they twist genetic science to the same end. Neither the Bible nor science supports them. Their hatred and violence towards the Palestinians are morally despicable. The Bible is fiction and science makes nonsense of any claim to biological superiority by any group. Ms David and the Jewish Chronicle will be mocked and reviled by posterity for their ignorance, arrogance and manipulation.

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