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Charges against J14 leader highlight suppression of anti-occupation activism

J14 leader Daphni Leef has been charged with rioting, more than half a year after she was violently arrested during an attempt to reignite the protest movement of the summer of 2011. Her trial will begin on January 23.

By Leehee Rothschild

J14 leader Daphni Leef held down on the ground as she is arrested by police officers (photo: Dan Haimovich)

Look at this photo of Daphni Leef. Look at her, thrown at the floor, crushed under uniformed men – uniforms which define them as the guardians of law and order and give them the authority and power to use reasonable strength, allowing them to define what’s reasonable.

Look at them triding on her, pulling her, dragging her, beating her, twisting her hand, breaking her bones.

Feel her pain.

Read the media reports on the demonstration and her arrest. Read the police response. Feel the outcry and the rage about the blatant lies used by policemen, the injustice in turning the victim into the accused, and the way in which their words are accepted as of truth and justice.

Look, ache, shudder and feel rage.

I ask you to remember this photo. Remember how it was reported in the media, remember the police’s response, remember against whom they placed charges.

Next time you read about leftist activist “rioting,” about activists who attack police officers in a demonstration in Jaffa, or Lod, or Sheikh Jarrah, or about disturbances of public order in Bil’in, clashes between soldiers and Palestinian protestors in Nabi Saleh or Nil’in, remember this photo. Remember that the ones who are portrayed by police and media as the rioters, the attackers, the violent ones, are most likely the victims of the situation. Remember that they are the ones who took to the streets to protest injustice, to demonstrate against discrimination and oppression, to oppose the government. Remember that those who represent the law do not necessarily represent truth, and certainly not justice. Remember that the ones who protest for their most basic rights might find themselves crushed under the boots of democracy.

This piece was first published in Hebrew in the blog Radically Blonde.

Leehee Rothschild has been active in the Palestinian struggle for over a decade. She currently works with Anarchists Against the Wall and Boycott From Within.

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    1. directrob

      I understand you feel rage but why should others feel rage? Rage would stop them to think clearly or let them do crazy things. I agree with your basic message and your cause but in my view this article targets cheap emotions and could be counterproductive.

      Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        An overly dramatic article.
        Daphne was arrested, and is going to stand trial.
        Normaly arrests in those circumstances, as shown in the photo, are very active and frenetic.
        But for all of that, the picture shows her being restrained, not beaten(and what bones were broken)

        Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      So now a white Jewish privileged woman got just a tiny bit of what others been fed for a decades and she does not like it.

      To show disdain with policies of Israel she does not have to come to Tel Aviv – all relevant persons are her neighbors.

      Pain? Rage?
      Laughable. She did not got even 5% of what she deserves for her cynicism.

      Reply to Comment
    3. If Daphni Leef is guilty of rioting then, a fortiori, the MK’s associated with the South Tel Aviv race riot are guilty of at least incitement to riot.

      A woman who set up a tent to find others doing the same is charged with rioting and will be brought to trial in less than a month? Perhaps the blogger means she will be arraigned on Jan 23. At least I can hope the trial doesn’t start so quickly.

      In any case, there is little doubt that Israeli law is in considerable disarray. This charge, which amounts to little more than the suppression of mass dissent, cannot stand simply because some rioting occurred after J14 began. The charge is not truly over her rioting or instigating a riot, but rather in successfully speaking out and demonstrating over economic conditions. She is being charged for, again, successfully operating outside the mainstream political parties.

      This is a clear signpost on the road to legal fascism. May I suggest that the Israeli Attorney General read the works of Carl Schmidt. Perhaps we shall find them quoted in legal argument at trial.

      The High Court is going to have to take a stand. Cowardice or an independent stand for Justice? Decide.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Kolumn9

      What are you talking about? Since when was J14 considered ‘anti-occupation activism’? Did you miss all the articles on 972mag explicitly taking J14 to task for ignoring the Palestinians and the occupation?

      Whoever wrote that headline should change it because it makes absolutely no sense in reference to the actual content of the article.

      Reply to Comment
    5. sh

      This piece is over the top, but not because treating Dafni Leef or any non-violent protester like that isn’t disgusting.

      Leehee Rothschild, I believe, is looking at it as an example of the way she and her colleagues who demonstrate against the occupation or in defence of Israel’s Arab citizens are routinely treated and hoping that now that the police are behaving this way against a leader of the resolutely “apolitical” J14 protest, inside Tel Aviv bubble, it will arouse public outrage. If it didn’t when it happened, it certainly won’t now. J14 protest 2012 was killed off that day.

      I can’t believe they’ll find Leef guilty – not after that police reaction – but her trial begins the day after the election so who knows?

      Reply to Comment
      • “now that the police are behaving this way against a leader of the resolutely “apolitical” J14 protest, inside Tel Aviv bubble” : When the rule of law is willfully truncated, it way well be truncated in other directions. This indictment is evidence that those who believe the rule of law can be regulated solely to exclude the occupation are wrong.

        Reply to Comment