Kafka style court hearings in Israel
In the many years of writing for Israeli people who want their voices heard, and having never been in trouble with the authorities, I find myself being at the receiving end of police and courts twice, at the hands of the same woman.
Whilst being fully aware of false claims against men and their struggle to supply evidence to prove their innocence, I found myself empathising yet again with their plight - having lost a false claim hearing in Israel.
It's almost impossible to convince an international audience just how difficult it is for people in the corrupt judiciary in Israel. Usually being a defendant is a hopeless position, but one always hopes as a plaintiff there is a chance.
After being falsely detained last July, held for over 10 hours with a Romanian National and eventually released, I began to understand the power of a vengeful ex who could implicate anyone known to the father of her child. As a witness to the events of the father who was thrown in prison in the search of his son, I was then denied the right to be a key witness in the hearing to prove his innocence. In fact, to date - over 15 months later - the hearing has still NOT taken place, resulting in the father experiencing full alienation from his son.
Last December, I reported on the first ever supreme court protest against Judges, organised by Attorney Yaron Meydan. Nearly 100 men and women went to Jerusalem to stand up for equal parenting and express their views against what they firmly believe is a corrupt judiary. Coincidentally, the same woman in the ex's story works at the Supreme Court. I had completely forgotten this fact, nor did I know exactly where she worked. The protest itself was a lively one, and a very brave move by those who attended.
I had gone to the court for a few minutes at the request of a gentleman who wanted to request records, and from the corner of my eye, I saw the woman in question. A few minutes later, I was on the receiving end of shouting and screaming at me to get out of the building or I would be thrown out. My instincts were proved correct, as the next day an ex parte (one sided) decision was made to put an injunction on the father using a letter blaming me for bringing men to the court to intimidate her. The injunction extended to me. This was placed into a custody file in the family court and rubber stamped by Judge Elia Nuss. When a letter to argue this was sent for me, the Judge then replied by sending me to the civil court as it was not in her jurisdiction!
Here we have the first evidence of corruption. My name was thrown into a family court matter betweeen a couple fighting, to obtain an injunction against the father who was not at the protest, and extend it to me who did attend to video and write an article.
Clearly involving a British journalist in a family court dispute is an extraordinary bending of the rules. This time, I wanted to try for justice - knowing well that it is as rare as hens teeth. But it's always worth one effort. A claim was filed in the civil small claims court. The initial file did include the history of events, which in fact opened the doors on the father's case.
I requested a translator, as is my right. There are certain rules regarding small claims hearings. Firstly, neither side should have a professional lawyer. The hearing is nomally open to the public, and is regarding a dispute. Of course, as the plaintiff, I believed I might have a small chance. A false claim by a woman; and her claims that I could organise an onslaught against her of men from all over Israel. It seemed a reasonable hope.
Yesterday 19th September, I lost the hearing in glorious fashion! If you are to lose in the Israel courts, the best approach is to lose in style, and to not take it personally.
It was interesting to note that currently judges are all sticking together, especially if they feel a plaintiff or defendant has any connections to the blogger scandal, which has left 3 people still in detention from a huge wave of arrests in February.
The protest itself was against judges. So it was predictable the judge would not approve of the event itself. The defendant named Moti Leybel and Lory Shem Tov (currently in prison pending trial) as being present in the protest. They were not. She named the father. He was not. She named a father's group - they were not. In fact, at the time she arrived at work, I also was not present. So far so good I thought. All the accusations in her letter were provable to be false.
Those in Israel reading this will be chuckling already. I am a plaintiff; I have proof, and I'm facing a woman from Israel. They already can predict the outcome. Those international readers may be assuming I have more than a reasonable chance.
I was not informed of the date of the hearing; no defense material arrived at my addresses. I found out only by chance when the hearing was to be. The defendant claimed she had no lawyer, yet her friend with her was indeed a professional, with a power of attorney signed. Fronted by trainees yes, but guided by her. Secondly, the defendant has huge influence in the Supreme Court after 20 years employment, as the ongoing case against her ex has proven.
So, armed with the permission to use a lawyer for the hearing, we arrive to learn that the resubmission actually ordered by the judge was first ignored and then refused - by the same judge. We then learned that the letter blaming me and which achieved her injunction was not admissible in conjunction! This was because the injunction had been issued by the family court, and therefore was not allowed to be discussed. The letter and her version of events stood alone, without any connection to how she had achieved an order against me. This left us with nowhere to turn, and the case would be lost within the first few minutes.
Not so. It took over 2 hours for the cross examinations, and the 37 page protocol to be dictated by the judge. They tried to bring events from my own personal life years before to smear my name, stating that I intimidated 'people in the world'. It was said I had participated in the protest, and was not there as a journalist.
Are you confused yet? It would be safe to say most people would be.
There are serious undertones to this small hearing. Most of the focus was actually on the protest. The defense team were trying to prove that I had taken part in it, rather than just filming it. What if that were true? Is a democratic protest a crime? Finally the judge said in his long summary:
"The plaintiff it turns out even testified in the procedure between the defendant One and her ex partner and the plaintiff it turns out decided to settle accounts with the defendant " (I have not testified, no hearing as took place, and to assume someone 'decided to settle accounts' is a gross misrepresentation of any facts)
"We cannot accept the claim since the plaintiff did not prove her claims"
"we cannot accept the claim even if the facts in the claim were true"
"...plaintiff did seek to do more than press coverage beyond a journalist cover and did participate actively at least in some of the messages that the demonstration wanted to convey..."
"The plaintiff even filmed imperatively to cause harrassment (hebrew translation) and harm as to what is going on in the corridors of the supreme court"
"....it will be said with all due respect to the activity of the plaintiff, at least with all that is connected to this claim in front of me, I found that we cannot believe her..."
The basis of the claim was her letter and illegal action of acquiring an injunction in her own family court dispute using my name. Yet, if a person cannot argue this in either a family or civil court, where is one to go?
When a court spends hours trying to find a journalist 'guilty' of covering a democratic protest as if it is an act of subversion, it is a serious waste of taxpayers money.
What is clear, is that one person with an ex partner decided that the protest was all about her, and the system protected her by refusing the evidence which proved it.
Protestors beware! The full contents of the protocol proves Big Brother is really watching you. Protests are causing concern to the judiciary.
Kafka was right - in the maze, a person goes in with one thing in mind and is led into a different direction, and this definitely is true when dealing with Israeli judiciary.