The Case Against Nadia Matar
By Jonathan Pollard
Justice4JP Release - July 10, 2005*
Legitimate Dissent Is Not A Crime
Nadia Matar, leader of Women for Israel's Tomorrow, is being persecuted by the Government of Israel for being a good Jew.
Nadia did not foment a rebellion. She did not incite the People of Israel to revolt. Neither did she call for insurrection or political subversion. She did not commit any crime. All that Nadia Matar did was to call upon a fellow Jew to do tshuva, to give up his involvement in an immoral enterprise and return to the appropriate path for a G-d fearing Jew.
Nadia did so in the finest tradition of our holy Prophets. Our Prophets' powerful messages exhorting errant Kings to desist from "doing evil in the eyes of G-d" and to return to the correct path is an important part of our history, and an integral part of our national consciousness. Calling upon a public figure to do tshuva was not a crime then and it is not a crime now.
Nadia and I wrote separate but like-minded open letters to Yonatan Bassi, head of the Disengagement Authority. We both called upon Bassi to give up his immoral position as head of the Authority and implored him not to become the chief liquidator of Jewish homes and communities in Israel. It is ironic: Nadia is now being interrogated, threatened with indictment, and intimidated by the possibility of unlimited administrative detention for writing her letter to Bassi. I, on the other hand, sitting here in an American prison, have suffered no repercussions. My right to freedom of speech is guaranteed. Nadia's is not.
My wife and I make many sacrifices in order to make my voice heard outside of prison walls. We endure the hardship because Esther and I are determined never to give up the one freedom I do have. Even as a prisoner in America, I have the right to freedom of speech. As long as I refrain from discussing classified information, I am free to express my thoughts, opinions and ideas. Nadia and our fellow countrymen on the right side of the political spectrum, are not.
Why Do They Want To Silence Nadia Matar?
What is it that the government and security establishment see in Nadia Matar which makes them fear her so? Why are the authorities so determined to silence her? It is not because of anything she has done. It is because of what she represents.
Nadia is the head of one of the most effective citizens' advocacy groups in Israel. She is among a handful of natural leaders today, who have the will, the talent, and the strength of character to galvanize popular protest against undemocratic actions by the current Government of Israel.
Nadia represents everything a repressive regime fears in its citizenry. Her idealism and her enthusiasm are infectious and her determination is unyielding. She is a G-d fearing woman and a fierce nationalist, not easily threatened or intimidated. She is a thinker and resists following blindly. What is more, she is a powerful model and source of inspiration for others. In short, she is everything a dictatorial regime cannot tolerate if it is to retain complete and unquestioning control over its citizens.
Desperate to curtail Nadia's activities as a leader of one the most effective protest movements in the country, the Government seized upon her letter to Bassi as an excuse to take action against her. She was quickly hauled in for police interrogation and grilled for hours on end.
Eager to charge her with a crime - any crime - the authorities zeroed in on one part of her letter to Bassi. Nadia referenced a letter that Bassi had sent to citizens of Gaza urging them to cooperate with their own expulsion, and she compared it to a similar letter by the Judenrat during W.W. II urging Jews to cooperate and go quietly to the trains (which would take them to the death camps). Nadia wrote that Bassi's letter was worse than the Judenrat's since the Judenrat had no choice, whereas Bassi had accepted the immoral task of expelling Jews from their homes of his own free will.
The Israeli authorities decided that there must be a way to criminalize the insult of comparing Bassi's letter to the Judenrat's. Searching the law books, they came up with a law - totally unrelated and absolutely irrelevant - under which to prosecute Nadia.
The law they invoked - insulting a public official in the course of his official duties - was designed to protect policemen, firemen and other public servants from being abused in the course of their work. For example, this law protects a traffic policeman from being verbally abused by a person who has just received a traffic ticket. In their zeal to incriminate Nadia, the Government reinterpreted the law, stretching its application far beyond its intended purpose.
Why? Because even if they cannot make a case against Nadia, the public furor that they have created over this incident will make it easy to take other actions to silence her. For example, administrative detention is a far greater threat hanging over Nadia's head than any judicial proceeding that the Government may take against her.
The Threat Of Administrative Detention
It is more than possible that the Government plans to use its twisted interpretation of the "insult to public officials law" in a way reminiscent of America's infamous Internal Security Act of 1950. That law not only limited citizens' freedom of speech and freedom of association, but also permitted the President to lock up potential subversives indefinitely in concentration camps during times of perceived national emergency. Fortunately, there was a public outcry and this law was never implemented in the US.
However, the immoral use of administrative detention, without formal indictment and with no possibility of judicial review, still exists in Israel and it is routinely utilized. If the Government does indict Nadia, it can still lock her up in administrative detention before she is brought to trial. In other words, she can be placed in administrative detention indefinitely pending a trial - a trial which may be deliberately delayed for months, weeks, or even years.
Even worse, if the Government refrains from indicting Nadia, it can still lock her up in administrative detention indefinitely, without judicial review.
Any attempt by the Government to place Nadia in administrative detention must be met with unlimited and overwhelming public protest. If the Government of Israel is permitted to lock up Nadia Matar before, during or after trial, on trumped up charges of insulting a public official, the country is headed for the kind of judicial authoritarianism that Senator McCarthy attempted to unleash in the US. This poses an immeasurable threat to all of Israel, including the cancellation of freedom of speech and the abrogation of Israeli civil rights.
When Freedom Of Speech Is A Crime
According to the law, freedom of speech ends where its exercise threatens the public good. Shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre is a crime. But this is only true if there is no fire! If there is a fire, it is unforgivable not to cry out.
For those of us, like Nadia, who cherish Israel and seek to protect and defend the Land, it is glaringly obvious that the House of Israel is on fire. The flames are threatening to engulf us all! Now, more than ever, Jewish lives are at risk, and Jewish homes and communities are in mortal danger. Every day the enemy grows bolder and bolder in its attacks upon a beleaguered civilian population. The Government not only allows the flames to rage out of control but is also feeding the fire by offering up chunks of our homeland to our sworn enemies.
By orchestrating a very public campaign of intimidation against Nadia Matar - who dared to cry "Fire!" - the Government is attempting to silence all dissention. It is using a pinpoint precision attack on Nadia to intimidate the entire nationalist camp. As it demonstrates its willingness and its ability to crush this popular leader, the Government is sending a strong message to all. It apparently believes that in this way it will succeed in breaking the back of the citizens' protest movements which bitterly oppose the Government's plan to uproot Jewish homes and communities in Gaza and Samaria and turn the land over to our enemies.
Destroying The Foundations Of Democracy
The Government is mistaken in its aims and in its calculations. All that it has accomplished is to destroy its own legitimacy and its right to govern. In democratic states, a government derives its power from the consent of the people. A government cannot replace consent with coercion and still be considered a democracy.
Nadia Matar represents the voice of legitimate dissent in Israel. If she is silenced through intimidation and harassment, any pretense that the State of Israel is a democracy is unequivocally dispelled. Every distinction between Israel and her non-democratic neighbors in the region is effectively blurred.
Moreover by relentlessly persecuting those who exercise free speech to express legitimate dissent, the Government is deliberately creating an atmosphere of fear and repression - the kind of atmosphere that invites rebellion. Thus, by taking Draconian action against selected individuals, such as Nadia, the Government is actually fomenting the very insurrection it claims it is trying to prevent; and which it will use to justify the use of even more repressive and dictatorial measures.
The imprisonment of a nation begins with the unjust incarceration of one citizen. As Israeli citizens, our right to live freely in the Land and our freedom of speech depend on how we as a nation respond to the Government's unwarranted persecution of any one citizen.
By going after Nadia Matar publicly, interrogating and harassing her; threatening her with indictment and arrest; holding the specter of administrative detention over her head, the Government is effectively threatening all of us. It is striking out at the heart of all that Jews hold dear: our right to live and act in harmony with G-d and Torah; our right to be a free People in our own Land; and our fundamental right to freedom of speech.
All of The House of Israel must unite to vigorously protect and defend Nadia Matar; to prevent the Government from singling her out for malicious persecution. We must fight this injustice as if our very existence were at stake. As G-d fearing Jews who love the Land, it is.
- The above essay was originally published in October of 2004*. It can be read here.
- Jonathan Pollard was the first to address the threat of administrative detention that hangs over Nadia Matar's head. This threat looms even larger today as the date for implementation of the disengagement plan approaches. Sharon and his ilk grow ever more anxious to remove Nadia - the most effective anti-disengagement leader - from public life.
The recent indictment of Matar is just an artifice to enable them do so. Public outcry against any attempt to place Matar in administrative detention must be swift and sufficiently powerfu to disrupt such action.
- Click here for the Hebrew version of the above essay.
See Also: Our World: Scorched-earth Kulturkampf: The Jerusalem Post