My Day In Court...Or,
How I Learned To Despise
The Israeli Judicial System
By Barry Chamish <>

Last October, Knesset Member Ofir Pines sent a letter to the Steimatzky Book chain, Israel's book monopoly, demanding that it remove my book Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin from its shelves. In the letter he called me "the country's biggest inciter and his book is a pack of lies."
So, I sued him for slander. A month ago he defended himself in court, citing parliamentary immunity. Or simply, no one can sue him for anything because he's a Knesset member. Judge Boaz Okun, of the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, turned down his defence and today, May 1, a procedural hearing was held. But wouldn't you know it, the judge had a change of heart and ruled that Pines was immune from further trial.
Here was my day. At 11 AM, my attorney Nitzana Darshan Leitner phoned from the court saying, "You won't believe it. The Attorney General sent his lawyer to influence the judge. He wants to speak to you. Can you get here in an hour?"
I did and she was right. Sitting at Pines' table were his two lawyers but the General Attorney Elyakim Rubinstein had sent his mouthpiece, a curly-haired semi-youngish woman named Orit Podansky to do 90% of the talking. She came armed with a brief prepared by the Attorney General's office explaining why Pines' parliamentary immunity had to be protected.
Nitzana received her copy of the brief three hours after the hearing began. "This,"she acknowledged, "is called an ambush."
Later in the day, another attorney, Dror Bar Nahum was incredulous. "I've never heard of the Attorney General intervening in a civil case before. This appears to be scandalous."
Before the afternoon session began, Nitzana informed me, "He's already reached a decision. He wants you to comply with it so it won't be overturned later on. If you do, he'll waive court costs."
"What if not?" I asked.
"We'll appeal but it won't be cheap."
"Let's hear what he has to say first and maybe I can sway him to change his mind."
Judge Okun addressed me. "It would be a waste of time for you to carry on with your suit. It is legal in this country to criticize someone and anyone can legally write a book store asking it to remove a book from its shelves. There is no basis for a continuance."
I asked Nitzana, "Is it really legal?"
She whispered, "He's lying."
I asked for permission to speak and began, "Mr. Pines did not merely criticize me. He called me a liar and then deliberately abused his power as a Knesset member to wreck my income. I worked for almost four years on the book without pay and his goal was to deprive me of an income. To do so, he sent copies of his letter to Steimatzky to most of the Israeli media, and this resulted in headlines calling me a liar. There are hundreds of thousands of readers who still believe what's printed in the papers and they didn't buy my book because a member of the government said it was a lie. And, though I admit, sales rose initially because of the scandal, later stores turned the book down because they thought selling it was illegal. I'll bring my publisher and he'll show you the refusals.
"Pines tried his best to ban my book. This is barbaric and primitive and has no place in the twentieth century. You seemed to have already made your ruling and it justifies book banning and the repression of free thought."
Judge Okun was clearly taken aback as was the gallery where loud murmurs arose. The judge tried a new strategy. Reading from the Attorney General's brief, he quoted my book's allegations against Carmi Gillon and Meir Shamgar. He had hoped I would trip up and say nasty things about them.
I replied, "So let them sue me. My fight in this courtroom is only with Pines. You can take passages you dislike and read them out of context but the fact is I based my book on police lab results, hospital findings and eye witness reports. I have brought my notes for you to examine. They prove I'm no liar since the book's quotes are from official sources."
The judge answered, "This isn't the time to read your notes. I haven't even read your book."
"It comes highly recommended," I said. Then I added, "Ofir Pines took an illegal action against me and even Leah Rabin called his act, 'too drastic. People should read the book if they like.' Since the book's release, polls by Gallup and the Jerusalem Post show that two thirds of Israelis, including the Rabin family, want the assassination reinvestigated. If you rule against continuation of the trial, you will be alienating those with doubts. They will further lose faith in our judicial system."
Judge Okun replied, "We are dealing with techical matters here. This court is not the right place for you to pursue your argument with Mr. Pines?"
"If a civil court isn't the right place, where is?" I asked.
"In the public arena," the judge replied.
I knew then that, yes, Judge Okun had been influenced by the government. He must have known how flimsy his arguments were. Still, I added, "And who in this public arena will compensate me for the damage Mr. Pines has done to my reputation and income? This court is the last stop. If you rule against continuation, you will set some very dangerous legal precedents. From now on Knesset members will be free to slander whoever they want and interfere in anyone's honest business affairs. That will be your legacy."
From that point on, Ofir Pines sat in the gallery with his assistant. The government sent in its forces and turned an honest judge into a compromised weakling. Attorney Avi Leitner summed it up, "You just got a front seat view of judicial corruption."
For the next four hours, the lawyers entered their arguments but it was already a done deal. Judge Okun ruled in favor of Pines' parliamentary immunity and opened the door to dictatorship in Israel.
* * * ] Now, of course, I'm ticked off so I'm going to release new information. After unrelenting pressure from honest journalists, Rabin's assassination night driver Menachem Damti agreed to be interviewed by two television crews working with me, one from Tel Aviv University's Communications Faculty, the other from MGI Productions.
I had claimed that his daughter was in Rabin's car, slammed the back right passenger door, witnessed the murder and caused the Rabin limousine to arrive at the hospital between twelve and twenty minutes late. I based this assertion on an interview given to Channel Four Television in England on the evening of Rabin's funeral. One guest was Yifah Barak who claimed her sister's friend was in the car, Rabin fell on her after he was shot and she was taken to hospital for treatment of shock.
Damti acknowledged that one his daughters, Reut, was beside Rabin's car and indeed she appears in the assassination film standing beside her father. After all this time, Damti acknowledged that his daughter was at the murder scene but the film proved she wasn't in the car.
Next, Reut Damti, finally, agreed to be interviewed and added to her father's claim that she couldn't have been in the car because she was outside. She was then shown Yifah Barak's interview and admitted that a lot of people did call her house on the murder night to see if everyone was alright. She added that there was nothing strange about her being in the sterile area, her two uncles were there too.
Damti had invited his family to witness the grand fake assassination of which he would play a starring role. One of his invited guests was likely his OTHER, twelve year old daughter.
Yifah Barak was phoned in London to get her side of things. She stood by her story but added vital details. She never claimed Reut Damti was in the car. Reut was her age. It was her sister, Karen Barak who called the Damti home to inquire about the other daughter, who was her own age, twelve at the time. And that is who, most likely, was an accidental witness to the Rabin assassination.
Stay tuned! Now lots of researchers are working towards sorting out the lies. One is Ori Barkan, who wrote a brilliant dramatization of the murder called Srak. For those who read Hebrew, write the Zionist Book Club at for a copy.
Today was a sad day for Israeli justice but the push towards truth is now a shove. We'll all get there. And, oh yes...I SHALL APPEAL THE WRETCHED RULING.
Brookline Books will be issuing a new edition of Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin in a few weeks. Call 1 800 666BOOK. The first edition is sold over The Hebrew and Russian editions can be acquired from Gefen Books. Write or call 02 5380247. The French edition is available by writing Please visit


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