- 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
- 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
- Nitzana received her copy of the brief three hours after
the hearing began. "This,"she acknowledged, "is called an
- 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
- 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
- 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?"
- "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 email@example.com 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 Amazon.com. The Hebrew and Russian editions can be acquired
from Gefen Books. Write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 5380247.
The French edition is available by writing email@example.com Please
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