Jerusalem Court Extends Remand of History Teacher Over Posts Against Israel-Hamas War

12:00 Nov 10 2023 Magistrate Court, Jerusalem

Israeli police. Credit: Fadi Amun. Published by Haaretz

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Friday extended by four days the remand of Dr. Meir Baruchin, a history teacher from Jerusalem who posted messages on Facebook opposing the army’s operations in Gaza and showing compassion for the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

The Petah Tikva municipality issued a complaint against Baruchin last week after the city fired him from his job as a teacher because of 15 Facebook posts of his.

Most of them were written before the war broke out on October 7. “Regarding a terrorist attack, he attached a photograph of a terrorist, eulogized him and described his deeds as acts of desperation,” Adnan Zada, the Israel Police representative stated. “In another post after a car-ramming attack, he wrote that it was impossible to call him a terrorist.”

One of Baruchin’s post that caught the police’s attention, which the judge quoted in his decision, was written on October 8. “Today, as well, the bloodbath continues in the West Bank,” he wrote, after which he gave the names and ages of the two Palestinians who were killed, ages 14 and 24.

“They were born under occupation and lived under it their entire lives,” he wrote, adding: “They never knew one day of true freedom. They never will… they were executed this evening by our outstanding boys.”

The police also investigated him about a comment regarding rape that Hamas terrorists perpetrated on October 7, in which he noted that soldiers in the IDF raped Palestinian women in 1948.

During the hearing, it emerged that the police were seeking approval of the prosecution to open an investigation for incitement against Baruchin. However, prosecution officials said they believed that there was nothing in what he had written to justify such an investigation. Therefore, the police asked for an extension of his remand on grounds that his behavior could lead to a disturbance of the peace and cited an obscure section of the law referring to “revealing the decision to commit treason” which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

“This is one of the rare cases that reinforces fears of using the law for political persecution,” the defense lawyer, Nasser Odeh, argued. “We’re talking about a 63-year-old doctor of history, a father of three, who was a civics teacher.

He has a political opinion that makes some in society and the investigative unit uncomfortable, but it’s a legitimate position. And the distance between positions and offenses is great. He was asked during his interrogation about his political opinions, and said that he condemns and doesn’t justify any harm to civilians, and it doesn’t matter what side they’re on.”

The police sought to extend his remand by seven days. Judge Oren Silverman agreed to extend his remand by four days. “It’s sufficient from the respondent’s calls that ‘our outstanding boys’ are executing Palestinians to establish reasonable suspicion.

Such a statement is not a political position… and let it be emphasized that we are in a time of war, and posts that the respondent made before and after October 7 were certainly liable in the current situation to disturb the peace. Had an Arab resident made the post, the danger would have been clear. I do not believe that there is room for differentiating between an Arab post and a Jewish post. In his case, to a certain degree, the respondent is obliged to make such a distinction – a history teacher who right after a bloody massacre frames it as executing Palestinians.”
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