by Roy Tov
Thursday, January 17th, 2013
Daphni Leef invited to visit the Court the day after the elections
Social protests have defined Israeli reality since 2011, to the extent that Netanyahu called for the upcoming early elections. The protests’ emotional peak was when a man set himself on fire, but many other events have created unforgettable images; like the guillotine that was placed in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. On June 27, 2012, a Knesset Member finally acknowledged the seriousness of the unending social protests in Israel. Miriam Regev—who was the IDF Spokesperson before joining the Likud party—said “the far left activists want to transform Rabin Square into Tahrir Square and to throw out the government.” The activists couldn’t hear that because they left the building in protest as soon as she climbed the podium.
This happened days after on Friday, June 22, Daphni Leef—one of the most prominent activists on the issue—was violently arrested by the police during the protests. Several hundred demonstrators had carried tents to Rothschild Boulevard—near Rabin Square—in an attempt to revive the tent city that symbolized the protests of summer 2011 (see Bibi Antoinette: Guillotine in Tel Aviv). The police prevented the placement of tents and arrested 14 people, among them was Daphni Leef. Subsequently, the protesters knocked over trash cans and shouted slogans against Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but failed to rescue Mrs. Leef.
Not Arrest, Evacuation
Those who have witnessed protests and their dispersions probably will note several odd points in the picture of Leef’s arrest; yet, since all claims can be disqualified as circumstantial, I won’t expand on them beyond saying that Daphni is being treated in an unusually soft manner. Another odd issue is the luck of the photographer, no other arrests during this event got so lucky. A policeman is blocking access to Daphni, another one is holding her, and the photographer blocks the access from the front. Was the photographer working for the police and thus got access to the sterile area behind the police van? Was Daphni different from the other arrested persons? Finally, in all the subsequent declarations of Leef to the press, she never mentioned any wrongdoing by the police. She was treated kindly. This is in sharp contrast to the few following examples. The arrest of Daphni Leef looks like an evacuation of an underground agent from a zone of imminent danger. Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation
Roughly a year ago, Daniel Dayan, head of the settlers’ Yesha Council complained about police violence against them. His complaint included detailed reports on a police officer that shoot two plastic bullets at the knees of the Gilad Farm lawyer, Yehuda Shimon, from a distance of two meters (six feet). Oddly enough, the lawyer was filming the event and posed no threat to the police officer that shot him. A 17-year-old boy was detained together with others by the police, and then was kicked and badly beaten by them. A 15-year-old girl was detained with 19 others; she experienced harsh violence and severe sexual harassment by a police officer (see Dayan: “Like Pravda;” Mesika: “Police Hallucinates”). A few days ago, an American woman complained about similar sexual harassment by Israeli authorities; her testimony was substantiated by the authorities themselves (see Are you an American named Rafik? You’re a Terrorist!). Israeli authorities are pretty consistent in their violence; instilling fear is their favorite tactic. Yet, Leef—one of the loudest protesters—was treated like a pampered princess.
In 2011, then 25-year-old Daphni Leef, initiated the tent city in Tel Aviv that launched a nationwide protest movement. She urged the public to flood Israel’s streets and show their discontent with the government. Leef accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “using the nation as a springboard” and “living on our expense.” “The time has come for you to admit your mistakes and understand that your time is running out.” Such a youthful passion, that one could buy her entire story! Despite having threatened Netanyahu, the policemen did not use her arrest to “get even,” as they often do. Who is this princess?
Mrs. Leef was an unlikely candidate to lead the protests. She grew up in a secular Jewish Jerusalemite family and then moved to Tel Aviv at 19, studied film at university and worked at various jobs, mainly waiting tables and video editing. It takes some digging around to find that she is more attached to the establishment than it looks. She grew up in Rehavia, an exclusive neighborhood of Jerusalem, a few blocks from Netanyahu’s palace. She refused to serve in the IDF and was granted exemption (despite not belonging to one of the exempt groups); years later she claimed that this was due to medical reasons. In Israeli context, that means lots of Vitamin P (“P” for “Protection”) in her bluish, royal veins. Then, she studied cinema at the film department of Tel Aviv University, which—again—is quite exclusive. Afterwards, she made a film for the “Free Israel” association, which promotes civil marriage in Israel (non-existent until now, see Rabbi accused of bribery appointed Head of Jerusalem Rabbinical Court). Her true allegiance became clear after July 20, 2011, when the Israeli right-wing extra-parliamentary group “Im Tirtzu” announced that they will no longer take part in the protests, claiming that the New Israel Fund and various left-wing groups are directly involved. Im Tirtzu officials said: “Daphni Leef, who is perceived in the media as the initiator of the struggle, is actually a video editor for the New Israel Fund and Shatil.“
The New Israel Fund (NIF) is a US-based, non-profit organization established in 1979. In 2008, it contributed about US$30 million to human rights and civil society groups in Israel. It describes its objective as social justice and equality for all Israelis. The president of this organization is Naomi Chazan, former member of the Knesset for Meretz, a party belonging to the Jewish-left. Suddenly, this young, free-spirit called Daphni Leef turned out to be extraordinarily well-linked to the establishment. Is Leef a Shin Beth control-agent and agent provocateur of the protests?
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, was targeted by the Shin Beth months before the event. He was trained by the political secret police in the use of short-weapons; this was admitted by the Shin Beth in Court. Moreover, Avishai Raviv, a Shin Beth employee, was placed next to him. Shin Beth claimed in Court that he was only an information gathering agent. The most troubling part of this story is that The Jerusalem Post, an English right-wing newspaper published in Jerusalem, reported witnesses having heard Raviv telling Amir: “Be a man! Kill him already!” Later on, Raviv’s name came out during Amir’s trial; it was admitted by the State that his operational code had been “Champagne.” No other code-name seems more appropriate for an agent provocateur, which is a better definition of the role that he performed. He worked for the “Jewish Directorate” (HaAgaf HaYehudi) of the Shin Beth, a directorate that until that moment had been kept secret. The activity of agitating agents within the Israeli society has been properly proven in an Israeli court.
Expectedly, the current event also reached Court. In November, charges were secretly placed by the police against Leef and 8 other protesters that had been arrested in June (5 files were deleted by order of the Court). Leef discovered the event on January 12, 2013, when she got an invitation to reach Court the following day (the picture above shows her in Court with that letter). Gabi Laski, the lawyer representing her, asked from the Court to delay its first meeting. Leef is accused of performing a wild protest, of obstructing a policeman in duty, and of “using force or threats” to stop her arrest. The judge delayed the meeting until January 23, the day after the elections.
The last paragraph looks like an innocent piece of bureaucracy. In order to keep as far away from such foolishness, a loud Leef bothered to explain to everybody what the fuss was about. “Thank you to everybody who is running to the Knesset with the flag of the social protests. It is clear to me that you speak the truth, that your behavior comes from your guts, that is why none of you got angry about our violent arrests, and that’s why you don’t care about our trials.” The original Hebrew text contains violent insinuations that cannot be properly translated. Daphni’s excited words had a very clear audience. Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli were two of the protesters’ leaders who didn’t get arrested. They are now Labor candidates to the Knesset. Mr. Shmuli’s reaction to Leef’s words was scary in its shortness, “I wish her luck in everything,” he said and refused to add even one word.
Here is where Leef’s activity again discloses her as an agent, sabotaging for the second time the social protest movement. The first time, she transformed the quiet protests into violent mayhem that left no choice to the police. The second time she appeared from nowhere days before the elections and discredited the main party that took the protesters under its wings. Baby face Daphni has proven a formidable asset of the Jewish Directorate; a successful witch must not look like one.