MK Dov Henin testified in defense of fellow Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei on Sunday
in the trial against him over two separate alleged altercations, one during a
2005 demonstration in Bil’in and another in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in
The two charges relate to allegations that Barakei tried to help a
Palestinian – arrested during a 2005 Bil’in protest – break out of custody; and
that he struck a counter-protester who was verbally accosting another
demonstrator at Rabin Square in 2006.
In his testimony, Henin said the
idea that Barakei would have hit anyone was “science fiction.”
said, “We don’t want violence or arrests so that people will see the protests on
Ynet or TV, and will want to come.”
He implied that violence and arrests
hurt his cause of increasing turnout at the protests, as they would stop people
who weren’t already committed activists from coming.
Mostly Henin was
there to testify about the tense, unstable and dynamic context of
He said that most “demonstrators don’t know their rights,
and they and police [get] very angry, and police just dislike disruptions,” but
noted that an MK can serve as a liaison between protesters and
Henin said that he and Barakei always tried to explain to police
that they are not “against them personally, but against the government’s
Henin also spoke more specifically about the role of an MK in
demonstrations and the importance of the right to demonstrate for
Presenting a quote from Karl Marx as encapsulating the essence
of active participation in democracy, he said that “freedom of human beings will
be by their own hand or won’t be at all.”
Henin added that for him, part
of being a politician in the opposition was regularly attending
There were some extremely tense moments during the examination,
with Henin and the state attorney practically yelling at each other as the
latter pressed the former, who took offense at the wording of a series of
When Henin was asked if it was prohibited to demonstrate in a
closed military area, he responded “your question shows you’ve never been in a
protest and I invite you to come.”
He continued, saying “What is a closed
area? Protests start from the inside of a village and they move to its
outskirts. I don’t know what or where a closed military area
Asked if he had ever wanted to hit anyone, such as counter-
protesters or police, Henin said “no” and that Barakei would never hit anyone,
even though both of them could get angry.
He added that if he saw a
protester being illegally attacked, he would see it as his duty to stop it as an
MK and a citizen.
Barakei himself testified in the case last month,
signaling the start of the defense’s presentation of its
Originally, the MK was accused of four separate charges, but the
other two charges – which involved forms of expression, including alleged verbal
sparring with police – were dropped in October 2011 based on his immunity for
voicing dissent as a Knesset member.
Following that decision, the court
ruled in November that Barakei would be brought to trial on the other two
charges as they did not fall under the immunities granted to a Knesset
In previous hearings, the prosecution already presented its case
and its witnesses were already cross-examined.
Barakei accused the
prosecution of negligence in filing the action against him.
“This is a
political crusade, [and] we will overcome it,” he said prior to the start of the
proceedings, adding that it is “incumbent on all of us to actualize our rights
to protest and speak out against the destructive policies of the
The trial will continue on January 24. Barakei has been an
MK since 1999.