State won’t investigate Land Day Lieberman Photo burning

Deputy State Prosecutor Nitzan says burning of photo not direct incitement to violence, praise for a violent or terrorist act.

May 24, 2011 15:12
1 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311. (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)

The state will not order an investigation into the burning of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s photo during Arab protests in Lod in March, Deputy State Attorney Shai Nitzan announced on Tuesday.

During the Land Day protest, some participants burned photos of Lieberman, saying “he is the most racist person in the country.”

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Barakeh: Burning Lieberman photos on Land Day is legitimate

In a letter to the Legal Forum for the State of Israel, which had asked that the State Attorney’s Office conduct an investigation, saying burning the photo constituted incitement to violence, Nitzan wrote that while the act was wrong, it was not illegal.

“There is no cause for opening an investigation over the said events, despite the fact that the burning of images in general and the burning of images of elected official in particular, is in our eyes a most unacceptable act, which has no place in public discourse,” he wrote.

“It is highly doubtful that the act of burning an image is by itself ‘a call for violence’ or ‘praise and encouragement for violent or terrorist action’ as defined by the law,” he added.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel issued a statement denouncing the decision, arguing that it would have been proper to at least investigate those who burned the foreign minister’s photo.

“A picture is worth a thousand words and it is difficult to attribute innocent motives to people who burn the photo of a government minister and political leader,” the statement read.

In an interview with Israel Radio after the protest, Hadash chairman Muhammad Barakei said “burning a picture of Lieberman is a legitimate expression of protest against a party [Israel Beiteinu] that challenges the basic existence of the Arab population.

“The only policy the government has toward the Arab public is racist legislation in the Knesset,” Barakei said.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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