Conviction overturned for man who called IDF Nazis

Judges say defendant expressed remorse, had not committed similar offenses.

Shiloh settlement in West Bank 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Shiloh settlement in West Bank 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Central District Court ruled on Thursday to quash the conviction of a man who called two IDF soldiers in the West Bank “Nazis.”
The defendant, Oded Efrati, was convicted in the Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court in 2007 of insulting a public official. The conviction was made under a plea bargain after Efrati admitted calling the two soldiers “Nazis,” and the court handed down a suspended sentence of six months, 60 hours of community service and a fine of NIS 3,000 to each of the soldiers.
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The state opposed Efrati’s appeal against his conviction, saying that it was “not appropriate to send a message to the public that it is ‘allowed’ to insult public officials by calling them Nazis without having to face a criminal conviction.”
According to the amended indictment, Efrati approached two IDF soldiers as they were carrying out their regular duties near the Palestinian village of Salem. He told them that they were “Nazis” and added that “They didn’t behave that way to Jews in the Holocaust.”
Immediately afterward, Efrati asked the soldiers for their details, and said “I’ll put you on a rocket” if they did not comply. He then took the registration number of the soldiers’ military vehicle, despite being asked not to do so.
In overturning the conviction against Efrati, Judges Ruth Lorch, Tzvi Dotan and Ofer Grosskopf said that the lower court had failed to take into account the totality of circumstances surrounding the case, including that Efrati had expressed genuine remorse and had no prior convictions.
The court also accepted that the criminal conviction would severely impact Efrati’s professional career.
“Even though this offense concerns a blatantly ugly statement that must be condemned, its circumstances do not indicate any worsening pattern of [behavior],” Lorch said, noting that the probation service had recommended closing the case without conviction.
During the appeal, Efrati’s attorneys argued that this was a one-off offense that did not indicate a consistent pattern of behavior, that he had expressed genuine remorse, had not repeated the offense and that the conviction would severely damage his professional future.
Efrati is the co-owner of a technology firm, and his criminal conviction meant that he could no longer work for one of his major clients, who require their contractors have a clean record.