Prominent anti-occupation activist assaulted in Tel Aviv

Left-wing Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak attacked by two assailants outside his workplace in south Tel Aviv. The attackers reportedly yelled ‘leftist asshole’ as they beat him before one of them pulled out a knife and lightly wounded him.

Jonathan Pollak seen inside the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in Tel Aviv, December 27, 2010. (Oren Ziv/
Jonathan Pollak seen inside the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court in Tel Aviv, December 27, 2010. (Oren Ziv/

A prominent left-wing activist was physically assaulted by two unknown assailants as he left work in Tel Aviv on Sunday. The attackers reportedly yelled “leftist asshole” as they beat him before one of them pulled out a knife and lightly wounded him in the face and arms.

Jonathan Pollak, who has long been active in the anti-occupation movement in Israel and the West Bank, was attacked as he left the Haaretz building in south Tel Aviv where he works as a graphic designer.

Pollak said he noticed he was being followed by two people whom he thought were police officers trying to detain him for a bench warrant. “I tried to run but they caught up to me, pushed me to the ground and began punching and kicking me,” he said from his home following the attack. “When I tried to defend myself one of them pulled out a knife and slit my face.” Pollak said the two yelled “leftist asshole” as they beat him before fleeing the scene.

Pollak suffered scratches to his face and arms and was punched in his face and ribs. He said he has no idea who attacked him, but that the assailants appeared to be “between their 20s and 30s.”

In December 2018, Local Call reported that far-right group Ad Kan launched a private prosecution attempt against three Israelis, including Pollak, for participating in protests against the West Bank separation barrier. Ad Kan’s private prosecution, the first of its kind against anti-occupation activists, accused the defendants of “attacking IDF soldiers and Border Police officers.”

Ad Kan first came to prominence in the last few years for sending its employees to infiltrate human rights organizations and record their every move with hidden cameras.

Pollak, however, refused to appear before a court, saying he did not recognize the legitimacy of a system that maintains a “military dictatorship” over “subjects that lack all basic democratic rights” in the West Bank and Gaza or are “second-class citizens” in Israel.

The court then filed a bench warrant for Pollak, allowing authorities to detain him until his next hearing, which is set for September. According to the court, Pollak will be released if he agrees to post bail for 1,000 shekels.

“I won’t file a complaint with the police because I will be arrested, but I wouldn’t have filed one anyway,” Pollak said. “I refuse to go to court because my Palestinian friends and I are put on trial in different legal systems, and I refuse to use the police services which are responsive to me as opposed to Palestinians who never get a response.”

Jonathan Pollak seen after he was assaulted in south Tel Aviv. (Heidi Motola/
Jonathan Pollak seen after he was assaulted in south Tel Aviv. (Heidi Motola/

Immediately following his refusal to appear in court, Ad Kan published a number of posts on Facebook and Twitter, which included a photo of Pollak, asking the public to help locate him. One Twitter user responded that Pollak is “often at the Haaretz building on Schoken [Street],” where Monday’s attack took place.

Following the attack, Ad Kan tweeted: “For the past 15 years Jonathan Pollak has been involved in violent demonstrations against IDF soldiers. Pollak is currently facing a criminal complaint that we filed against him. We, as opposed to Pollak, are against all forms of violent activities. Mr. Pollak is invited to contact law enforcement, which he recently declared that he does not recognize, so that they examine his claims. ”

“For years, Palestinians and those who oppose the occupation are attacked in the occupied territories. Today it also happened in Tel Aviv,” said Ayman Odeh, who heads the Hadash-Ta’al party, following the attack. “After a targeted campaign of incitement by settler organizations against Jonathan Pollak, two men — one armed with a knife — attacked him. This is another violent low point and victory for the right wing’s incitement machine.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.