I’m taking a month off for a residency in Berkeley, thanks to good friends. So this is my last message for a while, something from Yossi Sarid — a terrific writer and an ex-politician who headed the Meretz party from 1997 until 2003:
A tale of twisted justice for Jerusalem’s most hapless pretzel guy
By Yossi Sarid | Jul. 25, 2013
… Nir Hasson wrote about him in Haaretz. [Zaki] Sabah is a 60-year-old Arab father of seven who suffers from diabetes. For 15 years he has been selling beigele (Arab-style bagels) at Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate without a permit. For his criminal doings he receives daily fines from municipal inspectors. These now number in the hundreds, all unpaid. Only rarely does the municipality exhibit such determination in pursuing its goals. It was bent on removing Sabah’s beigele cart from the area, and finally achieved victory after Sabah was charged in a Jerusalem court.
… Justice Tamar Nimrodi sentenced Sabah to either 3,455 days in prison or a fine of NIS 780,000. The beigele seller doesn’t have that kind of money, and has therefore started serving his sentence.He phoned his attorney, Amir Schneider, from jail, sharing his experiences so far. He shares a cell with another inmate who was sentenced to six years in prison after being caught in possession of 38 kg of heroin. Sabah will have many opportunities to meet murderers and rapists, drug dealers and prisoners who ran over and killed innocent victims. He’ll get to know them well, but which of them will have a comparable sentence?
… This sentence is but one of several other groundless and mystifying ones that were handed down recently. If a Jew and not an Arab had been caught selling bagels without a permit, no one would have twisted his life around like a chunk of dough.
The same dry law forbids sentencing someone to prison in absentia. Sabah was not present when he was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Who knows, perhaps if the judge had actually seen him she would have been more lenient. Perhaps.
But Arabs are not usually seen here even from close up. They are always “present absentees,” even when they are already exhausted and sick, surrounded by children.
P.S. If you have friends in the Bay area, tell them about the world premiere of ESTHER BRONER: A WEAVE OF WOMEN, at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, AUG. 8TH, 1:50 PM, AT THE CALIFORNIA THEATER, KITTRIDGE ST.