A right-wing activist who poured a soft drink over the head of the controversial Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi was handed a four-month suspended prison sentence Sunday.
Artemi Kazrov, 28, of Ramat Gan, turned up at the city’s College of Law and Business in March, two weeks before the Knesset elections, for an address Zoabi was to give on womens’ rights.
As Zoabi addressed the audience, Kazrov and other right-wing activists with whom he had come gathered around the stage and started hurling invective at her.
Zoabi’s supporters responded with insults, and at one point, one of them unfurled a scarf showing the Palestinian flag. Kazrov then got up on a table and emptied a bottle containing a beverage over Zouabi’s head.
He was charged on the following day, pleaded guilty and was convicted of assault and misconduct in a public place.
Zoabi of the Joint (Arab) List is one of the Knesset’s most controversial and outspoken figures. On Thursday, she was indicted for “insulting a public official” during an incident last year in which she branded Israeli Arab policemen as traitors.
That indictment was filed at the Nazareth District Court after Zoabi reached a plea bargain with the State Attorney’s Office last month, under which more serious charges of incitement were dropped. In exchange, she pleaded guilty to insulting a public official and agreed to waive her parliamentary immunity to enable the conviction. She also agreed to send a letter of apology to the subjects of her comments, and pay a NIS 3,000 fine.
In Sunday’s sentencing of Kazrov, Judge Tsahi Uziel of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court wrote: “An attack on an elected official because of her views demands a punitive response.”
“Political or ideological violence, and even more so, physical violence, toward an elected official because of his views and the fulfillment of his [public] duties represents a challenge to the rule of democracy,” he continued.
In addition to the suspended sentence, Kazrov was ordered to perform 180 hours of community service.
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.