The Bizarre Story of Ami Popper

August 13. Ali Abunimah once again showed how the corporate media plays up Israeli suffering whenever Palestinian prisoners are released in a political deal giving lots of space to the (no doubt real) anguish of relatives of people killed or hurt by Palestinians.

He wrote about the treatment of some Israelis who do get long prison terms, among them Ami Popper who in 1990 shot dead 7 Palestinian workers standing on a street corner. He noted that Popper had been given 7 life sentences, but had been allowed home on leave, had married, fathered three children and after accidentally getting his wife and one child killed in a car accident, got out on leave to marry again. He also got his life term reduced to 40 years by former President Weizman.

We covered the Ami Popper killing in the print version of "The Struggle" in 1990, At the time authorities said immediately said he was a "madman", that his killings had to do with a loss of a girlfriend or a possible sexual attack on him decades earlier. That the attack was racist or "political" was denied.

I did some google searches to catch up with Popper. The facts of his life are bizarre. As they say, "You couldn't make this stuff up." This man with seven life sentences did get let out of prison many times, lots of times, and extraordinary number of times. For some reason the Shin Bet (and not the Prison Service) approved the leaves. The Jerusalem Post in reporting on his 2007 car accident said that he had been let out of prison on leave 120 times.

Now as we remarked in our 1990 story if Popper had merely just snapped it was odd that all his friends spoke like nazis and were delighted with his spree. If he wasn't a ultra rightist in 1990 he eventually moved in their circles. The Jerusalem Post in the story above mentioned that Popper's wife was a social worker who was part of the Kahane Chai movement. For those who don't know, Meir Kahane was the most extreme and violent rabbi in Israel in the '70's and '80's.

Ami Popper married again in May, and oh what a bride. She had been released from a five year stretch in prison for the violent physical abuse of her own children. Following the advcie of a self-proclaimed rabbi her forms of discipline left one of the children, a three year old, in a permaent vegetative state.

The Jewish Press yesterday noted on August 12 that Popper wrote a letter using the word "regret" which the Jewish Press said showed that he is "contrite about his actions". Ami Popper is petitioning to be set free, arguing that if Palestinians are set free in the current political deal, he should be set free, too.

There is actually some doubt about whether Ami Popper is all that contrite, some suspicion that he is not entirely "reformed". The Israeli paper Ha'aretz says that Popper headed a prison gang at Maasiyahu Prison and that he was transferred out of that prison last October after repeatedly harassing a man named Moshe Katzav. Who is Katzav? Katzav is the former President of Israel who is serving seven years in jail for two acts of rape. His cell was right next to Popper's. Popper was reportedly angry with Katzav for refusing his pardon petition.

By the way the Ha'aretz story is illustrated with a picture of the rapist Katzav being released for a day in May 2012 to attend his son's wedding.

As they say "You couldn't make this up".