Israeli Who ‘Attacked’ Polish Ambassador Convicted on Lesser Charges

The entrance of the Polish Embassy is seen in Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Corinna Kern)

An Israeli man who expectorated at the Polish ambassador to Israel in May was convicted in a plea deal of acting aggressively and attacking an individual. Penalties, if any, to be meted out to Arik Lederman will be decided at a later date, the Tel Aviv Civil Court said Monday. Charges that he threatened the ambassador and embassy staff were dropped.

The story began last May, when Lederman, an Israeli with dual Polish citizenship, attempted to enter the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv to speak to officials about compensation for property his family, Holocaust survivors, owned in Poland. The property is today occupied by Polish residents and businesses. A security guard at the entrance to the embassy would not allow the 65-year-old Herzliya resident into the building, instead addressing him with an anti-Semitic term.

An angry Lederman turned and began striding away, only to walk into the path of an oncoming vehicle, which began loudly honking at him. At that point, Lederman opened his mouth and began spitting – with the saliva flying through an open window in the vehicle, and into the face of none other than the Polish ambassador. Lederman left the scene but was tracked down a short time later by police, who arrested him.

The incident had international repercussions, with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki condemning the act, and summoning Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari for a lecture. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that it was “shocked” by the incident, and that Israel “takes this very seriously.”

Lederman was indicted on attacking a public official and threatening violence. In his defense, accepted by the court, Lederman’s attorneys said that their client did not know that his target was the ambassador, although the court said that it was evident that he was aware that the vehicle contained embassy workers. Walla News reported that Polish embassy officials were present in the courtroom Monday to witness the case, and were “very surprised” that a plea deal had been reached, as they had not been informed that one was in the works. The court criticized police for failing to inform the Poles of the deal, saying that “if representatives of the embassy are in the courtroom, of course they should be informed of any deals you made.”