Haim Pearlman
Photo: Roee Gazit
Pearlman says blamed for gay youth center attack
'Jewish terrorist' recounts Shin Bet interrogations, says he was punched, called a murderer

Haim Pearlman, dubbed the 'Jewish terrorist' and suspected by authorities to have murdered four Arabs and attempted to kill seven others, recounted experiences from the month he spent under arrest in an interview with Ynet Thursday.


"A number of Shin Bet interrogators would approach me and press against my body with theirs," he said. "One would yell in one ear: Murderer, murderer, murderer, while the other would whisper in my other ear: I'm breaking, I surrender, I'm weak, I have no strength left, I admit to everything. Another one would be behind me, pounding his fists into my back, while a senior interrogator would stab me in the chest with his index finger."


Pearlman was the police's main suspect in a series of stabbings that occurred in Jerusalem in the 1990s, but last week, after a month in which his arrest was remanded a number of times at the behest of the Shin Bet and police, the court concluded there was insufficient evidence for his conviction and released him to a 45-day period of house arrest.


At his parents' residence in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, where he is being held, Pearlman appeared agitated when he recounted how interrogators had vowed he would never see his wife, Keren, and three children again.


Pearlman said interrogators would wait for him in his holding cell, at times holding various tidbits removed from his personal datebook to use as psychological bait. However he believes he won the battle, for now.


"They would talk to me, and I would make animal noises. They would place a plate of Shawarma (meat dish) before me, but I wouldn't touch it. They would tell me to get up and I would sit down," he said.


Pearlman claims interrogators told him it didn't matter whether he had committed the offenses or not, and that they would see to it that he was convicted in any case. "They told me, 'You'll sit in prison, we'll come in, and you'll admit to everything even if you didn't do it… In such a state you'll admit to the murder of Arlozorov'," he said.


'They called my wife a whore'

The Pearlman residence is frequented by many right-wing activists, one of whom sits nearby and warns him not to answer questions that could prove harmful to his case, such as those referring to what first placed him at odds with the Shin Bet.


But he relates that what was most difficult for him was listening to the interrogators debase his wife. "They called her a whore, said she would divorce me because I had been arrested and ruined her life," he said. "They told me, 'Now in school, what will your son say? He will say: My father is a murderer'."


Pearlman said he never considered breaking under the pressure, but that there were times he began to believe that he would go to prison for crimes he claims he didn't commit. He said he rued the day he had first began cooperating with the Shin Bet, accepting large sums for what he says are rumors he conveyed to them on the murders that occurred in the '90s.


"I turn to anyone with whom the Shin Bet is in contact, or anyone who is summoned to a Shin Bet interrogation: Nothing good can come of this, so just cut all ties, tell your friends, and everything will be alright," he said.


As to the reason for the Shin Bet's hostility towards him, Pearlman claims the security force is seeking revenge for tapes he published of his conversations with interrogators. "They want to frame me. They also accused me of the murder at the youth center," he said, referring to a shooting attack that occurred a year ago at a gay community center in Tel Aviv.


But Pearlman also had harsh words for the courts and the press. "The media bled me for a month. I've been called a murderer, a terrorist, a Shin Bet agent, and I think they have to think about this now. The
Shin Bet handed secret reports to the court the contents of which I know nothing about, and the courts followed them blindly. Each court remanded the arrest… holding a man without evidence, without developments," he said, adding that he hoped to sue the press, the Shin Bet, and the police.


He also wonders why he was not backed by human rights groups. "All of the leftists got up and fought for Anat Kam, even when it was clear she had stolen documents and engaged in espionage, but they didn't fight for me when I was called a murderer before being convicted," he said.



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