Jonathan Pollak was born circa 1982 in Tel Aviv, Israel to actor Yossi Pollak and a psychologist named Tami. He is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. His father is one of the artists who denied to perform in the West Bank, and his maternal grandfather, Nimrod Eshel, was jailed for leading a strike by seamen in the 1950s. As a teenager, Pollak was involved in the Israeli hardcore punk scene, which in the 1990s was strongly tied to anarchism, and became a straight edge. At the same time, Pollak became a vegan and an animal rights activist; years later he would state that "racism, chauvinism, sexism, speciesism all come from the same place of belittling the other".
In 2003, Pollak co-founded the organization Anarchists Against the Wall, which protests the Israeli West Bank barrier. He participated in protests in Budrus in 2003 and 2004. In the mid-2000s, he joined protests against the barrier wall in Bil'in.
Pollak was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier in April 2005, briefly losing consciousness and requiring stitches. He later accused Israeli forces of violating their regulations by deliberately firing the canister at him. An IDF spokesperson stated that the canister had first struck a rock and then hit Pollak on a ricochet.
In October 2010, Pollak was fined $1,250 for participating in an illegal demonstration against the barrier; Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu Rahma was sentenced to a year in prison at the same hearing. On 27 December 2010, he was sentenced to three months in prison for illegal assembly for having participated in a January 2008 bicycle ride protest. A prison term for illegal assembly was an unusually severe sentence, attributed by one official to three previous convictions of Pollak's on protest-related charges. He declined an offer by the court to have his sentence commuted to a community service requirement. Pollak was released from prison in February 2011 after having his sentence reduced for good behavior, and returned to demonstrating at the Palestinian village of Nabi Salih within the week.
After the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah in January 2011, allegedly from tear gas, Pollak criticized Israel's use of the gas against Palestinians, stating, "This death was caused by the fact that they are using tear gas that was banned in Europe in the 60s and 70s, because it is lethal. But here, on Palestinians, they continue using it". In May 2012, Pollak protested at the trial of Bassem al-Tamimi, a Nabi Saleh protest leader accused of organizing stone throwers and holding illegal demonstrations. In December, Pollak criticized the Israel Defense Forces for shooting Mustafa Tamimi, a Nabi Saleh resident throwing stones at a military vehicle, in the face with a tear gas canister; Tamimi later died from his injuries.
Pollak supports the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel in protest of occupation of Palestinian territories. He has stated, "'Ni'lin, just like Soweto, needs the world to stand behind it and generate significant pressure. ... In Palestine, just as in South Africa, a strong BDS movement can make that change." He has defended Palestinian stone throwing against the occupation as a moral act of self-empowerment.
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