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Ben Gurion University
Ben Gurion University - Neve Gordon joins Stalinist cheerleader
for terrorism and jihad Noam Chomsky in protesting the arrest of the
criminal Ezra Nawi; concerned about “proto-fascist elements in
to be jailed for caring
Ezra Nawi was ridiculed and arrested for trying to protect people's
homes. Only international attention can help him now
6 May 2009
international intervention, Israeli human rights activist Ezra Nawi
will most likely be sent to jail.
Nawi is not a
typical rights activist. A member of Ta'ayush Arab-Jewish
Partnership he is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks
fluent Arabic. He is a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by
trade. Perhaps because he himself comes from the margins, he
empathises with others who have been marginalised – often violently.
His "crime" was
trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of
Palestinian Bedouins from Um El Hir in the South Hebron region.
These Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation for almost 42
years; they still live without electricity, running water and other
basic services and are continuously harassed by Jewish settlers and
the military – two groups that have united to expropriate
Palestinian land and that clearly have received the government's
blessing to do so.
As chance would
have it, the demolition and the resistance to it were captured on
film and broadcast on Israel's Channel 1. The three-minute film
(above) – a must see – shows Nawi, the man dressed in a green
jacket, not only courageously protesting against the demolition but,
after the bulldozer destroys the buildings, also telling the border
policemen what he thinks of their actions. Sitting handcuffed in a
military vehicle following his arrest, he exclaims: "Yes, I was also
a soldier, but I did not demolish houses … The only thing that will
be left here is hatred."
The film then
shows the police laughing at Nawi. But in dealing with his audacity,
they were not content with mere ridicule and decided also to accuse
him of assaulting a policeman. Notwithstanding the very clear
evidence (captured on film), an Israeli court recently found Nawi
guilty of assault in connection with the incident, which happened in
2007, and this coming July he will be sent to prison. Unless,
perhaps, there is a public outcry.
Nawi's case is not
only about Nawi. It is also about Israel and Israeli society, if
only because one can learn a great deal about a country from the way
it treats its human rights and pro-democracy activists.
Most people are
not really surprised when they read that human rights activists are
routinely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned and harassed in Syria,
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and several other Middle Eastern
countries. Indeed, it has become common knowledge that the
authoritarian nature of these regimes renders it dangerous for their
citizens to actively fight for human rights.
In this sense,
is different from most of its neighbours. Unlike their counterparts
in Egypt and Syria, Israeli rights activists, particularly Jewish
ones, have been able to criticise the policies of their
rights-abusive government without fear of incarceration. Up until
now, the undemocratic tendencies of Israeli society manifested
themselves, for the most part, in the state's relation to its
Palestinian citizens, the occupied Palestinian inhabitants and a
small group of Jewish conscientious objectors.
assume that Nawi's impending imprisonment as well as other alarming
developments (like the recent arrest of New Profile and Target 21
activists, who are suspected of abetting draft-dodgers) are due to
the establishment of an extreme rightwing government in Israel. If
truth be told, however, the rise of the extreme right merely
reflects the growing presence of proto-fascist elements in Israeli
society, elements that have been gaining ground and legitimacy for
many years now.
Nawi's case, for
what it symbolises on both an individual and societal level,
encapsulates the current reality in Israel. His friends have
launched a campaign, and are asking people to write letters to
Israeli embassies around the world. At this point, only
international attention and intervention can make a difference.
Web Archive for
His name is Ezra
Join Naomi Klein, Neve Gordon, Noam Chomsky and thousands of
others and tell Israel not to jail Ezra Nawi, one of Israel’s
most courageous human rights activists.
His crime? He tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying
the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.
Nawi, a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent, is a threat to the
settlers and the Israeli government because he has brought
international attention to efforts to illegally remove Palestinians
from the Hebron region. He will be sentenced in July.
(Watch the remarkable video of Nawi trying to stop the home
demolition and his subsequent arrest.)
Subject: Don't jail
Please do whatever
possible to make sure human rights hero Ezra Nawi is not jailed for
defending the rights of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron
It is difficult to
understand how someone like Nawi, who represents the best of
Israel's pro-democracy and pro-human rights movement, can be
persecuted by the Israeli military for trying to defend the rights
I have made a
commitment to tell everyone I know about Ezra Nawi, his courageous
work on behalf of human rights, and his unjust arrest by the
military. I will ask my friends and family to watch the video, write
letters, and talk about Ezra at their dinner tables and at school. I
will tell them about Israel's crackdown on Arab and Jewish Israeli
human rights activists.
I and thousands of
others look forward to his release.
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