Jewish Peace Activist To Be Sentenced For Defending Palestinian Homes

Susan notes: I received this e-mail update today (August 18, 2009) about Israeli peace activist Ezra Nawi.

Dear Susan,

Ezra Nawi’s sentencing hearing took place yesterday (Sunday), and Jewish Voice for Peace was there with over 20,000 of your signatures. The judge will render her  sentence on September 21st, 2009.

At the hearing, Emily Schaeffer testified on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and on behalf of all the people who had signed letters in support of Ezra. She explained that over 20,000 people from around the world knew Ezra, supported him, and demanded that he not be jailed for his courageous nonviolent defense of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region-under constant attack by settlers, the Israeli army and police.

When crossed-examined, she was asked if "tikkun olam" described the events about which the hearing was taking place.

She answered: "Absolutely."

The prosecutor objected to the filing of the signatures. Thanks to Emily’s testimony on behalf of JVP, and thanks to the insistence of Ezra’s attorney, Leah Tzemel, the long list of names attesting to Ezra’s support were accepted by the judge.

In fact, the Jerusalem Post reported on this case in an article with the following title:

20,000 sign petition asking Jerusalem court not to put peace activist Ezra Nawi in jail

To date, the video detailing the events leading to his arrest has been watched over 37,000 times.

Ezra Nawi’s sole "crime" was trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.

Ironically, Judge Ziskind verdict punishes Nawi for "disturbing the peace:" The peace of the bulldozer and the home demolitions.

After the soldiers demolished the home, a handcuffed Ezra is seen telling the laughing soldiers:

"Yes, I was also a soldier, but I didn’t demolish houses. There’s a big difference. The only thing that will be left here is hatred. Only hatred will be left here. Very funny, soldier? That the kids will be sleeping outside, is that funny?"

No wonder The Nation called him "Israel’s Man of Conscience." Haaretz compared his nonviolent resistance to that of the Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ezra’s case is part of a larger pattern of harassment targeting nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation. Palestinian nonviolent activists fare considerably worse than him. We recall the recent arrests of Palestinian nonviolent activists in the town of Bil’in.

Eighteen Palestinian activists remain in military prison today, together with the two leaders of the the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements: Mohammed al-Khatib and Adib Abu Rahma. They sit in military jails without bail-or are offered bail only under condition that they cease their nonviolent demonstrations.

Others, such as Bassem Ahmed Ibrahim Abu Rahma, have paid for their nonviolent protests with their lives. Last April, he was killed in Bilin by a high velocity tear gas fired directly at him at close distance.