Posts Tagged ‘Ezra Nawi’

In praise of Isreali plumber Ezra Nawi

July 3, 2009
  • Editorial

He is a rarity, even among that most endangered of species, the Israeli peace activist. Born in Basra to an Iraqi Jewish family, Ezra Nawi lives on the modest wages he earns as a plumber. As such, he comes from the same background which generates the hardline views in Israel. So he was speaking to his own kind when he told laughing border police who had just demolished Palestinian Bedouin shacks that all they would leave behind was hatred. Not content with the Bedouin shacks, the prosecuting authorities are now trying to demolish Mr Nawi’s life by threatening him with a prolonged stay in prison. His arresting officers claim that the non-violent resister had assaulted them – although the alleged assault was not included in their original statements. The whole incident (barring the alleged assault, of course) was caught on film, but the presiding judge believed the police. The sentencing was delayed on Wednesday because so many supporters turned up in court, some bearing a petition with 15,000 signatures.

Mr Nawi is asking a bigger question of his countrymen: who is perpetrating the greater violence? Is it people like him, or is it a state which bulldozes Palestinian shacks while protecting the homes of South Hebron settlers which the rest of the world considers illegal? As Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu trade in the semantics of a settlement freeze, it falls to a humble plumber to focus the world’s attention on the routine brutalities of occupation.

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In praise of … Ezra Nawi

July 3, 2009

He is a rarity, even among that most endangered of species, the Israeli peace activist. Born in Basra to an Iraqi Jewish family, Ezra Nawi lives on the modest wages he earns as a plumber. As such, he comes from the same background which generates the hardline views in Israel. So he was speaking to his own kind when he told laughing border police who had just demolished Palestinian Bedouin shacks that all they would leave behind was hatred. Not content with the Bedouin shacks, the prosecuting authorities are now trying to demolish Mr Nawi’s life by threatening him with a prolonged stay in prison. His arresting officers claim that the non-violent resister had assaulted them – although the alleged assault was not included in their original statements. The whole incident (barring the alleged assault, of course) was caught on film, but the presiding judge believed the police. The sentencing was delayed on Wednesday because so many supporters turned up in court, some bearing a petition with 15,000 signatures. Mr Nawi is asking a bigger question of his countrymen: who is perpetrating the greater violence? Is it people like him, or is it a state which bulldozes Palestinian shacks while protecting the homes of South Hebron settlers which the rest of the world considers illegal? As Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu trade in the semantics of a settlement freeze, it falls to a humble plumber to focus the world’s attention on the routine brutalities of occupation.

Israel’s Man of Conscience

July 2, 2009

By Ezra Nawi | ZNet, July 1, 2009
Source: The Nation

Ezra Nawi’s ZSpace Page

[The author is going to prison–for peacefully resisting settler and army violence against West Bank Palestinians and the illegal expropriation of their land.]

My name is Ezra Nawi. I am a Jewish citizen of Israel.

I will be sentenced on the first of July after being found guilty of assaulting two police officers in 2007 while struggling against the demolition of a Palestinian house in Um El Hir, located in the southern part of the West Bank.

Of course the policemen who accused me of assaulting them are lying. Indeed, lying has become common within the Israeli police force, military and among the Jewish settlers.

After close to 140,000 letters were sent to Israeli officials in support of my activities in the occupied West Bank, the Ministry of Justice responded that I “provoke local residents.”

This response reflects the culture of deceit that has taken over all official discourse relating to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Continued >>

His Name Is Ezra Nawi

June 12, 2009

by Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, and Neve Gordon | MRZine, June 10, 2009

Every so often someone comes along who is so brave and so inspiring that you just can’t sit by and remain silent when you learn they need your help.

We’re writing to you today about one of these rare people.

His name is Ezra Nawi.

You’ve probably never heard of him, but because you may know our names, now you will know his name.

Ezra Nawi is one of Israel’s most courageous human rights activists and without your help, he will likely go to jail in less than 30 days.

His crime?  He tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.  These homes and the families who live in them have been under Israeli occupation for 42 years.  They still live without electricity, running water and other basic services.  They are continuously harassed by Jewish settlers and the military.

Nawi’s friends have launched a campaign to generate tens of thousands of letters to Israeli embassies all over the world before he is due to be sentenced in July.  They’ve asked for your help.

His name is Ezra Nawi.

We keep saying his name because we believe that the more people know him and know his name, the harder it will be for the Israeli military to send him quietly to jail.

And Ezra Nawi is anything but quiet.

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.

He has dedicated his life to helping those who are trampled on.  He has stood by Jewish single mothers who pitched tents in front of the Knesset while struggling for a living wage, and by Palestinians threatened with expulsion from their homes.

He is loved by those with little power, to whom he dedicates his life, and hated by the Jewish settlers, military and police.

Now that you know Ezra, you have a chance to stand up for him, and for everything that he represents. Especially now, as Israel escalates its crackdown on human rights and pro-democracy activists.

He needs you.  His friends need you.  Those he helps every day need you. So please send a letter to the Consulate, to the media, to your family and friends.

Take just a moment to write your letter.  Do it now.  And then share his name with a friend.  Do it for Ezra Nawi.

Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Neve Gordon

Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Neve Gordon


This campaign is organized by Jewish Voice for Peace.  JVP also says: “Please go to the website created by Ezra’s defense committee where you can donate directly to help defray Ezra’s legal costs <www.supportezra.net >

An Israeli resister faces prison

May 12, 2009

Neve Gordon, who teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, reports on the case of Ezra Nawi–an Israeli activist who has been ridiculed and arrested for trying to protect the homes of Palestinians.

WITHOUT INTERNATIONAL intervention, Israeli human rights activist Ezra Nawi will most likely be sent to jail.

What you can do

Visit the Support Ezra Nawi Web site for information about the case or to make a donation to Nawi’s defense campaign.

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 empathizes with others who have been marginalized – 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.

A still from the film "Citizen Nawi" shows Ezra in front of Israel's apartheid wallA still from the film “Citizen Nawi” shows Ezra in front of Israel’s apartheid wall

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–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, Israel is different from most of its neighbors. Unlike their counterparts in Egypt and Syria, Israeli rights activists, particularly Jewish ones, have been able to criticize 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.

People might 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 right-wing 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 symbolizes 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.

First published in the Guardian.


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