The Israeli justice system has just railroaded a decent, honest man, Ezra Nawi, sentencing him to 30 days in prison and a $200,000 fine [correction: thanks to an Israeli reader who corrected that figure noting he received a $200 fine], framing him for allegedly assaulting Border Police, who entirely fabricated their charges. Nawi is a gay, Iraqi-Israeli peace activist and carpenter. He is a key leader of the Taayush anti-Occupation human rights organization. It organizes resistance to the Occupation in the West Bank, helping Palestinian farmers harvest their crops, opposing home demolitions, intervening when settlers threaten violence, etc.
Nawi has become a huge thorn in the side of both the IDF and border police because he prevents them and settlers from riding roughshod over Palestinian rights, as is their wont. That is why the Border Police, a law enforcement agency known for thuggery disguised as policing, trumped up charges that Nawi, a devout pacifist, actually struck a police officer in the face. The charges are patently absurd. Even more absurd is that Nawi is forced to pay a personal fine to the police officers who lied their way through the entire case. The police provided no other evidence for the charges than that of the alleged officer-victims themselves, who were allowed to coordinate their testimony.
Here is some of the pap the judge wrote in sentencing him. It reminds me of something Bull Connor’s friends down in Selma, AL. could’ve written in their legal decisions in 1963:
“Freedom of expression is not the freedom to incite and take actions that prevent or disrupt police work…Freedom of expression does not allow for riots, incitement or violence. Democracy cannot allow this, for if the law enforcement system collapses, anarchy will reign and democracy and freedom of expression will be no more.”
The judge added, “The fact that a person is acting in the name of one ideology or another, as justified as it may be, is no excuse to commit offenses in the name of that ideology, and in this matter there is no difference between left-wing activists, right-wing activists, religious, seculars, or other groups in conflict.”
This is Ezra’s response:
“The judge would rather take the word of two Border Guard officers who lied and coordinated their testimonies. The entire system wants to see me in jail.
“The court has been permitting the occupation for years, they are trying to stop me at all costs. The judge doesn’t scare me, and neither does the 30-day sentence. This is testimonium paupertatis to the court, I tried to stop criminal activity, and I ended up having to pay two officers who acted brutally. This is the Israeli reality.”
World, an honest man has been railroaded. This reminds me of the frame-ups perpetrated on civil rights activists in the Deep South during the 1960s. It cannot stand. This injustice cries out for redress and I hope the Israeli Supreme Court will speedily address this case.
The Israeli public simply doesn’t know what to make of people like Nawi. If he were American he’d be a MacArthur Genius winner. He is one of those who really deserved the Nobel Peace Prize! In Israel, he’s considered a bit of a freak, a bit like Abie Natan in his day. Haaretz, in its Hebrew edition calls him a “leftist extremist.” All because he’s actually willing to travel to the West Bank, develop relationships with Palestinians, and physically confront the Occupation. Your average Israeli would prefer to sit at cafes in Tel Aviv and bemoan the “situation” and divorce themselves from the ugly reality of the Occupation. To call him an “extremist” is demeaning and simply atrocious journalism. Unfortunately, Haaretz’s editors don’t appear to care about such criticism.