Ezra Nawi, Rachel Corrie and Others: The eyes and ears of the Occupation
Posted by rabbibrian on June 10, 2009
A few weeks ago I wrote about a vicious attack on Rachel Corrie and the Corrie Foundation by a rabbinic colleague.
There are many reasons why the attack on the Corrie Foundation made me so angry. I have been on the West Bank and I know that one of the realities that enables the Occupation to continue is that there are so few who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians. All the courageous Israelis and internationals who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, are the eyes and ears of the Occupation. The Israeli government doesn’t want the internationals on the West Bank as they can report on what they see. In March, an American activist with the International Solidarity Movement, Tristan Andersen, was critically injured in the continuing non-violent protest in Bilin. He is still in hospital. In May a Palestinian man was killed.
Now the Israeli government is about to imprison a courageous Israeli who like Rachel stood in front of a bulldozer in South Hebron Hills about to demolish the home of an innocent human being.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel has written the following about Ezra:
“Let me tell you about Ezra. Ezra doesn’t get paid like I do. He volunteers. In fact, he has more or less sacrificed his own livelihood and most of his savings because he just isn’t capable of standing idly by and watch how the power of the State is directed at some of the most defenseless people imaginable. Being exposed to this made him so upset that he overturned his quiet world to dedicate his entire self to extending a helping hand. If Palestinians in the S. Hebron Hills get attacked by settlers or soldiers at 3:00 am they know they can call Ezra and he will be there in a flash. If there are people who have some need he will dig into his own pocket (and hit up RHR as well, if he can.) Somebody from our legal staff needs to a ride to meet a client on some dusty hilltop off the beaten path? Call Ezra. Need translation or some information about the area? Call Ezra. On many occasions he has watched my back, as I hope that I have watched his. Is Ezra a little uncontrollable sometimes? Yes. I wish all of us would be as filled with anger when we see people with guns bullying people living in caves and bulldozing tin shacks.”
Neve Gordon, chair of the Politics and Government Department at Ben Gurion University, has written a moving article in the Guardian about Ezra Nawi.
“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.”
Ezra Nawi is like Rachel Corrie. He is an Israeli, she was an American. Both posed problems to the Israeli authorities because of their opposition to the Occupation. Both tried to prevent the demolition of the home of an innocent human being. Rachel was run over by the Israeli bulldozer, Ezra may now be imprisoned, unless we speak up.
I urge you to participate in the international campaign to prevent his imprisonment.