Last Sunday, on the 23rd of May, Israeli human rights activist Ezra Nawi began a one-month jail sentence following his July 22, 2007 attempt to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the West Bank. Ben Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon wrote today in The Guardian: This sentence is not a minor matter. The Israeli court has basically decreed that the only legitimate way to oppose the occupation is by standing on the side of the road with some kind of placard. Any form of civil disobedience or direct action, like lying in front of a bulldozer that is building the annexation barrier or demolishing a house, picking olives in a grove or walking Palestinian children to school in an area that has been classified a closed military zone, is now subject to harsh punishment. When he was first tried, Jewish Voice for Peace mounted a massive letter campaign in solidarity with Ezra Nawi. At the Jerusalem hearing, human rights attorney Emily Schaeffer testified on behalf of JVP and delivered to the judge the names of over 20,000 people who supported Ezra’s courageous actions. Nawi’s lawyer told us your letters made a real impact, but we were not able to keep him from going to jail.
In a goodbye gathering before starting his sentence, Ezra told his fellow activists: In a country where laws are immoral, civil disobedience is obligatory; therefore, it will not be long before more of you will join me in jail. Since Nawi’s case first broke, there have been so many other activists unfairly jailed, and in some cases ‘disappeared’ by the Israeli legal system under strict gag orders: Ameer Makhoul, Dr. Omar Said, Izzet Sahin, and Iyad Burnat, to name just a few in the month of May. We have documented many of their stories in our blog http://theonlydemocracy.org/, and we will continue to draw attention to them.
Jewish Voice for Peace