You may not know the name Ezra Nawi, but his non-violent struggle for basic human rights is something to which many can relate.
Nawi is an Israeli human rights activist, who has worked diligently in his non-violent opposition to Israel’s grave violations of international law that have barraged Palestine in the ongoing conflict. This includes opposing Israel’s illegal military occupation and expansion of settlements in Palestinian territory.
On July 22, 2007, Ezra Nawi attempted to block the Israeli military and their Volvo bulldozers from illegally destroying Palestinian homes, but was unsuccessful. He told the soldiers “yes, I was a soldier, but I did not demolish houses … The only thing that will be left here is hatred.” After the soldiers laughed, Nawi asked, “very funny, soldier? That the kids will be sleeping outside, that’s funny?”
Nawi was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer, yet video footage of the incident shows otherwise. Furthermore, as Nawi rhetorically asks in The Nation magazine (6/29/09), “was I the one who poisoned and destroyed Palestinian water wells…, beat young Palestinian children…, hit the elderly…, demolish homes…, block roads and restrict movement…, prevented… running water and electricity…, forbid Palestinians from building homes?” No, of course, but those are some of the crimes of Nawi’s government.
In October 2009, a judge found Nawi guilty of assaulting a police officer during a 10 second period of time that the video evidence missed, and for participating in a “riot,” that is, standing between the military and the Palestinian homes. To add insult to injury, the judge cynically invited an Arabic translator to give Nawi’s sentence as if Nawi, a Jewish citizen of Israel, only spoke Arabic. Nawi facetiously adds, “in her mind I, a Mizrahi Jew, am a Palestinian Arab–and Arabs are, almost by definition, guilty.”
On March 3, 2010, Ezra Nawi’s appeal will be decided at a district court in Jerusalem. His fate depends on action from the international community to oppose his detention. Historically, many human rights activists have been unjustly detained including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Who can honestly say they support those acts?
It seems to me that the best chance to achieve any significant steps toward a just peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict is to support non-violent resistance to the atrocities being committed. People such as Ezra Nawi are a quintessential example of such resistance. You can support him and find out more by searching his name on Google or Facebook.
As Nawi summarizes, “I am a simple person. I did what my heart told me to do. Looking back, I know that what my friends and I have done is changing the harsh reality of the occupation in the whole area of south Hebron. I feel that now the Israeli authorities are punishing me on a personal level.”