Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ezra Nawi, Jailed

I have written about Ezra before and have not hidden my admiration. He is a tireless human rights activist, who has established unique connections, and affections, with the villagers in the South Hebron hills. I have often sat in the back of his truck, being ferried to stand watch over fields that would not be plowed were it not for his courage and resourcefulness. I have seen Ezra stand, dignified, against settlers who regard him something the way Klansmen regarded Jewish northerners who came to bear witness against Jim Crow. He is the subject of a poignant film. He is also my plumber, as it happens, and he does not overcharge his customers.

Ezra is now facing jail: "His 'crime,'" writes Neve Gordon, in a comprehensive report, "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." You can read and watch what you need to know here, but you can also read more about Nawi from David Shulman here.

Attention Washington press corps: If you do not ask Benjamin Netanyahu about Ezra Nawi when the Prime Minister visits Washington, you are not doing your jobs.