Israel, Justice

Israeli Activist Ezra Nawi Jailed

Ezra Nawi, Israeli activist, has been jailed.
You can watch the video below — caught by Israel’s Channel 1 — and realize nowhere in this does Erza deserve jail for “assaulting an officer.” As part of Ta’ayush, a Jewish-Arab coexistance activist group, Ezra and other activists were blocking the demolition of the homes of Bedouin in the South Hebron Hills. In and around Hebron are the sites of the most virulently violent settlers, and, in an effort to “keep the peace,” the Israeli military is called in to arrest not the settlers but the Palestinians who dared live there.
Ezra Nawi has been taken to court multiple times for his non-violent resistance, yet settlers who assault peace activists of course are ignored! The double standard is part of the nauseous dynamic of Israeli military protection of settlers who shouldn’t even be living in the West Bank — yet who wield political clout through threat of violence. The fact that Ezra is in jail and not an innumerable number of settlers is a glaring stain on Israel’s rule of law.

The most shameful aspect of this particular case is the video itself, where the soldiers are laughing at Ezra and the family’s misfortune. I’ve met amazing Israeli soldiers who take their job protecting Israel seriously and who have the conscience to know right from wrong, even while being forced to do wrong. The gloating giggles on the faces of the soldiers are revolting. My father was a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army — and if any of his soldiers had a grin as stupid as that in a situation like this, he’d punch them square in the jaw. What a generation Israel is raising through the occupation.
Write the Israeli embassy to release Ezra Nawi for this stupid charade and copy [email protected]:
Washington, DC: [email protected]
New York: [email protected]
Canada: [email protected]
United Kingdom: [email protected]
You can learn more about Ezra’s activities, his life as a queer Israeli, and his peacework, through the film that was made about him, Citizen Nawi.

19 thoughts on “Israeli Activist Ezra Nawi Jailed

  1. The most shameful aspect of this particular case is the video itself, where the soldiers are laughing at Ezra and the family’s misfortune.
    You’d have to be pretty dense to think that’s what’s going on. They’re laughing because they’re being filmed and some old guy made a whole big outrageous scene whose outcome everyone knew in advance. This was nothing but a play in which everyone played their parts.
    For thousands of years the Bedouin lived under the stars and now, suddenly, we’re supposed to be worried about it? Who gave these Nouris permission to set up ramshackle housing on a hillside, anyway? Isn’t that what you all carp about the settlers doing?

  2. I’m alarmed by your ignorance in stating that Israelis ‘should not be living’ in the west bank. For a Jewish site to MISrepresent the facts so badly is APPALLING.
    You have also managed to totally misinterpret the video. Frankly, I am stunned at the sheer naivete expressed in your post. You call yourself ‘jewschool’ – well, here are the FACTS. LEARN FROM THEM:
    One of the most misused, misapplied, and misunderstood definitions in the dictionary of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the term “occupied territories.” The vast majority of people simply do not know the facts or misinterpret them, thus completely distorting the real picture of the land distribution between the Arabs and the Jews.
    The truth of the matter is that, according to international law, the Jews have the complete and unquestionable right to settle the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (collectively known as Yesha). Not a single enforceable international document exists that forbids them from settling the lands of Yesha.
    On the contrary, the only existing enforceable document actually encourages Jewish settlement.
    This document was created on April 24, 1920 at the San Remo Conference when the Principal Allied Powers agreed to assign the Mandate for the territory of Palestine to Great Britain.
    By doing so the League of Nations “recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and established “grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” Article 6 of the Mandate “encouraged … close settlement by Jews on the land,” including the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha).
    There is nothing whatsoever in the Mandate that separates Yesha from the rest of the mandated territory. That means that the right of the Jews to settle the land spreads to the whole of Palestine. As a side note it is worth mentioning that the 76% of the territory of Mandated Palestine known today as Jordan, were not permanently exempt from settlement by the Jews either. Article 25 only allowed to “postpone or withhold application of [this] provision.”
    With the disbanding of the League of Nations, the rights of the Jews to settle the territories of Palestine, including Yesha, were not hurt. When in 1946 the United Nations was created in place of the League of Nations, its Charter included Article 80 specifically to allow the continuation of existing Mandates (including the British Mandate).
    Article 80 stated that “nothing … shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever … of any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.”
    Then in November 1947 came time for Resolution 181, which recommended the Partition of Palestine. Like all UN Resolutions pertaining to the Jewish-Arab conflict it was not enforceable. It was simply a recommendation, and the Arab countries rejected it. As the Syrian representative in the General Assembly stated:
    “In the first place the recommendations of the General Asembly are not imperative on those to whom they are addressed… . The General Assembly only gives advice and the parties to whom advice is addressed accept it when it is rightful and just and when it does not impair their fundamental rights” (1).
    If the resolution had been implemented maybe it would be possible to argue that it replaced the San Remo Conference resolution, which had legitimized the rights of the Jews to settle in any place in Palestine.
    However, it was not only rejected by the Arabs, but in violation of the UN Charter they launched a military aggression against the newly reborn Jewish state thus invalidating the resolution. By the time of the cease-fire at the end of the War of Independence there was still no other enforceable document pertaining to the rights of the Jews to settle Eretz Yisrael – they remained intact.
    Now we approach the most misunderstood aspect of the scope and application of international documents. In order to resolve the puzzle of the “occupied” territories, one must clearly distinguish between the different types of resolutions passed by the United Nations.
    Misconceptions about the issue led to the question of a double standard that was constantly raised by the Arabs after the Persian Gulf War. The Arabs were unable to understand why from Iraq the UN demanded compliance with the decisions of the international body, while Israel was not forced to comply with UN resolutions.
    On April 3, 1998 Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen, well known for championing the Arabs’ position, in an interview with the London al-Quds al-‘Arabi, gave an explanation of this “paradox.” She was asked, “What about the double standards that the United States and Europe adopt when it comes to Arab issues?”
    She answered,
    “I understand this view, which is common in many Arab countries. Nevertheless, the UN resolutions passed on Iraq are different, because they are binding for all nations according to Article 7 of the UN Charter. Meanwhile, the resolutions passed against Israel are not subject to Article 7 of the Charter.”
    To better understand the way UN resolutions work, it is worth reading an open letter by Uri Lubrani, coordinator of Israeli activities in Lebanon, addressed to Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Faris Buwayz and published on February 27, 1998 in the Paris newspaper al Watan al-‘Arabi. Although the letter was written regarding Resolution 425, it talks about all resolutions pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Uri Lubrani wrote the following,
    “…There are two types of resolutions in the Security Council. The first type are resolutions passed on the basis of Chapter Six of the UN charter that relates to the settlement of disputes through peaceful means. Such resolutions are considered recommendations. They are not binding, and they do not require immediate implementation… . The second type of resolutions are based on Chapter Seven of the UN charter… . This chapter grants the UN Security Council resolutions an implementative authority and commits the international community to use force if necessary to implement these resolutions. …None of the UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Arab Israeli conflict, including Resolution 425, were passed on the basis of Chapter Seven. They were passed on the basis of Chapter Six of the UN charter, which is the basis also of UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338.”
    Since no mandatory UN Resolution exists pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are left with the San Remo Conference decision that governs land ownership in Palestine. That means that not a single enforceable internationally valid document exists that prevents or prohibits the Jews from settling anywhere in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and all the rest of Eretz Yisrael. Or, to put it differently, from the standpoint of international law FOR THE JEWS IT IS NOT AN OCCUPIED LAND.
    This conclusion was confirmed not long ago by an unexpected (for Israel) source. It is hard to argue with the fact that James Baker, former US Secretary of State, was not the best friend of the Jewish state. However, he categorically rejected the mislabeling of the lands of Yesha.
    This happened at the Middle East Insight Symposium in Washington on May 4, 1998. Hoda Tawfik, from the newspaper Al Ahram asked him, “What do you think is right? That these are occupied Arab territories and not disputed territories?” Baker replied, “They’re clearly disputed territories. That’s what Resolutions 242 and 338 are all about. They are clearly disputed territories.”
    All of this means that when the Jews build settlements in Yesha, they are not building them on “occupied” territories. If one wants, one may call them “disputed” territories, as Baker did. However, this will still not change the fact that from the standpoint of international law it is the very land where the Jews were encouraged to settle.
    And as a final note, it should not be surprising that the San Remo Conference plays such an important role in this particular case. The majority of the other players in the conflict: Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, etc. gained sovereignty over their territories based on the decisions of exactly the same conference. The Jews finally deserve to settle freely on their territories as well. It is time to stop labeling them “occupied”.
    Finally I’d like to note: if you don’t wish to support Israel that is your right.
    But it is NOT your right to MISrepresent the FACTS and to join in the virtually worldwide, and unfair, demonising of Israel.
    Shame on you.

  3. Tabatha, welcome to Jewschool!
    Actually, there are a huge wealth of international laws and documents to the contrary. Without going into too many footnotes, here’s the basic problem for your version:
    First off: Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that the country “will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,” and repeatedly based its right to exist upon it (UN Res. 181). That resolution called for an Arab state to exist in the same land — a state your position would prevent from ever being.
    Your legal view is remarkably funny: You say that the Arab state rejected Resolution 181 and went to war, thus negating the resolution. How so? The resolution was not a negotiation between the Arab world and the UN — it was imposed by the UN. The Arab states were not in a position to negate anything.
    On the contrary, it is Israel that has violated and broken the conditions of the very document it relies on for existence: it has prevented and resisted the creation of it’s sister-state for over 61 years.
    Secondly, regardless of whether or not Res. 181 is legally actionable, Israel made itself charter to the Geneva Conventions which makes it illegal to conquer foreign territory and move citizens there. It’s frequently argued that the occupied territories aren’t actually occupied because they weren’t previously part of another state — which is all beside the point. You can’t conquer land that isn’t yours.
    It’s also frequently argued that the land was “won” in a defensive war — which is also beside the point. You can’t conquer land that isn’t yours. Even if you conquered foreign land and are holding it until later arbitration, you CERTAINLY don’t build settlements, move your civilian population there, and refuse basic services to the original denizens.
    Thirdly, the UN, the US, the Quartet, and the Israeli government (first under Ariel Sharon, then Olmert) have all described the “disputed” territories as an occupation. (Arik Sharon, 2003, CNN: “What is happening is an occupation — to hold 3.5 mil Palestinians under occupation.”
    Fourthly, even if it were permissible for Jews to live in Gaza and the West Bank, they would have to do so through legal means. But the settlements are constructed on Palestinian land. There are two types of land: publicly-held land by municipalities and privately-held land owned by individuals. Israel took control of municipality land and developed it for it’s own citizens — illegal. Israel then ignored the ownership of private land and did the same! You can read more here on how a copy of the illegal land database was leaked to Haaretz.
    But let’s get to the point more directly:
    Even if the territories are “disputed” it gives Israel no permission to continue the construction of settlements! Why does that fail to enter your legal considerations?
    The negotiations which have been occurring, and will presumably occur, have and will supersede any previous legal arrangements (be they by the League of Nations or the UN). The current construction of settlements is in open violation to previous agreements. The continuing construction is also in bad faith for future amendments — putting Israel on the bad side of history.
    Shavua tov.

  4. The key question for Tabatha is: What do you propose be done regarding the millions of Palestinians living in Yesha?

  5. Tabitha: Whether or not Jews have a right to settle in the areas is not the question. Conventional international law would hold that anyone, of any ethnic group, religion, nationality, etc. should be allowed to settle *anywhere*.
    The relevant question here is whether Jewish Israeli can settle in the Palestinian Territories and then claim to be part of Israel. On that question, international law says no.
    It is a generally accepted principle in international law that citizens are required to abide by the laws of the state in which they reside, are subject to prosecution by the government overseeing that state, and in return must be protected from foreign invasion by the military of that state.
    Jews are free to live in the West Bank under international law. But the international community does not recognize the West Bank as being within Israel’s borders. Thus, while Jews certainly can live there if they want, they must accept that they live there under the Palestinian, not Israeli, government. Consequently, they should be subject to Palestinian, not Israeli, laws and be protected by the Palestinian, not Israeli, military from foreign attack.
    These natural rules in international law are being violated. The settlers expect the Israeli government, which has no jurisdiction, to provide them services and protect them from attack, and expect to follow Israeli, not Palestinian laws. Under pretty much any interpretation of international law, such an expectation is utterly obnoxious and incorrect.
    To apply the same standard to other countries, let’s say the United States started allowing (and discretely encouraging) its citizens to live in Ontario. Let’s say that those American citizens start to become demographically significant in Ontario over time. Does the United States have the right to claim Ontario and usurp the domestic authority of the Canadian government? The answer is of course no.
    And just as the answer is no with the US and Canada, so too is it no in the case of Israel and the Palestinians.
    KFJ: Nothing is ever ‘imposed’ by the UN. No UN resolution has *ever* been binding in the entire history of the organization.
    Resolutions are, legally, always a statement of opinion of a deliberative body. Some UN resolutions spur actual action either within the UN or within the relevant states, and the UN generally provides resources (mediators, military, etc.) to help the states hash out their problems… But the resolution itself is not and cannot be legally binding.

  6. Is the Ontario example analogous, as Palestine is not/was not an independent sovereign like Canada?
    Regardless, “The relevant question here is whether Jewish Israeli can settle in the Palestinian Territories and then claim to be part of Israel” is not at all the relevant question.
    Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the territories are not occupied, and Jews have a right to settle there under international law (whatever that is.) What, then, is to become of the millions of Palestinians living in those territories?
    Will we maintain the apartheid-like situation in the territories, ad infinitum?
    Will we grant the Palestinians Israeli legal status?
    Will we try to expel them?
    Will we do nothing, and hope that Moshiach will soon arrive?
    These are the questions we need to ask ourselves.

  7. Jonathan1: If we accept the notion that the Palestinians are sovereign over the area called the West Bank (as recognized by a fair number of other countries) we do not need to ask those questions. The Palestinians who are legally sovereign (and thus, responsible) for the land on which Jews are living in need to ask and answer those questions.

  8. Let’s put it another way, I disagree with both Tabatha and Kari on the weight we should lend to international law (this is separate debate entirely.)
    The question of the legal status of the West Bank is a very interesting issue, in purely academic terms. Both Kari and Tabatha make very cogent arguments. To me, Tabatha’s view is more correct, legally speaking.
    However, to me, from a practical standpoint, the settlment movement has been an utter failure, and Israel cannot allow the status quo to continue regarding the West Bank.
    Thus, we need to ask those who advocate continued Israeli rule in the West Bank how they plan to deal with the Palestinian delimna. There seems to be no solution other than to divide the Land into two distinct political entities. Those who think differently should articulate their positions on the fundamental questions, instead of skirting the issue through legalese.

  9. Actually, Kari and Jonathan1, it’s more sticky than that.
    Israel, as an occupying power, has internationally-recognized military stewardship over the territories. But it has abused that power by importing its own citizens and using the resources there to benefit the mainland disproportionately. The PA was created to administer certain areas of civilian life on a local level — remember the PLO is the national body of the state-to-be, the only authority permitted to negotiate on behalf of Palestinians.
    So Israel has legal obligations to protect and administer the occupied Palestinians, within the limits of the agreements it set forth with the PLO. It’s just done it in a way to totally forestall a two-state solution and add to it’s own territory. Like appointing the aardvark to guard the anthill.

  10. Jonathan1: Yes, Israel is in power in the West Bank. It shouldn’t be. Suggesting Israel make such decisions, when its own government has little internationally-recognized jurisdiction, diminishes the natural rights of the Palestinians in question.
    Is Tabitha the only one arguing in favor of the settlement movement here? Or am I misreading someone?

  11. Jonathan1, I get your point, I think.
    Why should settlers care about “international law”? For legitimacy? Zionism, of any type, is not conformist to power. The UN is a collection of governments (many of whom maintain power because the people conform to their rule) conforming to power. If the Holocaust has taught us anything, it is that conforming to power will kill the Jewish people.
    The basic argument against settlers is that they have no legal right to the West Bank. But neither do Jordanians have the right to vote. So that classification of law is rather archaic. You don’t have the right to do this just because the governments, or a collection of governments such as the UN, said so. Just because they say so, doesn’t make it right. I’m not saying legal rights are worthless. The UN is there to set rules to meet the world’s needs, or rather the world’s powers needs.
    As the world’s people, we have not yet set up an organization to protect our “natural rights”. But of course, we need a body to arbitrate on disputes on natural rights. I don’t mean disputes on what they are, but rather disputes where rights conflict with each other and how they are interpreted. That’s when it turns into “legal rights”. The UN Declaration of Human Rights is a good starting point. But it is not accepted by many, noticeably the Muslim countries.
    I’m very much against the settlement movement, but I must say Tabatha makes his “legal” case very well. Either way, citing international law against the settlers is pointless since it is only as powerful as people conform to it, just like governments are only as powerful as people conform to it. The UN has no legitimacy in my eyes just like a dictatorship has no legitimacy in my eyes.

  12. Zionism, of any type, is not conformist to power.
    I think that’s a bit gradiose in a way that’s not true at all. Jewish nationalism couldn’t actualize itself without the permission of the UN, and can’t support itself without the US. Maybe I misunderstand.
    The UN has no legitimacy in my eyes just like a dictatorship has no legitimacy in my eyes.
    If the UN has no legitimacy, that would mean the League of Nations has no legitimacy, and in either case Israel would have no legitimacy. One can’t undermine international law without adopting “every man for himself” politics, in which case the Arab countries were right for rejecting the partition plan and successive wars. There would be no law to stop them.
    Either way, citing international law against the settlers is pointless since it is only as powerful as people conform to it
    One doesn’t cite it against settlers, one cites it against the State of Israel. The country is clearly not interested in assisting the legitimacy of international law, to which it claims its own permission to exist. Duplicious.

  13. “…in which case the Arab countries were right for rejecting the partition plan and successive wars…”
    You don’t think they were right?

  14. Ben,
    Ezra is not in Jail. I was with him last night. He has a court date coming up in July. It is not looking great. In the next five days I will be posting an interview with Ezra on my site.
    All the best,

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