From Jerusalem goes forth the merchant of war - but don't forget the Other Israelis...
ISRAELI Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, elected on a racist platform of ethnic cleansing, is on safari
visiting countries in Latin America and Africa, and has so far managed to denounce Venezuela's Hugo Chavez accusing him of upsetting the region, and to warn that Iran - supposedly bidding to become the Middle East's second nuclear power, Israel being the first - could 'set off an arms race'(!).
In case black Africans had forgotten, Lieberman has boasted that Israel "started South Africa's arms industry". Yes, under Apartheid that was, when Israelis co-operated in the racist regime's efforts to develop nuclear weapons as well as conventional armaments. But if this reminder seems a strange way for the Israeli government to win friends and influence people, it had a reason. Lieberman is not going out to promote oranges and grapefruit. Along with Israeli foreign policy, still tuned to the neo-con Washington hawks, he is taking his arms salesmen on this mission.
That he senses what will go down well with his hosts surely also says something about the governments inviting him?
Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, two Palestinian families were forcibly evicted from their homes, and Israeli police showed they can be brutal against Jews too, including rabbis, if they resist government policies, and especially if they show solidarity or even compassion, for Palestinians. The Religious Right has become one of the most reactionary and inhuman political forces in Israeli society, and most blame it not only for violence against Palestinians but the recent murderous attack on gay young people at a Tel Aviv centre. But there is group called Rabbis for Human Rights trying to counter-balance this. They say their Judaism leads them to protest oppression and injustice like the Sheikh Jarrah evictions.
Another of the Other Israelis, those who oppose opperession and racism, is Ezra Nawi, now facing a prison sentence because he allegedly assaulted a police officer. I'll let the international friends of Ezra Nawi explain:
"Ezra Nawi has been active for years in the area known as South Mt. Hebron. The Palestinians in this small desolate area in the very south of the West Bank 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 the Jewish settlers who constantly violate both Israeli and International law, and are backed by a variety of Israeli military occupation forces, all of which operate in an effort to cleanse the area from its Palestinian inhabitants and create a new demographic reality in it.
"Nawi's persistent non-violent activity in the area is aimed both at aiding the local population in its plight to stay on their lands, but also at exposing the situation in the area to both the Israeli and international public eye. The latter is very much not in the interest of the Israeli settlers who complain that Nawi is disturbing the "status quo" in the area. Nawi has received threats on his life from the settlers in the past. The chief of the investigations in the Hebron Israeli Police once admitted that what Nawi is doing in the area is "exposing the dirt laying under the rug..."
"Ezra Nawi's efforts have been fruitful in the sense that the attempt to cleanse the South Mt. Hebron from its Palestinian inhabitants has become a visible, internationally acknowledged issue.
"The settlers, military occupation forces and Israeli police have a strong interest to restrict his movement and ban him from the area. Therefore they constantly falsely accuse him of violating the law. Lately he has been pronounced guilty of assaulting a police officer who was demolishing a Palestinian house on July 22, 2007. He will be sentenced on August 16, 2009 at 8.30 AM, at the Jerusalem peace court.
"As chance would have it, the demolition and the resistance to it were captured on film and broadcasted on Israeli news. As depicted on the film (a must see), Nawi, the man dressed in a green jacket, not only courageously protests the demolition, but after the bulldozer destroys the buildings he also tells the border policemen what he thinks of their actions. Sitting handcuffed in a military vehicle following his arrest, he exclaims: "Yes, I was also a soldier, but I did not demolish houses... The only thing that will be left here is hatred..."
Nawi's case is not only about Nawi. It is also about Israel and Israeli society, if only because one can learn a great deal about a country from the way it treats its human rights and pro-democracy activists.
Please join this group to show your support for Ezra Nawi and your objection to his imminent imprisonment.
International Committee Supporting Ezra:
Robert Hand also bears witness:
"Ezra Nawi is probably the most courageous person I have ever met. I have seen him in countless moments when settlers violently attacked him and other peace activists, Palestinians and Israelis; his presence of mind, steadfastness, and clarity always got us through such times.
He is that most unusual of human beings– a person of profound inner gentleness and moral principle, selfless and creative in finding ways to help the Palestinian shepherds and farmers of the South Hebron hills.
It is largely to Ezra’s unremitting efforts that these people are still living on their lands in the face of constant efforts by the Israeli state, the army, police, and rampaging settlers, to dispossess them. ...
Ezra is utterly committed to non-violent protest in the Gandhian mode; he is an inspired force for goodness and a reason not to lose hope in human potential to do the decent thing."
Supporters of Ezra Nawi are planning a demonstration:
"On Sunday, August 16, at 8.30 am, Ezra Nawi will receive the sentencing for his conviction of assaulting a police officer and participating in a riot. Ezra, the epitome of nonviolent resistance and human rights defender, pleaded not guilty on all charges, and refuses to accept a plea bargain.
On Sunday, Ezra might be sent to jail.
We will escort Ezra to the courthouse, and stand vigil outside to show our support and solidarity.
The Committee Supporting Ezra Nawi"
Last word to someone from the joint Palestinian-Israeli group Ta'ayush (Partnership), who evokes the Biblical story, of the ten just men that God sought if he was to spare a society: "If we had 20 Ezra Nawis, the Occupation would be already finished. Ezra is one of the righteous men, that thanks to them, we are not yet [d...estroyed like] Sodom and Gomorrah". (Yehuda Agus, Taayush Activist)