I don’t understand the purpose of bulldozing people’s homes. To be quite frank, the video below shocks and disgusts me. I have found no one offering an explanation – “those houses were hiding underground arms caches” or “those were squatters, not the home owners who had sold the plot to a re-developer” – or offering any justification for what we see in this video:
If you have an explanation, please do offer it in the comments. By ‘explanation’, I mean a genuine explanation pertaining to this case, not the random and generic anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian rants we’ve all heard a million times.
But this incident is has another injustice attached to it. Ezra Nawi, the sixty year-old Jewish Israeli activist seen in the footage is being charged with assaulting a police officer, a very serious crime. He denies the charge, insisting that all his protests have been peaceful, and, once again, judging from the video he does not seem to be a violent man, nor does he seem to be one who believes violence solves anything. His accusers, on the other hand are in the business.
In a piece headed “Israel’s Man of Conscience”, The Nation gave Nawi space to put his case. He stated.
My name is Ezra Nawi. I am a Jewish citizen of Israel.
I will be sentenced on the first of July after being found guilty of assaulting two police officers in 2007 while struggling against the demolition of a Palestinian house in Um El Hir, located in the southern part of the West Bank.
Of course the policemen who accused me of assaulting them are lying. Indeed, lying has become common within the Israeli police force, military and among the Jewish settlers.
He also has a glowing testimonial in The New York Times. He tells their reporter:
“I don’t consider my work political. I don’t have a solution to this dispute. I just know that what is going on here is wrong. This is not about ideology. It is about decency.”
A website has been set up to support him. This too seems like the decent thing to do.
Yes, I know videos can be deceptive and many so-called “peace campaigners” are hiding other agendas or fronting groups with decidedly non-peaceful motives, but by all accounts, Ezra Nawi, a Jewish plumber, seems to be a very genuine guy who is appalled by the sight of injustice; a man who decided to stand up and do something about it. Faced by bulldozers and armed riot police, his gestures of solidarity with the defenceless are, of course, entirely symbolic. It is symbolism, but nonetheless very important symbolism.
And that’s where we come in. If people who act in good faith are not supported by good people, they will inevitably accept the friendship of bad people. If good people are not prepared to stand behind other good people who stand up and say”This Is An Outrage”, then we should not be very surprised when, in desperation, they accept friendships from carpetbaggers, scoundrels and various wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The facts of the incident that led to Ezra Nawi’s arrest may be disputed. On one side of the debate people will try to claim that he was trying to stop ethnic cleansing of the sort suffered by District Six under Apartheid. On the other side, people will say this is merely rigorous enforcement of urban planning regulations. The argument will be hot-headed and more heat than light will be generated. But one thing is not in dispute. Ezra Nawi is right about at least one thing. When the dust has settled, “the only thing that will be left here is hatred”.