Thursday, September 24, 2009

Free Ezra Nawi!

Email alert from JVP:

As we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, many of us wondered what the new year would hold for Ezra Nawi. A judge was expected to render her sentence on his case on Monday, the first day after the holiday.

Faced with over 20,000 of your signatures, Judge Eilata Ziskind decided to postpone the sentencing.

A few days before her ruling, the judge got another call to conscience. Boaz Okun, a prominent judge and legal authority in Israel, published an op-ed in an Israeli daily, stating that Ezra deserved 'defense from justice':

The penal code allows the canceling of a guilty verdict against a criminal if the crime committed shrinks vis-a-vis the arbitrary behavior of the state. This is called 'defense from justice.' (1)

Ezra Nawi's sole crime was trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.

Mr. Okun quoted from the hearing proceedings, where Yehudit Karp, a former Israel Attorney General, stated in reference to Ezra Nawi:

Those people that break the law in order to save others and to defend human rights are the ones that get written on golden pages.

But Ezra's troubles are not over yet.

The judge has offered him an impossible "deal." She is willing to reduce his expected sentence from jail time to community service, but only if Ezra waives any further appeals--in fact acknowledging that he is guilty without any way to exonerate himself.

This is far from a golden page, far from a defense from justice.

We will keep you updated of future developments in his case.

In the meanwhile, we have just learned that Kobi Snitz, a long-time activist with the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall, begins a 20-day prison term for an arrest in 2004 in which he tried to prevent a home demolition in the Palestinian village of Kharbatha, in the Ramallah District. He is the first Israeli activist to serve time for a demonstration in the Occupied Territories. In prison, he will now join countless Palestinians who are in administrative detention -- without benefit of trial -- simply for exerting their rights as well.

Only yesterday Mohammad Othman was arrested on the Allenby Bridge Crossing, the border from Jordan to Palestine. Mohammad, 33 years old, has dedicated the last ten years of his life to the defense of Palestinian human rights. His village, Jayyous, has lost most of its land to the Wall and the settlements. You can learn more about Mohammad and take action here.

Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace

(1) Boaz Okun. Defense from Justice. Yedi'ot Ahronot, Sep 13, 2009.

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