Tony Greenstein | 26 January 2016 | Post Views:

When Israeli Jewish Opponents
of the 

Occupation are Targeted for attack the 

Israeli Labour Party Offers its Support

Ezra Nawi – arrested Human Rights Worker

The article below in Israel’s
972 Magazine illustrates graphically the attack on Israeli human rights
organisations and groups which oppose the Occupation and highlight its casual

Ezra Nawi has been
detained, without access to a lawyer, on a trumped up charge as a result of the
‘revelations’ of the far-right Ad
Kan group that he had threatened to report what was a bogus land deal to the Palestinian

Another Israeli far-right NGO Im Tirzu makes it
clear that it is unconcerned if its campaign against left-wing NGOs and civil
liberties groups results in physical attacks on those running those
Having attacked Palestinians in Israel and run
an Occupation for nearly 50 years, it is clear that the next target is Israeli Jews
who speak out against Zionist violence and injustice. 
B’Tselem field worker Nasser Nawajah was as I
previously described, arrested and produced in the Jerusalem criminal courts and
when the courts ordered him to be freed, immediately transferred to the
Military courts on the West Bank, which are courts in name only.
Ezra Nawi – Ta’ayush and gay activist in South Hebron Hills
The Israeli anti-occupation Left and human
rights NGO’s are under severe attack by the Israeli state.  Breaking the Silence, an organisation of
soldiers with a conscience, is a particular target.  BtS documents and publicises the war crimes
of the Israeli military by documenting the stories of Israeli soldiers
themselves concerning the brutality and the mass murder, in Gaza in
particular.  BtS is a target of those who,
instead of preventing Israel’s war crimes prefer to attack an organisation
which publicises them.  It is a classic
case of shooting the messenger rather than dealing with the message. 
In this attack we see that the virulent
nationalism of Zionism now targets the democratic rights even of Israeli Jews.
Tony Greenstein
Published January 23, 2016
There is a campaign being carried out against
anyone actively opposing the occupation in Israel, and it doesn’t matter if
you’re an activist in the field, a human rights attorney or a former soldier
talking about what you were ordered to do.
Ta’ayush member Ezra Nawi is brought to a Jerusalem court on January 20, 2016. Nawi, an Israeli Jew active opposing the occupation, was arrested after a right-wing organization put him in the crosshairs of a hidden-camera ‘sting operation.’ (Oren Ziv/
“Activists from the shady organization,
“Ta’ayush,” who we tracked from within and outside, behind closed doors and
during clashes on Saturdays, are going to fall one by one. Don’t worry friends.
We will finish off Ezra Nawi and move on to Guy Butavia… and many others.”

That message was published and quickly spread on
Facebook following the arrest of Ezra Nawi, and before the arrest of Guy
Butavia, another activist in Ta’ayush, and B’Tselem field worker Nasser
Nawajah. The three
were arrested
 after a right-wing group, “Ad Kan,” gave
allegedly incriminating materials to the police and primetime
investigative news show, “Uvda.”
A month earlier, far-right group Im Tirzu marked
other anti-occupation activists as targets
: B’Tselem
Executive-Director Haggai El-Ad; executive director of the Public Committee
Against Torture in Israel, Yishai Menuchin; a prominent member of Breaking the
Silence; and an attorney who protects Palestinians in Israeli courts on behalf
of Hamoked — Center for the Defense of the Individual. This week it was
revealed that right-wing group “Regavim” hired a private investigator to
track human rights attorney Michael Sfard and Israeli human rights organization
Yesh Din. There is a connection between each of these, of course.
By Haggai
 | January 22, 2016
The past few days have seen politicians and pundits
comparing the “extreme left” to the “extreme right,” between the Ta’yush
activists to the suspects in the Duma
. Alon Dian wrote brilliantly about the mainstream’s
tendency to create this kind of symmetry
 — replacing
principled, moral judgment with statistics. But there is a different, more
fundamental point that does not get the attention it deserves. In the case of
Duma, the police went and looked for the perpetrators only after the crime was
committed. The same goes for all the recent hate crimes by right-wing
extremists, which were investigated by the state (the vast majority of so-called
“price tag attacks” end with no indictment).
A group of Ta’ayush activists walk toward a Palestinian hamlet in the South Hebron Hills on Saturday, January 17, 2016. The activists’ presence is often enough to prevent settlers from targeting Palestinians and to deter the army from kicking them off their land. (Photo by Oren Ziv/
But in the case of the Ta’ayush activists, the process
was reversed: “Ad Kan” did not go to the South Hebron Hills to investigate the
harassment of land sellers. They went in search of ways to bring down Ta’ayush.
To infiltrate the organization and get dirt on as many activists as possible.
Like in the case of Michael Sfard and Breaking the Silence: first the Right
found its target, and only then did it start looking for crimes. To the chagrin
of Regavim, the materials it found and published about Sfard did not lead
to the same storm that the Uvda report or recent articles on Breaking the
Silence did. But the principle is identical.
The criminals from the South Hebron Hills
A member of Ta’ayush speaks to Israeli army officers during a direct action in solidarity with Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills, January 17, 2016. (Oren Ziv/
This is the fundamental issue. This is the reason
left-wing activists feel it is open season on them. Because the targeting of
activists has become personal, using their names and images. Because the goal
is to find something — anything — to eliminate them, at all costs. If not
through police investigations, then by tarnishing their public images, like in
the case of former Ambassador to South Africa Alon Libel. Perhaps a recent
article on him in Yedioth Ahronoth, in which he was
secretly filmed giving a lecture to Breaking the Silence activists, will bring
about a change in the law and Libel will find himself in prison. If not, then
maybe someone will decide to wait outside his home and beat him up. When the
head of Im Tirzu was asked about the possibility that his contemptible campaign
could actually bring physical harm to the heads of these organizations, he
shrugged and said that it “would be their
” Things have never been clearer.
A prominent right-wing journalist with whom I used to
work often said, in an entirely different context, that “once you enter the
system’s pipeline, someone will find something about you.”
That is why in a
state governed by law, the police investigates crimes rather than people. At
this moment, the logic in Israel is the exact opposite — the Right is
investigating people. The media, the police, and the pathetic politicians of
the Israeli center are following in its wake. Before the land seller case, the
Samaria and Judea Police Division tried to pin on Nawi a series of traffic
violations. Only the fact that were able to make an even better case stick
saved us from reading op-eds about how “the Left is protecting a traffic
The reason these people were targeted is crystal
clear. There is not much in common between Ta’ayush and Michael Sfard, or
between Breaking the Silence and Ezra Nawi, aside from the fact that they all
struggle against the occupation.
They say Breaking the Silence is hated in
Israel because they speak about the occupation abroad
, and that B’Tselem
is hated because they receive
donations from foreign countries
. Nonsense. Ta’ayush does not speak
abroad. In fact, they aren’t even an NGO, but rather an informal organization
made up of people who every Friday and Saturday head to the South Hebron Hills
— in the hottest days of summer and in the freezing winter — to stand up to
settlers from illegal outposts and the army that backs them. This is a boring,
difficult task, which often includes accompanying Palestinian shepherds and
farmers — so that they are not attacked by settlers — planting trees, or
cleaning out water wells that have been either sealed shut or destroyed.
A decade and a half ago, when I served as a soldier in
South Hebron Hills, the army still accompanied Palestinian children in order to
prevent settler harassment. But the truth is that even back then, this was the
wildest, ugliest place in the country. One of the settlers, who immigrated from
apartheid South Africa, advised us to treat the Palestinians the way they used
to treat blacks in his native land. Another settler, who lived in a cave in the
West Bank, used to march his small herd of sheep directly into Palestinian
fields, and when they tried to keep the animals away from their crops, the man
would call the army because, well, the Palestinians were harassing Jews.
The reality of the Israeli Wild West did not interest
the either the public or the media back then. It doesn’t interest them today.
Uvda never bothered to go to the occupied territories to talk about the
difficult reality farmers face there on a daily basis. The only people who
cared were the activists in Ta’ayush, who do everything they can to stand up to
much larger, far more organized forces. And now they are paying the price for
it. Just like Michael Sfard, who argued before the High Court of Justice — and
won — that the land
belonging to the villagers of Bil’in was stolen
 for the sake of
building a new neighborhood for Jews, all using deceptive claims of “security
needs.” Just like B’Tselem’s field worker Nasser Nawaj’ah, who sat in jail
following Uvda’s report while bulldozers demolished a protest tent against land
expropriation in his home village of Susya. First they ignore the story, then
they target those who speak about it, then they look for dirt, and then they
demand the rest of the Left condemn the wrongdoers, lest everyone be considered
a criminal.
The fact that Ta’ayush’s activities focus on
Israel/Palestine, rather than abroad, hasn’t helped them much. Michael Sfard’s
appeals to Israeli courts, rather than The Hague, were what led the Right to
persecute him. The fact that Breaking the Silence does not reveal the names of
the soldiers who give testimony, so that they do not face prosecution around
the world or even in Israel, did not help. They are all fighting the occupation
— that is their real crime. Instead of going to speak on television panels
about the need for a “political horizon,” they tried to do something about the
reality here. The occupation is the ruler, and it eliminates its opponents. Not
because they are strong or threaten it, but because there really is no other
way. Because the project of control in the occupied territories is in crisis,
and we need to place the blame on someone.
The Right’s vision
It is no coincidence, of course, that Ad Kan’s
campaign is backed by the publicly funded Samaria
Settler Council
, and that Regavim — which spends huge sums on
tracking human rights organizations — is also backed by state-funded local
councils in the West Bank. Ta’ayush, on the other hand, is run entirely by
volunteers. Now it seems that the only people who actually received money for
their trips to South Hebron Hills were Ad Kan’s moles, possibly funded by
Israeli taxpayers.
The state and the Right are joining hands because the
occupation is the state. Guy Butavia discovered in his interrogation that the
questions he was asked by the police were passed on by Ad Kan. Israeli police
in the West Bank, a division of the Israel National Police that is totally
incompetent when it comes to solving recurring attacks against Palestinians —
and which closes investigations into people who attack left-wing activists in
broad daylight and in front of the cameras — suddenly acted with maximum
efficiency in response to the Uvda investigation. Ezra Nawi was arrested at the
airport despite the fact that there was no order preventing him from leaving
the country. Why? How? Who cares. The arrestees were prevented from meeting
with their attorneys, as if we were dealing with a “ticking bomb.” Not only
were these blatantly political arrests, the most basic rights of the detainees
were suspended.
Something dawned on human rights organizations and
anti-occupation activists this week. It seems clear to all that a new campaign
has begun. Much of the public is apathetic toward the Ta’ayush arrests, as goes
for all political persecution. In history classes we used to ask ourselves how
the “silent majority” and the “good people” allowed for such horrible things to
happen. Now the answer is clear: if someone is being persecuted, there was
probably a good reason, and the majority of people continue living their lives,
because that is what people do. The weakness of Israel’s left-wing parties is
far less clear to me. They are still playing the old game of trying to wedge
themselves into the mainstream while the reality has changed completely.
It must be repeated: the Right has no solution for the
current situation. The Palestinians will continue to resist the occupation,
even if all the human rights organizations are shut down. Even if Israel
manages to silence the Palestinians for a month, a year, or five. Those who
view Arab citizens of Israel as enemies will turn them into enemies. Those who
view Israelis who oppose the occupation as traitors won’t stop there. The only
vision the Right is presenting is a civil war between Jews and Arabs, and
between Jews and Jews. The only thing preventing that from happening is
Israel’s sheer military strength. But desperation will also find a way to break
through even that. With every day that passes, the price of changing direction
only rises, and those who are able to step on the brakes prefer to sit on the
This article was first published in Hebrew on
Local Call. Read it

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Tony Greenstein

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