Guardian once praised Israeli activist who ‘helps kill Palestinians selling land to Jews’

In 2009, the Guardian published an official editorial titled ‘In Praise of Ezra Nawi’.

Nawi is a Jewish Israeli ‘human rights activist’ with the group Ta’ayush, a “grassroots movement of Arabs and Jews working to break down the walls of racism and segregation”.


Here’s the entire Guardian editorial.

He is a rarity, even among that most endangered of species, the Israeli peace activist. Born in Basra to an Iraqi Jewish family, Ezra Nawi lives on the modest wages he earns as a plumber. As such, he comes from the same background which generates the hardline views in Israel. So he was speaking to his own kind when he told laughing border police who had just demolished Palestinian Bedouin shacks that all they would leave behind was hatred. Not content with the Bedouin shacks, the prosecuting authorities are now trying to demolish Mr Nawi’s life by threatening him with a prolonged stay in prison. His arresting officers claim that the non-violent resister had assaulted them – although the alleged assault was not included in their original statements. The whole incident (barring the alleged assault, of course) was caught on film, but the presiding judge believed the police. The sentencing was delayed on Wednesday because so many supporters turned up in court, some bearing a petition with 15,000 signatures. Mr Nawi is asking a bigger question of his countrymen: who is perpetrating the greater violence? Is it people like him, or is it a state which bulldozes Palestinian shacks while protecting the homes of South Hebron settlers which the rest of the world considers illegal? As Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu trade in the semantics of a settlement freeze, it falls to a humble plumber to focus the world’s attention on the routine brutalities of occupation.

Prior to the editorial, the Guardian had published an op-ed by contributor Neve Gordon which was even effusive in its praise of the “pro-democracy, human rights activist”.

Fast forward to 2016.

Uvda, a respected news magazine on Israel’s Channel 2, just revealed that two Israeli “human rights activists” – including Ezra Nawi – bragged, in an exchange caught on film – that they “entrapped” Palestinians interested in selling land to Jews and subsequently turned them in to the Palestinian Authority.  

Remarkably, they turned these Palestinians in even though they acknowledged – in the video secretly recorded by another NGO – that they likely faced torture or murder by the Palestinian secret police.

Here’s an English translation, from Tablet, of the chilling exchange:

“He’s not the first to call me, he’s maybe the fourth,” Nawi bragged on tape, while speaking of a Palestinian real estate agent who contacted him with offers of land for sale to Israelis. “And right away I send their pictures and their phone numbers to the Palestinian security services.”

Speaking off camera, an unnamed Ad Kan activist asks Nawi what the PA does then.

“They catch these guys and they kill them,” Nawi says.

“Physically kills them?” asks the Ad Kan activist, sounding surprised.

“Yes,” Nawi replies, grinning widely.

As Michael Rubin, at Commentary, concluded about the revelations concerning Nawi:

Nawi might look at himself as a left-wing human rights activist, but if the report…is true, he is no different than the terrorist or death squad commander torturing an unarmed farmer or pulling the trigger to murder him in front of his family.

Indeed, the characterization of Nawi – who claims to champion Palestinian rights but will coldly sacrifice the lives of actual Palestinians who ‘betray the cause’ – as a “peace activist” represents another example of the hijacking of the language of human rights by a regressive left promoting radical agendas which are neither progressive nor peaceful. 

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