This is the video recap of the 15th annual Jews For Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) Rabbi Marshal T. Meyer Risk Taker Awards, held on Tuesday, December 13th at B’nai Jeshurun in New York City. This was an amazing event. I’m so glad I was there that night, and so proud to be a long-time member of JFREJ.
WWHD - as in What Would Heschel Do?
Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907 – December 23, 1972) was a Polish-born American rabbi. He was one of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the 20th century. Heschel saw the teachings of the Hebrew prophets as a call for social action in the United States and he was an activist in the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War.
Some of his famous quotes include:
- "Racism is man’s gravest threat to man - the maximum hatred for a minimum reason."
- "All it takes is one person… and another… and another… and another… to start a movement"
- "When I marched in Selma, my legs were praying.”
|—||Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis|
Sara Benninga of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movements speaking at last week’s J Street conference. Sara highlights the place that the Israeli Declaration of Independence is supposed to hold in Israel as a bill of rights in the absences of a constitution. She also speaks to the importance of civil disobedience, non-violent protest, grass roots organizing and solidarity work to make change. Most importantly, Sara talks about her own personal transformation to see past the “curtain of ignorance” that separates the reality of the Occupation from the consciousness of many Israelis and Jews.
The first 4:45 of this clip is an introduction of Sara and can be skipped.
I’ve written about Ezra Nawi several times on this blog. A few days ago I got an update from Ezra as well as a letter that he wrote for broad circulation. That letter follows below.
My name is Ezra Nawi and I write to you today to thank you for your support, and ask for action.
In October 2009, the judge Eilata Ziskind ruled that I was guilty of attacking police officers and participating in a riot during the demolition of a shack belonging to Palestinian farmers in the West Bank, back in 2007.
The whole scene was captured on video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysIaQUJWBdk). The police officers lied when they claimed that I attacked them during the 10 seconds that I ran into the shack. What happened inside the shack was not filmed, but the judge decided to believe the police officers and convict me.
Naturally, I could not stop the bulldozers and the dozens of Israeli soldiers that came to demolish the shack that day, but I definitely had the right to protest and show my solidarity to the suffering of the Palestinian people, as I do every day of my life.
On Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, my appeal to the district court in Jerusalem will be heard in front of three judges: Ben-Ami, Mintz and Rapoport, who might send me to jail. Until then, I ask you to raise your voices again. Write about my case to your friends and local newspapers, invite more people to join my facebook group, and consider making a donation on http://www.supportezra.net to cover the legal costs and the publication of ads in a major newspaper that could help my case.
Yesterday in Jerusalem, human rights activist Ezra Nawi was sentenced to 30-days in prison after being convicted of assaulting Border Guard officers and rioting during demolition of illegal Bedouin structures near South Mount Hebron. In addition he was fined is 750 NIS (about $190). He will serve an additional 6 months if he violates laws in the Occupied Territories in the next three years.
Ezra has been active in the South Hebron area for years, where the Palestinians residents are constantly harassed by settlers. Ezra’s nonviolent work in the area is aimed at helping the Palestinians live safely on their land and exposing the situation to both the Israeli and international public. In short, Ezra challenges the status quo of Occupation. The actors that work to uphold and reinforce the Occupation, the settlers, the army, and the police, have a strong interest in preventing Ezra from working for Palestinian human rights. This case is just one of several where Ezra has been falsely accused of using violence.
Ezra is not guilty of assault, though that is what he was convicted of. He is however guilty of violating several of Israel’s unjust law that create and maintain the Occupation. This case was and always will be about civil disobedience and working for human rights. The sentence may seem light, and perhaps all of the international attention surrounding this case mitigated some of the punishment, but in fact this sentence still sends a message. The sentence acts not as much punishemnt for past acts, but more as an attempet to restrain future activism. The significant part of the sentence is neither the initial jail time the fine; it is the threat of additional jail time if Ezra continues to nonviolently oppose the occupation by violating the unjust laws that regulate the Occupation.
by which I mean, I am indebted joyfully
to all the people throughout its history
who have fought the government to make right
|—||Ani Difranco from her song “Grand Canyon”|