Gay Israeli peace campaigner to be jailed over protest
A gay Israeli peace activist is facing jail after opposing the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank.
Ezra Nawi, a plumber from Jerusalem in his fifties, may be imprisoned for up to 18 months.
In March, he was convicted of taking part in a riot and assaulting a police officer. Nawi, who is staunchly anti-violence, denied the assault charge but was found guilty over the 2007 incident, which happened when the Israeli military tried to demolish Palestinian homes close to Hebron.
He has also worked to help Palestinian farmers defend their land for the last eight years.
Nawi credits his campaigning work to his homosexuality, saying: “Being gay has made me understand what it is like to be a despised minority.”
However, he has frequently been a target of homophobic abuse and says his opponents even spread rumours he was suffering from AIDS around the Palestinian settlers he helps.
Nawi had a relationship with a male Palestinian refugee, Fuad Mussa, several years ago. Mussa left the West Bank, fearing he would be murdered in an ‘honour killing’ because of his homosexuality. He was subsequently jailed by a Israeli court while Nawi was convicted of allowing him to illegally live in Israel.
The activist told the New York Times: “I’m here to change reality. The only Israelis these people know are settlers and soldiers. Through me they know a different Israeli. And I’ll keep coming until I know that the farmers here can work their fields.”
There is currently a campaign underway to save Nawi from jail.
Supporters are being asked to sign a petition (click here) and to protest to the Israeli Embassy.
More: Middle East