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The Only Democracy? » Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs » Israeli Activist On Trial For Supporting Bedouin

Israeli Activist On Trial For Supporting Bedouin

A thank you from Yeela Raanan of the RCUV (Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages.)

I was taken to court yesterday for sitting in a home in an unrecognized Bedouin village, as the bulldozer was at the wall – ready to demolish the house. The police carried me out of the home and arrested me, and a couple of years later – I was put on trial for “disrupting a policeman”.

We gathered – about 40 of us, half an hour before the trial time. We sat outside the courthouse: we were Jews and Arabs – this battle was not a battle of Jews against Arabs – but all of us against powerful injustice.

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In the courthouse I sat on the seat designated for the accused. All seats in the room were occupied: my colleagues, my fellow human rights activists, leaders from the Bedouin community, and the man whose house had been demolished that day – all were there with me.  Lawyer Gabi Laski presented preliminary pleas: “defense for justice”: How can the Government of Israel both claim that the Bedouins are not trespassers, and that the gov’t must recognize the villages, and at the same time demolish homes?! The statistics are that one in twelve families in the Bedouin community experiences a home demolition… And – how can the Knesset pass a law that pardons the people who acted in opposition to the evacuation from Gush Katif (a settlement in Gaza), on the basis that this evacuation was traumatic, but on the other hand, these home demolitions have been traumatic for the last 60 years, and still the government takes me to trial?

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Nuri and I meeting outside the court: Nuri just ended his trial and justice this time prevailed.

Lawyer Laski’s words, describing vividly the brutality in the policies against the Bedouin, bestowed dignity to the situation. Looking at my friends and partners to my way I felt as if they were silently crying out, “We are all with you on that seat. Laski is representing all of us. The Judge will be judging us all.”

Thanks to all of you: you who sent words of encouragement, you who are sharing the financial burden, to all of you who came… it made the situation one of shared burden and responsibility. I did not feel at all alone. I, and I believe all of us, came out much stronger from this attempt of the government to break our spirit.

The judge, Judge George Amorai, seems interested in the defense line that Laski is presenting. Both sides were requested to give in their arguments in writing and the next court hearing will be on Thursday, September 16th.

Two hours before my court hearing Nuri el-Uqbi stood trial for scores of bogus accusations by the police. The judge freed him of all charges. He is back in his van, by his dad’s land… until the next time they come to beat him up..

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