Key activists in two of Israel’s best-known left wing NGOs were caught on camera admitting that they entrapped Palestinians interested in selling land to Israelis and then reported them to the Palestinian Authority, despite knowing that these Palestinians faced near-certain torture or murder at the hands of the PA’s secret police.
The story was first reported yesterday by Uvda, a prestigious Israeli television news magazine that is the local equivalent of 60 Minutes. The two activists are Nasser Nawaja, a Palestinian and a prominent field researcher for the human rights group B’Tselem, and Ezra Nawi, a Jewish resident of Jerusalem and a key figure in the pro-Palestinian, pro-BDS group Ta’ayush. They were secretly recorded by members of another NGO, called Ad Kan, who then delivered the tape to Uvda’s reporter Omri Assenheim.
“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.
Both Nawi and Nawaja are among the most internationally renowned members of Israel’s radical left. Earlier this year, Nawaja published an anti-Israeli op-ed in The New York Times, accusing the Jewish state of “dispossession and oppression.” Nawi is considerably more prominent: when he was arrested, in 2007, for attacking Israeli policemen during a West Bank demonstration, more than 20,000 people—including a long list of prominent Israeli academics as well as progressive American celebrities like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein—signed a petition demanding his release.
Responding to the piece with a statement on its Facebook page, B’Tselem said that while it opposed tortures and executions, reporting Palestinians interested in selling land to Israelis to the PA was “the only legitimate course of action.”
These revelations comes at an inopportune moment for the two NGOs, as the Israeli government is considering measures to regulate non-profit organizations receiving financial support from foreign governments. Ta’ayush, according to the Jerusalem-based group NGO-Monitor, receives some foreign donations but does not disclose its funding. B’Tselem, on the other hand, is considered one of Israel’s leading civil rights organizations, and receives financial support from the governments of Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union and the New Israel Fund.