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Standing by Nadia

By Sara Layah Shomron The Jewish Press June 23, 2006

In a show of solidarity and support for “Women in Green” leader Nadia Matar, a group of Gush Katif evacuees traveled up to the Shalom Court in the Russian Compound of the Jerusalem Court house today where Nadia is standing trial. Hers is a precedent-setting case.

This outspoken leader who promotes Jewish settlement throughout the Land of Israel is charged with the crime of insulting a public official. Yanaton Bassi, head of the Disengagement Compensation Committee know as SELA, was likened to the Judenrat (Jewish elders who represented the Jewish ghetto to the Nazis and followed their orders); yet, unlike those who sat on the Judenrat committee, Yonaton Bassi had a choice.

The State of Israel claims to be a democracy, thereby affording its citizens certain inalienable rights. Among these is freedom of speech. If we don’t protect and use this basic right — we will lose it, and ever so gradually our so-called democracy will slip away and demagoguery may take hold.

Neither I nor any other Gush Katif evacuee was allowed entry into the court room. We stood at the front of the line and were told by the two security guards to wait. Others were allowed in, but we were to wait and see if there was room for us. We petitioned the security guards to allow one Gush Katif representative into the courthouse. After all, Nadia stood hand-in-hand with our struggle to live in and not be expelled from any part of the Land of Israel. The security guards again told us to wait. A reporter inquired of the guards why former Gush Katif residents weren’t allowed entry. They wouldn’t answer. He then asked to speak with a supervisor who explained that only 25 people were allowed into the courtroom, and it was full. But we countered that we had been at the front of the line from the onset. It was with deliberate, callous and wanton disregard that the disenfranchised Gush Katif evacuees were denied access to a public Israeli courtroom.

The case against Nadia Matar has been postponed until September. This may be due to the governmental heirarchal fear of her growing support, futher fueled by the media attention to this case. Regardless, all citizens of the State of Israel are “Nadia”. We all hang on the precipice of losing our fundamental and precious freedom of speech.

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