This story is almost too unbelievable to be true, but it is true.

Ezra Nawi is not just another Israeli leftist activist. He was one of the most prominent Israeli activists engaged in direct action to interfere with Israeli military activities in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”).

Nawi’s actions brought him accolades abroad. He was featured in a favorable NY Times article in 2009:

For his activist colleagues, Mr. Nawi’s instinctual connection to the Palestinians is valuable.

Ezra Nawi was in his element. Behind the wheel of his well-worn jeep one recent Saturday morning, working two cellphones in Arabic as he bounded through the terraced hills and hardscrabble villages near Hebron, he was greeted warmly by Palestinians near and far.

Watching him call for an ambulance for a resident and check on the progress of a Palestinian school being built without an Israeli permit, you might have thought him a clan chief. Then noticing the two Israeli Army jeeps trailing him, you might have pegged him as an Israeli occupation official handling Palestinian matters.

But Mr. Nawi is neither. It is perhaps best to think of him as the Robin Hood of the South Hebron hills, an Israeli Jew helping poor locals who love him, and thwarting settlers and soldiers who view him with contempt….

“Ezra knows Palestinians better than any of us,” said Amiel Vardi, a professor who works closely with him. “This is not only because of the language, but because he gains their confidence the minute he starts talking with them. He has all sorts of intuitions as to what should be done, what are the internal relations — things we hardly ever notice.”

Nawi has a film made about him, Citizen Nawi (video trailer here) and was featured on Al Jazeera when he was arrested for attacking Israeli soldiers:

That arrest catapulted Nawi onto the U.S. anti-Israel scene. Jewish Voice for Peace took up his case, organizing a Free Ezra campaign:

Philip Weiss of the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website, bragged that he had gone to demonstrations with the “great Ezra Nawi.”

Nawi lent his car to the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement activists so they could enter areas only available Israeli vehicles because it had Israeli plates.  When the car was stolen, JVP and others organized a successful campaign to raise money to buy Nawi a new car:

Because he was a politically convenient activist for the Israeli left and for the foreign anti-Israel movement, Nawi’s personal history was swept under the rug.

In 1995, Nawi was convicted of statutory rape of a 15-year old Palestinian boy. Nawi’s Wikipedia page has the details:

In 1995, Nawi was convicted of statutory rape of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, after their relationship had been reported to Israeli police by the boy’s parents in 1992.[17] The legal age for such relationships is 16 in Israeli law.[64] He made two appeals in what was a five-year legal battle, and, after plea bargaining before the Jerusalem High Court, was finally sentenced to six months prison in September 1997. Nawi himself admits he knew the boy’s real age: the boy, a hitchhiker, had asked him for a lift, he recalls, and, despite his own reservations, he maintains, appeared eager. They met on several occasions. He admits that the relationship was a mistake, irresponsibly put the boy in danger, and is something he will carry with him all his life.[16] He was jailed in November of that year, but released after three months. He has had other convictions, including illegal use of a weapon and possession of drugs – he freely admits to smoking hash – for private use.[16][65]

In 2011, Norris called off his Irish presidential campaign after it was revealed that in 1997 he had submitted a request to the Israeli court asking for clemency and a noncustodial sentence for Nawi.[16]

You can read more about Nawi’s rape conviction and how it rocked Irish politics in these posts:

Nawi worked for the Israeli-Palestinan “human rights” group Ta’ayush. The issue of foreign funding of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who devote themselves to criticizing Israel is a hot political topic in Israel now, with a law pending that would require reporting payments from foreign governments.

As leftist, foreign-funded NGOs have come under greater scrutiny, they began to worry about infiltration.  For example, the left-wing magazine 972, whose name comes from the international phone exchange for Israel, wrote on December 31, 2015, Hasbara group wants you to infiltrate human rights NGOs:

…. the idea that impostors might apply for jobs in a human rights organization — not as committed employees but to police their activities — is not impossible at all.

Jewish Voice for Peace, which is in the thick of the anti-Israel pro-boycott movement, also has worried about infiltration of anti-Israel groups:

The fears of infiltration were realized when an Israeli television station released the results of an undercover operation which caught a prominent Israeli leftist activist on tape bragging that he had helped send Palestinians to their death by ratting them out to the Palestinian Authority and others for selling land to Jews. Selling land to Jews is considered a capital offense in the Palestinian territories; remember, when you hear groups like JVP accuse Israel of “Apartheid” and ethnic cleansing, it is the Palestinians who want land completely free of Jews.

The activist caught on tape was none other than Ezra Nawi.

The Forward reports, Israeli Activist Says He Helps Kill Palestinians Who Sell Land to Jews:

A prominent Israeli campaigner for Palestinian rights was recorded saying that he helps Palestinian authorities find and kill Palestinians who sell land to Jews.

The recording was aired Thursday by the television program Uvda of Israel’s Channel 2. In it, Ezra Nawi, a Jewish far-left activist from the Ta’ayush group, is heard speaking about four Palestinian real-estate sellers, whom Nawi said mistook him for a Jew interested in buying their property.

“Straight away I give their pictures and phone numbers to the Preventive Security Force,” Nawi is heard saying in reference to the Palestinian Authority’s counterintelligence arm. “The Palestinian Authority catches them and kills them. But before it kills them, they get beat up a lot.” …

Nawi was also documented obtaining information from a Palestinian who believed Nawi was a Jew interested in purchasing land. Nawi is seen saying he intends to give that information to Palestinian security officials as well. According to Uvda, an activist with the human rights group B’Tselem helped Nawi set up the would-be seller in a sting operation in which the seller would be arrested.

The Jerusalem Post explains the risk to Palestinians who sell land to Jews:

In the Palestinian Authority, the penal code reserves capital punishment for anyone convicted of selling land to Jews. This law, which Palestinian officials defended as designed to prevent takeovers by settlers, has not been implemented in Palestinian courts, where sellers of land to Jews are usually sentenced to several years in prison. However, in recent years several Palestinian have been murdered for selling land. Their murders have remained unsolved.

The recordings and footage were collected by right-wing activists who secretly recorded Nawi.

This apparently is the news report and parts of the undercover video, in Hebrew (if I find an English translation, I’ll embed it)

Haaretz further reports:

The footage of Nawi was captured by a right-wing activist who reportedly became his close acquaintance. In the footage, Nawi, who is unaware of being recorded, is heard telling of four Palestinian landowners who contacted him, thinking he was also involved in the land trade.
“I give their photos and their phone numbers immediately to the [Palestinian] Preventive Security Force,” Nawi says in the recording. “The Authority catches them and kills them. But before they kill them they beat them up.”

In another recording, Nawi is heard talking about a Palestinian who “made deals with the settlers.” The Palestinian, Nawi says, let the settlers till his uncles’ lands in return for farming other lands. Nawi goes on to say that he handed the Palestinian’s name over to the Palestinian security services, and that the Palestinian later “suffered a stroke.”

The investigative report also shows Nawi and a Palestinian member of B’Tselem plotting to meet a Palestinian land broker with the alleged intent of turning him in to the Palestinian security services. In footage documenting the meeting with the land owner, Nawi says he is interested in buying lands near the settlements. Nawi collects documents from the land broker and tries to schedule another meeting, allegedly with the intent of notifying Palestinian agents and setting up an ambush.

A police complaint has been filed against Nawi, who says he turned in the Palestinians to protect his own integrity:

Rightist activists have filed a police complaint against a prominent leftist activist who was caught on tape describing the way he led to the deaths of Palestinians who sought to sell West Bank land to Jews….

Responding to the report, Nawi denied entrapping the broker. “The opposite is true. He came to me and presented himself as a land broker. Since I assumed he was sent to frame me and tarnish my name in the Palestinian community, I had no choice but to report the incident to the Palestinian Authority, lest I be deemed a land buyer. I regret that the report is part of the effort to sabotage my activities, and the activities of my friends alongside the Palestinians.”

Attorney Lea Tsemel told Haaretz on Saturday that there should be “no problem dealing with the complaint” that was filed against him.

“Being set up by someone who apparently pretended to be a land broker would have turned him into a collaborator in the eyes of the Palestinian Authority and population,” she said. “Turning to the Palestinian authorities was meant to prove his integrity.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted to Facebook (translation via JPost) that the video:

“unmasked radicals among us, whose hatred for settlements has pushed them over the edge to the point of delivering innocents for torture and execution. Those who encourage murder cannot continue to hide behind the hypocritical pretense of caring for human rights.”

B’Tselem, whose operative was caught on tape with Nawi, defended the actions:

B’Tselem acknowledged the deeds in a Facebook post, but chose to defend Nawajiya rather than to denounce him.

“Nasser Nawajiya, who is mentioned in the report, is a B’Tselem field operative in southern Har Hevron, but he is also a Palestinian from the village of Khirbet Susya… When he found out about a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who pretended to be a real estate salesperson and offered to sell land, part of which belonged to [Nawajiya’s] family, he reported it to the Palestinian authorities.

“This is the only legitimate channel for a Palestinian, given that Israeli authorities do not defend Palestinian landowners in the area from settlers taking over their land,” wrote B’Tselem.

The alleged “crime” that is being reported is selling property to a Jew, which is illegal under the Palestinian Authority and punishable by death.

B’Tselem added that it “opposes all torture and all executions…whether they are done in Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) cellars or in the Palestinian Authority,” but did not comment on the fact that the sales are reported with the full intention that the seller should be killed.

Needless to say, the video sting is creating a firestorm of controversy. 972 Mag is accusing the journalists involved of “joining attacks on Israel’s left” and others of using the Nawi sting video to “smear human rights groups.”

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall at the meetings of the anti-Israel and pro-BDS groups in the U.S.  Would the lofty public rhetoric about human rights and peace match what they say when they think no one is listening?

I think we know the answer to that, even without video.

UPDATE 1-11-2016: Wow –