In the picture: Lea Shemi holds a gas tank in case of being evicted from her public housing apartment. Her eviction was prevented due to the help of activists. Photo: Tamir Hajaj.
The Weekly Report of Rabbis for Human Rights
An Opening Word | Rabbi Arik Ascherman
The eve of Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day). Our Torah readings areb “Acharei Mot” (After the deaths) and “Kedoshim” (You shall be holy). Many times I have commented that Yom HaAtzmaut almost always falls during the week we read Kedoshim, or the week after. Is that just a coincidence? My college dorm mate Daniel Cheren once noted that, in Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones that we read on Yom HaAtzmaut, the bones first need flesh and skin and sinews. Only after that do we receive God’s spirit. As Rabbi Idit Lev writes, achieving independence was one important milestone for the Jewish people. However, she explains that we must now achieve the holiness that God demands of us. That is at least as difficult. Please read Idit’s essay and tell us what you think Zionism needs to be in our day.
Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch’s commentary to Exodus 22:20 teaches us that the Torah warns us not to repeat the “Horrors of Egypt” when one day we have a state. History has taught us the dangers of powerlessness, and the Torah teaches us the dangers of power. Power makes so many things easily accessible to us. However, Rabbi Engelman teaches us that Akharei Mot/Kedoshim instructs us how to deal with those things that are temptingly accessible, but forbidden. We look around us and see all the positive ways we have used our newfound power, and we sing Hallel. However, when we read below of evictions and threatened evictions from public housing or the demolition of homes and cisterns in the Negev and OT, and when we watch the film clip Shalom Eisner, we understand in these days of counting the omer that we have left Egypt, but still need Mt. Sinai.
With the help of “Liberated Beer Sheva” activists and our own attorney Becky Keshet, Lea Shemi’s eviction was prevented. Now starts Lea’s real fight for her home. Please follow us on Facebook where we will update all our activities to prevent evictions from public housing (the next activity is to stop the Eviction of Rivka, 61 yeas old). Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Yehoshua Engelman follows the interpretations of the concept of “holy”. Rabbi Engelman’s Dvar Torah for Acharei Mot – Kedoshim parashot is a fascinating search to find out why is the Torah speaks about forbidden relations. What is so frightening about sensuality and the body within the Torah?
- April 29th – Join us for the weekly protest at Lehavim Junction against the oppression of the Bedouins. We will meet at Lehavim Junction at 16:30.
- May 1st – We will join the May 1st protest – the people demand united workers!
- May 12th – The social protest is awakening and we will not let go until we achieve concrete changes in housing, education, welfare etc. The social change must include the weaker strata of society. On May 12th there will be protests in different locations throughout the country. Reserve the date and we will let you know the exact details in the next few days.
While Israel continues building settlements and “security” facilities, it also continues to plunder more and more Palestinian lands, expel Palestinians and demolish water infrastructures. The destruction of the water infrastructures causes havoc and makes it difficult for the local citizens to live in dignity. Here are some pictures of the destruction of water installations by the security forces, which took place in the past few days in the Majnuna area near Al Fawar refugee camp.
- On April 16th, Israeli security forces destructed cisterns and water pools in the village of Dura in the South Hebron Hills.
- On April 18th and 19th, the security forces demolished tents belonging to 5 Bedouin families in El Halile near Givat Zeev. In protest the family brought new tents that were demolished the next day.
- On April 18th, roads and supporting walls were demolished in Akaba.
- On April 23rd, cisterns in Halhul in the Negev were destroyed, and on the same day the security forces demolished a concrete house in the village of Um Batin, near Shofalim junction. Details will follow. On the same day, security forces also came again to demolish El-Arakib.
- In East Jerusalem, the police evicted a family of 11 people from their home in Beit Hanina. Arie King, who is responsible for many evictions of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem on behalf of Israeli settlers, was behind this one too. The next day a Jewish family entered the house and Arie King talks of building a settlement there of dozens of apartments and overtaking more properties. The evicted family’s history is complicated, but it is important to know that the family was not able to pay for a lawyer. The family bought the house in the 1930′s from someone who did not have the right to sell the house. Rabbis for Human Rights is checking whether it is possible to help the neighborhood to defend itself legally from additional evictions and from the expansion of settlements there.
Adv. Quamar Mishirqi-Asad brings us two cases of preventing access of Palestinian farmers to their lands. Fauzi from Jalud and the Abu Samra family have been expelled from their lands and cannot realize their right to work on their lands. Adv. Mishirqi-Asad tells the story of the Israeli bureaucracy that harasses the Palestinian population by not giving them access to their lands.
This last week we issued a condemnation of acts of vandalizing memorial monuments , as t00k place in the Jordan Valley; it is an outrageous and senseless act. Disregarding political opinions or attitudes to the Israeli Occupation, Judaism espouses maintaining the dignity of the dead.
Rabbi Kobi Weiss reports on RHR’s activity in Beit Shean. First,good news:Valery, who was evicted from the Jerusalem encampment, finally received her keys to an Amidar apartment after completion of renovations. We still are following her case because there are unresolved problems especially with the education system. Also “R,” whom we helped to receive an apartment, is now waiting for his new apartment (predicted within two months). It is interesting that every available Amidar apartment needs to be renovated. What can we learn from this about the maintenance of Amidar apartments? We receive more and more complaints about foot-dragging and postponing of requests to fix things in the apartments.
Last summer we heard about the municipality harassing of activists. This week we witnessed the harassing of an activist who received all the permits to build a residential unit and received an order to stop the work. The municipality’s claims are ridiculous, and the clerk implied it is because he is “causing problems.” If it will not stop, we will report about it in details.
Here is the letter Rabbis for Human Rights (together with Tarabut, Community Advocacy, Shatil, Hakeshet hademokratit Hamizrachit, Asifat Haohalim) to Mr. Yaacov Brosh – the Director of Amidar in order to stop the eviction of Rivka Levi from her public housing apartment (in Hebrew only). Adv.Becky Keshet represented us in this case and we are glad that Rivka Levi was not evicted.
What is Zionism in our days? Rabbi Idit Lev goes back to the past in order to put independence in a framework of social and moral responsibility.