Worshiping the golden calf (illustration from a 1901 Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company)
The Weekly Report of Rabbis for Human Rights
The Counting of the Omer started and slowly we accumulate the first fruits of human rights control. Things are getting to the media and from there to the public. For example: our post on the expanding of the illegal outpost Avigail that was published last week, and this week we can read about this in Akiva Eldar’s article who quoted Rabbi Arik Ascherman in his column in Haaretz. Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mira Raz in her Dvar Torah to Parashot Tazrig Metzora chooses to write on the meaning of Tzraat in the Bible. In her special interpretation she separates pure talking from impure talking. Each of them creates a completely different world.
Aisha Sedawi ponders on the racism development in Israel. Through social stereotypes, she checks her being an Arab, and asks what is the meaning of this social perception on the Arabs and Jews lives in Israel. This week we participated in a future religion leadership convention, in order to learn how to save the environment and discover what is common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the area of the principles of lasting development.
Rachel Levi who was evicted from her home in Yavne asks important questions that were published in Mako. Even a tent is forbidden to Rachel Levi, who was evicted from her Amidar apartment in Yavneh after a 10 year struggle. To recap, we reported that Rachel was simply not capable of celebrating the Passover Seder, and wanted to spend Seder night in front of Housing Minister Atias’ home. She couldn’t hear the message of hope which is the essence of Passover, feeling that she had been returned from freedom to slavery. In the end, Rachel decided to pitch her tent in front of the Minister’s home on the eve of the 7th day of Passover. However, the Minister’s guards and the Jerusalem Police thought otherwise. She was removed after an hour. RHR is currently consulting with Rachel how to continue her struggle, including the appeal to the Housing Ministry and the appeal on behalf of her daughter that we helped to prepare. Rachel no longer sees her actions as acts of desperation, but rather as part of hr journey to return home. (Just as the counting of the omer at this season marks our journey from Egypt to Sinai, part of our journey home to Eretz Yisrael.) In response to a press release just before Passover, Perli Shachar interviewed Rabbi Ascherman regarding Rachel on Reshet B’ Radio.
A precedent setting vigil took place on last Monday. “HaMa’abarah” organized a demonstration against police violence in Jerusalm. Ovadia Ben Avraham, an Amidar resident whose eviction we helped prevent in February, told how in early march he was jumped by officers, beaten and asked about flayers. (Flayers with his picture were part of the campaign to prevent the eviction.) However, what made this vigil precedent setting was the fact Fahri Abu-Diab from Silwan and Muhammed El-Qurd from Sheikh Jarakh spoke. The common threat of police violence brought together Jews and Palestinians. The truth is that also the right wing suffers from police violence. Once there is a culture of police violence, it knows no bounds. After speeches in front of the Russian Compound, the group marched through the streets of Jerusalem. The previous day, an activist succeeded in recording a police officer who called to aggressively try to convince her that the vigil required a permit. RHR helped get an article about Ovadia in Haaretz (in Hebrew only.
In the midst of a mundane field tour on Monday, representatives of RHR, Ta’ayush and B’Tselem were called to the Susya archaeological site, where settlers were moving the fence surrounding the site. With the added intervention of RHR’s OT Legal Department, the work was frozen until a Civil Administration land expert visits on Tuesday. The Palestinians claiming ownership landowners filed police complaints. It is difficult to know how much additional land was going to be taken until we compare the pictures we took when the settlers were taking down the old fence and the pictures when the were digging the holes for new posts. The contractor claimed that it would be in the same place, but it seems that the change could be just enough to make it difficult for tractors to use the adjacent Palestinian road to their fields and to Yata. The settlers had clearly taken down a Palestinian fence on the other side of the road. An elderly man who had been with his wife in the nearby fields all day originally wanted to file a complaint against the settlers for threatening him, but in the end was afraid to do so.
“They used these clubs to hit Samicha”. For more pictures please visit our Facebook Album.
On Wednesday April 11th was Samicha Jihad Nawajaa attacked by a number of settlers. This attack took place under the open eyes of the security forces. The police did not do its job and did not come to investigate the case. During photographing the location of the attack we discovered a settlers’ invasion to Palestinian lands.
Discussion of the case of the water wells and the out house buildings. On Tuesday, April 17th, a discussion took place about the early parts of a case presented in 2005 against the destruction of water wells and outhouse structures, which were funded in part by the British government in response to the basic and urgent humanitarian needs of the people in the three towns in the area of Msafer Yatta. The State claims that its decision in this case is connected to the Court Case of the “Cave Neighbors,” saying that the wells and outhouses constitute a disturbance to the status Quo established in that Court Case. We claim that the status Que is not meant to freeze life in the area of the South Hebron Hills and that there is no connection to the question of the people living there’s residential status, whether temporary or permanent. The discussion here is about 15 wells for gathering rain water and up to 18 outhouse structures that serve about 350 people, as measured in 2005. The State claims that the Minister of Defense clarified his stance about the Cave Neighbors and that he will send it within 30 days. Discussed here is about 3,000 dunams of land, on which many villages are located.
This week we learned that work was renewed on the Abu-Freikh lands in El-Arakib. The commitment not to work on the four plots belonging to the A-Touri family was clear. We are now trying to determine whether that commitment extends to the Abu-Freikh lands. The two families cases went to two different District Court judges. In the case of Abu-Freikh, the judge accepted the State’s arguments that ownership previous to the 1953 expropriation is irrelevant, and that the Court had no authority to examine whether the expropriation was legal. The family has now appealed to the High Court. Judge Netzer was willing to hear the case, but cancelled a first hearing because she wants to hear what the High Court has to say regarding the Abu-Freikh family.
As a part of Rabbis for Human Rights activity in Beit Shean there is a cooperation with the Human Service department of Emek Israel college. Rivka Yones, a department student, does her practicing in the organization and takes a part in locating and escorting tenants. The organization’s activity is very appreciated by the academic staff that escorts the projects. In an exhibition where the different projects of the department will be shown our project is also represented. Here is the (Hebrew) poster that shows our project.