Eritrean refugees living in Israel take part in a protest outside the Eritrean embassy in the city of Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, ay 25. 2012. The protesters were calling to take down the dictatorship regime in Eritrea, and to free all the political prisoners. Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org
The Weekly Report of Rabbis for Human Rights
Our Human Family | Opening Words by Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Brighton Beach Memories is the award winning and semi-autobiographical novel of the American Jewish playwright Neil Simon. It takes place in 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression, and on the eve of the Holocaust. The house is overcrowded, as they have taken in a widowed aunt and her children. Jack (the father) is holding down three jobs to make ends meet, and eventually suffers a heart attack. Tensions between family members abound. In the final scene, the entire family sits around the table to read a letter informing them that their Polish cousins have escaped, and are en route to America. They have no idea how they are going to fit more people into the house, or feed them. But, Jack stops the conversation and makes it clear that there is no question as to whether they will take them in, “They’re family.” The African refugees fleeing for their lives are not our biological brothers or sisters, nor even distant cousins. They are not part of our Jewish family. But they are created in God’s Image, and therefore part of our human family.
In recent days I have heard some say that they are opposed to violence or incitement against refugees and asylum seekers, but they really must be “humanely” returned to the places they are fleeing from. We are told it is now safe to go back to South Sudan, despite the ongoing war. South Sudanese refugees tell the very different story of those who have died after returning. These statements advocating “humane repatriation” are much better than pogroms, or calling refugees “a cancer,” but they are not acceptable.
We do not need to take in every person coming here for economic reasons. We must find ways of protecting the Israelis living in South Tel Aviv (In “Shavuot Thoughts” I made some concrete suggestions.), and we must find third countries who can take in some of those who make their way to Israel because it is one of the few places they can reach by foot. It is true that we don’t have the money necessary budget or space to absorb all those who would come here if they could, and I even sympathize with those who raise questions how large numbers of refugees might affect our national culture.
The task seems impossible, the challenges seem insurmountable, and I have no idea how we will succeed in doing it. But, there can be no question whether or not to welcome them with open arms. They’re our family!
Today Ruth Would be Considered an Infiltrator and Forbidden from Gleaning - Shavuot Thoughts for 5772 on Acting with the Solidarity of Ruth and Naomi, and Looking for Boaz.
RHR tries, through an appeal to the Supreme Court, to compel the security forces to fulfill their obligation to protect Palestinian farmers from escalating harassment (Hebrew).
Rabbi Kobbi Weis brings us good news from Beit Shean - We were informed today that our organization’s activity in Beit Shean was chosen by the Human Resources department of Emek Izrael Collegeas the excellent project. Our project was chosen out of dozens of projects by other organizations. It is exceptional because the student who does her specialization with our organization is only a second year student, and yet she was chosen over other third year students. It is very important to us that an academic institution recognized our social activity. As a result of this, we will hopefully be able to enlist more students next year. Many students aim to work in High Tech and in business because they feel that there they can best utilize what they have learned. Emek Izrael’s decision to give us the prize shows that the college sees in social projects great worth, not only morally but also professionally. This will contribute to the prestige of our organization and of other social organizations.
A wonderful tribute for Rabbis for Human Rights: Leo, a British Jewish child, decided that in honor of his Bar Mitzva by going on a bicycle journey fund raising for Rabbis for Human Rights. The journey raises funds for justice and peace. Until now Leo rode 72 KM on his bicycle and raised over 750 Pounds.
On the occasion of Hag Hashavuot, which is also the Festival of Giving of the Torah, we phrased the Ten Commandments for fair employment, and published it in the main protest website. Following the escalation of settlers violence in Yitzhar, Zachariya Sidda, the field coordinator of RHR was interviewed to YNET and said that “such clashes are a weekly occurrence in the area. He added that the Palestinians often complain that the Israeli security forces fail to provide them with the necessary protection against such assaults.” Thanks to field activists, the settlers’ violence against Palestinians was reported on Channel 2.
Messages from other organization:
- No to Violence! On Wednesday evening, May 23, over 1000 Israelis protested against African asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv. At the end of the protest, some of the Israeli protesters committed terrible acts of violence against the asylum seekers. This situation is unacceptable and the Government of Israel needs to hear our voices!
- First day of Sixth year of the “day at the beach” project, bringing Palestinian children to the Mediterranean, to which they normally cannot reach because of life under Israeli occupation.