High Noon will come a bit early this Wednesday. At 9:00 we have one of the most important High Court cases that RHR has ever been a part of. The results of this trial will affect the fate of hundreds of Palestinian homes throughout the Occupied Territories, perhaps thousands.
The classical Torah commentator Ibn Ezra says of the verse “Cursed be the one who subverts the law in the case of the stranger, the orphan and the widow.” (Deut. 27:19) ”Because they don’t have strength. The Torah mentions the stranger, the orphan and the widow because if a judge subverts the law in the case of others, they will appeal and make the matter known. However, the stranger, the orphan and the widow have no power to do so. In some versions, rather than “they don’t have strength,” it is written, “They have no helper.” (If one adds the letter “resh” to “Oz”(strength), one gets “Ozer.” (helper). On Wednesday you and I will be both strength and helpers, not in order to replace the voice of the stranger, the orphan and the widow, but rather to ensure that the voice not usually heard will this time be heard. We will to our best to insure that neither justice nor judges are mislead or subverted.
The Palestinian residents of Susya will be there (and probably the settlers of Susya as well.). Diplomats will be there. Our amazing legal team will be there. I hope a few rabbis will be there. Will you? It is extremely important that the High Court judges, the representatives of the army and the government internalize that we are not talking about a small matter that nobody cares about, and can therefore live and devour its prey in the darkness.
At first blush, it may seem that this is “only” about the threat to demolish the entire village of Susya, the homes of these simple cave dwellers of the South Hebron Hills. However, the truth is that the results will affect the fate of hundreds of Palestinian homes throughout the Occupied Territories, perhaps thousands. The outcome may well have an effect on our major appeal to return planning authority for Palestinian communities in Area C to Palestinian hands (Initial discussion on 25.7).
It is important that the courtroom be full on Wednesday, and in July.
“Regavim” is an NGO which actually has actually been a serial loser of most of its appeals. However, Regavim’s loses have strengthened the hand of the successive Israeli governments that have made planning a discriminatory tool that leads to dispossession and home demolitions. I have wanted to explode on the occasions that I have sat in the courtroom and heard Regavim pulling the wool over everybody’s eyes with misleading statistics and claims of reverse discrimination against settlers. We weren’t a party to these cases, and so we couldn’t say a word. The state had no desire or need to oppose this misleading picture, except to say, “But we are demolishing, and a lot. However, we are doing it at our own pace.” There has been general agreement that it is the duty of the state to demolish, and that one an actually compare between the situation of settlers, who are full partners in Israeli democracy, and Palestinians that don’t vote for and are not represented in the Knesset, the army, the courts, the Civil Administration, planning and zoning committees, among the inspectors, or almost any other body which determines their fate. Rarely has anybody, including the Court, asked whether the vicious cycle of discriminatory planning and demolitions is either ethical or fair.
Regavim may be only a tool in the hands of the government, but they and the courts and everybody else play their part. On Wednesday we will to our best not to let everybody continue to play this pretty little game. Rather, we will do everything possible so that the truth will come to light. We maintain the hope that, when presented with the truth, our judges will find the way to “Decide with justice for the lowly of the Land” (Isaiah 11:4)
See You in Court, Arik