Activists for public housing reading a letter in West Jerusalem on September 3, 2012, summoning the heads of the ministry of housing and building, and the heads of Amidar & Halamish (the largest public housing companies in Israel), for a public trial that will be held on the October 3, 2012. Photo by: JC/Activestills.org
Intro – Rabbi Arik Ascherman
I was abroad when the veteran peace activist, educator and resident of Neve Shalom -Wahat El Salaam Ahmad Hijazi was killed in a traffic accident, along with his son. In recent years I followed his career from afar (Despite what many think, the activities of human rights organizations, peace organizations and co-existence organizations are distinct.) However, I clearly remember how he set upon his path, as his beginning and mine were intertwined.
From 1983-1985 I worked for “Interns for Peace” as a community worker promoting better relationships between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Most of that period lived in Tamra in the Western Galilee, the village where Ahmad grew up.
One day a teenager stopped two of the women in our team in the middle of the street, and began to shout at them regarding all of the terrible things the Jews had and were doing to Israeli Arabs. They were quite taken aback. So, they were quite surprised when he showed up at the women’s house the next day (To respect the traditional culture, we had separate houses for men and for women.). He explained that in the village he didn’t feel that he had anybody else he could open up to and speak freely about his feelings. In ongoing conversation he spoke about the holocaust (his words) that the Jews were perpetrating on Arabs. At the time, one of our advisers was the legendary Dov Yermiya. Dov said, “Let me explain to you about the Holocaust,” and took Ahmad and a few of his friends to the Ghetto Fighters Museum. The next day Ahmad brought the essay he had written the previous night, after the museum visit challenged many of his assumptions and gave him a new perspective and empathy towards the Jewish people.
As the link above indicates, Ahmad went on to participate in programs at Neve Shalom-Wahad El-Salaam, eventually moving there and becoming a central figure in the Israeli peace and coexistence movements. One of the topics in this week’s Torah portion is the bikurim (First Fruits) that farmers were commanded to bring to the Temple in Jerusalem. Once somebody said to me that it takes much faith to b a farmer. You must believe that if you stick these little seeds in the ground, something will come of it. If you work hard, investing time and money, the weather will cooperate, there will rain at the proper time, etc.
When my friends and I worked for Interns For Peace we had many difficult days, and dealt with feelings of inadequacy and failure. However, today I see the fruits of what we sewed, both in ourselves and in the people like Ahmad whose lives we touched. Ahmad was a special young man in his own right. He would have undoubtedly been a person of great achievements even if he had never met us. However, they might have been in an entirely different field.
Our work is also an act of faith. Even as I send my condolences to Ahmad’s family and community, and wish a full recovery to his wife Maram (who was also in car), I am grateful for his life and the privilege to have been a part of it. May his memory be for a blessing. Shabbat Shalom, Arik
The prophetic great light of the end of days is kept for those who succeed in finding light in the darkness of our existence, in the miserable protest tents, in the periphery, among the weak and vulnerable, where there is no light, and for those who do not give up on light in spite of the darkness and continue to look for it, like the cockerel. Dvar Torah on parashat “Ki Tavo” written by Rabbi Kobi Weiss.
- Within the next month or so the olive harvest will begin. Every year at this time Palestinian farmers from a number of villages across the West Bank receive threats to their safety, are denied access to their land or have their olives stolen, their trees poisoned, or even cut down altogether
- Help prevent the eviction of the Naftali family from Or Yehuda. Come and spend time in their house with other activists. Their address: 32, David Elazar, Or Yehuda.
- Wednesday September 5th 2012: Following the arson of the monastery in Latrun and the spraying of malicious graffiti against Christianity and its symbols, we will have a “Tag Meir” event where we will express our solidarity with the attacked priests and against the humiliation of a religious institute In Israel. The event will take place in the square of the monastery at 19:00. The program will include a musical ensemble and a interfaith prayer. We, Rabbis for Human Rights as a part of the “Tag Meir – Light instead of terror” coalition will take a part in this event. For more information please call Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann – 050.2110639
- Friday September 7th 2012 we will meet to protest at the Hamadalla family home in Ras Al Amud.
- Sunday, 9.9.2012,15:00 – Demonstration for the rights of the Negev Arabs, Lehavim Junction.
- The people who were damaged by the public housing will prosecute in public courts the government and the housing companies for neglecting and drying out the public housing.
At the end of 20 years of legal battles, this morning settlers entered a room in the house of a Palestinian family in Ras al-Amid in east Jerusalem. The court and the Bailiffs determined that the room,15 metres in size, belonged to them – and that the rest of the house remained in the possession of the Hamdallah family (in photo). We joined in the effort to stop the eviction but without success.
A success in the struggle: As we know it was supposed to be a wine festival in the old Mosque yard in Beer Sheva and it aroused the anger of the Bedouin community and also the social organization’s protest, Rabbis for Human Rights, the Forum for Co-existence etc.. In the last hours an agreement was achieved between MK Taleb Asana and the police, and the municipality of Beer Sheva. According this agreement, there will be no wine in the Mosque area.
Rabbis for Human Rights congratulates the Ta’ayush movement that established two precedents, in two days. One of the activists wrote: “Yesterday we succeeded in stopping the building in the outpost of Mitzpe Yair,the first time that vehicles, a cement mixer and a concrete pump, which were helping the illegal building in the outpost, were blocked by the administration. A settler who attacked one of the Ta’ayushactivists was arrested and handcuffed. Maybe, in spite of everything, there is still hope…”
Watch: Rabbi Arik Ascherman at the demonstration in protest at the worsening of conditions at the Mercaz Klita in Mevasseret Zion
This week we joined in the demonstration with hundreds of members of the community in protest at the worsening of conditions at the Mercaz Klita in Mevasseret Zion near Jerusalem(rent prices there have jumped hundreds of a per cent within two years). During the demonstration we discovered that workers at the Mercaz Klita had warned the residents not to take part in the demonstration. Zena Roagaoi received an eviction order from her home in the Mercaz Klita after she was marked out as one of the leaders of the struggle. The management of the Mercaz Klita and the Jewish Agencyin Mevasseret Zion chose not to go to their offices on the day of the demonstration. Rabbi Arik Ascherman said at the demonstration: “In spite of harassment and in spite of intimidation, we are here. We see the highest priority in cooperating with every section of the community for improving their housing conditions as part of the overall fight for housing in Israel.”
Sometimes even the semblance of freedom brings happiness - Aisa Sidawi ponders upon the sight of thousands of Gaza Palestinians, whom the “enlightened” occupier, out of “graciousness,” allowed to visit the coast of the city of Yaffo, on the occasion of the festival of Eid al-Fitr.
Last Thursday (28.8), Rabbi Yehiel Grineman and Netanya Ginsberg went to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to visit the youth who was attacked in Zion Square and the Palestinian family which was attacked in Bat Ayin. Read about the victims of Israeli violence.
People from the civil administration have been active in – among other places – Susya and south of Dahariya. The Civil Administration Coordinator in the territories said that the building is Illegal, water cisterns have recently been built on state land. Amira Hass reports in “Ha’Aretz.”
Everyweek Rabbis for Human Rights read the Dvar Torah for the weekly parasha on Kol Hashalom Radio. ”How do you say “Price Tag” in Arabic? An article in “Haaretz” written by Akiva Eldar that mentions our activity.
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