Tag archive for "demolition"

General, Legal Work, Occupied Territories

Remembering the most vulnerable victims of housing demolitions

No Comments 22 April 2014

Often silent on-lookers, children are perhaps the most vulnerable victims of demolitions, and their suffering is all too often overlooked. As RHR prepares for our High Court date April 28th, we will have in our hearts all of the top students whose grades plummeted, the young children who searched for a beloved toy in the rubble, and the older children who wet their beds because they were too afraid to leave them in the middle of the night.  Read on for a look into how demolitions rip apart the lives of the children whose homes are destroyed. Continue Reading

General

Add a bit of human rights to your seder: RHR 5774 haggadah supplements

1 Comment 10 April 2014

It is our duty to carry on the Jewish traditions of compassion, equality, and justice. Please consider adding all or parts of the below Haggadah supplements to your Passover seder.

SederPlate

 IMAGE: Seder plate CC-Wikipedia

 

Rabbis for Human Rights Haggadah Supplements 5774

 

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 Rabbis for Human Rights 5774 Passover haggadah supplements

 

WHO SITS WITH US AT OUR SEDER?

Eloheinu v’Elohei Kadmoneinu (Avoteinu, Avoteinu vEmoteinu), our God and God of our ancestors, we are gathered around this seder table as b’nei khorin, free people commanded to remember our dark nights of oppression. Your Torah warns us never to become oppressors ourselves, reminding us, “For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Yet, when we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have been Pharaoh to other peoples, and to the disadvantaged among our own people. Our awareness that “In every generation there are those who arise to destroy us” often causes us to harden our hearts, and perceive hatred where it does not exist.

We therefore turn to You, as in days of old. Stand with us, so that our fears not rise up to be our taskmasters. Help us to banish Pharaoh from our hearts, and let others in.

With Pharaoh at bay, we become more painfully aware of the desecration of Your Image found in every human being. As with the plagues of old, our joy is diminished when we hear of those whose lives remain embittered. “Hashata Avdei,” “This year we remain slaves because of their oppression ” We remove additional drops of wine from our cup of celebration and renew our commitment to winning their freedom, thereby completing ours. We make room in our hearts and at our table for: (Choose one or more. One person can read out loud, and all participants can read the final section together)

Arabiyah has seen her home demolished six times.There is a hollow and vacant look on her face, and she has struggled with depression ever since the first demolition in 1998. Pictures drawn by children on our office wall testify to the trauma suffered by thousands of Palestinian children who left their homes in the morning, only to find rubble where their house once stood. The pictures are full of violence, blood and tears. With the numbers of demolitions skyrocketing both in the Occupied Territories and in the “Unrecognized” Bedouin villages of the Negev, Arabiya, the children and all the families of all the homes we have seen demolished over the years will be in our hearts as RHR goes to court on April 28t to return zoning and planning in Area C to Palestinian hands.

As we sit at our seder table in our secure homes, we leave a place for those whose tables lie under the rubble of their bulldozed homes.

Rivka struggles every month with only 700 shekels, after rent, for food, water, electricity, health care, transportation and municipal taxes. She wouldn’t even have that without the help of RHR. And, there was no open door or place at the table for the poor at the meetings of the Alaluf Committee given three months to find solutions to Israeli poverty.But, with our intervention, Rivka was invited to tell her story.

As we gather tonight to tell our people’s story, we know we must include the forgotten and untold chapters of those whose suffering has not ended, whose tears continue to fall, and who have nothing but the bread of poverty all year long. As we tell their story, we commit to ending their degradation.

Salim was born in the “Unrecognized” village of Umm El Khiran, after Israel moved his family from their lands near what is now Kibbutz Shuval in the 1950′s.They were given long term leases and promised that they would be able to stay in their new homes “until there are no more Jews or Arabs living on this land.” But now the government has approved building the Jewish community to be called “Khiran” on the rubble of their homes. They must move to a poverty and crime stricken township.

Tonight we are asked to recall Laban the Aramean, who changed our ancestor Jacob’s wages time and time again. Tonight we invite to our table those Israeli Bedouin who have learned that a promise is not a promise, and an agreement is not an agreement. As up to 40,000 Israeli citizens face expulsion from their homes and villages, they have a place in our homes and our hearts, and our commitment not to rest until justice is done.

Natalie breaks into tears every few minutes as she tries to explain why she and her young daughter were forced to squat in an empty public housing after being kicked out of the apartment her job didn’t allow her to afford. She has been on the waiting list for public housing for eight years. But, with successive governments seeking to eliminate housing, the supply is short and every time she gets close to the top of the list, she falls back again.

Tonight we dipherbs in salt water reminiscent of our ancestors’ tears. As we dip tonight we gaze at Natalie’s empty seat, her tears are our tears. As we sing Adir Hu and dream of the day when God’s house will be built, know that first our national home must have a home for all.

Ismail. A bitter wind courses through the South Hebron Hills. RHR returned Ismail and other families to Bir El ‘Id almost ten years after settler intimidation forced them to abandon their villages. The laughter of children was heard again where there had been only desolation. However, Ismail and his family have continued to pay a price since returning. They eked out a living from their flocks, while suffering arbitrary arrests, harassment from settlers and soldiers, tires slashed, water tankers emptied, midnight visits and much violence. Ismail could return to his cave, but everything he and others built was demolished. They build again. A year ago Ismail was brutally attacked by knife wielding masked settlers. The final straw for his children was when settlers attacked them and sent one to the hospital while working their land next to the Mitzpeh Yair outpost, but they were arrested and are about to stand trial. Ismail and the other families of Bir El ‘Id would gladly accept the bitterness of hard labor, were it not for the ruthlessness of army backed settlers.

Our ancestor’s lives were made bitter. As slaves they worked endlessly, with no reward for their labor. Ismail and all the residents of Bir El ‘Id sit with us tonight if we commit to their struggle to peacefully and safely live on their lands.

African refugees. Even after Israel’s High Court struck down the law allowing African refugees to be imprisoned for the crime of fleeing for their lives, the Knesset approved a new law creating “Open” detention facilities. The detained are the lucky ones. A fence prevents most from crossing our border. Traumatized Israeli soldiers tell how they defy orders when they can, but often helplessly watch those cannot cross being shot and raped by Egyptian soldiers.

As we open our doors to invite all who are hungry to come and eat, we remember the many doors closed to us over long years of persecution. As we await Elijah, the empty seat next to us waits for those who our fences prevent from arriving.

Even ma’asu habonim – “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.”

As we joyfully recite these words as a part of our seder, we pledge to build a homeland with a place for all those who are today rejected, ignored or oppressed. Tonight, they all have a place at our table.

Recalling the midwives of old, we know that the seeds of redemption are planted when we oppose Pharaoh’s command.

This year we also celebrate accomplishments. Lands have been returned to Palestinian owners, olives have been picked, trees planted and fields successfully sowed and reaped. Inside Israel the Bedouin displacement program has been frozen, while the public attention we have focussed on the Alaluf Committee on fighting poverty will apparently lead to a significant change in the recommendations for the better.

MAY THESE GLIMPSES OF WHAT COULD BE STRENGTHEN OUR RESOLVE TO STRIVE FOR WHAT MUST BE:

NEXT YEAR IN A JERUSALEM REDEEMED THROUGH JUSTICE 

The Four Children at the Seder Table: Which Child Am I?

As we celebrate this Holiday of Freedom, the ending of slavery, we ask, “Who am I, when I hear of human rights abuses? Who will I choose to be when I know that others are suffering?”

Will I be one who does not ask? Will I close the newspaper or turn off the television, the computer or the mobile device so that I do not hear or see? Will I turn my head and heart away?

Will I ask only simple questions? “What is this?” Will I ask what, but never why?

Will I let the evil impulse, my yetzer hara ask: “What has this to do with me?” Will I let the problem belong only to the victims and the do-gooders? Will I distance myself from those in need?

Or will I strive to act in wisdom, to ask: “What are the underlying causes of the problem and what needs to be done to stop the abuse and free the oppressed? What are the laws and what does Gd expect of me?”

May Gd open the eyes of those who do not see, the mouths of those who do not ask, and the hearts of those who do not care, and grant us the wisdom to open our hands to our fellow humans when they are in need – the hand of generosity, the hand of support, the hand of peace and friendship.

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Commentary to the Torah

You shall not wrong a ger (Non-Jew living among you and living by your rules) or oppress him/her, for you were gerim in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:20)

The great, meta-principle is oft-repeated in the Torah that it is not race, not descent, not birth nor country of origin, nor property, nor anything external or due to chance, but simply and purely the inner spiritual and moral worth of a human being, that gives him/her all the rights of a human being and of a citizen. This basic principle is further protected against infringement by the additional explanation, “For you were gerim in the land of Egypt.” Your entire misfortune in Egypt was that you were “foreigners” and “aliens.” As such, according to the views of other nations, you had no right to be there, had no claim to property, to homeland, or to a dignified existence. It was permissible to do to you whatever they wished. As gerim, your rights were denied in Egypt. This was the source of the slavery and wretchedness imposed upon you. Therefore beware, so runs the warning, from making human rights in your own state conditional on anything other than on the basic humanity which every human being as such bears within him/her by virtue of being human. Any suppression of these human and civil rights opens the gate to the indiscriminate use of power and abuse of human beings, to the whole horror of Egyptian mishandling of human beings that was the root of abomination of Egypt.

 Do not “wrong”, Do not “oppress”…means to be illegally deprived of material or spiritual possessions…[thus, the full implication is] – Neither by words nor by deeds shall you hurt a ger…[and] here the admonition against differentiating against gerim is directed primarily to the state as such. It is not to practice any discrimination and injustice against gerim because they are gerim.. It is not to impose heavier taxes or grant lesser rights than it does to the native-born; and in no ways is it to restrict them in the free exercise of any means of gaining their livelihood…The main point is not to limit where s/he can live, or taking away his/her hold on his/her possessions.

 

 

 

General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Student Tour April 4th: The Negev Bedouin and Unrecognized Villages

2 Comments 16 March 2014

Please join Rabbis for Human Rights Friday April 4th as we travel to the Negev to tour unrecognized villages, meet with Bedouin villagers and leaders, and learn about the dangerous human rights implications of the Prawer Plan.  RSVP with our offices. Please see details below. Continue Reading

Documents, General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Letter to Israeli Authorities regarding their entry into Al Araqib cemetery

3 Comments 11 March 2014

Yesterday, in an unprecedented event, the Israeli Authorities entered the cemetery of Al-Araqib. Although the village has been demolished 65 times, there has always been respect for the sanctity of the cemetery and the authorities have never before entered it.  In response, Rabbi Ascherman wrote a letter (below, followed by photos) to the appropriate authorities demanding an explanation, an apology and a promise that it will not happen again.  Continue Reading

Justice in Israel, Occupied Territories

Interagency call to end demolitions

No Comments 09 February 2014

2013 showed a serious uptick of housing demolitions and aid obstruction to the Palestinian Territories, specifically in the Jordan River Valley. In response,  25 local and international aid, faith, development and human rights organizations came together to call for an end to demolitions of Palestinian homes and obstruction of aid
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General, Occupied Territories

BREAKING: Demolitions in East Jerusalem

2 Comments 05 February 2014

For immediate release: Series of home demolitions and major tension in the East Jerusalem area

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FEBRUARY 5 2014: A home in the East Jerusalem village of Umm Lison was demolished today while security forces prepare to demolish two additional homes in Jabel Mukaber, also East Jerusalem. Currently, those demolitions are on hold due to an immediate halting order. The residents are resisting and five young Palestinians have been arrested thus far. At least one home was demolished in Beit Hanina as well.

These demotions come as a result of systemic planning  and land allocation discrimination in East Jerusalem, with Palestinians under-represented on planning committees. City planning attempts to preserve the city’s demographic balance by choking Palestinian construction and annexing to Jerusalem dozens of Palestinian villages which historically have not been connected to Jerusalem. This policy is no secret: the city’s master plan explicitly mentions the prevention of Palestinian building as a strategy for the preservation of “demographic balance” within the city.

General, Legal Work

High Court Rules on Susya

1 Comment 04 February 2014

PRESS RELEASE | February 4th 2014

The High Court of Justice rejects two petitions regarding the Palestinian village of Susya, enabling the IDF to evade responsibility for land theft

QuamarSusya residents

PHOTO: RHR attorney Quamar Mishirqi meets with residents of Susya

Rabbis for Human Rights:

“The High Court of Justice has enabled the State to evade its responsibility in preventing seizures of land belonging to Palestinian farmers. This is not a case of civil strife between two equal neighbours, but rather systemic military discrimination that has enabled and even supported coerced removal of Palestinian farmers from their lands.” Continue Reading

General, Legal Work, Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE: RHR High Court Hearings Consolidated

No Comments 29 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE | January 28, 2014

The High Court of Justice consolidates petition to expedite destruction of a Palestinian village with petition against blocking village residents from accessing their agricultural lands.

South Hebron Hills 1-3-2014 (5)

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the High Court of Justice will conduct an additional hearing on the right-wing organization Regavim’s petition demanding the demolition of the Palestinian village Susya in the South Hebron Hills. The High Court of Justice decided to attach the hearing on this petition to the hearing on Rabbis for Human Rights’ petition to allow Palestinian farmers from Susya access to their agricultural lands near the village, as well as to the settlement Susya.

Rabbis for Human Rights:

We cannot understand why the High Court of Justice decided to attach Regavim’s petition to demolish Susya to our petition against blocking the Palestinian residents from accessing their land. These are two separate issues.

Quamar Mishirqi-Asad, Attorney, Head of Rabbis for Human Rights’ legal department:

In several cases dealing with settler incursion into Palestinian land, we have seen the army attempting to shirk responsibility. In many instances, the army was negligent or even contributed to the incursion. Additionally, this is not a conflict between two neighbors of equal status, but rather a coordinated attempt by extreme ideological activists amongst the settlers to displace people without rights who are living under a military regime. Therefore, the security apparatus must take responsibility over this phenomenon accordingly.

READ: Additional background on Susya and RHR’s High Court Appeal

WATCH: Regavim against Susya (Israel Social TV)

General, Occupied Territories

South Hebron Hills Study Tour

4 Comments 13 January 2014

On Friday, January 3rd 2014, Rabbi Ascherman led a group of rabbinical, cantorial and education students  on study-tour to the South Hebron Hills, the major geographical focus of RHR’s legal department.  Students learned about the fascinating culture of the cave-dwelling Palestinians there, and visited Bir El ‘Id, a village abandoned for ten years due to settler intimidation until RHR’s legal team returned them to their homes in 2009, Palestinian Susya, where RHR’s legal department continues to fight on behalf of its residents to keep their homes and lands, as well as Ad Dirat. The group was joined by one of RHR’s attorney’s, Miya Keren.  Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories, Press Releases

Thank you!

2 Comments 07 February 2013

Photo: Guy | Taayosh
Thank you to the over 1,000 of you who in the space of a few days sent letters to President Shimon Peres asking for his intervention in preventing the demolition of the entire village of Susya.  If you have not already done so, please forward a copy of your letter to info@rhr.israel.net.  Please also forward to us any response you receive.  Thousands of you have entered our Susya website, and many of you have viewed the moving video blog posts filmed by award winning documentary film maker Ibtisam Marana.  Keep it up! We hope to have more posts (and perhaps more action requests) soon.

Many of you have anxiously enquired what happened in Court on Thursday.  We were cautiously optimistic about the attitude of the judges, and feel that we succeeded in making the point that neither the position of Regavim nor the position of the State is just.  The fact that there is no zoning plan allowing the residents of Susya to build legally, and the fact that the security forces are dragging their feet in dealing with cases of land takeovers, denial of access to lands, inadequate protection against violence, etc., are both functions of the power the State holds over Palestinians because Palestinians are not represented in the bodies controlling their fate.

 

B’Vrakha,

Rabbi Arik Ascherman                    Advocate Quamar Mishirqi Asad

                                                            Head of RHR’s OT Legal Department

Here is the RHR press release written after we received the Court’s interim decisions on Sunday:

 

On Sunday (February 2nd) the Israeli Supreme Court Issued Interim Decisions Following Last Thursday’s (31 January) Hearing Regarding the Palestinian Village of Susya

Last Thursday RHR represented the Palestinian village of Susya in Israel’s Supreme Court in one case where the extreme right wing NGO Regavim demanded the demolition of the entire village. The Court also heard RHR’s petition calling for an end of foot dragging by the Israeli Civil Administration in multiple examples of land takeovers, denial of access to Palestinian owned farming and grazing lands, and sources of water, etc.  In the first case the Court is giving the Government the time it requested to process an alternative zoning plan submitted by RHR in order to legalize Susya’s homes, and acceded to our demand that 90 days be given to create a second plan for additional homes not represented by RHR and outside the first plan. Regarding RHR’s petition, the Court issued an order demanding that the State report within 60 days on progress made. Last week over 1,000 of letters were sent to President Shimon Peres within several days asking for his assistance to ensure that the residents of Susya are not displaced yet again. The President can not intervene with the court process, but can ask the State to take place to safeguard the residents.

Regarding the petition of the far-right organization Regavim calling for demolition of the village, the court decided – in accordance with attorneys Avital Sharon and Kamer Mishraki of RHR, who represent the village – to grant an extension of 90 days, to allow for the preparation of a plan for the southern section of the village. The state has never provided suitable planning for Palestinian Susya, as it must. The planning system determining the fate of Palestinians in Area C is a military system in which Palestinians  are not represented. (It is as if the Palestinian Police were to plan Israeli towns without involving Israelis in the process). Granting the possibility of submitting plans by private parties in dialogue with the villagers is the least that can be expected in terms of justice and fairness.

In the petition that RHR submitted on behalf of the Susya residents against the methodical blockage of Palestinian access to their lands, the court gave the state 90 days to detail its plans. In paragraph 1 of the decision the court directs the State to address in detail each plot around Susya, and in the absence of a court decision, to provide a date by which the investigation will conclude.

Quammar Mishirqi Asad (Attorney heading RHR’s OT Legal Department): “Overall it’s a positive ruling, under the circumstances. You have to understand that the attempt to expell the Palestinian villagers of Susya to the town of Yata, far from their livelihood – their fields – demonstrates a readiness to trample human rights in favor of an unofficial political policy to annex parts of Area C – annexation of land without Palestinians. Any political program must be subject to the principles of human and civil rights.”

Rabbi Arik Ascherman: “The truth is, it is we Israelis who are on trial. How is it that we have created a country in which we that twice expelled families from their homes, reduced them to living on their farmlands in caves, destroyed those caves, and then issued demolition orders on every alternative shelter they built? The prophet Nathan once accused King David of being akin to a rich man who takes the one little ewe lamb of a poor man, “You are that man.” (Samuel II 12:7) When the ruling comes out, we will know if we are that state. King David recognized that he was the man.. If we recognize who we are today, maybe we will succeed in becoming who we want to be tomorrow.”

A Brief History of Palestinian Susya: In the 1980’’s the original village was designated an archaeological zone and cleared of its residents with no alternative accommodations; entry by Palestinians was barred, not even as visitors. With no choice the uprooted villagers moved to their nearby fields. All buildings deemed illegal are the result of forced expulsion, as is the destruction of the caves in which most of the villagers lived until 2001 (which is what forced them to set up tents). For more extended history please click Here!

What do you feel about the Supreme Court Proceedings on Thursday (31 January) Regarding the Palestinian Village of Susya?

April 28: RHR Planning Appeal against housing demolitions!

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