Tag archive for "Palestinians"

General, Occupied Territories, Press Releases

Press Release: Price Tag – About 200 Trees, Some Planted as Part of a Coexistence Initiative, Were Cut Down in the Village of Qusra | Settler Violence and Preventing a Palestinian Farmer from Entering His Lands

4 Comments 02 January 2013

Suspicion of a Price Tag act – This morning about 200 olive trees were discovered cut down in the Palestinian village of Qusra. 69 of them were planted just a week ago by Rabbis for Human Rights activists in an event specifically billed as a response to other such vandalism in a village all too accustomed to it.

In all, 200 trees were planted then, about the same number that were cut down last night. At the same time, near the Esh Kodesh settler outpost, settlers attacked Palestinian farmers who had entered their lands after coordinating with the IDF. The attackers apparently came from Esh Kodesh and were still in the area when security forces arrived; the latter had still not cleared the settlers from the Palestinian lands (Arutz Sheva).

WATCH: Settler attacks


The IDF dispersed Palestinian farmers using tear gas when the farmers tried to enter their lands after coordinating with the Civil Administration and after being attacked by the settlers.

At about 9:00 today, near the Esh Kodesh outpost, Fawzi Ibrahim entered his lands – lands that the IDF had declared off limits to settlers; the settlers had repeatedly attacked. The entry was coordinated with the IDF. A little after he got there, he says, settlers arrived – the Stroock family  and others – and began throwing stones at him and his 12 family members and workers. He claims that after they responded in kind, the army came and fired tear gas grenades at them. In the IDF’s preliminary investigation it was claimed that the tear gas was aimed at the settlers. Right now the settlers are still there and not the Palestinian owners.

A RHR petition to the Supreme Court prompted the IDF to issue a restraining order against the settlers, and resulted in a directive to ensure Palestinian access to their lands (that in the interim seems theoretical). It should have meant that Fawzi could enter his lands under reasonable terms, but that has not happened.

Fawzi spends quite a bit of money to work his land, but faces difficulties that drive his investment down the drain. For example, he bought NIS 10,000 worth of seeds – and if he cannot plow now he will miss the entire planting season and suffer tremendous economic damage.

General, Occupied Territories

Operation Groundswell – Last Day in the Field

No Comments 10 August 2012

These are some photos from the last day out in the South Hebron Hills with “Operation Groundswell” this summer. Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories

In East Jerusalem, only Palestinian property seized as ‘Absentee’

4 Comments 07 March 2012

1950 law enabling transfer of Palestinian property to state continues to be basis for J’lem evictions (Photo: Activestills)

To this day, Palestinians are being legally evacuated from their properties in East Jerusalem due to the application of a racist 1950 Israeli law. Continue Reading

General, Occupied Territories

“Legal” discrimination in the occupied territories

No Comments 06 March 2012

Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann describes the discriminatory application of the “law” in the occupied territories by two events in the villages of Burin and Farata. The Palestinian can not receive real protection from the Israeli security forces. In these moments of darkness, Rabbi Grenimann finds RHR’s work important and enlightening. Continue Reading


How good are your tents O Jacob! How good are our tents?

2 Comments 05 July 2011

Balaam and the angel, painting from Gustav Jaeger, 1836.
This week’s Parasha contains possibly one of the most famous passages in the torah – known to anyone who has been inside a shul as it lent itself to our liturgy – “How good are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!”. The famous blessing of the prophet Balaam, sent by the king Balak to curse the Israelites. Balaam, a true prophet asked G-d, on receiving orders from Balaam that he wished to hire him to curse the Israelites, asked G-d whether he should go, and was told that he may but that he should only say what G-d told him to say, and thus, instead of cursing the Israelites he ended up blessing them.

Understandably the Rabbinic tradition, not overly concerned with aesthetic matters took the original meaning of Balaam’s blessing from the realm of the aesthetic and made it into a statement of ethics. Naturally the rabbis understood Balaam to have given a blessing that related to the morally upright behaviour of the Israelite people, rather than simply their tent making skills.

In a famous midrash (brought by Rashi, on the verse), the rabbis explain that the meaning of Balaam’s blessing is that the Israelites displayed appropriate respect for each other by positioning their tents in such a way that preserved the dignity and privacy of each other. This is not the “pshat” explanation of the verse – rather it reflects that the Rabbis assumed the “goodness” which Balaam saw in our tents to be a measure of the ethical standards that were apparent from the way the Israelites went about building their homes, their lives and their communities.

The unrecognized village El-Arakib demolished, Aug 2010, Israel  cc: flicker by By Physicians for Human Rights - Israel

The unrecognized village El-Arakib demolished, Aug 2010, Israel cc: flicker by By Physicians for Human Rights - Israel

Each year, as we come to this Parasha, and we read the story of the prophet who could not go against G-d, I ask myself – what would Balaam say if he saw our dwelling places today? What ethical judgements might he make? If he were to see any tents at all, would they be those of the “unrecognised” Bedouin villages of the northern Negev? What would these tents say about the ethical behaviour of the children of Israel? If G-d did not let Balaam lie, what truth would he have to tell us with regard to these tents? Would they be called goodly?

As for camps – what does the sight of Palestinians living in refugee camps say about our ethical behaviour? How did we allow this to still be the case so many years on? (Of course this is a deliberate ploy by both Palestinian leadership and the leadership of other Arab nations – but do the prophets of the world not ask of us an even higher standard?) But it is far too easy to bemoan just our treatment of “the other” in our society – for whom our tent openings symbolise an unwelcoming home – but also within Jewish society in the land of Israel today – would our tents pass muster?

Zealous Violence

At the end of Parashat Balak, we are told the blood chilling story of zealous violence committed by Pinhas – on the background of a breakdown in societal cohesion symbolised by a deadly plague. The torah’s approach to Pinhas seems ambiguous – on the one hand, G-d seems to see his act of zealotry to have been carried out on his behalf. On the other hand, Pinhas’ reward also seems to be a form of rehabilitation – he is given the “Brit Shalom” – the covenant of peace. Does that imply that perhaps his destiny was to learn peaceful ways? According the rabbinic tradition (Yalkut Shimoni, 771), Pinhas did not die, but lived on in the form of Elijah the prophet – who also did not die, and was also “zealous for the Eternal”). Is it possible that the Brit Shalom is recognition that Pinhas did mean well, but he needed some time to learn what G-d wanted. G-d does not want our zealotry for his sake – but rather we should be servants to each other – we should be welcoming to each other – our tents should be tents of peace, in which everyone is welcome, like that of Avraham Avinu. In another midrash, (Avot D’Rabi Natan Mishna 7), we are told that Eliyahu (who is also Pinhas) was rebuked for “defending the rights of the father (G-d) but not the son (the people of Israel)” while Yona defended the son and not the father and Jeremiah defended both. It seems as if it is Jeremiah who is being held up as the role model. Another Midrash is even clearer – once again in Yalkut Shimoni (Kings 1, remez 217), G-d makes it clear that Eliyahu’s zealotry is not what is required from a prophet of Israel, and suggests that it is because of this zealotry that god fires him and asks him to appoint/anoint Elisha in his stead.

It is unclear if Pinhas ever learnt his lesson – but the inclusion of the beginning of his tale seems to contradict what we read earlier in the story of Balak, Balaam and our beautiful tents?

The Connection between Pinhas and Balaam

When seeking to understand the connection between Pinhas and Balaam’s blessing, we must realise that there is a contradiction. How is it possible that within a few short chapters of being blessed for our beautiful community, we are hearing of licentious behaviour, G-d-sent plagues and political violence? Were our tents really ever so beautiful? It simply cannot be that Balaam truly saw a just society living in the encampment – not only because of the evidence offered later in the parasha, but because logically, we know that such a society does not exist. Rather Balaam’s story comes to teach us that we should live as if a true prophet is always coming to search us out, is always looking at how we build our home. What do our entranceways and checkpoints look like? How welcoming are we? How do we treat each other? The foreign prophet could be named Balaam or Goldstone – but it is not for the prophet’s sake that we should be on our best behaviour – but our own. We should desire to look around and say, “How goodly are our tents.” We must remember that when we cease to act righteously to one another, zealotry and violence will surely follow – both among ourselves and towards those around us.

May we create our own Brit Shalom, and not need to be taught it by Hashem as a rehabilitative exercise.

May we merit finding ourselves in goodly tents and may we be a blessing to ourselves and to all nations.

Shabbat Shalom


Parasha / E-Letter

Love of Country | The Light of the Human Rights | Checkpoints During the Holiday |

No Comments 12 May 2011

Parashat Hashavua “Behar”: What Will Be, What Was and Tora Thoughts

An Opening Word, Love of Country | Rabbi Arik Ascherman |

I just returned from two weeks of speaking and fundraising in the U.S.  The timing was organized around the fact that Rabbi Ehud Bandel and I accepted the Gandhi Peace Award on May 1ston behalf of RHR. (Last week we published Rabbi Bandel’s remarks.  Mine weren’t written down, but we will eventually get the video.)  However, as I told just about every audience, there was also a clear end date to my trip: Israeli Independence Day.  Just as I wasn’t going to leave Israel and my family before Passover ended, I wasn’t willing to be anywhere on Yom HaAtzmaut other than celebrating here with my family.  As it turned out, that also allowed me to be proudly present when our OT Legal Director Qumar Misharqi-Asad lit a torch at the annual alternative beacon lighting ceremony.  The slightly jarring aspect of my return was flying on Yom HaZikaron with there being no recognition of this being our Memorial Day.  (I didn’t fly El-Al.)

These “Israeli moments,” are not unique to me.  There are those who try to claim that we in the HR community are somehow detached from our Israeliness, and from our fellow Israelis.  We sometimes are told, “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you just go live somewhere else?”  Many of us in RHR and in the wider human rights community could do just that, but we don’t want to.  We are Israelis in our heart and soul.  When I meet with colleagues I frequently hear, “This is my country.  My family and friends are here.  Hebrew is my language (For some, Arabic is their mother tongue – also an official language of the State.)  Where else would I want to go?” Continue Reading


Meet the executive director of Rabbis For Human Rights-North America: Rabbi Jill Jacobs

1 Comment 04 May 2011

The new executive director of Rabbis For Human Rights-NA, Rabbi Jill Jacobs discusses Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and why Israel is most responsible for the failure in reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.


Occupied Territories

When the Rabbi meets the Imam

3 Comments 04 May 2011

Following the fire at the Mosque in Hawara, Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann met the Imam of the Mosque, Imam Murad Udi. Rabbi Grenimann expressed his sorrow and said that he hoped it was not an act of arson. Both religious leaders requested a move away from extremism and for both sides to live together and respect each other. Continue Reading

Legal Work, Occupied Territories

Land Dispute and Land Rights in the Holy Land

2 Comments 17 April 2011

Readers of the Bible are no doubt aware of the Divine promise made to the ancestors of the Jewish people, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that their descendants would inherit the land of Israel. Continue Reading

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