Tag archive for "Rabbi Arik Ascherman"

General, Occupied Territories

The compromising of human rights and Israel’s status in the world

1 Comment 01 January 2018

Last Thursday, Ahed Tamimi’s detention was extended, making it appear she will be detained longer than the young man who attacked Rabbi Arik Ascherman in 2015.

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Occupied Territories

Court’s Message: Violent attacks on human rights workers are worth it

No Comments 18 December 2017

Before leaving Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), Rabbi Arik Ascherman, then serving as RHR’s president, experienced a violent attack which was filmed by our field director Zakaria Sadah. This Saturday night (December 16th) the Magistrate’s Court in Petach Tikvah ruled that the youth will not be handed a criminal sentence. Continue Reading

Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Press Releases

Six arrested in unrecognised Bedouin village Umm al Hiran yesterday morning

2 Comments 01 August 2016


Update from Umm al Hiran: Six arrested in unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al Hiran yesterday (July 31 2016) morning

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Field Reports, Occupied Territories

Field Report: Winter 2016 Ploughing and Planting

No Comments 13 June 2016

This winter, RHR assisted Palestinian farmers in over a dozen villages exercise their court-mandated right to safely and completely plough and plant on their agricultural lands located near settlements or outposts. RHR’s field team assists these farmers by providing a protective presence in situations where there is a threat of settler violence, and by assisting them in coordinating with the Israeli army for both access and protection in certain areas. Sometimes coordination is required with the army, and sometimes Palestinians request it out of fear for their safety.  Continue Reading


Rabbi Arik Ascherman May/June United States speaking tour dates

No Comments 16 May 2016

Rabbi Arik Ascherman, president and senior rabbi of RHR, will be in various locations across the United States at the end of May and early June 2016. Please look below for a listing of events and locations.

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General, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin

Yom Ha’atzmaut Thoughts 5776: The Challenge and the Hope

No Comments 10 May 2016

Rabbi Arik Ascherman


The Creation of Light, Gustave Dore


This post originally appeared on Rabbi Ascherman’s Times of Israel blog here. Please click on it and share in order to make it more visible and for a longer duration. 

Ever since Holocaust and Resistance Remembrance Day last week, we Israelis can’t stop talking about the speech given by the Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan. He stated that he saw some phenomena in Israel today similar to pre-Nazi Germany, and that Remembrance Day must be a day of soul searching. I think he was saying that our strength is our ability to recognize these phenomena in their early stages, and stop them.

Golan’s remarks predictably became a source of angry infighting between “left” and “right.” The left has widely repeated his remarks. On the right, he has been accused of saying that the Israeli army is like the Nazis. There have been calls for his resignation. He hastily issued a “clarification.” His remarks have apparently been repeated in the foreign press, eliciting charges that he has given fuel to our enemies and oppressors.

Amidst this fury, almost nobody actually related to the questions Golan raised. A notable exception was actually Amnon Lord, the right wing publicist. Lord said that Golan must be listened to, that he agreed with much of what Golan said: that we must deal with these challenges as a society, and that his only criticism was that Golan issued a clarification. I asked one woman argued with me on Facebook, “Do you really think that the Deputy Chief of Staff thinks that the army he serves in is like the Nazis? Golan was accused in the past of using the forbidden protocol of sending Palestinian civilians to enter into Palestinian homes before soldiers to draw fire or to see if the houses were booby trapped. Do your really think that he is a leftist extremist?” She simply kept repeating her claims, and didn’t answer my questions.

Probably, if we weren’t so absorbed with Golan, we would be hearing more arguments between the right that liked our prime minister’s speech, and the left that liked our president’s speech.

I haven’t read our new and controversial civics book, so I must be careful. However, I heard Dr. Irit Keinan criticizing it on the radio today, saying that it promotes an ultra-nationalist worldview in which we tolerate minorities because we have to. She read a quote from the book questioning whether the court system should be able to strike down decisions made by the majority, as represented by elected officials. I also haven’t paid enough attention to the controversy in order know who has taken which side in this debate, but I am willing to bet that it breaks down according to “left” and “right.”

I recently have had cause to reflect back on the terrible High Court decision of a year ago. (I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon delegitimizing the High Court, but I certainly thought this was a bad decision.) The Court accepted the State’s argument that basic rights such as the right of a community to plan and provide shelter for its residents can only be addressed in the context of peace negotiations! The Court knew that the State had even frozen the discriminatory existing planning to punish the Palestinians for joining the International Court. The Court therefore gave its consent to making the right to housing a matter of politics. Shelter became a matter of beneficence to be granted or withheld, rather than a right.

Sometimes I hear from people living in poverty with whom we are struggling around issues of socioeconomic justice, poverty, public housing and unemployment, that their friends don’t understand why they are cooperating with an organization that also helps Palestinians.

Hearing the right claiming that General Golan had said that the army he himself serves in is like the Nazis, and the joy of some on the left to hear what he had to say, it sunk in to what degree human rights, that are supposed to be above “left” and “right,” and should ideally actually unite left and right, have become just one more instrument for bludgeoning each other in the eternal and uncompromising war between left and right. I wanted to hear more voices like that of Amnon Lord that were capable of saying that we must focus on content. Even if we don’t agree on everything, we should be able to agree on the need to weed out violence and hatred of the “other.”

The common denominator between everything I have described is that one form of modern idolatry is that we put our “camp” before the One Whose Oneness and presence in all existence makes us all One. (Shema Yisrael-“Hear Oh Israel”…) When people speak of “national unity,” I am all for unity. But, God’s Unity is much broader than “national” unity, or even humanity’s unity.

Mired in these thoughts, it would be easy to sink and drown in them. However, “As long as deep within, the Jewish (and human) heart yearns” (HaTikvah).

In April we did a comprehensive public opinion study regarding Israeli Jewish attitudes to the Negev Bedouin in general, and Umm Al Hiran/Atir in general. I need to leave you in suspense for a while longer regarding the results. I can tell you that, yes we found fear and suspicion of the Bedouin, particularly because of misinformation. However, alongside the concerns, there was a clear majority who favored fairness, equality, keeping our commitments, compromising in order to reduce tension, and pragmatism. There is a a majority of Israeli Jews opposed to moving the Bedouin against their will and for recognizing villages. There is openness. Negative attitudes about the Bedouin change when people are exposed to facts and background. There is willingness to take this information into account.

What is really encouraging —in spite of everything I wrote at the outset — is that there is no gaping divide between right and left! To be sure, the left and the center are more open to our views regarding the Bedouin than the right. However, the right also was willing to listen, be pragmatic, and desired to be fair. I don’t know what will happen to these statistics when the subject next hits the headlines and becomes a political football batted around between left and right. For now, however, the results remind me of the story related in the Talmud that the rabbis were arguing about how to transport a shofar (ritual Jewish instrument made from a ram’s horn) on days when it is forbidden to carry objects from one domain to another. Finally they decided to get out of the study hall and see what the simple folk were actually doing. The simple folk would stick the shofar in the wool of a sheep (albeit a sheep probably on its way to be sacrificed.)

When we leave people to their own devices, they often (certainly not always) display logic and carry out the yearning of their souls. When they aren’t egged on, they don’t necessarily run to their right and left wing corners, but have the capability to aspire to equality, fairness and honoring all of humanity. These are the things that are supposed to be above and beyond right or left, even if there may be arguments between right and left about how to achieve them. We saw this in our study.

There was and is HaTikvah, the 2000 year old hope to be a free people in our Land. What gives me Tikvah, hope that we may one day truly achieve this both for us and for all people, is the Jewish (and human) spirit and the soul.

Click here for a Yom Ha’aztmaut prayer for the state of Israel

Click here for a special Yom Ha’aztmaut lesson plan

Parasha / E-Letter

Weekly Parasha: Akharei Mot

No Comments 28 April 2016

From now until August, the Torah reading in the Land of Israel will be different than the Torah reading outside of the Land of Israel because this Shabbat we in Israel read “Akharei Mot,” while abroad Orthodox and Conservative Jews and some congregations in other movements celebrate an additional day of Passover. Abroad, even those who only celebrate 7 days of Passover, will read Akharei Mot next week.  This means that our readers and supporters abroad will have an additional week to ponder each dvar Torah. Continue Reading

General, Justice in Israel, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Legal Work, Occupied Territories, Parasha / E-Letter, Refugees and asylum seekers

Passover Thoughts 5776: Where is God’s Glory?

No Comments 26 April 2016

As we near the final days of Passover, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, president and senior rabbi for Rabbis for Human Rights, shares his thoughts on the holiday. Continue Reading

Education, General, Justice in Israel, Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Legal Work, Occupied Territories, Parasha / E-Letter

Every Person Has Their Hour: Purim Thoughts for 5776

1 Comment 23 March 2016

“Perhaps some of the students, and some of you, are/were infuriated by any suggestion that the responsibility for what we had just seen lay with anybody other than the perpetrator, or perhaps Palestinians in general. Others may be angry with me for justifying violence against Palestinians by seemingly backing the dangerous assertion we actually hear from time to time, that Palestinians are descendants of Amalek.” Continue Reading

Justice in Israel-Negev Bedouin, Press Releases

All charges against Rabbi Ascherman dropped by police

No Comments 20 March 2016

In the spring of 2014, Rabbi Ascherman was arrested and falsely charged with obstructing police work as he peacefully protested the demolition of the Bedouin village Al Arakib. Continue Reading

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