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American-born Rabbi on Trial in Israel
by Ariel Natan Pasko
19 January 2004Israeli Flag

Reform Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman -- leader of the left-leaning Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) -- is charged with blocking police from demolishing illegally built Arab structures in eastern Jerusalem in two incidents last year.


There they go again, those "wild weeds from Brooklyn," as former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin called them, religious Jews and rabbis at that, starting trouble in Israel. Arik Ascherman is currently on trial along with two other Israeli activists. They don't deny blocking the bulldozers, but said the demolitions were illegal and he had a "duty" to stop them.

Were they trying to stop the bulldozing of "illegal outposts?" Not a chance. No, it was Israel's bleeding heart liberals...

Reform Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman -- leader of the left-leaning Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) -- was charged with blocking police from demolishing illegally built Arab structures in eastern Jerusalem in two incidents last year. His co-defendants, Shai Eliezer Tzvi and Omer Ori, were charged with joining Ascherman in the second incident.

Arabs around the country regularly build houses on vacant land or build additions to existing structures, without getting the necessary building permits. The Arabs -- both "Palestinians" and Israeli citizens -- generally refuse to recognize Israeli authority to issue permits. And, since every time Israel wants to enforce the building laws, Arabs, Israeli leftists, and their international followers turn it into an "international incident," Israel only infrequently carries out the court ordered demolitions. Despite the protests, both houses were torn down.

Israel reunified the entire city of Jerusalem -- its eternal capital  -- including the eastern side, when it was liberated in the 1967 Six-Day War. Palestinians claim the eastern part of Jerusalem -- home to most of the city's Arab residents and the location of Jewish holy sites -- as the capital of a future Palestinian state. With this conflict as a backdrop, Ascherman said in an interview, "Our defense is basically that because the policy is illegal and immoral, that it's a Jewish and Zionist duty to stand in front of the bulldozers."

How could it be a Jewish and Zionist "duty" to promote Arab "rights" in the Jewish People's Holy City?

The State Prosecutor, Shlomit Landes, told the judge in the Jerusalem Magistrate Court that the activists had illegally prevented police from carrying out orders, and that the legality of home demolitions was not the issue before the court. They simply broke the law, in trying to prevent the police from carrying out orders due to Arab building code violations.

But Ascherman has international backing, the North American branch of RHR. Simcha Weintraub, a Conservative rabbi from Brooklyn, presented a letter to Israeli officials in the US, signed by more than 300 American rabbis in support of Ascherman breaking the law.

A few months ago, MK Avraham Burg (Labor) turned to Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein with the intention of filing criminal charges against the "Forum of Rabbis for the Jewish People & the Land of Israel," numbering 500 religious leaders. The rabbinical organization had released a statement, that the Israeli government does not enjoy popular support for its policies vis-a-vis the Quartet's -- US, EU, UN & Russia -- Road Map plan or to take any steps towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Burg claimed they broke the law with their statements and interference in carrying out government policy.

Why hasn't MK Burg condemned Ascherman and Rabbis for Human Rights?

Back in October 2002, during the height of the Left's hysteria campaign against "settlements," then Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg called the people protesting at Gilad Farm in Samaria, "Jewish Hamas." They were protesting the expulsion of people from their homes on legally owned Jewish land, that for political purposes, the Sharon government found convenient to expropriate, calling it an "illegal outpost."

If Jews protesting the theft of their property are "Jewish Hamas," what are Ascherman and his group? Where is Burg now?  

At the same time, Meretz MK Yossi Sarid said, "All of the settlements were created by law-breaking and violence and I hope the spread of this cancer will end quickly. The outposts are worse than suicide bomb belts." Does Sarid endorse Arab law-breaking, while condemning Jews? What about the law-breaking of his friends, Ascherman and Rabbis for Human Rights?

Illegal Arab building in Jerusalem or elsewhere undermines Israel's sovereignty. Radical leftists, whether rabbis or not, who help the enemy in wartime -- Israel has been at war for over three years now -- damage Israel's image abroad and undermine its resolve to win. Over 1,300 Jews have been killed in the Oslo War. If Ascherman's actions strengthen the resolve of the Palestinians to continue fighting -- i.e. killing Jews -- will Sarid now say that Ascherman and his group are "Worse than suicide bomb belts"?

Where is Yossi Sarid now?

But worse, Ascherman and RHR are known to regularly support the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. For example, following the murder of shepherd Yair Har-Sinai in July 2001 by terrorists from Yata, RHR organized a campaign to protest the Israeli Army's security measures imposed upon the population of that hostile Arab village, Yata and the environs. It's from that area, that the murderers of Har-Sinai, Dov Dribben, and 14-year-olds Kobi Mandel and Yosef Ishran came. Ascherman has also admitted, according to investigative journalist David Bedein, that his organization raised and distributed money for Palestinian Authority-area Arabs, based on recommendations by LAW -- the Palestinian lawyers association -- while LAW spokesman Arjan El Fassad explained that monies received from RHR go to the families of "martyrs" who were killed while attacking Israelis.

I guess that's a Jewish and Zionist "duty" also...

The Left in Israel is continually harassing the brave Jews who are building up the Jewish homeland in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Yet, they seem to overlook at best, and more often help the Arabs who are working to steal the Jewish People's patrimony. This conflict, between the Jews and Israel on one side and the Arabs -- "Palestinians" -- on the other, is being fought on the political level, on the military level, and also on the territorial level, house by house.

Arabs stealing land, or building illegal additions to their homes, is an "Act of War," As for Ascherman and his group, I don't have words strong enough to describe them, but the word "cannibals" comes to mind.

Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. His articles can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko.

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