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Other Institutions
[Open U, Raanna] Rabbis of Human Rights inaugurates a program 'The Laws of Fences and Roadblocks, a Tour in the Wake of the Security Barrier'

The Confused Identity of RHR: Should they be allowed to open a course at
the Open University in Raanna?

Rabbis for Human Rights proud themselves to be good Jews and Israeli
patriots, but at the same time they broke Israeli law and became
popular among Palestinian residents and Arab commentators. Who do they
think they are and what do we know about them? The Confused Identity
of RHR

 Tell me who flatters you and I will tell you who you are. Take Jihad
el-Khazan, former editor of the London-based Saudi-owned daily who in
the past compared Israel to the Nazis for their policy in Gaza Strip.
Two years ago, while still an editor, he tried to write an optimistic
piece in which he hailed the moderates on both side of the
Israeli-Arab conflict. He listed a few names on the Israeli side in
order to prove the point that not all of them are as he put it as bad
as Al Qaida on one side and the Israeli cabinet on the other. And if
we need another example, not all of them are as bad as Ariel Sharon,
Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir have been... On the American side he
listed those whom he called "members of the Israeli war cabal that
must be tried on the charge of participating in the killing of more
than half a million Iraqis…". Some of them include, as you
might expect, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, DOUGLAS Feith, Elliott
Abrams and David Wurmser. And who are the Israeli moderates? The
''historian'' Ilan Pappe, who "wrote a book about the ethnic cleansing
of the Palestinian in 1947" and Professor Rachel Giora, of Tel Aviv
University, who "called for boycotting Israeli academics…". And
then he went on to mention 'Peace Now', 'B'Tselem', The 'Israeli
Committee against House Demolitions', 'HaMoked' and 'Rabbis for Human
whom he described as "helping the Palestinians to harvest their crops
and try to prevent soldiers and settlers from attacking them''.

 So who are these Rabbis? Are they Zionist as they claim? Do they
advocate Israel's right of self-defence as they claim? Do they
acknowledge the necessity of the separation barrier as they claimed?

 The writer Lee Kaplan notes that they championed a propaganda film
titled ''Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land'' which has been
circulating in America. In the film they argued that every inch of
land in Israel was stolen from Arabs by the Jews. No, they do not call
for an end to the Jewish State, God forbids, and they denounce suicide
bombings, but they remain ambiguous on many issues, that ambiguity
calls their integrity into question.

 Despite their patriotic rhetoric, RHR has working relations with
some extremist organizations, like Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions and various Arab NGO's like Adalah, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan and
others that include PHR-1, PCHR and MADRE. These groups are known to
have been active n demonizing Israel on countless occasions.

 To its credit RHR rejected in the past attempts to boycott Israel
and it opposed a policy of divestment, regarding it as a "collective
punishment". The trouble is that they level such a charge against
Israel when it takes measures to defend its citizens.

 Understating the true nature of RHR could be achieved by
concentrating on its executive director Rabbi Arik Ascherman. In March
of this year he was arrested by the Israeli authorities for ''inciting
Palestinians to oppose the police'' in East Jerusalem. It was when the
Israeli police confronted the rioting residents of the Silwan village
over excavation work that began there. Ascherman supported the
Palestinian claim that the digging can endanger their houses and the
police requested him to stay away from Silwan for 15 years. When he
refused to oblige, they detained him and brought him before a judge.

 The Rabbi made the most of his arrest and his organization in North
America hailed his action to stop what they coined ''the Judaization''
of Silwan. The Communist Party of Canada Also expressed concern. His
allies at the notorious ISM were alerted, as well as his friends and
colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 The Rabbi is not strange to arrests. Four years earlier he was
trying to stop bulldozers from demolishing illegally built Arab houses
in East Jerusalem. The prosecutor in his trial told the judge that he
and two other colleagues broke the law by preventing police from
carrying out orders. The allegation did not convince 300 RHR Rabbis of
the North American branch who presented the authorities with a letter
supporting Ascherman.

 Sometimes Ascherman gives the impression that he lives not in the
Middle East, but in his own fairy world. He objects the ancient
command that ''if someone comes to kill you, kill him first''. In his
opinion the Talmudic injunction does not mean that we should kill a
terrorist that is not ''practically'' endangering our life. We better
wound him rather than kill him. Pre-emptive strike? Not in his school
of thought.

 RHR's tendency to support the Arab residents of the West Bank is
well know, but sometimes ther crossed all boundaries. In 2001,
following the murder of shepherd Yair Har-Sinai by terrorists from the
village of Yata, the group organized a campaign to protest against the
security measures taken by the army and imposed on the residents of
Yata from which terrorists murdered Dov Dribben and 14 year-old Kobi
Mandel and Yosef Ishran.

 It seems that this organization, that enjoyed the financial
generosity of Ford Foundation and New Israel Fund, suffers from a
split personality. Its Rabbis are eager to capture the high moral
ground, but at the same time refuse to acknowledge Israel's need to
protect its citizens before calamity strikes them. The notion of
preventative action is rejected by them. Logically, they would condemn
an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities on that ground. Are they
naïve, or are they sinister? Being both can certainly make them
more dangerous.

The following is a course they are about to open in the Open University.
Should they be allowed to?



Jewish Voices on Human Rights

A Human Rights Bet Midrash (Study Hall)

It is the intention of the Open University and the “Guardians of Justice
Organization – Rabbis for Human Rights” to inaugurate a new study
program in the form of a Human Rights Bet Midrash, which will be located on
the Open University campus in Raanana.
The program will deal with an assortment of issues in the realm of human
rights through an analysis of traditional and modern Jewish sources. The
studies will be taught in a Bet Midrash framework by rabbis from all of the
streams of Judaism as well as by personalities who play a role in Israeli
Parallel to their studies, the students will volunteer on a weekly basis in
areas of social justice and human rights in various institutions and
Studies will take place once a week in accordance with the needs of the
majority of the students.
Students deemed eligible will receive a scholarship from the Open
Among the topics in the curriculum are:
The Image of God
The Attitude towards the “Other” – Introduction. An Analysis of the
Philosophy of Emanuel Levinas
The Attitude towards Others in Society: Special Needs and
Emotionally-Challenged People, Visiting the Ill
The Status of Women in Judaism; Women Whose Husbands Have Disappeared or
Refuse to Divorce Them
Violence in the Family, Sexual Assault
Slave Trade in Women, Work Immigrants
Self-Defense and its Limitations
The Laws of Fences and Roadblocks, a Tour in the Wake of the Security
Barrier, Access to Agricultural Lands
Environmental Responsibility, The Sabbatical Year and Sustainability
Social Rights – An Overview – The Right to Live with Dignity; “In
Accordance with his Need” – Confronting Poverty
A View of the Omnibus Laws and/or the Wisconsin Program
Workers’ Rights and Transparent Workers
Equality in Education
Equality in Health Care
Freedom of Expression and Conscience, Freedom of and from Religion
Collective Rights and the Question of the Jewish State
Among the lecturers in the program are:
Rabbi Dr. Michael Marmur, Prof. Ephraim Meir, Rabbi Prof. Yehoyada Amir,
Rabbi David Lazar, Rabbi Tamar Kohlberg, Amos Fleishauer, Rabbi Galia
Sadan, Rabbi Avi Notis-Deutsch, Rabbi Shlomo Fuchs, Rabbi Arik Asherman,
Shmuel Hen, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Esq., Dr. Shlomo Swirsky, Rabbi Idit Lev,
Rabbi Shai Peron, Rabbi Professor David Zissenwein, Rabbi Lee Diamond,
Rabbi Vered Sakal, Yusuf Jabbarin, Rabbi Roberto Arviv, Dr. Avriel
Bar-Levav, Dr. Amir Horowitz, Dr. Esti Eisenman, Dr. Raz Mustigman, Dr.
Yossi Dahan, Dr. Haya Katz, Dr. Yair Schlein
For additional details and an application: deanst@openu.ac.il


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Your Responses
    1.  One can only hope that there will be
     From Adina Kutnicki, Sent in 22-09-2008
    2.  On a factual basis, try to get it right.
     From Rabbi arik Ascherman, Sent in 23-09-2008
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