June 26, 2020
Over the past two weeks, Torat Tzedek and I have been sued for libel, I have been interrogated. There have been demonstrations both outside my house, and that of our Bedouin Protection Project coordinator, Guy Hirschfeld. Apparently it is not true that Mahatma Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I am also not sure that it is always true, and I prefer progress through promoting understanding to progress through conflict.
In my dvar Torah for Khukat (Being read this week in Israel and next week abroad), I go into more detail about these events, and reflect on them in the context of the fact that the portion includes the death of Miriam and Aaron. In trying to lift up what we can learn from each one of them, I recall that we are taught that Aaron was a peacemaker.
Nevertheless, these attacks on us, and the rising number of reports we are receiving that settlers and the army are threatening Palestinians that they will be punished for working with us, are signs that we are being effective enough to convince some that we must be stopped.
This week the Sumarin family appeal is to be heard. At 9:00 am Israel time. [ If you’re not familiar with the case take a brief detour and read about it on the site of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.]
I don’t know whether or not we will be able to enter the courtroom, given corona regulations. However, we will be demonstrating outside, starting at 8:30 a.m. The panel of judges is not great, and we are not very optimistic, however, the family lawyers do believe they are raising some important new points.
- If you haven’t done so, please click below and send letters to the KKL-JNF in Israel, and around the world.
- Some of our UK partners are calling on people to tweet at midday (In the UK) on the 30th of June.
- They are also calling on people to take a picture, add a message, and a hashtag. Our hashtags up to now have been #JNFDontUproot, #StandwithSumarins and #Hope4Amal. They are also suggesting #SumarinsMustStay. One of the suggested messages is “JNF-Hands Off The Sumarin Family.
Please click here to watch the one-hour virtual tour and meeting with the Sumarin family Hagit Ofran of Peace Now and I conducted for U.S. congressional aides on Wednesday.
Later on Wednesday Hagit conducted a second webinar for J Street and Americans for Peace Now.
Shabbat is starting. I apologize, but the reports on other activities will need to wait. I will briefly mention that this week HaMabarah’s legal clinic found housing for three families, returned children to their homes, helped several people out of debt, and two single parents who were being denied the possibility of receiving both unemployment insurance and alimony. Other information can be found in this week’s dvar Torah. My dvar Torah for Korakh, being read abroad, that thanks Israeli superstar Achinoam Nini can be found here.
I have been telling those calling in with words of support after hearing of the demonstration outside my house, it is important to keep things in perspective. Our lives as human rights defenders can be challenging, but we are not in danger of being evicted from our home, as are the Sumarins. We are not falling even further into corona deepened holes, as are Israelis living in poverty and those who were getting by before the crisis. Our lives are not as difficult as the Bedouin of Israel’s “unrecognized” villages, Palestinian farmers and shepherds, or African asylum seekers. Together, we can be Miriam’s well of life sustaining water, and disciples of Aaron the peacemaker.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice
Recipients of the Rabbi David J Forman Memorial Fund’s Human Rights Award for 5779
P.S. More here