Home > Columnists > Arik Ascherman > Not Abandoning the Negev Palestinians of Umm Al Hiran | Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Not Abandoning the Negev Palestinians of Umm Al Hiran | Rabbi Arik Ascherman

About The Author

Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the founder and director of the Israeli human rights organization “Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice.” Previously, he led “Rabbis For Human Rights” for 21 years. Rabbi Ascherman has been recognized for his human rights work and has been featured in several documentary films, including the 2010 “Israel vs. Israel.” He is a role model for faith-based human rights activism. Follow him on Twitter: @RavArik

I am writing to you from the Negev, after spending 5 hours with a representative of Umm Al Hiran, the Israeli Bedouin village that government intends to force from the homes they forced them into in 1956, in order to build a new Jewish community on the rubble of their homes. Israel is now reneging on a second agreement, and attempting to impose on them a third. Not only are they villagers being forced into a township, but they stand to lose the ability to provide the homes for their children that they could have provided in Umm Al Hiran. Frankly, many of Umm al Hiran’s supporters lost interest once they could no longer fight to stay in their village, and were forced to negotiate their eviction terms.

We in Torat Tzedek – Torah of Justice are not abandoning Umm Al Hiran. As one of their leaders told us, “We would consider barricading ourselves in our homes, but we have to think about our families. We saw in January 2017 the level of violence the State is willing to use against us.” The powerless should not be blamed for the choices they are forced to make. If our High Court appeals to strike down the “Nation State Law” fail, Israeli Arabs will be even more powerless.

This morning I was in Rashash. The last two days have been blessedly quiet. We saw neither soldiers nor settlers, or troubled youth with their horses, ATV’s and boom boxes. However, Guy Hirschfeld was called in for questioning for grabbing the reins of a threating horse (both he and I are willing to be put on trial for that), and allegedly stamping on the foot of a settler. Guy was released with the stipulation that he can’t return to Rashash for 15 days. Thank God, he wasn’t barred from other shepherding communities.

If you still haven’t watched Israel’s Social TV item on our work protecting shepherds: https://tv.social.org.il/en/activists-in-the-jordan-valley

Only one day, and only two of Torat Tzedek’s projects.

Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman
Executive Director
Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice
Recipients of the Rabbi David J Forman Memorial Fund’s Human Rights Prize for 5779.

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