Sunday, February 1, 2015

Rabbis for Human Rights - Israeli Organization based in Great Britain

Dear Rabbi,
Hi, I ran your last two newsletters on this blog.

I hope that's okay with you. I'm trying to get you some donations. I get a certain amount of traffic on the blog.

Thanks, do keep sending me your missives! The best of luck with your mission and your freedom!

PS: I helped Akbar Azizi, the Save Ashraf Campaign Coordinator, help get Camp Ashraf delisted off the
US government's enemies list a few years ago. The Iraq/Iran governments killed Mr. Azizi, by bombing
Camp Liberty, the new place the Camp Ashraf people, all war protesters living in a commune (Ashraf).
He was a dear friend of mine. Sec. of State (at the time) Hillary Rodham Clinton is the US official who
managed to get Ashraf and its people delisted, so they could be relocated to Camp Liberty. Ms. Clinton
did this for a number of places in the Middle East, in order to remove them and their thousands of people
from the US enemies list. They say she is a hawk, but when it came to this issue, apparently she was
indeed a dove instead. Thank you!


Karen Cole
Executive Director
Ghost Writer, Inc.


Dear Friends and Supporters,
Thank you all for the incredible outpouring of both moral and financial support.  
We did succeed in postponing my trial until November 10th. That doesn't change
the fact that I will stand trial, but it does give me more time to prepare.

Sheikh Sayakh will still be standing trial on February 21st on charges of  "trespassing"

on his own land.  I believe that we have raised enough to cover his legal fees, but
wonder if part of the Government strategy to grind El-Araqib down is to make it
financially impossible for them to continue to both defend themselves in court and to
press their land claims.  For those of you who donated, but didn't see where to indicate
how you wished to designate your donation, feel free to write and tell us how you wish
to divide your contribution between general support for RHR, financing my defense,
and financing the legal expenses of El-Araqib.

For those of you who are rabbis or cantors, on Thursday we submitted the letter

over 400 of you signed asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to withdraw Government
opposition to our High Court appeal seeking to end home demolitions by giving
Palestinians ability to plan their own communities.  If you haven't yet signed, we told
the Prime Minister that we were still receiving signatures, and would send him an
updated list.  We are still in the middle of presswork.

Please click here to sign.

To refresh your memory whether or not you have already signed, or to see who else has signed, please click here.

In other news, we are planning a series of conferences with candidates from various political parties asking them to talk about their positions and records on fighting poverty,

public housing, and other internal Israeli socioeconomic justice issues. In ten different
pre-army academies (gap year programs between high school and the army), we are
at the time of the year when we are busy taking the students on human rights tours to
East and West Jerusalem, the Negev, the South Hebron Hills and South Tel Aviv.
With the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, now an RHR department, the
ICCI tour department ran its first RHR tour for Williams College students. Our OT Legal
Department has won an army commitment to protecting Palestinian lands next to the
Avigail outpost and structures built on Palestinian land were removed. The State has
committed to dismantling a new outpost set up this summer on Palestinian land, and
Palestinians with lands adjacent to the Nokdim settlement will be plowing next week
where they had no access to for years. As we saw in December, some of the
Nokdim settlers react violently as Palestinians reclaim their lands.

On Tu B'Shvat we will be bringing Israelis to plant trees in the village of Yasuf, where

we first began to send volunteers to act as human shields in 2002. In one incident this
year a Yasuf family was attacked and trees were cut down. Dozens of trees were cut
down in a second incident.  We will also be planting that day with a Yachad delegation
in the South Hebron Hills.  We will conclude the day with a Tu B'Shvat Seder in
Jerusalem's low income Katamonim neighborhood.  We will not be planting this year
on Jewish owned land because of shnat shmita (Religious Jews do not plant in the
Land of Israel during the sabbatical year.  and even in the Occupied Territories on
Palestinian owned land some will choose to dig holes but not plant.). On Friday,
rabbinical students from abroad and other students spending a year here will plant
trees with us where some 5,000 saplings were uprooted in Turmosaya.  Again, the
incredible level of support for our indiegogo tree campaign is crucial to our efforts.

Thank you once again.  On this Tu B'Shavat, may we all be privileged to plant justice

deeply rooted in our values and watered by our faith.

Last Thursday, RHR Chairperson Rabbi Amy Klein wrote:

Dear Friends and Supporters: 
If you think rabbis should stick to giving sermons, don't 

ead any further.  If you think rabbis should put their bodies on the line to defend the
oppressed, keep going.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, our President and Senior Rabbi, will stand trial this coming
Monday for his arrest on June 12th if we don't obtain a postponement.  As you may
recall, he was beaten and jailed for standing with the residents of the Negev Bedouin
village of El-Araqib. While El-Araqib had been destroyed 65 times since July 2010
(Now 80), this was the first time that the police entered the fenced in area around
El-Araqib's ancient cemetery. Because it had been the one safe space when
everything else was repeatedly destroyed, the remaining El-Araqib families
were living inside the cemetery perimeter. 
We know that many of you have just contributed to our incredibly successful indiegogo Tu B'shvat tree campaign, but we need to ask for your help again.  Please click here, to make an on-line donation that will enable us to continue standing with the oppressed and fighting for justice in true spiritual leadership.  To find out how to donate by check or bank transfer, please take a look at the side bar. 
Rabbi Ascherman is fortunate to have the means to raise money for his defense.  He is known around the world, and RHR is standing behind him. The villagers of El-Araqib aren’t so lucky. Having failed to dislodge them after 80 demolitions, the State has taken to confiscating their possessions and arresting them for trespassing on their own land. They are spending this winter in unimaginable conditions, with no proper shelter and some $68,000 in legal debt. Sheikh Sayakh is unable to retain a lawyer for his trial on February 21st.  We have raised $750 of the required $7,700. Sheikh Sayakh says that it is the Israeli Jews standing with him that give him the strength to continue and confidence that justice will eventually prevail, "We will hang on by our fingernails… If not by our fingernails, than by our teeth." 
Rabbi Ascherman has therefore asked, in addition to supporting the work of RHR and his trial expenses, that you contribute something extra for El-AraqibPlease let us know how to divide your donation between general support for RHR, defraying Rabbi Ascherman's trial expenses, and support for El-Araqib.  
Why does the State continue to expend its fury on the hapless residents of El-Araqib?  Why is it that Yair Shamir, the minister in charge of finding a solution for the "Bedouin problem" has said that everything is up for negotiation, except El-Araqib?  Maybe it is anger because El-Araqib’s insistence on justice has been delaying State plans for the rest of the Negev Bedouin.  Maybe it is because the Begin/Prawer bill is frozen, but the Begin/Prawer plan is not – the state is quietly implementing it.  The bill had a map attached to it, delineating where Bedouin communities would be allowed to exist.  El-Araqib is off the map.
At the conclusion of this week's Torah portion we read how Amalek attacked us.
This act was particularly reprehensible because Amalek went after the weak
stragglers. Moses used his  powers to  help the Israelites prevail, but could not do
so alone.  He needed help to keep his hands aloft.  Your generous donation will help
us keep our hands aloft, as we defend the weak and the helpless against those who
would oppress them.

B'Vrakha (In Blessing),
Rabbi Amy Klein
Rabbis For Human Rights
P.S.  In March, I will be speaking about the work of RHR at the RRA Convention, in
New Jersey and other locations.  Please contact Sarah Zur at
to find out more about my trip, as well as upcoming trips by Rabbi Ascherman,
Socioeconomic Justice Department Director Rabbi Idit Lev, Occupied Territories
Field Work Department Director Yehiel Grenimann and others - to North America
and Europe.

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