A Soldiers Blog

Search Site search web

Thursday, November 13, 2003

ABCNEWS.com : Rabbis Protect What Jewish Settlers Attack

Hillside Heartbreak
Palestinian Harvest Protected by Rabbis, Attacked by Jewish Settlers

By Courtney Kealy

A I N A B B U S, West Bank, Nov. 13 — It was meant to be a fruitful day. Rabbis for Human Rights had organized police protection and a group of determined volunteers to hike up a West Bank hillside and help local Palestinians harvest their olives.

Radical Jewish settlers claim the the hilltops above the Arab village of Ain Abbus as their own. Palestinians say the settlers have resorted to both threats and violence to prevent them from picking their olives. The settlers say God has called on them to settle there.

Ironically, it's another Jewish group — Rabbis for Human Rights — that often intervenes to help the Palestinians.

Founded during the first intifada in 1988, Rabbis for Human Rights is comprised of more than 90 Reform, Orthodox, Conservative and Reconstructionist rabbis and rabbinical students, all of them Israeli citizens.

The rabbis believe that their organization must uphold the Jewish tradition of human rights and teach moral responsibility and biblical concern for "the stranger in your midst," even if it means in the face of danger.

And danger is omnipresent. Just the previous week, members of the rabbis' group and other volunteers said they were attacked by settlers.

‘It’s the End of the World’

Arriving at the top of the hillside on this day, the rabbis and their group of volunteers were greeted by a shocking, unexpected scene. Hundreds of olive trees had been hacked apart. There was nothing left to pick.

All of Fawzi Houssein's trees had been destroyed. "Look at this!" he cried. "This is all my land. It's the end of the world."

While Israeli police took a statement from Houssein, a settler the rabbis suspected of being one of last week's attackers came down to watch. Members of the rabbis' group, which believes in nonviolent confrontation, walked away from the scene.

"The Torah that I read from says do not trespass, it says do not cut down the fruit trees," said the director of the group, Rabbi Arik Ascherman. "Specifically, we're taught not to act with violence."

ABCNEWS.com : Rabbis Protect What Jewish Settlers Attack

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!