Avi Dabush, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, spoke at the British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights AGM last December. This speech, discussing peacefully bringing together the different cultures and peoples of Israel, is reproduced here with his kind permission.
Avi also wrote a reflective piece on Human Rights, on the occasion of Tu B’Shvat this year, before RHR went out to plant olive trees in the West Bank where they had previously been burnt and uprooted. Read In the Shadow of an Uprooted Olive Treehere. Continue reading →
At the British Friends of Rabbis for Human Rights’ AGM on 9 December 2019, Rabbi Michael Marmur delivered the below speech, reproduced here with his permission.
At this time of year we read the Torah passage relating Jacob’s dream and try to interpret what it means. There are three clues as to what it is about:-
A psychological reason for the wrestling. It takes place at the Ford Yabbok, which is a word play on the consonants in Jacob’s name. It is a struggle with himself as he tries to work out how we are meant to live in this world.
A struggle with God in the guise of an angel. Jacob is trying to work out a theology and a religious response. There is an element of modernity in the struggle of the human with the divine.
Another possibility is that he is wrestling with the spirit of his brother, Esau, of whom he is afraid. It is a drama of not only encountering ourselves and God but what happens in the struggle with the other – our brother.
The President of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, the Board of directors, and the professional staff are pleased to announce the appointment of Avi Dabush— a well-known environmental, social, and political activist— to the position of Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights. Over recent months this position was held by Advocate Becky Keshet, who will now direct the organization’s social justice and public policy projects. Continue reading →
Rabbis for Human Rights have announced their new president, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman. Founder of Congregation Kol Haneshama, a centre for progressive Jewish life in Jerusalem, he has also previously served RHR as Chair. Rabbi Weiman-Kelman teaches at the Hebrew Union College Jerusalem, and frequently lectures in Israel and abroad on Jewish spirituality and prayer.
We hope to bring Rabbi Weiman-Kalman to the UK after the chagim. Read the full statement from RHR here.
For the last couple of years, I’ve taught a class about ‘Religions, Justice and Peacemaking’ at Leeds Trinity University in the Theology and Religious Studies program. It has been a wonderful opportunity for my research into Israeli-Palestinian peace activism to lead directly into my teaching, by using religion in the Israel-Palestine conflict as the class topic. Among the activists I research are Rabbis for Human Rights, giving me the perfect case study around which to focus the class.
RHR doesn’t describe itself as a peace group but it certainly pursues “justpeace” as conceived by peace studies scholars. One key idea of “justpeace” is expressed by the familiar slogan “no justice, no peace.” Beyond that, “justpeace” entails an ongoing process of addressing inevitable social conflicts non-violently and with an emphasis on justice. RHR’s advocacy for social justice within the State of Israel as well as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, its practice of nonviolence, and its dedication to building reciprocal social relationships through education and interfaith work all indicate that it strives for “justpeace.”
So, what did the students learn in the class and what did they make of RHR? Continue reading →
Bible records how the Israelites developed from tribal families to become Am Yisrael, a people in their own land. We see how they developed societal structures to spread power away from a tiny leadership and we can also read about the problems that happened when those structures were eroded. The model preventing concentration of power became the tripartite leadership of King, Priest and Prophet.
Imagine the scene. A rabbi in Israel is being attacked by a man wearing a balaclava and threatening him with a big and dangerous looking knife. They struggle and fall to the ground; the man has the rabbi in a stranglehold, still waving the knife, but incredibly not sticking it in. Eventually the man runs off. Given what’s been happening on the streets of Israel in recent weeks, you might be thinking that it’s not surely all that surprising.
It sounds strange. How can I say anything positive about a knife wielding violent and hate filled young man who has turned the sanctity of the Land of Israel into idolatry? When one looks at this awful video of the attack filmed from afar by Rabbis For Human Rights’ field coordinator Zakariah Sadeh on October 23rd, one sees that he could have easily murdered me. He was on top of me, my back was exposed, and the knife was in his hand. One can see him almost plunge the knife several times, but he doesn’t.
We are writing to you out of deep commitment to Israel and to Judaism.
The Torah teaches us that ‘the stranger who lives with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’ (Vayikra 19:34).
Today, the Palestinian residents of Susiya face the imminent destruction of their village, the place they call home. This is scheduled to take place between now and August 3rd. The courts have ruled that 37 structures in the village are due for demolition because they were built without permits, despite the fact the land on which they stand belongs to the Palestinian villagers of Susiya.
Susiya is a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank. The majority of the village is in Area C which means it is under full Israeli control and any decisions about building and civilian infrastructure have to be dealt with by the Civil Administration which is a department of the IDF.