Rabbis for Human Rights protests Israel’s collective punishment

Rabbis for Human Rights protests Israel’s collective punishment

Rabbis for Human Rights protests Israel’s collective punishment

By Ray Hanania

Rabbis for Human Rights, the only rabbinical based human rights organization in Israel, issued a statement this week calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the practice of punishing families and relatives of individuals accused of violent crimes by destroying their homes.

Israel has destroyed thousands of homes of Palestinians who have been accused of violent acts including allegations of terrorism, but in many cases, the suspects are never tried in courts and are often denied their legal rights.

Israel has not only often killed the suspects, but they have also punished relatives and neighbors of the suspects using an practice called “collective punishment” which is defined as a war crime and has been used in past conflicts including by the Nazis during World War II and by other totalitarian regimes in Europe.

Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli organization that supports Human Rights and opposes civil rights abuses and violations. Photo Courtesy of Rabbis for Human Rights

Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli organization that supports Human Rights and opposes civil rights abuses and violations. Photo Courtesy of Rabbis for Human Rights

Ironically, Israel has accused Arab leaders who have helped the families of accused violent and terrorism suspects by giving them financial assistance. Most notorious were the donations of $10,000 or more that were given by the late dictator Saddam Hussein to the families of suspects arrested or murdered by Israel.

Israel denounced the practice saying that it supported terrorism, yet Collective Punishment is the exact same practice or rewarding and punishing innocent people who are not involved in violent acts. In the case of Collective Punishment, the destruction of homes and lands belonging to relatives and family and friends of individuals accused of violence and terrorism benefits the terrorist Israeli settler movement which seeks with the help of Israel’s rightwing government to push Arab Christians and Muslims out of occupied Palestine.

The issue is a core principle of true civil rights and human rights and Rabbis for Human Rights should be applauded for standing up for the rights of innocent people who are punished purely for political reasons. The practice of hurting or helping families of individuals engaged in violence, convicted in a court of law or not, should end.

Rabbis for Human Rights noted that the true reason for the home demolitions is purely one of seeking to confiscate land from non-Jews in occupied Palestine, acknowledging a key argument from Palestinians that rightwing Israeli governments have used violence and terrorism as an excuse to expel non-Jewish populations and to strengthen the illegal activities of the Israeli settler movement which openly engages in armed acts of violence of terrorism against Arab Christians and Arab Muslims.

The letter is important because it separates the extremists in Israel from the core principles of Judaism upheld by Rabbis for Human Rights and may help Jewish people who have turned their back on human rights in the conflict between Israel and Palestine to reassess their views and instead reject their government’s extremism.

No individual, Jewish, Muslim or Christians, should be punished for the actions of others, regardless of their family relations or friendships. It’s a fundamental principle of Human Rights. To punish someone simply because they know someone or are of the same religion, race and ethnicity violates international principles of law, human rights and morality.

Here is the letter sent by Rabbis for Human Rights which seeks to uphold human rights principles in Israel and in Palestine.

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

In 2005, over four hundred rabbis wrote an open letter to then Prime Minister Sharon expressing concern about the administrative demolition of Palestinian homes. We are extremely disapointed that the Government of Israel is opposing a High Court petition offering a constructive solution for alleviating this issue. Please use your authority to end this opposition.

Part of the 2005 letter read:

“The homes that were demolished were not demolished for any security reason. None of the people in these homes engaged in violence or harboring terrorists. They were demolished because of a violation of zoning regulations in a context where it is almost impossible for Palestinian families in those parts of the West Bank under Israeli civilian control or in Jerusalem to legally obtain building permits… “

The context referred to was the fact that planning and zoning laws severely restrict the ability of Palestinians to build homes, even on the lands that the State recognizes as belonging to them. There has been no representation or true ability for Palestinians to determine how to properly plan for their communities since local and district planning committees were abolished in 1971. The army plans for them.

Back in the 19th century, Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch warned in his Torah commentary about the disastrous consequences when, even with the best of intentions, those with the power in their hands try to appropriate for themselves the task of determining how to be just to others. The current discriminatory planning process exemplifies this, and violates the Jewish prohibition against acting “איפה ואיפה.”

Civil Administration (Army) planning officials have acknowledged that they don’t really have the ability to adequately plan for Palestinian communities. Currently, the failure of the existing system is clear. Thousands have been forced to build without permits, and great human suffering is caused when hundreds of homes are demolished each year in Area C alone.

We are therefore disappointed that the Government of Israel has decided to oppose the High Court petition submitted by Rabbis For Human Rights and partner organizations to restore local planning committees. In the hearing on the petition on April 28th of this year, the judges said clearly that the current situation is unacceptable, and gave the State ninety days to come up with a proposal to truly involve Palestinians in planning their communities. While the judges indicated that they would not force the State to restore the local and district planning committees cancelled by military order in 1971, they indicated that there was no legal reason for the State not to do so.

However, the State’s response was a proposal to institutionalize consultations that are already taking place in many cases. These consultations have not significantly altered the situation because the Civil Administration has no obligation to take into account what they hear. We also saw in the spring that consultations were suspended in response to moves by the Palestinian Authority.

Human rights must not be politicized. The State of Israel has an obligation to ensure that every human being under her control, each created in God’s Image, has a fair chance to build a home for him/herself and his/her family, irrespective of the current state of the peace process or differing opinions about what areas will be under Israel’s control in a future final status agreement. We urge the State of Israel to withdraw its opposition to RHR’s petition.

Rabbis and Cantors in Israel

Rabbi Yehoyada Amir

Rabbi Raphael Arzt

Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Rabbi Sigal Asher

Rabbi Mauricio Balter

Rabbi Ehud Bandel

Rabbi Simcha Daniel Burstyn

Rabbi Ze’ev Cutter

Rabbi Shelton Donnell

Rabbi Yoav Ende

Rabbi Ohad Ezrachi

Rabbi Paul Feinberg

Rabbi Rosalind Gold

Rabbi Miri Gold

Rabbi Esteban Gottfried

Rabbi Ariella Graetz

Rabbi Michael Graetz

Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann

Rabbi Nava Hefetz

Rabbi Naamah Kelman

Cantor Evan Kent

Rabbi Dean Kertesz

Rabbi Ron Kronish

Rabbi Levi Lauer

Rabbi Jim Lebeau

Rabbi Barry Leff

Rabbi Eyal Levinson

Rabbi Joel Levy

Rabbi Jonathan Matt

Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom

Rabbi Joel Oseran

Rabbi Mira Raz

Rabbi Uri Regev

Rabbi Ed Rettig

Rabbi Stanley Ringler

Rabbi Peretz Rodman

Rabbi Ayala Ronen Samuels

Rabbi David Rosen

Rabbi Ofer Sabath-Beit-Halachmi

Rabbi Galia Sadan

Rabbi Michael Schwartz

Rabbi Haim Shalom

Rabbi Gail Schuster-Bouskila

Rabbi Susan Silverman

Rabbi Anita Steiner

Rabbi Ma’ayan Turner

Rabbi Kobi Weiss

Rabbi Moshe Yehudai

Dr Rabbi Aharon Zinger

Rabbi David Zisenwine

Rabbi Or Zohar


Rabbis and Cantors in Great Britain

Rabbi R Benjamin

Rabbi Francis Berry

Rabbi Howard Cooper

Rabbi Colin Eimer

Rabbi Warren Elf

Rabbi Mijael Even-David

Rabbi Paul Freedman

Rabbi Helen Freeman

Rabbi Amanda Golby

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein

Rabbi Michael Hilton

Rabbi Jason Holtz

Cantor Zoe Jacobs

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

Rabbi Richard Jacobi

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

Rabbi Leah Jordan

Rabbi Deborah Kahn-Harris

Rabbi Sandra Kviat

Rabbi Monique Mayer

Rabbi Maurice Michaels

Rabbi David Mitchel

Rabbi Lea Muehlstein

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman

Rabbi René Pfertzel

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan

Rabbi Irit Shillor

Rabbi Amnon Daniel Smith

Rabbi Mark Solomon

Rabbi Zvi Solomons

Rabbi Jackie Tabick

Rabbi Larry Tabick

Rabbi Charles Wallach

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

Rabbi Alexandra Wright

Rabbi Cheryl Wunch

Rabbi Roderick Young

Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers

Rabbis and Cantors in Europe

Rabbi Ruven Bar Ephraim

Rabbi Tamarah Benima

Rabbi Clary Rooda

Rabbi Anna de Voogt

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp

Rabbis and Cantors in North America

Rabbi Susan Abramson

Rabbi Howard Avruhm Addison

Rabbi David Adelson

Rabbi Ron Aigen

Rabbi Thomas M. Alpert

Rabbi Steve Altarescu

Rabbi Renni Altman

Rabbi Camille Shira Angel

Rabbi David Ariel-Joel

Rabbi Stephen A Arnold

Rabbi Melanie Aron

Rabbi Daniel H Aronson

Rabbi Raphael W. Asher

Rabbi Aryeh Azriel

Rabbi Andy Bachman

Rabbinical student Benjamin Barer

Rabbi Lewis M Barth

Rabbinical student David Basior

Rabbi Rachel Bat-Or

Rabbi Marc Belgrad

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak

Rabbi Marci Bellows

Rabbi Allen B Bennett

Rabbi Marc Berkson

Rabbi Joseph Berman

Rabbi Phyllis Berman

Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

Rabbi Yossie Bloch

Rabbi Barry Block

Rabbi Herman J. Blumberg

Rabbi Lewis Bogage

Rabbi Liz Bolton

Rabbi Barbara Borts

Rabbi Bradd Boxman

Rabbi Barnett Brickner

Rabbi Herbert Brockman

Rabbi Caryn Broitman

Rabbi Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus

Rabbi Susan Bulba Carvutto

Rabbi Meredith Cahn

Rabbi Debra Cantor

Rabbi Steven Cardonick

Rabbi Reba Carmel

Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben

Rabbi Ari Carton

Rabbi Douglas Charing

Rabbi Joshua Chasan

Rabbinical student Misha Clebaner

Rabbi Debrah Cohen

Rabbi Howard Cohen

Rabbi Michael Tevya Cohen

Rabbi Tamara Cohen

Rabbi Hillel Cohn

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels

Rabbi Michael Conforti

Rabbi David J Copper

Rabbi Laurie Coskey

Rabbi Susan Cowchock

Rabbi Meryl Crean

Rabbi Matt Cutler

Rabbi Robin Damsky

Rabbi Janet Darley

Rabbinical student Nathan DeGroot

Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis

Rabbi Lucy Dinner

Rabbi Fred Dobb

Rabbi Robert Dobrusin

Rabbi Art Donsky

Rabbi Billy Dreskin

Cantor Ellen Dreskin

Rabbi Ellen W Dreyfus

Rabbi George B Driesen

Rabbi David Dunn Bauer

Rabbi Shoshana Dworsky

Rabbi Renee Edelman

Rabbi Judith Edelstein

Rabbi Laurence Edwards

Rabbi Lisa Edwards

Rabbi H.Bruce Ehrmann

Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Rabbi Barat Ellman

Rabbi Cindy Enger

Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Rabbi Susan Falk

Rabbi Elyse Feishman

Rabbi Edward Feld

Cantor Devorah Felder-Levy

Rabbi Fern Feldman

Rabbi Ted Feldman

Rabbi Zev Hayyim Feyer

Rabbi Brian Field

Rabbi Brian Fink

Rabbi Tirzah Firestone

Rabbi Frank A Fischer

Rabbi Ellen Flax

Rabbi David L. Freeman

Rabbi Susan Freeman

Rabbi Gershon Freidlin

Rabbi Dayle Friedman

Rabbi Joan S Friedman

Rabbi John Friedman

Rabbinical student Lev Friedman

Rabbi Pam Frydman

Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer

Rabbi Roy Furman

Rabbi Joyce Galaski

Rabbi Hillel Gamoran

Rabbi Hillel Gamoran

Rabbi Rachel Gartner

Rabbi Jonah Geffen

Rabbi Laura Geller

Rabbi Everett Gendler

Rabbi Gary Gerson

Rabbinical student Joseph Gindi

Rabbi Miriyam Glazer

Rabbi Arnold S Gluck

Rabbi Bob Gluck

Rabbi Andrew Gold

Rabbi Neal Gold

Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell

Rabbi Debra E Goldstein

Rabbi Seth Goldstein

Rabbi Seth Goldstein

Rabbi Jeffrey Goldwasser

Rabbi David Gordis

Rabbi Julie Gordon

Rabbi Maralee Gordon

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann

Rabbi Roberto D Graetz

Rabbi Joshua Grater

Rabbi Gary Greene

Rabbi David Greenstein

Rabbi Hannah Greenstein

Rabbi Suzanne Griffel

Rabbi Susan Grossman

Rabbi Joshua Gutoff

Rabbi Debra R Hachen

Rabbi Moshe Halfon

Rabbi Richard Hammerman

Rabbi Howard Handler

Rabbi Maurice Harris

Rabbi Vered L. Harris

Rabbi Jill Hausman

Rabbi Abraham Havivi

Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman

Rabbi Floyd Herman

Rabbi Victor Hoffman

Rabbi Linda Holtzman

Rabbi Margaret Holub

Rabbi Daniel Horwitz

Rabbi Mark Hurvitz

Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky

Rabbi Debbie Israel

Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde

Rabbi Josh Jacobs-Velde

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster

Rabbi Cassi Kail

Rabbi Peter E Kasdan

Rabbi Nancy Kasten

Rabbi Joanna Katz

Rabbi Hillel Katzir

Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum

Rabbi Noah Kitty

Rabbi Amy Klein

Rabbi Jason Klein

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum

Rabbi David L. Kline

Rabbi Janeen Kobrinsky

Rabbi Debra Kolodny

Rabbi Ira Korinow

Rabbi Raquel S Kosovske

Rabbi Chava Koster

Rabbinical student Ilana Krakowski

Rabbi Michael L Kramer

Rabbi Douglas E Krantz

Rabbi Marc Adam Kraus

Rabbi Dr Yaacov Kravitz,

Rabbi Charles Kroloff

Rabbi Jonathan Kuptetz

Rabbi Susan Laemmle

Rabbi Karen Landy

Rabbi Gilah Langner

Rabbi Anson Laytner

Rabbi Darby Leigh

Rabbi Michele Lenke

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Cantor Janet Leuchter

Rabbi Eli-Yoel Levin

Rabbi Mark H Levin

Rabbi Richard N Levy

Rabbi Sue E Levy

Rabbi Yael Levy

Rabbi Sheldon Lewis

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling

Rabbi Janet B. Liss

Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman

Rabbi Richard Litvak

Rabbi Andrea London

Rabbi Michael Luckens

Rabbi Sarah Mack

Rabbi Mark Mahler

Rabbi Nina Mandel

Rabbi Shana Margolin

Rabbi Marc Margolius

Rabbi Jeff Marker

Rabbi Dr Susan Marks

Rabbi Nathan Martin

Cantor Jacqueline Marx

Rabbi Michael Mellen

Cantor Hazzan Harold Messinger

Rabbi Rachel Mikva

Rabbi Heather Ellen Miller

Cantor Annice Miller Benamy

Rabbi Jordan Millstein

Rabbi Joshua Minkin

Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh

Rabbi David Mitchel

Rabbi David Mivasair

Cantor Julie Newman

Rabbi Dev Noily

Rabbinical student Salem Pearce

Rabbi Barbara Penzner

Rabbi Helen Plotkin

Rabbinical student Louis Polisson

Rabbi Arnie Rachlis

Rabbi Debra Rappaport

Rabbi Yaakov Reef

Rabbi Frederick Reeves

Rabbi Paula Reimers

Rabbi Victor H Reinstein

Rabbi Yair D Robinson

Rabbi Brant Rosen

Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg

Rabbi James B Rosenberg

Rabbinical student Ken Rosenstein

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein

Rabbi John Rosove

Rabbi Michael Ross

Rabbi Jeff Roth

Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen

Rabbi Andrew Sacks

Rabbi Amy Sapowith

Rabbi Jeffery Saxe

Rabbi Zalman Hiyyah Schachter-Shalomi, z’l

Rabbi Howard Schneider

Rabbi Elhanan Sunny Schnitzer

Rabbi Joel Schwab

Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz

Rabbi Sidney Schwarz

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

Rabbi Gerald Serotta

Rabbi Isaac Serotta

Rabbi Judy Shanks

Cantor Linda Shivers

Rabbi Becky Silverstein

Rabbi Jonathan Singer

Rabbi Suzanne Singer

Cantor Raini Siroty

Rabbi Hank Skirball

Rabbi Jonathan Slater

Rabbinical student Stephen Slater

Rabbi Amy Joy Small

Rabbi Uriel Smith

Rabbi Joel Soffin

Rabbi Ruth H Sohn

Rabbi Eric Solomon

Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro

Rabbi Scott Sperling

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Rabbi Sonya Starr

Rabbi David Steinberg

Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman

Rabbi Adam Stock Spiker

Rabbi Ariel Stone

Rabbi Andrew Straus

Rabbi Joshua Strom

Rabbi Alvin M Sugarman

Rabbi Robert Tabak

Rabbi Reuven Taff

Rabbi Susan Talve

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman

Rabbi David Teutsch

Rabbi Andrew Vogel

Rabbi Heidi Waldmann

Rabbi Brian Walt

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Rabbi Pamela Wax

Rabbi Elye Wechterman

Rabbi Sheila Weinberg

Cantor Alan Weiner

Rabbi Cheryl Weiner

Rabbi Simkha Y Weintraub

Rabbi Cory Weiss

Rabbi Max Weiss

Rabbinical student Ora Weiss

Rabbi Rachel Weiss

Rabbi Zari Weiss

Rabbi Zari M Weiss

Rabbi Shifra Weiss-Penzias

Rabbi Nancy H Wiener

Rabbi Shohama Wiener

Rabbi Paula Jayne Winnig

Rabbi Greg Wolfe

Rabbi Paul Yedwab

Rabbi Shawn Zevit

Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman

Rabbi Michael Zimmerman

Rabbi David J Zucker