Rabbis for Human Rights
describes itself as "the rabbinic
voice of conscience in Israel
, giving voice to the Jewish
tradition of human rights
". Their membership includes Reform
rabbis and students. According to their web site, the organization includes "some ninety ordained rabbis".
The organization received the Niwano Peace Prize in 2006.
The organization was founded in 1988
. In December 2004
, their executive director, Rabbi Arik Ascherman
was among three defendants on trial in Jerusalem
for standing in front of bulldozers
in an effort to block the demolition of Palestinian
homes, which were being used as terrorist attack points. RFHR opposes the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier
in any place where it entails the expropriation of Arab-owned land, the division of villages, or cutting farmers off from their fields. RFHR achieved a major victory in 2006
when it won a lawsuit to prevent the division by the fence of the village of Sheikh Sa'ad
. (Israel Today
, May 2006
Rabbi Ascherman served as co-director of Rabbis For Human Rights, becoming executive director in 1998.
After stopping Israeli bulldozers from demolishing the homes of Palestinian families, who's family members participated in terrorist activities in Jerusalem, Ascherman was charged with "interfering with police performance of duties on two different occasions in 2003, and the intention to commit acts to prevent police from performing their duties." In March 2005, a magistrate court ruled Ascherman guilty, but said that he wouldn't have a criminal record.
In March 2008, Arik Ascherman was arrested for "inciting Palestinians to oppose the police" near the ongoing archaeological dig in the City of David.
Durban UN Anti-Racism conferences
David Bedein from IMRA has criticized RHR, accusing it of joining "forces with the PLO to support the idea that Israel, was indeed, an apartheid, racist regime" at the UN Anti-Racism conference that convened in Durban, South Africa.
Rabbi Ascherman and RHR expressed concern about the second Durban conference, saying "that Israel has committed human rights violations [is an issue that] can appropriately be discussed at a conference like this. But if you allow the conference to be hijacked as if Israel is the only place in the world where there are issues of racism and human rights, then it makes a farce of the whole thing. We're not trying to protect Israel from being criticized, but as people who are really concerned with human rights and racism, and think it is important that there be a body among the community of nations dealing with these things, we don't want to see another hijacking.