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'Rabbis for Human Rights' Accused of Inciting Violence

Protesters accuse the far-left “Rabbis for Human Rights” of inciting violence between Jews and Arabs in Samaria.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/20/2011, 12:05 AM / Last Update: 1/20/2011, 2:17 AM

Israel news photo

Activists from the Shilo region in Samaria made their way to Jerusalem on Wednesday to protest outside the home of Arik Asherman, a Reform rabbi who heads the group Rabbis for Human Rights. The protesters accused Asherman of inciting violence in Samaria in the name of peace.

Asherman and a small group of fellow activists often accompany Palestinian Authority Arabs when they attempt to farm near Jewish areas, or areas off-limits for planting. He plans to accompany PA Arabs in planting olive trees near the Jewish village of Adei Ad in Binyamin.

Jews in the region say Asherman encourages PA Arabs to approach Jewish villages, where they often fight with Jewish youth. “The leftist activists and the Palestinians came up here to fight with the Jewish residents,” one resident said, referring to a fight last week near Shilo in which three Jewish youths and one PA man were injured.

“We usually have good relations [between Jews and Arabs], but there are those who try to incite violence in order to make us look bad,” he said.

Another demonstrator criticized Asherman for planning to plant trees for PA residents on Tu B'Shvat, a Jewish holiday celebrating trees and the land of Israel. “Even on a Jewish holiday, he goes to celebrate with the Arabs,” he charged.

Asherman told Arutz Sheva that “we have a problem with the settlements... We need to end the occupation.” However, Rabbis for Human Rights avoids politics, he claimed, promoting any peace agreement “whether that means one state or two states or ten states, whether it means we evict all the settlers, or that they stay where they are.”

The theory that leftist “peace activists” actually encourage violence has been suggested before. During the 2009 olive harvest, civilian security chief for Judea and Samaria Shlomo Vaknin said the presence of pro-PA foreign activists was directly linked to Arab-Jewish clashes.