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On Wednesday, the Rabbi Went to Court

Did you hear the one about the Rabbi?

Arik Ascherman is no stranger to the Israeli police. The American-born rabbi reckons he has been arrested at least 10 times in his battle against what he says are injustices against Palestinians.

On Wednesday, the human rights activist made his first-ever court appearance, in a case drawing attention to the issue at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the battle for Jerusalem.

Ascherman, head of the local group Rabbis for Human Rights, went on trial along with two Israeli activists for blocking Israeli bulldozers from demolishing Palestinian homes built without permits.

Ascherman didn’t deny blocking the bulldozers, instead arguing he had a moral responsibility to stop them.

“Our defense is basically that because the policy is illegal and immoral, that it’s a civic, Jewish and Zionist duty to stand in front of the bulldozers,” he said.

I have two words for Ascherman – “Rachel Corrie.”

By the way, here is a profile on the “Rabbi.” He is not a recognized Orthodox Rabbi (he is in fact Liberal), and is himself married to another “Rabbi” (female of course). I am surprised they didn’t teach him at HUC that it is a grave sin to put your life in danger like that, as well as to defend terrorists.

Update: I anticipate a flood of comments about my mentioning the Rabbi being Liberal/Reform. The reason I mentioned it is because he spoke of a Jewish duty to stand in front of bulldozers. I am insulted by this, since I know that in Jewish law, there is no such duty. In fact, it is absolutely prohibited to do what he does, since he is protecting terrorists, as well as putting his own life at risk. If Reform Judaism does not believe in these prohibitons, then that would explain the Rabbi’s comments.

I also think that using the term “Rabbi” by itself is misleading, since he is only a Rabbi to a portion of the Jewish community. “Rabbi” implies that he is somewhat of an authoritative spokesman on issues of Jewish law. Since only Orthodox Judaism adheres to strict Jewish law (written and oral), I think it was important to mention the Rabbi’s background.

However, I honestly believe that there are many Reform Jews who would strongly disagree with Ascherman’s actions antics. I doubt that he represents Reform Judaism’s official position, but I will be interested in hearing from anyone with more knowledge on the subject.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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