Sunday, March 27, 2005

Rabbi convicted of blocking West Bank bulldozers

Rabbi Arik Ascherman has spent years planting himself atop doomed Palestinian homes, reading extracts of international law to Israeli forces as they demolish the buildings beneath his feet.

Along the way he has been a persistent embarrassment to the Israeli government as a fervent Zionist who claims to reflect the true soul of the Jewish state by resisting its oppression of Palestinians. He has been arrested many times but this week, for the first time, the 45-year-old director of Rabbis for Human Rights was convicted for his form of resistance.

The rabbi was arrested when he objected to the Israeli security forces tying a Palestinian to the front of a jeep as a human shield against stone throwers. On other occasions he has been attacked by club-wielding Jewish settlers.

The prosecution has asked the court to sentence Rabbi Ascherman to do community service after he was convicted of obstructing the demolition of illegally built Arab homes in East Jerusalem by standing in front of the bulldozers. It is a dangerous business; an American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, was killed doing the same in the Gaza Strip.

There are people in the world that bring hope. I am thankful for the hearts of those like Rabbi Ascherman.

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