Arik Ascherman

Sixty Harrowing Hours of Pogroms and Violence In An Upside Down World: Metzorah

Palestinian Sheep Killed By Israelis In Marajam During Search For Binyamin Ahimeir

Please share this post on the murder of Binyamin Ahimeir, the wave of violence during the 60 hours from last Friday to Monday (and still ongoing), upside down values in our inverted world and Parashat Metzora with those you know who support the settlement enterprise.

Firstly my condolences to the family of Binyamin Ahimeir. Just as all the injustices of the Occupation do not justify the evil of Hamas (Although the oppression of the Palestinian people builds support for Hamas), the fact that the settler shepherding enterprise of which Binyamin was a part dispossesses Palestinians in no way justifies the brutal murder of a 14-year-old boy, or the murder of anyone.

This week on my Facebook page (Arik Ascherman) I have a series of posts with photos and videos from the violence of the 60 hours from Friday-Monday (and still ongoing) against Palestinians and also the attacks on me personally. For 48 exhausting hours between Friday and Sunday I was in the field. Yes, for all of Shabbat I was engaged in protective presence. But the truth is that in many places the violence was too overwhelming to provide protective presence, and our primary task was to direct security forces to the areas where violence was taking place, or about to take place.

I also told one of the police officers I was in constant touch with that I wanted to help with the search for Binyamin, but the curses from many soldiers and settlers who recognized  me put in question whether I could do so without there being unnecessary incidents. I did agree to ask the Palestinians we were protecting whether they had seen anything. that might help. The fact is they were asking me whether the Binyamin had been found safely.

In the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Pesachim 50 page 1, it is said that Rav Yosef, the son of Rabbi Joshua, dies (or was extremely ill) and returns to life. His father asks him what he saw, and he relates that everything was upside down and the opposite of what we see in our world. His father explained that he saw the clear world of truth, and it is actually in our world that everything is the opposite and upside down.

In our upside down world the solution to violence is more violence. Even before we received the awful news that Binyamin had been found murdered, the fact that he was missing justified the violent pogroms in Mghyer and Duma, the burning of homes and cars, the roving bands blocking streets and the entrances to villages  and other forms of violence , sometimes with soldiers or settlers in uniform watching in Marajam, Silwad, Beita, Dir Debuan, Kufr Malek, Kusara, Beit Furik, Eyn Hilweh, Farasiya, Taibe junction, Susia, Shaab el Butam, Aqrabah, Khirbat Al Tawil, Salfit, Eyn Yabrud, A-Sawya , Mgyer Al Abeid and many additional locations. In some places like Eyn Hillweh the threats have been continuing almost nightly.

In the upside down world those of us who try to help our fellow human beings are considered evil because we are “harassing” those committing crimes.  A fairly well known settler who is being investigated for acts of violence posted that on two days after Binyamin was murdered, I evilly was “harassing” another settler shepherd, and had brought Palestinians to attack settler shepherds.

What really happened? On Sunday we again we caught a herd and a shepherd breaking through the fence of a Palestinian vineyard on registered private land.  The flock that came and eventually returned on the path leading to the illegal even according to Israel outpost called “Micha’s Farm” was  devouring and destroying the vines. The previous Thursday, the vineyard owner from Kufr Malek filed a complaint.  A week ago, a policeman even went to tell Micah that his herd must not enter the vineyard or any of the extensive fenced in agricultural lands. But now the police officer who arrived said he couldn’t do anything because the landowner wasn’t there.

For about a month and a half, the army hasn’t let farmers reach their land there. I offered that the landowner meet him elsewhere. I asked what was the solution when the army was preventing the landowner from arriving? Just to let the flock stay in the vineyard? “I can’t do anything.” I told him I had the.right by law to act as the agent of the landowner to expell the flock..He just said “Without violence.” We gently urged them out of the vineyard.
The herd then crossed the road and the army earthen roadblock blocking the way to Kufr Malek, , and continued on the road to Kufr Malek and the Ein Samia water spring. I called the police again, who told me to go and get pictures. As white jeep managed to enter before me. The settlers claim that on their way up y to Kufr Malek there was stone throwing. A Palestinian was arrested.

Posted by Arik Ascherman on Monday, April 15, 2024

The herd then crossed the road and the army checkpoint, and continued on the road to Kufr Malek and the Ein Samia water compound. I called the police again. A white jeep also entered.

The settlers claim that on their way up to Kufr Malek there was stone throwing A Palestinian was arrested. If true, stone throwing is also wrong.

In the end, forces arrived and supposedly told the settlers where they were not allowed to be. However, about an hour later, we discovered the herd in a lemon orchard.



Please don’t say, “This was a special unrepresentative situation because a boy was missing and then found murdered. The violent attacks against Palestinians don’t represent the views of most of the settlement enterprise supporters .  We know who this settler who accused you is and what he is suspected of having done. His warped view isn’t representative.”

Unfortunately, this morally and factually upside down view of the world does represent a growing segment of the supporters of the settlement enterprise. I hear it all the time. Unless there is one big Aguda Ekhad-a collective of those who honor and take action to protect God’s Image in every human being, both in word and deed, THIS WORLD IS OUR FUTURE

I have often commented that the commandment in Parasht Metzorah to replace plagued stones from a home in order to try to save the home (Leviticus 14:34-53) also applies to our national home. If the plague is not stopped, the entire house must be torn down.  Those of us who cherish our national home must do everything we can to heal it of upside down morals and inspire our fellow Israelis to aspire to a world of truth, justice and compassion, even as we continue to defend our physical well being.

And while it is vitally important that we do everything possible to explain the truth and persuade and inspire those who today think differently to return to the path of goodness and righteousness, we also need many more of you to be human rights defenders not only in speech, but in the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel when he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., to “Pray with your feet.”

May we know true Shalom in the spirit of Shabbat. AND GOD WILLING, WE WILL MEET SOON AND OFTEN IN THE FIELD.

About the Author
Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the founder and director of the Israeli human rights organization "Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice." Previously, he led "Rabbis For Human Rights" for 21 years. Rabbi Ascherman is a sought after lecturer, has received numerous prizes for his human rights work and has been featured in several documentary films, including the 2010 "Israel vs Israel." He and "Torat Tzedek" received the Rabbi David J. Forman Memorial Fund's Human Rights Prize fore 5779. Rabbi Ascherman is recognized as a role model for faith based human rights activism.
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