Even Haaretz, a newspaper not overly enthused with the presence of Jews across the Green Line, could not avoid informing its readers of the final wind-down of a verbal confrontation that erupted last week. It was between Erez Ben Sa''adon, who produces boutique wine and tends olive groves and vineyards in the northern region of the Benjamin District and the head of Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) who had claimed, the paper reported, that:
 

"Ben Sa''adon was harvesting olives that belonged to Palestinians from nearby Karyut. Ben Sa''adon, whose nearby vineyard had been destroyed by unidentified parties the previous night, said he had leased that plot for the past 12 years and the olive trees were his."
 

So, who is the owner?
 

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"Civil Administration officials were called to resolve the dispute, and they summoned the mayor of Karyut - who admitted that the trees belonged to Ben Sa''adon."
 

The hype going around is that there was a bit of a show that was played out for the reporters, with shouts of "it''s a desecration of God''s name" and running around for a few minutes before it was presumed that the journalists were sufficiently impressed by his fake histrionics.



But there may be something more sinister to these type of theatrics. There have been too many instances when, with RHR members present, violence has broken out between Jews and Arabs (see here as well as here for examples).  It is as if the Arabs presume that RHR serves as their ''cover.'' Incidentally, the number of destruction of Jewish agricultural produce and property is simply under-reported for the media frame is: Jews attack Arabs, with very few exceptions.

Violence is a problematic theme for RHR. To a forum of Arabs in 2001, the Palestine Center''s Jerusalem Fund, the position of RHR was explained:
 

"...They believe that ''all violence is wrong,'' ''morally unacceptable, and '' strategically counter-productive.'' However, ''we reject the idea of symmetry.''"
 

"Symmetry," I understand there, can mean that Israel or Jews cannot use any violence that can be linked to any activities in Judea and Samaria since they define that presence as "occupation" which they view as not only immoral but illegal. As the RHR head he has been quoted,
 

''''These people ["settlers'' - YM] believe that their Torah tells them to vandalise land and abuse Palestinian people. I will continue to come here day after day to tell these settlers that they are wrong and that the Torah doesn''t teach us Jews to behave in this way.''''
 

But there is a ''violence'' of sorts that isn''t opposed by RHR, as the audience at the Palestine Center was informed, a violence under the auspices of:
 

"Some kind of international force..."
 

An international force sounds to me like a shabbos goy, a non-Jew employed by observant Jews to do certain activities normally prohibited on the Shabbat. To invite an international force is troubling. In Africa, rapes are the norm while UN forces stand by.

Closer to home, the United Nations Emergency Force in Sinai was useless in 1967. In Lebanon, Hizbullah makes a laughing stock of UNIFIL and Israel has to complain which recall the depressing period of the early 1950s. Can an international force really be expected to be effective? Is that the security RHR truly believes Israel deserves?

To be clear: All acts of criminal behavior are not only to be condemned, and hopefully even prevented through educational methods, but the police are obligated to conduct investigations and hopefully bring the perpetrators to justice. I am not blind to troubling aspects of a small number of Jewish youth who are driven by the wrong message.  But I cannot consider it a moral act to blame anyone without proof, without evidence.

I am not a Rabbi but I do know that to libel an entire population is not protecting human rights.
 


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