Israeli rabbi faces trial for opposing demolition of Palestinian homes
JERUSALEM: An Israeli rabbi who heads a human rights group will be put on trial here Wednesday for attempting to block the demolition of Palestinian homes by standing in front of Israeli bulldozers.
Arik Ascherman, a US-born rabbi who heads the Rabbis for Human Rights movement, could face three years in prison if convicted. The authorities demolish homes in areas of the West Bank under Israeli control on the basis that they were built illegally.
But Ascherman as well as several Israeli and Palestinian rights groups charge that it is virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain construction permits.
“It is the policy of home demolitions which must stand trial, along with all the institutions which support it,” Ascherman said in a statement. “The families whose homes were demolished will be with us in court and I will feel that I am speaking for the thousands who have suffered and suffer from this policy,” he added. The young rabbi received the support of 300 US rabbis, who handed a letter to the Israeli embassy in Washington Monday.
The letter expressed concern about prosecuting a rabbi “who has devoted his life to Israel and to the Zionist vision of building and sustaining a Jewish state that exemplifies the values of justice and compassion.” —AFP