Rael has expressed its support to the Israeli group ‘Rabbis for Human Rights’, led by Rabbi Arik Ascherman who has led a never-ending campaign to persuade the army and police to enforce the Palestinian olive growers' right to farm their land despite the settlers' attempts to stop them. RHR has made a special effort this year to maximise its volunteer numbers because of the growing incidence of settler violence against Palestinians in the past few months.
According to an article published on the Independent, “a group of the association was confronted last year in the South Hebron Hills by settlers who fired shots from a pistol and an M16 assault rifle, despite the presence of the army and police. "Then one of the soldiers said, 'Look, one of them is coming down with a jug of water for you'. The settler emptied the jug over me. It was full of human shit."
Rabbi Ascherman says that apart from one notably ugly and violent confrontation with aggressive settlers in Hebron last week, the harvest has been relatively quiet. But it has only just begun. And while the army insists that it will "strive" to ensure as normal a harvest as possible, Rabbi Ascherman is considering returning to the Supreme Court because of restrictions he says the military is still imposing on the farmers even in areas opened up under a 2006 order made by the Court.
Asked why he and his volunteers make this often risky mission each year, the US-born rabbi says "if we really believe" the Biblical text that all human beings are made in God's image, "we have got to put our money where our mouth is and be here in an active way to defend human rights". And he also cites the "dialogue of the olive groves" in which Israelis and Palestinians who "have to live and die here together" have "no choice but to communicate" if they also work together. "I think this is not only the just and right and Jewish thing to do, but it's the self-interested thing to do. We are going to survive."
This is the Jewish thing we Raelians like…