Arik Ascherman calls himself a “human rights activist.” I call him an anti-Zionist one. For years he has been doing his best to interfere with the Israeli authority in the territories, support Bedouin tribes squatting in the Negev, oppose the demolition of the homes of terrorists, and besmirch IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza.
Ascherman’s former organization, Rabbis for Human Rights, is paid for its activism by European anti-Zionists and the American New Israel Fund. He sees no moral problem in taking their money (he is no longer associated with RHR and has recently started a new Jewish/Arab organization called “Haqel.” Doubtless he will continue to take money from the enemies of Israel. Who else would support him?)
He works against the state because “all human beings are created in God’s image” and therefore it is forbidden to “discriminate” against any of them, even, apparently, those who murder us or steal our land and property.
But the other day he met a Jew who wasn’t clueless, and the interaction – documented by Ascherman himself to display his moral superiority – shows precisely what is lacking in his soul (or psyche, if you prefer).
Ascherman took some old recording media to a technical expert to convert it to digital form, and this is what happened:
The ultra-Orthodox man took a look at the first film clip, which included aggressive behavior from Itai Zar, the founder of the infamous Khavat Gilad outpost He then looked at me, and asked what I did. I explained that I was a human rights activist, working for the rights of all human beings, Jewish and non-Jewish, because all human beings are created in God’s Image. No amount of recounting what I have done on behalf of Jews living in poverty, or any other argument helped. I was harming the Jewish people. He politely said that he was willing to pay me for the time I had wasted getting to him, but was not willing to work with my material.
Ascherman, who has rabbinical ordination from the Reform movement in the US, tried to argue “Judaism, theology and halakha” with the man, who apparently was better grounded in these subjects than he was. After losing the argument (he believes that he won, but he lost), he notes that,
I was dumbstruck by the enormity of the moral disaster that has befallen us as the Jewish people. How could a deeply religious man so blithely desecrate God’s Name and defame Judaism by saying that the God of all creation could possibly endorse discrimination against fellow human beings whom God created in God’s Image?
I, on the other hand, am equally dumbstruck by the fact that Ascherman and other Jewish activists of his stripe believe that they owe no special loyalty to the Jewish people.
The Torah is a story starring Hashem, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. I am not a scholar but it’s hard to miss. Yes, there are things in the texts of Judaism that call for doing justice to all the nations, but certainly not to consistently take the part of others against the Jewish people.
Ascherman and many in the Reform world find a different message in our texts, a universalist one in which the job of a Jew is to be an example for how to provide justice and equality for every human being. The greatest sin for them is “discrimination” in favor of one’s own people.
Even if it were correct, this interpretation of Judaism would be suicidal in a world where the Jews and their state are commonly despised and targets for violence.
Ascherman is myopic. He looks at the microcosm of relations between, say, the IDF and the Palestinian Arabs of the territories, or the government of Israel and the Bedouins, and sees that we are the stronger party. So he takes the side of the perceived underdog, even when, for example, the Palestinians are trying to murder us and the Bedouins are stealing us blind. They have “rights” that he must defend.
But his vision doesn’t take in the bigger picture in which Israel is very much the underdog, facing a huge Arab and Muslim world that would be happy to wipe her off the map, as well as a Europe – and an American State Department – that believe it is unfortunate a Jewish state was ever created.
That’s a logical explanation of his thought process. But there is another way to see it, which is that he simply lacks a connection to his people. A piece of his brain, his psyche, or his Jewish soul (as you prefer) is missing. He can see tragedy in the lives of Palestinian Arabs and Bedouins, but he doesn’t see or feel the tragedy in the potential loss of this miraculous reconstitution of Jewish sovereignty in the land promised by Hashem. Ascherman sees “God’s image” in Palestinian Arabs, but he doesn’t see it in the Jewish people or their state. That’s the “moral disaster!”
Ascherman’s technical expert politely told him that he wished that he would stop harming the Jewish people. I couldn’t agree more.