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Sunday, September 2, 2001
Rabbis for Human Rights Slam Israel in Durban and Raise Funds for the PLO

Rabbis for Human Rights Slam Israel in Durban and Raise Funds for the PLO
David Bedein

On August 31, 2001, horrific reports flowed into Jerusalem that the PLO was
orchestrating a massive anti-Israel campaign at the special UN Anti-Racism
conference that had been convened in Durban, South Africa. While more than
twenty Jewish organizations organized a lobby to support Israel in Durban,
one Jewish group joined forces with the PLO to support the idea that
Israel, was indeed, an apartheid, racist regime.

That group was the Israel-based Rabbis For Human Rights, funded through the
Shefa Fund in Philadelphia, the New Israel Fund in Washington, and the
Economic Cooperation Foundation in Tel Aviv, founded by Yose Beilin,. the
architect of the Oslo Accords .

The Rabbis for Human Rights delegate to the Durban conference was Rabbi
Jeremy Milgrom, who acts as the field director for the Rabbis for Human
Rights, had actually participated in the preparatory conference in Geneva.
Milgrom stated in a taped interview prior to his departure for Durban that.
"if you ask any Israeli who has been here for a while, people will admit
there is racism in the policies of the State of Israel".

Reached by telephone at the Durban conference Rabbi Milgrom confirmed in
another taped interview that he appeared on a panel discussion together
with the PLO legal advocacy group known as LAW, the same organization which
has petitioned the UN to have declared Israel a racist State.

LAW is the same group now helping to prepare the legal case in Belgium for
the indictment of Ariel Sharon as a war criminal. According to the "LAW"
charter, there is an " institutionalized system of racism" in Israel

Rabbi Milgrom also confirmed that he appeared together with the well known
Israeli anti-Zionist Dr. Uri Davis, the author of a new book "Israel: An
Apartheid State" before a throng of more than 1,000 Moslems in the main
mosque of Durban, an event which attracted great press attention

Rabbi Milgrom also confirmed that he worked with LAW at the preparatory
conference in Geneva to draft ideas for the UN conference in Durban.

The Rabbis for Human Rights was able to procure funds for Milgrom to go to
Geneva and Durban after its successful eight-month campaign to raise funds
for thousands of olive trees which these Rabbis claim were uprooted from
peaceful Arab farmers by nearby Jewish communities who have systematically
encroached upon their villages to uproot their olive groves and deprive
them of a way of making a living

In their fund-raising ads, the Rabbis for Human Rights have advocated a
program to replant new olive trees for Palestinians, to "support
Palestinian Families who have been suffering income losses for the duration
of up to 9 years till the young olive trees reach maturity", and "to market
olive oil bought from Palestinians, who often cannot sell their oil due to
closures"

To promote their "Olive Tree campaign" the Rabbis For Human Rights also
placed included a full page ad in April in the New York Times which was
signed by more than 300 people from around the world.

According to Rabbi Ascherman, the costs of the ad were covered by the ECF,
the Economic Cooperation Foundation that was founded by Dr. Beilin

By early August, 2001, RHR had raised 70 Thousand dollars for their tree
planting campaign.

Over the past few months, journalists have asked the Rabbis for Human
Rights to verify their claim that Jews in nearby towns have been raiding
Arab villages to chop down their olive trees. The Rabbis for Human Rights
cannot provide even one eyewitness or one police complaint.

When pressed to provide evidence that Jews are indeed uprooting olive trees
in Arab villages, the response is that "We just know that this is
happening", in the words of Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the director of the
Rabbis for Human Rights, saying that he relies on reports from the PLO
concerning allegations of "Olive Tree Uprooting".

Rabbi Ascherman referred to an Israeli activist, Neta Golan, who has been
living in these Arab villages to provide what she describes as "eyewitness
testimony of Israeli human rights abuses".

Rabbi Ascherman neglected to mention that Neta spent the good part of the
past ten years incarcerated in mental health institutions, both in Israel
and in Canada.

Meanwhile, Ascherman noted, the money is not going to plant trees at this
time, because the planting season starts in December.

Whenever Ascherman was asked about the distribution of funds collected by
"Rabbis for Human Rights", Rabbi Arik Ascherman became suddenly vague.

Yet when Ascherman was pressed about how the "Rabbis for Human Rights"
determine which Palestinian families should get the money for the loss that
they have incurred from the losses of their olive trees, Ascherman had a
clear answer: The Rabbis for Human Rights rely on Palestinian contacts to
figure out which families should receive their support.

Which contacts? Ascherman identified the LAW organization, the PLO legal
advocacy lobby. Yet a call to LAW revealed that LAW does not deal with the
question of uprooting of trees. The LAW spokesman, Arjan El Fassed
explained, that while LAW is not a humanitarian organization per se. he
mentioned that monies that they receive from the Rabbis for Human Rights go
to the families of the "martyrs" who have been killed over the past ten
months. Asked to define what he means by "martyrs", El Fassed described the
various attacks in which Palestinians have died in attacks on Israelis.

In other words, the Rabbis for Human Rights have been providing funds for
the families of suicide bombers.

Arjan El Fassed mentioned that the the Rabbis For Human Rights are also
providing funds for the PLO's Land Defence Committee, another PLO lobbying
group.

Ascherman also indicated that when PA representatives come to RHR, ask for
money for families, and Ascherman that he doles it out to them because he
trusts them.

One thing is for certain: The Rabbis for human rights have no idea if and
how the money that they have raised for olive tree replanting will ever get
to people inside the Palestinian community.

It would be instructive to know if guns can be purchased with money that
Rabbis for Human Rights hand over to Palestinian families.

The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by the Israel Resource News
Agency, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, and
the Gaza Media Center under the jurisdiction of the Palestine Authority.

You can contact us on media@actcom.co.il.

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