Making NGOs AccountableAdvanced Search

Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR)

Profile

Country/TerritoryIsrael
Websitehttp://www.rhr.org.il/eng/
Founded1988
In their own wordsThe only rabbinic voice of conscience in Israel” and to serve as “a shofar for the distribution of information about human rights in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Funding

Activities

  • Maintains that it is “not aligned with any specific political party.”
  • Members “are Israeli citizens who are rabbis in national leadership positions, as well as educators and congregational rabbis capable of influencing change from the grass roots.”

Political Advocacy

  • Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) is among the most politically active NGOs on the complex issues related to the Bedouin in the Negev. It is part of an ongoing campaign against what it deems the “crime” of evacuating Umm Al-Hiran, a village in which violent clashes took place opposing demolitions (approved by the Israeli High Court of Justice). In November 2016, RHR rejected the Israeli court decision and called on activists to come to the village in order to resist its demolition. (Details of additional advocacy on this issue below.)
  • RHR partners with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI promotes BDS campaigns and utilizes demonizing rhetoric accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes” (further details below).
    • RHR is active in the international campaign in the complex political conflict over Susya, funded by a number of European governments. Some of the RHR activities in this conflict were undertaken in cooperation with EAPPI.
  • Arik Ascherman, former President and Senior Rabbi of RHR (1995-2016), left following “organizational differences,” and formed Haqal – United in the Defense of Human Rights, an NGO aimed at “challenging land confiscation in the occupied territories and advocating for Bedouin rights in Israel.” In August 2017, Ascherman left Haqal to form another NGO.
    • In July 2017, Ascherman was featured in a documentary produced by Trocaire (Ireland) titled “This is Palestine,” on “the impact of ongoing conflict and military occupation on the people who live there.”
  • In August 2017, RHR, with Youth Against Settlements, petitioned the High Court against the placement of Israeli-Jewish signs in Hebron, which according to RHR, “present the settlers’ narrative” and “erases Palestinian cultural identity from Hebron’s Shuhada Street and replaces it with a narrative consistent with the position of its [Committee for the Renewal of Hebron’s Jewish Community] members.”
  • On June 14, 2017, RHR, with 16 other NGOs, sent a letter to the Attorney General requesting that he “direct the cabinet to immediately rescind its decision” to reduce the electricity supply to Gaza, claiming that it “contravenes Israeli and international law.” This was part of the ongoing NGO campaign attacking Israeli policy in Gaza.
  • On January 11, 2016, Israeli investigative news program “Uvda” aired footage of Ezra Nawi, a radical activist from the NGO “Ta’ayush,” receiving a check for NIS 1359.36 from RHR. The video also featured an expose showing Nawi and B’Tselem employee Nasser Nawaja discussing informing the Palestinian Authority security services about a Palestinian man who allegedly intended to sell land to Jews in the West Bank. The sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death under Palestinian law, and according to Nawi, suspects are tortured and then killed.
    • RHR stated in response that Nawi provided them with transportation services and that “Ezra Nawi was a part-time worker with us over the past few months. We had no knowledge of what was published in the Uvda investigation. The issues that were raised stand in complete opposition to our organization’s spirit. Nawi’s work with us has been suspended since the report was broadcast, and we will hold a hearing with him.”
  • Produced a 2013 film, “Fiddler with no Roof,” comparing Israel’s plan to resettle unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev to the expulsion of the Jews during the antisemitic Tsarist regime.
  • Following the March 2011 Itamar massacre, RHR condemned the murders saying, “They were of course a violation of the most basic human right, the right to life,” but quickly went on to demand that the defense office fulfill its “obligation to protect Palestinians.” The Hebrew website contained a one sentence condemnation followed by four paragraphs detailing the need to defend Palestinians from “settler attacks.”
  • In 2010 accused Israel of “foul and discriminatory policies against Palestinians” and “forcing Palestinians to live in a completely separate universe where time has stood still, and prevents them from properly planning their most basic needs and infrastructure.”
  • Published a 2010 position paper, together with Adalah, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Gisha, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and Yesh Din, opposing Knesset legislation on transparency in foreign governmental funding to NGOs saying the “Israeli government has sought to undermine the legitimacy of human rights groups” and seeks to impede the democratic process.
  • In response to the 2009 Gaza war, RHR launched a website, with AdalahACRIB’TselemBimkomGisha, Physicians for Human Rights-IsraelYesh Din, and others, that collected “testimonies” accusing Israel of war crimes and violating international law.

Ties to EAPPI

  • The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), founded by the WCC, notes its partnership with RHR. EAPPI promotes BDS campaigns and utilizes demonizing rhetoric accusing Israel of “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes.”
  • In 2012 RHR called on EAPPI “to join them in providing a protective presence to Palestinian farmers trying to harvest their olives but experiencing attacks from settlers.”
  • Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann from Rabbis for Human Rights is a member of EAPPI’s “Local Reference Group (LRG),” that “provides guidance, advice and support to the WCC-EAPPI staff and national coordinators… promoting the WCC’s EAPPI at local and national levels…The LRG meets regularly, supervising the programme and ensuring its alignment at all times with the WCC’s objectives.”
  • According to a Norwegian Church Aid report (2015), “EAPPI and RHR contribute to ‘protect vulnerable’ populations, many of them Bedouin villages… Through its networks NCA, EAPPI and RHR have also advocated directly to ministers and government officials as well as through news and social media, resulting in political pressure on Israel from both within and internationally.”
  • According to a July 2015 letter written by a Canadian Ecumenical Accompanier, “Rabbis for Human Rights have decided to join the EAPPI team for overnight protection in Susiya beginning July 20th until August 3rd, the period identified by CONGAT [sic] and the DCO as time when the demolition will occur. Yesterday the order came that 32 structures will be demolished following Eid ul-Fitre.”

Donations from Foreign Funding Sources (in NIS)

*Information based on NGO annual reports as of October 2017

Donor20162015201420132012
UK504,550718,300569,51010,000
European Union192,797402,294304,391276,209
IHL - Secretariat274,735
AECID (Spain)389,069479,7051,003,312676,842
Trocaire (Ireland)241,100216.029231,704213,818233,333
Norwegian Church Aid282,891417,628361,551478,700542,067
Misereor (Germany)109,004320,345151,046100,126
Church of Sweden132,027123,52378,82876,45276,965
NGO Development Center217,733240,703
Kirk in Actie (Netherlands)128,820108,250119,295118,173122,433
Caritas (Belgium)59,486128.50473,664124,08227,328
Church of Scotland9,40797,768
Rosa Luxemberg Stiftung3,173
ZIVIK (Germany)12,786207,805
EED (Germany)44,99788,59363,098
Finn Church Aid248,462127,517

All Articles about Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR)

Further Reading