While more than twenty Jewish organizations organized a lobby to support Israel at the special UN Anti-Racism conference that had been convened in Durban, South Africa in Durban, the Ford Foundation financed one Jewish group, The Rabbis for Human Rights, to join forces with the PLO to support the idea that Israel, was indeed, an apartheid, racist regime. (The Rabbis for Human Rights is generally funded through the Shefa Fund in Philadelphia and the New Israel Fund in Washington.)
The Rabbis for Human Rights delegate to the Durban conference, Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom, field director for the Rabbis for Human Rights, confirmed in a taped interview that he had participated in the preparatory conference to Durban in Geneva, together with an organization known as LAW, the Palestinian legal lobby which takes the position that the UN must have Israel declared as a racist State. LAW is also 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.
Yet Rabbi 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 during the Durban conference, Rabbi Milgrom confirmed that he appeared on a panel discussion in Durban with LAW and that the Rabbi had he appeared before a throng of more than 1,000 Moslems in the main mosque of Durban. At the mosque, Milgrom appeared together with the well known Israeli anti-Zionist Dr. Uri Davis, the author of a new book “Israel An Apartheid State”.
In Durban, the Rabbis for Human Rights provided therefore provided Jewish credibillity to the LAW organization and to Dr. Uri Davis.
Prior to the Rabbis for Human Rights participation in the Durban conference, these Rabbis raised more than $70,000 to distribute to Arab farmers, claiming that the Jewish communities have upooted 30,000 olive trees from Arab farming villages in the Samaria region, thereby depriving the Arab villagers of a way of to make a living.
The Rabbis for Human Rights have launched a campaign 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 this “Olive Tree campaign” the Rabbis For Human Rights 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.
In a taped interview, Rabbi Ascherman, said the costs of the ad were covered by the ECF, the Economic Cooperation Foundation that was founded by Dr. Yose Beilin. The Shefa Fund in Philadelphia,however, has contradicted Ascherman and instead reported that the cost of the ad in the Times was raised entirely by the Shefa Fund itself.
The Rabbis for Human Rights have been hard pressed to provide documentation for their claim that Jews in nearby towns have made it a policy to raid Arab villages to chop down thousands of their olive trees.
The Rabbis for Human Rights cannot provide even one eyewitness or even one police complaint, let alone 30,000 police complaints.
Interesting to note that the 30,000 figure is the identical figure of uprooted trees that is provided by the PLO.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the director of the Rabbis for Human Rights, says that he relies on Palestinian reports of mass olive tree uprooting.
In a taped interview, Ascherman mentioned that monies raised to plant trees will not go to plant trees at this time, since the planting season starts in December.
When Ascherman was asked 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 partner” organizations to figure out which families should receive their support.
One of the Palestinian partner organizations stated on the record that monies that they receive from the Rabbis for Human Rights are allocated to families of “martyrs” who have been killed over the past ten months..
Ascherman also indicated that when PA representatives come to RHR and ask for money for families, that he doles it out to them because he trusts them.
Like any other non-profit organization, the Rabbis for Human Rights will be required to hand over detailed reports of its expenditure of funds to Israel’s “registrar of non-profit organizations”.
It will be instructive to review the list of Arab families who receive funding from these Rabbis to see which families are indeed peaceful farmers and which families are active combatants against Israel.
The Olive Tree Campaign is not the first time that the Rabbis for Human Rights have relied upon questionable Palestinian Arab sources to provide exacerbated figures of human rights abuse to the public.
In 1999, these same Rabbis convened a press conference to announce that Israel intended to demolish 6,000 homes.
When the Rabbis were asked to produce their source for such a claim, they mentioned Jerusalem city councilman Meir Margolit and the PLO-affiliated Land Defence Committee.
While Margolit claimed that he was referring to the number of illegal Arab homes in the Jerusalem region and NOT to the number of homes that Israel was going to demolish, the Land Defence Committee stuck by its story. The Rabbis for Human Rights reaffirmed that Israel had indeed intended to destroy 6,000 homes. The RHR reaffirming the 6,000 figure appears on the September 14, 1999 issue of Israel Resource Review.
Ascherman now claims that he reduced the figure to 2,000 home demolition orders. Yet the record shows Ascherman never reduced his claim and that Israel never issued 2,000 home demolition orders. Meanwhile the Washington Post and Amnesty International gave credence to the claim of the Rabbis for Human Rights that Israel indeed intended to destroy 6,000 homes.
By claiming that Israelis have destroyed 30,000 Arab owned olive trees and that Israel intends to demolish 6,000 homes, the Rabbis for Human Rights have knowingly borne false witness against the state, land and people of Israel.