There are nonviolent ways to rebel and achieve recognition as a state. You don't have to use violence and certainly not suicide. There are other ways to attain statehood, there are alternative ways to struggle. Rabbi Nava Hefetz
How is the discourse of a Jewish perspective to human rights received in Israel?Some accept it better than others. I try to reach people who don't agree with me. We are a non-partisan organization but we are very political. Everything is political. There's no point in teaching Jewish sources to people or groups that already understand what human rights are and are prepared to fight for them. My greatest challenge is reaching out to people who think "human rights" is a Leftist term. We have a mixed group of secular and orthodox [Jews]. Most of the orthodox people come from settlements: that's their ideological core. I gave [a group of settlers] a tour of the wall in Jerusalem and we studied Jewish sources. At the end of it, people came to me and said, "I don't agree with your perspective, but I want to learn more about human rights." It wasn't easy for them and I understood that. It's difficult for this group because they live beyond the wall. It was hard for them to see what they saw and they understood - they're intelligent people - they understood that there is something immoral here, that there's a problem. But they had a hard time accepting it. They kept repeating, "But the suicide attacks." I said, "True. Suicide attacks. But tell me, what is holy about East Jerusalem, besides the Old City? Really. What is so holy there? Besides, there are almost 220,000 people living in East Jerusalem1 and they aren't citizens. Look at the infrastructure there. New infrastructure isn't being constructed, schools aren't being built, their education isn't the Israeli educational system. Houses are being demolished because they were built illegally and when they try to get a permit of course they aren't granted one because the current policy is a maximum amount of land with a minimum number of people." If you stand in Abu Dis you realize that they have separated families, that there is no difference between the Palestinians on this side and the Palestinians on the other side. People realize this and then they say, "The bombings, the bombings...." I say, "Don't you think that we're throwing these people into the hands of terror and creating even more terrorists? How do you expect a sick boy on the Palestinian side of Abu Dis to reach Al Makassed Hospital which is located on the Israeli side of the wall? Should he have to travel through Ma'ale Adumim?" I'm critical of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for failing to stop Hamas. The PA is as corrupt as our own government. The cement for the wall was bought from Abu Ala, number two in the PA. Palestinians are building the wall, I saw Palestinians building it in Abu Dis. There are nonviolent ways to rebel and achieve recognition as a state. You don't have to use violence and certainly not suicide. There are other ways to attain statehood, there are alternative ways to struggle. As a religious person, it disgusts me. As far as I am concerned, they are not freedom fighters. I think it is very bad education. Suicide is taboo, it isn't done.2 It isn't a tool to be used. Not that we didn't have terrorists amongst us, including one prime minister.3 But, that prime minister didn't blow himself up in a café or on a bus or in a club.
- 1. Hefetz refers to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. See Jerusalem ID.
- 2. According to both Jewish law and Islam's major religious text, the Quran, suicide is forbidden.
- 3. Hefetz refers to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who was a member of the underground Jewish paramilitary groups Irgun (Etzel) and Stern Gang (Lechi), considered by many to have committed terrorist acts against Palestinian Arabs and the British before the establishment of the State of Israel. See Shamir, Yitzhak and Etzel and Lechi.