Torat Tzedek is an Israeli human rights NGO founded in September 2017 by Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who let Rabbis for Human Rights for 21 years.
Torat Tzedek is working in several areas. On principle we don't want to focus on just one of them, despite the fact that in the beginning there won't be a budget for employing many staff people. The reason is that "the medium is the message." The very fact that we are working for the human rights of diverse populations, including both Jews and non-Jews, is a powerful statement that all human beings are created in God's Image.
1. Negev Bedouin. Most of Torat Tzedek's current work regarding the Bedouin is lobbying in the Knesset and with other decision makers, and with the international community, as well as press work. Currently, we are in touch with people at high levels to try to find a solution for Umm Al Hiran. In Torat Tzedek founder Rabbi Arik Ascherman's previous organization Rabbis For Human Rights, he initiated several public opinion polls that indicate that there is a very good possibility of changing public opinion regarding the Bedouin. If Torat Tzedek could raise the money, we would want to do a major campaign based on the messages that the polls indicate would be effective. This would include both new and paid media.
2. Restoring the Position of the Morar High Court Decision. In the Morar decision of 2006, Rabbi Ascherman was very instrumental in winning a significant victory. As a result, until this day, Israeli security forces are protecting Palestinian farmers accessing lands they could not access for as many as 16 years or more. However, eleven years after the decision, the army has succeeded in chipping away at the decision. Many Palestinians have internalized the idea that they only have the right to access their lands once or twice a year. Torah Tzedek intends to map out the needs in every village so that we can use the authority of the Morar decision to demand that the army allow and protect the carrying out of all work required to meet these needs. A potential place to start is the fact that there are places where there are Palestinian trees inside settlement fences. In some cases the settlers do not harm the trees, and the army does allow Palestinian access to their trees once or twice a year. However, in a location such as the Awarta lands inside the Itamar settlement's fence, there isn't much to do when the farmers get in, other than to bring out dead trees for firewood. Limited access and vandalism have taken their toll. Rabbi Ascherman worked this past year with the Awarta local council to submit to the army a program for restoring their lands. The army ignored this request. We will need to continue to press the issue, perhaps even taking legal action. If we succeed, there will be a need to fund trees, irrigation, fertilizer, tractors, etc. Torat Tzedek has now initiated a similar process with the Municipality of Beit Umar, where farmers have lands inside the fence of the Karmei Tzur settlement.
3. Preventing Home Demolitions. Starting back in 1997, Rabbi Ascherman committed himself to stopping the scourge of administrative home demolitions for the lack of impossible to obtain building permits. Realizing that standing in front of bulldozers wasn't going to change the policy, he put together a coalition in 2005 to get to the heart of the issue by petitioning the Israeli High Court to return planning and zoning authority for villages in Area C to Palestinian hands. In 2015, the Court unfortunately accepted a fig leaf "policy change" by the government to consult with Palestinians about master plans for their villages, while maintaining full planning authority. Even this was never actually done. The Court mandated that, after three years, there be a progress report. The different organizations involved in the High Court case more or less lost interest after the decision. There is a need to press the government regarding the reporting r