תפילה למען תושבי/ות אל-עראקיב | A Thanksgiving Day Prayer for the Residents of Al-Araqeeb (قرية العراقيب), by Rabbi Arik Ascherman

Hebrew English

איכה ישבה בדד אל-עראקיב היתה כאלמנה זו הפעם השביעית? ויצא מבת ציון כל הדרה. ייחלנו שמדינתנו “תקיים שויון זכויות חברתי ומדיני גמור לכל אזרחיה, בלי הבדל דת ומין”, והנה נכזבה תוחלתנו.‏
How is it that El-Arakib sits alone and desolate, like a widow a seventh time?[1]Based on Lamentations 1:1, ‘How is it that the city sits alone and desolate’ “The Daughter of Zion has lost her glory.”[2]Lamentations 1:6 For, while we had dreamed that our state would “Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender,”[3]Israeli Declaration of Independence our prayers have not yet been fulfilled.

אלוהינו ואלוהי קדמונינו (אבותינו; אבותינו ואמותינו) בקש את הנרדפים/ות, על לא עוול בכפם/ן. עמוד לצד אחינו ואחיותינו, אזרחי/יות המדינה ושותפים/ות לגורלה, שאוהליהם/ן שדדו וכל מיתריהם/ן ניתקו. תחזקנה את ידיהם/ן בעוד חורשי/ות רעה מתכוונים/ות לחרוש בתיהם, לנטוע יערות במקומם, ולהותיר רק את בית העלמין שלהם, עדות לדורות הרבים שחיו במקום. יהי רצון שבקרוב ובימינו נראה יערות רבים בכל הארץ, אבל לא על הריסותיהם של ישובי הבדואים.‏
Our God and God of our ancestors (God of our fathers; God of our fathers and mothers), side with those who are oppressed, although they have done no wrong.[4]Based on Midrash Tanḥuma: Emor 9, ‘God sides with the oppressed [the one being pursued]‘ Stand with our brothers and sisters, fellow citizens and partners in Israel’s destiny, whose tents have been ravaged and all their tent cords broken.[5]Based on Jeremiah 10:20, ‘My tents are ravaged, all my tent cords are broken’ Strengthen them even as planners of evil prepare to replace their homes with forests, leaving only their cemetery testifying to the generations that once lived in that place. May it be your will that forests will arise in Israel speedily and in our day, but not upon the ruins of Bedouin communities.

שבת היא מלזעוק, אך עוד לא אבדה תקוותנו למדינה שכן “תהא מושתתת על יסודות החירות, הצדק והשלום לאור חזונם של נביאי ישראל”. חזק את רוחנו למען לא נחשה, כדי שחזון נביאך יוגשם, “יִקָּרֵא לָךְ עִיר הַצֶּדֶק קִרְיָה נֶאֱמָנָה. צִיּוֹן בְּמִשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה”.‏
“Shabbat is not a time for lamentation,”[6]Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 12a and “Our hope is not yet lost”[7]From “Hatikva,” the National Anthem of Israel for a country that is based on “Freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.”[8]Israeli Declaration of Independence Sustain our determination not to remain silent,[9]Based on Isaiah 62:1, ‘For the sake of Zion I will not be silent’ so that we may help bring about the vision of Your prophet, “You shall be called ‘City of Righteousness, Faithful City.’ Zion shall be redeemed through justice, her repentant ones by righteousness.”[10]Isaiah 1:27

וִיהִ֤י׀ נֹ֤עַם אֲדֹנָ֥י אֱלֹהֵ֗ינוּ עָ֫לֵ֥ינוּ
וּמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָ֭דֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָ֥ה עָלֵ֑ינוּ
וּֽמַעֲשֵׂ֥ה יָ֝דֵ֗ינוּ כּוֹנְנֵֽהוּ׃
(תהלים צ׃יז)‏
May the favor of Adonai, our God, be upon us;
Let the work of our hands prosper
O prosper the work of our hands.
(Psalms 90:17)

Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, shares a prayer he wrote following the Israel Land Administration’s most recent eviction and demolition of El-Arakib, a Bedouin village in the Negev. The prayer was written with the intention that its recitation is made “on behalf of justice and the rededication of Israel to the ideals of her Declaration of Independence.” Rabbi Ashcerman writes:

Please take two small steps this weekend (and in the coming weeks) on behalf of justice and the rededication of Israel to the ideals of her Declaration of Independence. See [above] the prayer that we are asking you to read in your congregation/place of worship.

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving weekend and Jews around the world prepare for the joyous and thankful holiday of Ḥanukkah next week, there is no cause for joy or thanksgiving in the Negev Bedouin Village of El-Arakib. The entire village, sitting on lands in the possession of the El-Turi tribe for tens of years before the State of Israel, was demolished this week for the 7th time because it is “unrecognized,” and in the way of approaching JNF forests being planted on tribal lands. Even though the claims of the El-Turi tribe are now before the court, a village not on the map can not possibly get permits to build legally.

In Parashat Va’Yeshev we read the awful story of how Joseph is sold by his brothers. Perhaps the essence of human rights work is that all humanity are brothers and sisters, and that we must prevent one human being from selling another in any way. When we abandon the weakest and poorest Israelis, leaving them without home or a safety net, we have sold them. When we allow violence against women, we have sold them. We sell out our citizens when we allow corporations to make huge profits from our natural resources such as Israel’s undersea natural gas reserves, instead of using those profits for the benefit of our society. When we deny Palestinians the right to water or access to their lands or a roof over their heads, we have sold them into despair and oppression.

Nafal d’dvar b’Yisrael. This week the unrecognized Negev Bedouin village El-Arakib was demolished for the seventh time. My heart cries for them, and we need to reflect on how we have betrayed our fellow Israeli citizens. This is a community that has existed for dozens of years, before the founding of Israel. Their case is in court. The intent appears to preempt the court and to be to wipe out any memory that it existed, as three JNF forests are closing in on in from all sides.

As a partner in “The Recognition Forum” and “Negev Coexistence Forum” working on behalf of the unrecognized villages, we were asked to write the prayer which appears below for use this weekend in synagogues, churches, mosques, and other places of worship in Israel and around the world. If you are a congregational rabbi or lead a congregation of any faith, please include this prayer in your worship this weekend and/or on one of the coming weekends.

If you are a lay person or non-congregational rabbi/spiritual leader, please ask that this prayer be read in your congregation/place of worship. Please notify us at info@rhr.israel.net if you recited this prayer and tell us about the experience, as it is very important to us to know in how many places it was read and what happened. Next week, we in Israel will hold an interfaith prayer at El-Arakib, and it would be great to announce how many congregations around the world remembered El-Arakib in their prayers.

You can also click here to sign a petition on the Jewish National Fund asking them to cease efforts to plant forests on the ruins of Bedouin villages and to include the Bedouin in their plans for developing the Negev.

As we celebrate on Ḥanukkah the rededication of the Temple which once stood in Jerusalem, let us light a candle of justice and rededicate ourselves to the dream ensconced in our Declaration of Independence of an Israel “Based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel ” that will “Ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or gender.”

B’Vrakha (In Blessing), Arik

Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman
Rabbis For Human Rights
Shabbat VaYeshev 5771 (November 27, 2010)
לשבת וישב תשע”א

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Based on Lamentations 1:1, ‘How is it that the city sits alone and desolate’
  2. Lamentations 1:6
  3, 8. Israeli Declaration of Independence
  4. Based on Midrash Tanḥuma: Emor 9, ‘God sides with the oppressed [the one being pursued]‘
  5. Based on Jeremiah 10:20, ‘My tents are ravaged, all my tent cords are broken’
  6. Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 12a
  7. From “Hatikva,” the National Anthem of Israel
  9. Based on Isaiah 62:1, ‘For the sake of Zion I will not be silent’
  10. Isaiah 1:27

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