human rights

Human Rights Day 2010: A Day to Lament

Special to the Jewish Week

The international community on December 10 marks International Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Conventions. Unfortunately, there is more to lament than celebrate. Although numerous institutions and organizations were established to protect and advance these rights, the international community fails to live up to its moral commitments.

IRAC, Abraham Fund Call for Charges Against Safed Rabbi


WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Two Israeli groups with U.S. affiliates called for the criminal investigation of a municipal rabbi who asked Jews not to rent apartments to non-Jews.

The Israel Religious Action Center, an affiliate of the Reform movement, and the Abraham Fund, a group that promotes Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel and that has a U.S. office, this week sent separate letters to Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein calling on him to launch a criminal incitement probe of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, Ha'aretz reported.

Jewish Groups Praise Obama on Sudan


(JTA) -- Jewish groups praised President Obama for focusing international attention on preventing renewed civil war in Sudan.

Obama appeared late last month at a United Nations conference on the situation in Sudan, putting the U.S. government's weight behind efforts to ensure that independence referendums take place in the sub-Saharan African country as scheduled in January.

Israeli Soldiers Convicted of Using Human Shield


JERUSALEM (JTA)-- An Israeli military court convicted two soldiers of using a Palestinian child as a human shield during the Gaza war.

The Israeli soldiers were convicted of inappropriate behavior and overstepping authority on Sunday, for forcing an 11-year-old Palestinian boy to open bags they believed to be armed with explosives during a search conducted in southern Gaza City in January 2009.

It is the first convictions on the use of human shields, which is prohibited by Israeli military protocol, according to Haaretz.

Wigmakers' Conference On Abuse Postponed

Staff Writer
Organizers of a conference that would sensitize Orthodox wigmakers to signs of domestic abuse are working on rescheduling the Feb. 12 conference, which was postponed following a feature on the event in The Jewish Week. A source said the publicity had caused unspecified complications. The conference was organized by several Jewish organizations with help from the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. Recognizing that Orthodox women have close relationships with the women who style their wigs, it sought to train the wigmakers to counsel abuse victims.

Group Against Arab Home Demolitions Seeks Support Here

Assistant Managing Editor
On the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War, a human rights organization founded 10 years ago by Israelis is raising its profile and seeking more support from Americans. But the organization’s name might be misleading. The Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is not just focused on preventing the Israeli army’s destruction of Palestinian property — a cause that gained international notice in 2003 when American activist Rachel Corrie was crushed by a bulldozer while protesting such actions on the West Bank.

Elian Saga Could Mar Return Of Children

Staff Writer
Advocates for children in international custody cases are warning that the unfolding Elian Gonzales saga could have drastic repercussions on efforts to retrieve kids from foreign countries, including Israel, where such cases have risen sharply in recent years. “This gives those who want to justify the non-return of children another peg to hang their hats on,” said Nancy Hammer, international director of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia.

Confrontation In Kazakhstan?

Staff Writer
Jewish leaders are promising to raise questions about the human rights record of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev when they meet with him this week. "Most countries are accused of human rights abuses, and it is an issue we will discuss while there," Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said of the group's five-day trip to Kazakhstan.

Shift Seen As Torture Issue Sparking Community

Washington Correspondent
Jewish groups may be poised for a major burst of activism on the issue of torture and detainee abuse — an issue that until now has produced what one prominent activist called “shameful” silence from the Jewish community. The shift was apparent in an interfaith ad in The New York Times on Wednesday arguing that “Torture is a Moral Issue” — a letter signed by the leader of the Conservative movement, as well as a Reform leader who has been an outspoken critic of administration policy on the issue. “

Human Rights Watch in Saudi Arabia: dumb, dumb dumb

I generally admire human rights watchdog groups, even if I agree they sometimes show a little more enthusiasm in criticizing Israel than in criticizing its neighbors.  Human Rights Watch has always struck me as reasonably fair and balanced – contrary to the views of some pro-Israel groups, which regard any criticism of Israel as blasphemy.

But for the life of me I can't figure out what the group was doing in Saudi Arabia recently, fundraising by allegedly bragging about their battles with the pro-Israel lobby here.

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