Yesha Jews Have Rights, Too, Says Orit Strook

by David Lev, INN

If police, the Knesset, and the justice system have more respect than they used to for residents of Judea and Samaria – or, at least, more willingness to treat them like other Israelis with rights, instead of “second-class settlers” – it’s largely thanks to the efforts of the Yesha Human Rights Organization, headed by attorney Orit Strook. The group has filed hundreds of complaints against police officers who tended to release their frustrations on Jewish youth in places like Amona and Gush Katif, and it has also pursued criminal and civil cases against dozens of police officers guilty of police brutality. In addition, it has lobbied for and successfully pushed through important legislation that protects the rights of residents of Judea and Samaria.

“The government, the Knesset, the media and the left understand that the Jews of Yesha have someone supporting them,” Strook told Arutz Sheva. “We have made them sit up and take notice, ensuring that offenses against Yesha residents will be dealt with thoroughly.”

The work is not limited to Yesha residents. A good example of what Strook means came last week, when the organization filed an NIS 100,000 lawsuit against a police officer who was convicted – thanks to Strook – for beating up an innocent bystander at the 2010 “Pride Parade” in Jerusalem. An Orthodox man was filming a demonstration in the Geulah neighborhood – far away from the parade – and recorded provocations by police against some of the demonstrators from a rooftop. A policeman noticed the man filming, and demanded that he hand his camera over. The man refused to do so, and the policeman made his way to the roof and beat up the man, grabbing the camera. After supplying evidence, testimony and legal assistance, Strook got the officer convicted of police brutality – and filed a civil suit against him as well.

“Tracking down police officers who mistreat citizens is one of the activities on which we spend a great deal of time” says Strook. “Theoretically, cases like these are supposed to be dealt with by the police internal affairs unit (Machash), but they often suffer from a lack of motivation – and even if the motivation is there, the resources are not.”

The effectiveness of Strook’s group is evident in the numbers, she says. “About 2% of cases filed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs end up generating an indictment, while about a third of the complaints we file do. We end up doing a lot of the work Internal Affairs is supposed to do, but cannot or will not do.” When the organization takes a case, Strook says, they stick with it from beginning to end, ensuring that justice is done – and that corrupt cops pay the penalty. “Once we’re done with a criminal case, we almost always proceed to a civil lawsuit, in order to ensure that the policeman pays a stiff settlement out of his own pocket.” That, says Strook, is how police learn that crime – in their case, police brutality – doesn’t pay.

One of the major projects taken on by the organization – dealing with the police brutality at Amona in 2006 – is nearing completion. “As is well known, policed treated the protesters with extreme violence, and hid their identities by taking off their badges,” Strook says. At first, it appeared as if the subterfuge by police had succeeded; nearly all the complaints of brutality were dismissed because the specific officers that beat protesters could not be identified. “We got involved and produced evidence and witnesses, eventually identifying nearly all the offending officers. Our evidence was accepted by the courts, and they have begun meting out punishments.”

Besides working police brutality cases, the also works in the legislative arena. “Nowadays we are invited to all Knesset deliberations on human rights.” The organization was also instrumental in passing a law that expunges all charges against youths who were arrested in protests during the Disengagement. The law has been challenged by leftist groups in the High Court, and the organization has defended it – successfully – numerous times.

One of the most important projects the organization has taken on, says Strook, is helping to establish the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset. “We worked with numerous MKs to develop the Lobby, which was recently named by Yediot Acharonot as the most effective lobby in the Knesset,” Strook says. Her latest project is ensuring equal rights and justice for farmers in Judea and Samaria. “The farmers there have long suffered from both Arabs and police, who are very quick to blame them for Arab provocations,” Strook says. That situation actually follows the pattern set by the Justice Ministry, which, after much research by the organization, was proved to be singling out Yesha residents for harassment – at the order, it turned out, of Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. “We exposed the Nitzan situation, and we are doing the same thing in order to protect the farmers,” Strook said.

The Yesha Human Rights organization subsists mainly on donations, and volunteer work by attorneys the group works with. “At any one time, we have about 100 cases going, so this is a fairly complicated operation. There are many projects we’d like to take on that we cannot, because of the lack of resources and time.” But difficult as the work may be, it’s necessary – and it’s had an important impact on Israeli society. “Today police, the courts, and the Knesset have learned that the residents of Yesha are Israelis with rights. That’s a big change from just a few years ago,” says Strook. “That new attitude has made Israel more democratic for everyone.”

February 28, 2011 | 12 Comments »

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  1. A well written analysis of the shortcomings of western democracy, Yamit.

    Thanks for putting up the old videos of Rav Meir Kahane. The last time I heard his live voice was over the telephone a few days before his assassination slightly more than 20 years ago. He truly was unforgettable, and I miss his presence. For reasons I cannot explain, he never got cantankerous with me, even when I argued with him over some of the finer points of document editing. The Jewish nation should have protected him better, and above all, ought to have listened to him with more of an open mind.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  2. ArnoldHarris, Real Jews expel their enemies

    Food for thought:

    Russian media published the figures of Russian arms deals with Libya: pending contracts total $3.8 billion. This is twice our previous estimate and exceeds the value of Russian nuclear contracts in Iran. Those contracts will now be lost after Russia supported the UNSC sanctions on Libya.

    It took the White House hardly a week to broker the deal with Russia and somehow compensate its losses in Libya. Why was not a similar deal reached on Iran?

    For those of you whom I am describing, the time has come for you to decide:

    1) Democratic state or Jewish state? Under circumstances that should be obvious to anyone, it must be one or the other. Choose wisely.

    What’s wrong with American and Western democracies?…In the era of mass media, election campaigns are expensive. Grassroots financing is a fairy tale: once a candidate becomes widely known and his chances appear somewhat realistic, large donors flock to him/her. That is venture financing in the political sphere: the risks are large, but the potential profits are staggering. You will often as not see Large donors backing both sides of the political contests. German industrialists financed Hitler, and Jewish American businessmen backed Obama. An honest candidate stands no chance of securing sufficient financing, as he is not sufficiently corrupt to shower his benefactors with government contracts and subsidies upon reaching office.

    Democracies historically quickly eroded into demagoguery, tyranny, and then monarchy. Modern states erroneously identified as democracies are actually republics, the difference being that some basic values in republics are closed to democratic discourse; on the other hand, even theocracy allows democratic decision-making on mundane issues while the core values are kept non-negotiable. There are three viable alternatives to democracy. Two of them are biblically sanctioned: anarchy and monarchy, while the third was employed by Jews throughout most of our history—theocracy. Anarchy operates as a network of townships bonded together by mutual defense agreements, common and criminal law. The legal system is kept to a minimum, and people are free to a great extent.

    Jewish monarchy is a constitutional one, in which the king is bound by myriad restrictions. Short of a very bad king, such a system is well suited for opinionated Jews, whose perpetual debates and vacillations it crushes. If the king proves very bad, he can be removed both on religious grounds (as a traitor) or simply by the masses exercising their right of insurrection.

    Theocracy is also not bad. Someone like Ovadia Yosef, for all his shortcomings, wouldn’t be a worse leader of Israel than BB. At least, Rabbi Ovadia has Jewish ideas and convictions. Theocracy served the Jews well for nineteen centuries. It wasn’t perfect, but it was workable.

    No realistically electable politician in Israel is better than BB. But there are viable forms of Jewish government better than democracy, in which the likes of BB and would never rise to a position of leadersheip.

    Personally I am not opposed in certain circumstances and under certain conditions a civil war. The Israeli right is hopelessly divided and the religious right will not fight the IDF which is their version of the Golden Calf. Give me 30-50,000 Good Jews and I would declare The second but the real Jewish State of Judea on all lands the Jews of J&S can keep and retake from the Arabs. If there can be 2 or 3 Palis States why not 2 Jewish States. Those same Jews who have a problem fighting other Jews and their Idol the IDF, do not have the same moral and ideological or religious restraints fighting and even killing our Arab enemies. Once established and secure the 2nd Jewish state can confederate with Israel proper.

    The Jewish Militants will make a single demand: an autonomous or independent Judea in the areas not significantly populated by secular Jews or Arabs. Meeting the demand requires no violence, allows for a truly Jewish state-like entity, and provides a safety valve for religious feelings. The message is, we want to go, we don’t infringe on anyone’s rights, and you, Israel, want to get rid of us.

    Meir Kahane to the IDF: Leave the West Bank

    The Struggle for the Land of Israel See What Here!

  3. This is something that I wrote about about an Israeli police offier who committed an act of violence against a right-wing protestor during the disengagement monstrosity totally out of line in any democratic society. Naim is seen in the video appearing to be trying to pull Vitkins nose off by sticking his fingers in his nostrils from behind and pulling up and Avraham later beat Vitkin repeatedly in the police station.Solid EvidenceThe judge wrote that he had been presented with solid evidence by the plaintiffs while the police defendants provided only weak testimonies in their favor. This after observers said he appeared to express sympathy with the policemen at various points during the trial.The policemens lawyer claimed during the trial that Vitkin had committed grave acts by lying on the road and blocking traffic including that of security vehicles.

  4. Yamit,

    NaziFront or no NaziFront, MW’s old stereotypical joke pretty much hits the nail right square on its head.


    Confusion, indecision, rationalization and all the other laboratory of Jewish social diseases are threatening the Jewish control over and possession of Aretz-Yisrael. And who is responsible for this state of affairs if not the Jews who live there and vote into power these sorry excuses for a government that is supposed to be in charge in a time of crisis?

    For those of you whom I am describing, the time has come for you to decide:

    1) Democratic state or Jewish state? Under circumstances that should be obvious to anyone, it must be one or the other. Choose wisely.

    2) Yenuda, Shomron, Golan and possibly Jerusalem to be held for “peace” negotiations, or to be fully settled, annexed and cleansed at least of their most overt and threatening enemy populations. Do you think giving up any more of the pittance of land your country now controls will bring you peace? If so, be prepared to evacuate it again, but be smart enough to realize that your Judenrat will be sent back to convince you yet again that more such border “adjustments” are called for, in the name of “peace”. Or, chuck all this bullshit and show the world an entirely new type of Jew. One who says:

    “We are here because this land is ours. All of it. Accordingly, we will defend it, and we will never, ever retreat from it again. And if you don’t like that, then stick it up your collective asses”.

    And to back that up, is precisely why ha-Shem, working through Ernst David Bergmann and his equally divinely inspired successors, gave you the estimated 225 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons that your country’s estimated rate of production of weapons-grade plutonium that is the only thing that made such weapons possible. (Of all the old time “yekkes” who came to Israel in the early days, his name stands out in my memory for the highest honors and blessings.)

    In any case, time is short. So make up your damned minds before Someone Else does it for you.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  5. ArnoldH:

    The only element of focused truth that all of you are ignoring here is that the Jewish nation now residing in Aretz-Yisrael plainly is in the hands of the usual Judenrat put into power or kept there either at the strong suggestion or the insistence of whatever goyim government is in control of your destiny in any particular era. That’s exactly how I see all of the governments of Israel that have had any kind of approval of the United States, the European Union, or the UNO. The Germans used the term correctly: JUDENRAT. So either find a way to get right of these bastards, and replace them with an authentic Jewish nationalist government, or sit on the sidelines and whine about how nasty the world is in regard to Jewish rights

    Arnold- what you write is very correct- but understand this, the Jewish collective is made up of individual Jews who tend to be confused, indecisive and full of inner conflicts. Jews rationalize constantly.

    The following, just happens to be based on a true story, experienced by myself, from my days in the upholstering business. I don’t recall all the details but I’ll do my best.

    Feingold, the retail furniture mogul,appears on Fridaymorning in the rabbi’s study with an aggrieved look on his face. when the rabbi asks him what is wrong, Feingold says:

    “Last night , I returned to my store at ten oclock and discovered my wife, Gladys, who is supposed to be at her book club being made love to by Sid Schwartzkopf, my top salesman, in our showroom, on the The Thomasville convertable couch, in fawn beige, stock number 3285689. I left in shock. They don’t know I saw them.”

    “Clearly,” says the rabbi , “you must leave your wife.”

    “But, rabbi, Gladys and I have been married for thirty-eight years. So far as I know, this is the first time she has been unfaithful to me”

    “Very well,” says the rabbi, “then you must fire your salesman.”

    “Fire Sid Schwartzkopf! Rabbi, he accounts for more than half the sales in the store. I can’t fire Sidney.”

    “Well,” says the rabbi, “you must do one or the other: leave your wife or fire your salesman. Take the weekend to think about it, and let’s meet again here in my study on Monday.”

    Monday morning , Feingold appears in the rabbi’s study, his face abeam with a broad smile.

    “Ah, Mr Feingold,” says the rabbi. ” I see that you have come to a decision. Have you decided to leave your wife?”

    “Rabbi, thirty-eight years is thirty-eight years. I can’t leave my wife for a single indiscetion.”

    “I presume, then,” says the rabbi, “that you have fired your salesman.”

    “Can’t do it, Rabbi. Without Sid Schwartzkopf, my business, would be finished, kaput.”

    “Then why, if I may ask,” says the rabbi, “do you look so contented, so happy even?”

    “Oh.” says Feingold, ” I sold the couch.”

  6. The only element of focused truth that all of you are ignoring here is that the Jewish nation now residing in Aretz-Yisrael plainly is in the hands of the usual Judenrat put into power or kept there either at the strong suggestion or the insistence of whatever goyim government is in control of your destiny in any particular era. That’s exactly how I see all of the governments of Israel that have had any kind of approval of the United States, the European Union, or the UNO. The Germans used the term correctly: JUDENRAT. So either find a way to get right of these bastards, and replace them with an authentic Jewish nationalist government, or sit on the sidelines and whine about how nasty the world is in regard to Jewish rights.

    But unless and until you do just that, your own government will sell you out just to get some piece of drech like Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Clinton to smile at you indulgently. At least until the next next set of demands at your expense are floated by the Arabs, who are your permanent national enemies for so long as you maintain an independent Jewish state in the Middle East.

    Some of you wonder why more American Jews of the nationalist temperament that you approve of pick up their stakes and emigrate to Israel. The answer is that it is too damned difficult simultaneously to fight the Arabs and the Israel government.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  7. The article is good, but it omits one important piece of information: how does one donate to the Yesha Human Rights Organization, if one is living in the U.S.? I could not find any website online for this organization, nor any information on how to donate to it.

  8. Not all victims are alike

    Security forced rallied against a crowd of peaceful protestors, demolished their houses, and fired rubber bullets.

    Another round of the UNSC condemnations, perhaps? Not at all, because this time it was Israeli police firing at Jewish settlers at the ‘illegal’ Gilead Farm outpost.

    UN legalizes riots

    The UNSC slapped Libya with multiple sanctions. It remains to be seen what the White House offered to Russia to join the vote (probably yet another concession on Israel).

    The alleged reason for the sanctions was the Libyan government’s repression of ‘peaceful protesters.’ But the protests have not been peaceful since Libya’s Bedouin tribes joined the uprising. By the UNSC’s logic, no government is entitled to suppress insurgents.

    The UNSC’s approach is very selective: no such pressure was applied to Iran or Pakistan. The UNSC vote became possible after the Saudis vowed to replace any reduction in oil supply caused by the Libyan disturbances.