Rabbi arrested for inciting Arab violence

Sunday, March 16, 2008 |  by Staff Writer  

Israeli police last Thursday arrested the leader of the radical left-wing organization Rabbis for Human Rights after he encouraged Arab demonstrators in a Jerusalem neighborhood to violently oppose the authorities.

The incident took place during a routine protest by Arabs and left-wing Israeli Jews against archeological excavations in the mixed Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, which is situated directly over King David's ancient capital.

Finds at the site have already shed an enormous amount of light on the biblical Israeli kingdom that once dominated the region, and those opposed Israel's full restoration fear further such discoveries will only solidify Jewish historical claims to the city.

Thursday's scuffle including a large number of local Arabs opposed by local Jews and right-leaning Israelis supportive of the excavations. When police tried to intervene, Ha'aretz reported that Rabbi Arik Ascherman, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, incited the gathered Arabs to resist.

Ascherman also reportedly tried to prevent the evacuation of a right-wing Israeli wounded during the confrontation.

When asked by police to stay away from Silwan for 15 days to allow a proper investigation of the events, Ascherman refused and was taken into custody.

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