Monday, August 16, 2021, 16:36 In May 2020, the head of security of Amichai, a community in the Binyamin region, sued well-known left-wing activist Arik Ascherman, an American-born Israeli Reform rabbi, former President of Rabbis for Human Rights, and founder of “Torat Tzedek”, for libel over his mendacious and defamatory posts in the social media. Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado filed the suit on behalf of the head of security. Currently, in a compromise agreement, Ascherman will pay the head of security 10,000 NIS in compensation.
The posts in question were publicized after an incident involving residents of Amihai and a group of Arabs in May 2020. The residents stated that several Arabs drove their tractors onto cultivated agricultural land and plowed through it, destroying a wheat crop which was almost ready for harvest. A resident of Amihai was run over by one of the tractors when he tried to physically block them. The Arabs countered, as Ascherman posted on his Twitter account, that they were allowed to destroy the crop because the land is under private Arab ownership.
The suit states that several hours after the incident Ascherman tweeted on his personal Twitter account and posted on the Facebook page of “Torat Tzedek” a photograph of the head of security and claimed that he had led settlers to attack Arabs who were doing agricultural work and had also given them tear gas to spray at the Arabs. Ascherman posted the status on the Facebook page of the organization and then shared it. The post is written in Hebrew and English and was shared by others on social media.
In the statement of claim, Yado wrote, “The post is completely mendacious, baseless and lacks a connection to reality. The complainant did not lead others to attack and was not present at the site at the time of the clash. The complainant arrived at the site in the capacity of his job as the head of security of Amihai, after the arrival of the security forces and after the violence had stopped.” The photograph of the head of security which Ascherman posted was taken after the clash and after the security forces had arrived.
The suit specifies that publicizing the photograph of the head of security via social media to Arabs living in the area is liable to cause substantial injury to the head of security. Despite a request by the head of security to Ascherman to immediately remove the posts, Ascherman refused and left the posts and the photograph as they were. He did, however, add a comment that the head of security denied what was stated in the post.
The head of security made a statement after the compensation was awarded: “I recommend that every crime victim who was injured in any way, by anarchists, by ‘peace’ activists, and of course by terrorists, not to forgo a civil suit, alongside or instead of criminal proceedings, which are sometimes dragged out due to lack of motivation on the part of law enforcement authorities. A civil suit creates a genuine deterrent.”
He also thanked Honenu “from the bottom of my heart, especially Attorney Menashe Yado, for their dedication to the task and for the effective representation. Well done!”
Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado, who is representing the head of security welcomed the compensation and explained the challenges which a head of security faces: “The head of security of Amichai copes with areas that are very complex security-wise, such as Qusra, a very dangerous hot-spot. And also with Turmus Aya, an area rife with dangers, from which the perpetrator of the recent murder of Yehuda Guetta, Hy”d, came. On top of all that he had to deal with mendacious and absurd posts from a man who calls himself Rabbi Ascherman, who presented a photo of him with some story, libelous statements to which he has no connection whatsoever, that he supposedly assaulted Arabs.
“Since the incident, the post has been shared by Arabs with photographs of weapons, and nobody has a problem with it. Ascherman was told in real time to take the post down, but he wouldn’t. He thinks he’s the Justice and Righteousness Minister, but he’s committing an injustice, a great injustice. In this case we succeeded in apprehending him and receiving compensation and an apology from him.”
See here for more cases involving left-wing activist Arik Ascherman.