Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann arrested in Jerusalem

By Rabbi Nava Hefetz, writing from Jerusalem -- 28.10.09

He that walk uprightly, and work righteousness… shall never be moved. Psalms, 15

Salah A-Din Street in East Jerusalem, 9 PM, the streets are deserted, here and there a few men gather. In the middle of the street two men are trying to extinguish burning boxes. The darkness that overshadows the Old City’s walls contains the tension that will only break at dawn.

I enter the police station located at the corner of Suleiman the Magnificent and Salah A Din streets (din in Hebrew means justice). There, one will not encounter magnificence, and even justice did not manage to enter. The police building can glory in its neglect and the trash that surrounds it.

At the entrance, a young and bored policeman is sitting chain smoking, while in the background classical music plays soothingly. What a dissonance between the Beethoven’s romantic "For Elise” and the miserable surrounding scene…

So what brings two Israeli women at night to the street junction of Suleiman the Magnificent and Salah A-Din, and in particular to a police station?

A few hours earlier, Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, the territories coordination of Rabbis for Human Rights, was arrested. Rabbi Yehiel came to Sheikh Jarrah, and when he saw a gathering, he approached a policeman and asked him what was going on.

Yehiel was not aware that before his arrival the police had asked the crowed to leave the place. Yehiel was not part of the crowd, (had he been, he would not have questioned the policemen).

Those who know Rabbi Yehiel Greniman, know that "He that have clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalms 24:4). He is not a trouble maker and does not instigate riots; he never provokes the security forces or other authorities. Yehiel is a gentle man “that walk uprightly, and work righteousness, and speak truth in his heart"; (Psalms 15:2). He never raises his voice or shames any human being, regardless of who he is, his background, what ideas he holds, or his position.

Yehiel “hath no slander upon his tongue, nor does evil to his fellow, nor take up a reproach against his neighbor” (Psalms 15:3). Yehiel is not a harsh fighter; he fights for justice quietly and respectfully.

Yehiel’s arrest yesterday is despicable. No policeman bothered to check the facts. They assumed that if a RHR rabbi is present, it is “logical” that he came to instigate and that he is one of the protesters. The arrest of Yehiel shows how easily the police arrest people. Yesterday it was “illegal” immigrants in Moshav Hatzeva, today it is human rights activists and people who live under occupation, and tomorrow?

Who will be arrested tomorrow? Maybe, those of us who do not agree with government policy? Perhaps they will arrest people with different sexual tendencies? Perhaps they will arrest non-Jews? Or Jews who are not accepted by the Interior Ministry or by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Employment or the Defense Ministry? The arrest of Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann shows the gradual erosion in human rights and in the rights of the citizens in the State of Israel.

Yehiel, “Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1), Keep on with your important and blessed work “Justice, justice shall you pursue…”, because it is the essence of humanistic Judaism.