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January 16, 2004 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-01-16

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In The Bulldozer's Path

Israel's policy of home demolition goes on trial along with activist rabbi.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Staff Writer


s the Israeli bulldozer rum-
bled toward him, Rabbi Arik
Ascherman says, he thought
of Rachel Corrie.
Ascherman, 44, executive director of
Rabbis for Human Rights Israel, was
trying last April to block the demolition
of the Maswadeh family's home in Beit
Hanina, an Arab village on the outskirts
of Jerusalem. The house violated munic-
ipal zoning regulations.
Corrie, 23, an American activist with
the pro-Palestinian International
Solidarity Movement, was crushed to
death by an Israeli bulldozer demolish-
ing a Gaza Strip home that allegedly
concealed the exit of an arms-smuggling
While Rabbi Ascherman's reference to
Corrie carries heavy symbolism, the two
cases are also different. The rabbinical
group combats only zoning-related dem-
olitions, even though it also officially
opposes the kind of security demolitions
Corrie was fighting.
"I don't think we'll ever know whether
she fell, whether the bulldozer saw her
or whether it was a game of chicken that

went too far," says Rabbi Ascherman, a
U.S.-born Reform rabbi who now lives
in Jerusalem. "If it was an accident, it
drives home that when you're in front of
a bulldozer knocking down a home,
accidents can happen.
The rabbi was luckier than Corrie. He
lost only his skullcap in the rubble of
the Maswadeh home.
On Jan. 14, Rabbi Ascherman and
two co-defendants, Shai Eliezer and
Omer Ori, appeared in court to face
charges of interfering with a police
action in Beit Hanina and in the village
of Issawiyah, north of Jerusalem. If con-
victed, each could face three years in jail
and fines.
Judge Rivka Friedman-Feldman grant-
ed the defense 20 days to submit evi-
dence and material pertaining to the
demolition of homes in East Jerusalem.
The state will reply within 15 days after
that. The date for the next court hearing
has been set for March 24.

American Rabbis Protest

On Jan. 13, Rabbis for Human Rights
North America delivered a statement by
300 rabbis to the Israeli Embassy in
Washington and the Israeli Consulate in
New York demanding that the charges
against Rabbi Ascherman be dropped
and urging Israel to stop demolishing

Holocaust Allegations

U.S. seeks to revoke citizenship of Ukrainian
immigrant living in Troy.






he Department of Justice
filed a complaint to revoke
the citizenship of John "Ivan"
Kalymon, 82, of Troy for his
actions as a member of the Nazi-operat- .
ed Ukrainian Auxiliary Police (UAP)
during World War II.
According to the complaint filed Jan.
8 by the Criminal Division's Office of
Special Investigations (OSI) and the
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern
District of Michigan, Kalymon served in
the UAP in L'viv, Poland.
"The UAP in L'viv, with Kalymon's
participation, enforced persecutory

measures against those whom the Nazis
deemed dangerous or undesirable
because of their race, religion, national
origin or political belief, primarily the
city's Jews," the complaint said.
"The UAP helped herd Jews at gun-
point into a ghetto in L'viv. The UAP
routinely checked personal identification
documents and arrested Jews for failing
to produce special work passes or to
wear an armband bearing the Star of
David symbol."
The complaint alleges that Kalymon,
as an armed, uniformed member of the
5th/7th Commissariat, was responsible
for enforcing such laws on a day-to-day
"During 1942 and 1943, with the

Arab homes.
Rabbi Ascherman is "totally devoted
to the moral heritage of the Jewish peo-
ple, and that is precisely why the Israeli
government is prosecuting him," said
Rabbi Brian Walt, executive director of
the group's North American chapter.
Among those signing the statement
were Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, former
vice president of the World Jewish
Congress and Rabbi David Saperstein,
director of the Religious Action Center
for Reform Judaism.
Also among the signers were three
local rabbis, Rabbi Robert Dobrusin of
Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor,
Rabbi Paul Yedwab of Temple Israel in
West Bloomfield and Rabbi Norman
Roman of Temple Kol Ami in West
"I believe that all Jews should support
a strong, stable Jewish state of Israel,"
Rabbi Dobrusin wrote in a statement to
the Jewish News. "I believe that all peo-
ple should condemn suicide bombing
and other acts of terror in the strongest
possible terms as unjustifiable, horren-
dous acts of inhumanity.
"But I also believe, in the spirit of Dr.
Martin Luther King and Rabbi
Abraham Joshua Heschel, two individu-
als we remember this weekend, that we
must be willing to hold a mirror up to
ourselves as well and ask the difficult

moral and ethical questions concerning
our own behavior. In that spirit, I sup-
port all of those in Israel who are willing
to raise these questions and who seek
out a strong, just Jewish state and peace
in the Middle East."
Rabbi Yedwab said he was "probably
not the best person" to comment on the
Rabbis for Human Rights North
America statement.
"In fact, I disagree with many of the
things Rabbis for Human Rights has
done," he said.
However, he has known Rabbi
Ascherman for many years, since the
two were roommates in rabbinical
"He is extremely passionate about civil
rights and he is a lover of Israel as well,"
Rabbi Yedwab said. "I don't agree with
him politically. However, I really don't
believe he should go to jail for a
Rabbi Yedwab said he is not against
the policy of destroying Palestinian
homes, depending on the circumstances.
"Sometimes, the destruction of one
house can be justified; one down the
street cannot be justified," he said. "I
support Israel's right to defend itself.
Israel has bigger problems than Arik
Rabbi Roman could not be reached
by the Jewish News' deadline. 111

vital assistance of the UAP, virtually all
of the more than 100,000 Jews in the
L'viv area were seized and transported to
killing sites, including the Belzec exter-
mination camp, or forced labor camps,"
the statement continued. "Nazi docu-
ments show that Kalymon took part in
these mass roundups and deportations,
during at least one of which he shot
Bill Weiss, a Holocaust survivor from
Farmington Hills, said he was surprised
about the news.
"[The Ukrainian Police] were very,
very bad, even worse than the
Germans," said Weiss, a resident in L'viv
from 1941-1944. "They were rounding
up Jews and just beating them and
killing them.
"In a report signed by the defendant
and dated Aug. 14, 1942, the defendant
wrote to his superiors that he, 'fired four
shots at 7 p.m. on 14 August, 1942,
while serving in a Jewish operation. One

person was wounded and one was
killed,'" OSI Director Eli M.
Rosenbaum said. "That's a direct
Kalymon's statement was found by
poring over records and archives, said
"We do our own proactive investiga-
tions; we find this stuff all on our own, "
he said. "Day after day, year after year,
we send our people all over the world
looking through archives."
Kalymon entered the United States in
1949, accompanied by his wife and son.
He retired in 1989 after working for
Chrysler Corp.
"I'm glad they caught him," Weiss
said. "All his neighbors said he was a
nice guy. Sure, he was afraid to do any-
thing. He didn't want to get caught.
Since 1979, 73 individuals with Nazi
ties have been stripped of U.S. citizen-
ship and 59 have been removed from
the country by the OSI. H

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