One by one, the boys were thrown out and the three apartments emptied. It took another hour before the police were able to break open the reinforced concrete box. Exhausted, the boys inside staggered out.

Around the corner, inside the neighborhood, police and special-units personnel were confronted by girls and a few boys who threw paint, eggs and stones. The police seemed eager for a confrontation and charged; the kids scattered, though some, unable to escape, were knocked down and had to be evacuated on stretchers.

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The police laughed and congratulated themselves; the kids were sullen. Many cried. They had lost another battle, as they knew they would, but their spirit was not broken; their wounds would heal and make them stronger.

A coming-of-age for these Israeli youth, such confrontations indicate the social and political turmoil in which Israel is mired, a reaction to an increasingly powerful post- (read: anti) Zionist, un-Jewish, unjust, superficial democracy. While the government calls for “law-and-order,” this struggle exposes the primary, fundamental clash between Judaism and Israelism to define the national character.

Hebron is where the first brit – sign of the Covenant – took place. Resistance to the government is a new form of brit: a commitment to a Jewish Zionist ideology and, for many, a mark of alienation from their country.

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Moshe Dann, Ph.D., is a writer and journalist. His book of short stories, “As Far As the Eye Can See,” was published last year by the New English Review Press.
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