web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Beit Hadassah’

Hebron ‘We Have a Dram’ March Culminates in Attack on Local Jew

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

David Wilder who filed this report was too worked up to notice the hilarious banner carried by Palestinian Arabs in Hebron, condemning Israel’s “Hebron apartheid” (Arabs have access to the entire city of Hebron, while Jews are limited to about 30 percent of the city — that IS apartheid… Things became serious shortly thereafter, but seeing as the banner was intended for Barack Obama to read, we urge the president to send more funds to teach Arabs basic spelling. Unless they really do have a dram (a unit of liquid capacity equal to 18 fluid ounce) they want to fulfill… — Yori Yanover.

Late Wednesday morning, I made my way from our offices in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood of Hebron to Beit Hadassah, a few minutes away, to speak with a group there. Being a few minutes early, I first went upstairs to my home. Coming downstairs, ten minutes later, a friend asked if I was going to film the “balagan” (pandemonium) outside in the street. What balagan? I asked. “A march, with Arabs and Palestinian flags, right here on the street.”

I ran up to the street, grabbed my camera from the car, and saw, a few meters in front of me, a group of Arabs, foreign anarchists, and Israelis, as well as a large group of journalists, mostly Arab photographers, and a few soldiers and Hebron residents.



Some of the people were wearing masks with pictures of Obama on them. Most of the pushing and shoving centered around a banner sign they were carrying.

As I started filming, I quickly saw a true Hebron nemesis, also with a camera: Issa Amru, who can be described as something of a terrorist trouble-maker, a master provocateur .

Who is this guy?

The following is a letter sent today to senior IDF and police officers:

To: General Nitzan Alon Commander, Central Command

Col. Avi Bluth Hebron Brigade Commander,

Commander Itzik Rachamim Hebron Police Commander

Re: Issa Amro

This person is the center of anarchist-terrorist activity in Hebron. Said activity is not confined to incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations and violence, but also includes actual military operations, including Molotov cocktails and more.

For example, a video circulated on the ambush and use of firebombs against IDF soldiers. The tape is written in Arabic “Youth against the settlements,” an organization of Issa Amro and his partner Jonathan Pollack.



It should be added that Arabs entered the Admot Yishai (Tel Rumeida) neighborhood Friday night, March 8, 2013 (20 meters from a soldier’s position), uprooted a tree and dismantled and stole a bench. Undoubtedly, these operations were carried out under the command of Issa.

This activity can be carried out only after monitoring and intelligence gathering.

This person is behind a series of serious provocations.

On March 19, he organized another provocation at Tel Rumeida, carried out by his brother, trying to cut through a barbed wire fence.

Today, March 20, there was a serious provocation outside Beit Hadassah, coordinated by Amro and with the cooperation and participation of anarchist elements. Arabs marched through the streets with PLO flags and banners. David Wilder, a Hebron resident and member of the Community Municipal Committee, was attacked and his camera broken. Security forces, rather than help him, did nothing, appearing helpless.

This series of failures could lead to bloodshed.

We demand that you take all actions necessary to put an end to these provocations and incitement, and to stop this terrorist activity immediately. Use administrative detention until you are able to find a long-term solution to completely end this hostile and dangerous activity.

We warn that any delay in dealing conclusively could be very costly.

Regards,

Avraham Ben Yosef – Mayor, Hebron Municipal Council

Uri Karzen – Director General, Hebron Jewish Community

Issa seemed to be having a good time. He fingered me, gave me a V sign, and blew me some kisses. He eventually took my Canan 5D camera, tossed it into the air and watched it bounce in the street. I think the body is ok but the 24-105, $1500 lens died.

Eventually, after it was over, he was arrested. The last time he went to court, the judge banned him from participating in demonstrations in Hebron for six months. That was a few months ago. Having violated the court decision, he may now find himself warming a jail cell for a while. Probably not long enough, unless our security forces get their stuff together and find a way to rid us of this dangerous person.

Religious Settlers Face Pervasive Double Standard

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.

The current round of evictions began, not surprisingly, in Hebron. Ever since the Six-Day War Jews have struggled tenaciously to rebuild their ancient community, destroyed during the murderous Arab pogrom in 1929. Against unremitting government resistance they have reclaimed abandoned Jewish property and, whenever possible, purchased buildings from willing Arab sellers.

Rabbi Moshe Levinger, founding father of the restored Hebron community, insisted: “No government has the authority or right to say that a Jew cannot live in all parts of the Land of Israel.” But from Menachem Begin, who was infuriated when Jewish “invaders” moved into Beit Hadassah in 1979, to Benjamin Netanyahu, who signed off on the recent expulsion from Beit HaMachpelah, the Israeli government has repeatedly tried to prevent Jews from living in Hebron.

A week before Passover fifteen Jewish families moved into a house purchased from a willing Arab seller near Me’arat HaMachpelah, site of the burial place of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. But their presence was labeled an intolerable “provocation” by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is experienced in the expulsion of Jews from their Hebron homes.

Four years ago a signed purchase and sale agreement, accompanied by a video of the Arab seller receiving and counting his money, provided insufficient proof to Barak of Jewish ownership of Beit HaShalom, strategically located on the main road between Kiryat Arba and Hebron. Resisting what he described as “attempts by small groups of radicals to undermine the authority of the state,” Barak ordered Israeli soldiers and border police to forcibly remove the Jewish families who had lived there for more than a year.

This time, Barak refused to delay the expulsion. Netanyahu, who was willing to permit the new residents to remain in their home until after Passover pending a judicial ruling, quickly capitulated to his defense minister. The new residents of Beit HaMachpelah left peacefully, averting another violent encounter with Israeli soldiers – who might otherwise be expected to protect the right of Jews to live in their own homes. While the Beit HaShalom case still winds its tortuous way through the judicial system, the expelled residents of Beit HaMachpelah have now entered their own Dickensian legal labyrinth.

It is well known that Palestinians who sell property to Jews endanger their own lives. As a Hebron Arab told an Israeli journalist after the purchase of Beit HaShalom: “We will find the seller and chop him up into tiny bits.” When vigilante justice fails, the Palestinian Authority follows Jordanian precedent and imposes capital punishment on the seller. Indeed, the Arab who sold Beit HaMachpelah has now been sentenced to death in a Palestinian court. Under these circumstances, why would any Palestinian seller not claim fraud to save his life?

Ironically, it was Jewish community leaders in Hebron who protested this grotesque display of Palestinian justice. In a letter to the UN, the International Red Cross, Secretary of State Clinton, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, they wrote: “It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a ‘capital crime’ punishable by death.” Such a law “points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices during the dark ages.”

But travesties of justice are not a Palestinian monopoly nor are they confined to Hebron. In the town of Beit El, established north of Jerusalem in Samaria in 1977, another housing crisis looms. Once again Defense Minister Barak is at the center of a property dispute involving belated Palestinian claims to land inhabited by Jews.

Thirty Jewish homes in the adjacent Givat Ha’Ulpana neighborhood are scheduled for destruction. According to a Supreme Court ruling, they were built on private land whose Palestinian “owner” only recently decided to reclaim it. Once again Barak cited the necessity to defend the rule of law – invariably at the expense of Jewish settlers, whose legal rights vanish at the whim of the defense minister.

“We are not chess pieces for Ehud Barak to play with,” infuriated residents protested. They insisted that the land was purchased with government mortgages from its Palestinian owner more than a decade ago. They were advised by civil administration officials not to register it lest the seller’s life be endangered. Yoel Tzur, a Beit El resident whose wife and son were killed in a terrorist attack on their way home sixteen years ago, reminded Netanyahu of his promise at the time to build a large community there in their memory.

Several government ministers warned Netanyahu, who relies upon his defense minister for political cover on his left flank, that any further destruction of Jewish communities would risk the dissolution of his governing coalition. Malleable as always under pressure, Netanyahu announced he was committed to “strengthening” settlements in Judea and Samaria. A special ministerial committee quickly decided to finally legalize three outposts that had received government authorization more than a decade ago.

Martyrs and Memory

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Thirty years ago – Friday evening, May 2, 1980 – in Hebron. Inside Me’arat HaMachpelah, the massive 2,000-year-old Herodian edifice above the tombs of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people, the Shabbat service had just concluded.

Several dozen Jews, led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, walked to nearby Beit Hadassah, the former medical clinic in Hebron. It had been abandoned after the murderous Arab riots in 1929 that claimed 67 Jewish lives. For nearly a year several dozen women and children had made Beit Hadassah their home. The first Jews to return to live in Hebron in fifty years, they were the only Jews permitted by the government of Israel to live in the city.

On the way to Beit Hadassah the worshippers sang a verse from Jeremiah: v’shavu banim l’gvulam (“Your children shall return to their borders”). Among them were Zvi Glatt, a recent American immigrant; yeshiva students Gershon Klein, Yaakov Zimmerman, Shmuel Mermelstein and Hanan Krautheimer, who had chanted the Song of Songs during the service; and Eli Ha’zeev, winner of a Silver Star for bravery in Vietnam who came to Israel during the Yom Kippur War and converted to Judaism.

Once inside Beit Hadassah, they would make Kiddush before heading up the hill to Kiryat Arba, where a small Jewish community had been established nearly a decade earlier.

* * * * *

 

National exultation after the swift and stunning military victory in the Six-Day War had propelled Jews to return to their ancient holy cities and sites. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan proclaimed: “We have returned to all that is holy in our land…. We have returned to the cradle of our people, to the inheritance of the Patriarchs…. We will not be parted from the holy places.” Denied access to Hebron by the Kingdom of Jordan ever since 1948, Israelis came to visit by the thousands and tens of thousands in June 1967.

Secular Israelis rejected the “vehement nationalistic messianism” and religious fervor that erupted after the astonishing military victory. Archeologist Yigael Yadin, ridiculing Jews who returned to Machpelah to pray, denounced the embrace of religious relics as “idolatrous.” Young writer Amos Oz confessed: “I don’t have any feeling that Hebron’s part of my homeland.” He preferred Holon, where he had first fallen in love.

The government immediately decided to reconstruct and repopulate the Old City of Jerusalem, even demolishing an Arab neighborhood adjacent to the Western Wall. When it came to Hebron, however, it equivocated.

To be sure, Hebron, where Abraham had purchased the first landholding of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, evoked deep historical memories. King David had reigned there before relocating his throne to Jerusalem. But in 1967 little but ruins remained of the old Jewish Quarter. Even the ancient cemetery had been desecrated. The government resisted the return of Jews to live in Hebron, which had become an Arab city.

For a handful of Jews, however, Hebron – as Tel Aviv lawyer Elyakim Haetzni expressed it – was “part of our genetic code.” Rabbi Levinger and Rabbi Hanan Porat, graduates of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem, met with Haetzni to plan the rebuilding of a Jewish community in Hebron. Rabbi Levinger, accompanied by an elderly survivor of the 1929 massacre, visited the city to determine whether Jewish property there was available for rental or purchase. In the Jewish cemetery, he experienced “an awakening of tempestuous spirits” and “an internal turmoil that left me restless for days and weeks.” Rabbi Levinger decided to return to Hebron and restore the Jewish community there. His wife Miriam told him: “The government won’t send you there. Go settle, and things will work out.”

Shortly before Passover 1968, Rabbi Levinger negotiated a rental agreement for the holiday week with the Arab owner of the Park Hotel in Hebron. The owner, believing Rabbi Levinger represented a group of Swiss tourists, assured him that his group could stay longer if they wished. Rabbi Levinger left a large deposit for “an unlimited amount of people for an unspecified period of time.” The government learned of the agreement but did nothing. General Uzi Narkiss told Rabbi Levinger: “What do you want? To settle in Hebron? I don’t care. I know nothing. Rent a hotel, put up tents.”

Between sixty and eighty Israelis arrived in Hebron to celebrate Passover and restore a Jewish presence in the city. The Levingers, clearly intending to stay, brought their four children, a refrigerator and a washing machine.

Rabbi Chaim Druckman, another graduate of the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva, led the Seder. Miriam Levinger sensed a “historical breakthrough, and we all felt deeply moved and excited.” Elyakim Haetzni, joined at the Seder by his wife, mother and children, realized, “I am at home in the bosom of Abraham.” The next morning the celebrants, singing and dancing through the streets of Hebron, carried Torah scrolls to Me’arat haMachpelah.

Their presence in Hebron and evident determination to remain caught the government by surprise. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was ambivalent. Foreign Minister Abba Eban was opposed. But Labor Minister Yigal Allon came to visit the Park Hotel and agreed to have weapons sent from nearby Gush Etzion “just in case, God forbid, there should be fighting.”

Menachem Begin, leader of the opposition Herut Party, praised the new settlers. From his desert home in Sde Boker, David Ben-Gurion offered support: “We will make a great and awful mistake if we fail to settle Hebron, neighbor and predecessor of Jerusalem.”

After nearly six weeks, a ministerial committee authorized Dayan to relocate the Park Hotel group to Israeli military headquarters overlooking the city. Permission was granted to establish a yeshiva there. Rabbi Levinger donated his library. His brother loaned a four hundred year-old Torah scroll that had been sewn inside oilskin and immersed in the Rhine River for the duration of World War II to save it from the Nazis. Another Torah, rescued from Hebron in 1929, symbolized continuity between the destroyed and returning communities.

In the spring of 1969, two apartment blocs were built inside the military compound to house a dozen families. The community pressed the government for a more permanent site. Ministers considered the possibility of an “urban suburb,” on a hilltop overlooking the city.

Early in 1970, Deputy Prime Minister Allon announced plans to build “upper Hebron,” to be called Kiryat Arba (the name of biblical Hebron). “Like emigrants and settlers at the turn of the century, … and kibbutz farmers,” Rabbi Levinger proclaimed, “we, too, are pioneers.”

The isolated hilltop settlement of Kiryat Arba grew slowly as a satellite of Hebron. After five years, the diverse population of 1,500 settlers included religious Zionists, secular Jews, American olim, and new immigrants from North Africa, the Soviet Union and Ethiopia.

Access to Machpelah remained a constant problem, with local Muslims fiercely resisting any change in the status quo under which, for 700 years, Jews and other “infidels” had been excluded. Kiryat Arba residents pressed for prayer time and the inclusion of traditional life-cycle religious ceremonies that were normally held in a synagogue: bris, bar mitzvah, marriage.

When a boy was born to Sarah and Baruch Nachshon in Kiryat Arba, they secretly held his bris in Machpelah. Six months later, Avraham Yedidia Nachshon suddenly suffered crib death. His parents decided to bury him in the old Jewish cemetery, where no Jew had been buried in nearly fifty years. Israeli government officials, unwilling to provoke Hebron’s Arabs, refused permission.

But Sarah insisted. On the day of the funeral, soldiers blocked the road to the cemetery. After more than an hour of waiting, she told them: “You have your orders. I have mine.” Cradling her son in her arms, she walked past the military blockade, with other mourners following behind. In the cemetery she said: “God gave us our son for one reason. He had a job to do in his short life – to open our ancient graveyard. This he has accomplished and God has taken him back.”

The Nachshon baby was buried a few meters from the common grave of the massacre victims of 1929. After the funeral, his mother said: “If we open the Jewish cemetery, we open the gates to the city.”

* * * * *

 

But the new Likud government of Menachem Begin resisted the return of Jews to Hebron. Exploratory discussions between Kiryat Arba residents and the Defense Ministry were unproductive. Then, in 1978, the government stunned settlers by signing the Camp David accords with Egypt, pledging “autonomy” for West Bank Palestinians. With prospects for expanded settlement slipping away, the community was galvanized.

The following year, fifty years after the massacre, Kiryat Arba residents decided to return to Hebron. Women and children, least likely to provoke a harsh response from the government or military, were chosen to be the vanguard.

One week after Passover, at 4 a.m., ten women led by Miriam Levinger and Sarah Nachshon, accompanied by thirty-five children, arrived by truck at the rear of Beit Hadassah, in the heart of the old Jewish casbah. Assisted by teenage boys from Kiryat Arba, they quietly climbed ladders, cut wires to the windows, and unloaded mattresses, cooking burners, gas canisters, water, a refrigerator, laundry lines and a chemical toilet.

Safely inside the dilapidated building, the excited children began to sing v’shavu banim l’gvulam, God’s promise that the children of Israel would return to Zion. Hearing their enthusiastic voices, a puzzled Israeli soldier came down from his observation post on a nearby roof to investigate. When he asked how they had entered the building, a four-year-old girl instantly responded: “Jacob, our forefather, built us a ladder and we came in.”

Miriam Levinger announced: “Hebron will no longer be Judenrein.” At the end of their first Shabbat in Beit Hadassah, yeshiva students from Kiryat Arba came to dance and sing outside. She described that moment: “We felt as if the souls of the murdered of this place had come and gathered with us at the window … to rejoice with us at the sight of Jews dancing on Saturday evening in the streets of Hebron. I wanted to calm them and say to them, ‘You can rest, you have waited for many years, now we have returned. What was in the past in Hebron is what will happen in the future. Always.’ ”

An infuriated Prime Minister Begin labeled the women “invaders” who were “arrogant and neurotic.” He ordered soldiers and police to surround the building; nothing – not even food or water – could go in; no one who left would be permitted to return. Rabbi Levinger met with Begin, reminding him that even during the Yom Kippur War, when Israeli military forces had surrounded the Egyptian Third Army, beleaguered enemy soldiers received food, water, and medical supplies. Surely the women and children in Beit Hadassah deserved no less. Begin relented.

Sarah Nachshon long remembered the terrible living conditions, “without windows and doors – everything wrecked and destroyed – without running water … without electricity, without anything.” When the six-year-old Levinger boy developed highly contagious jaundice, Miriam alerted the other mothers but none left. A woman in late pregnancy refused to leave until her return was assured. It was, and she came back from the hospital with her infant daughter, named Hadassah.

With the women and children of Beit Hadassah resolute, the government finally agreed that every Friday evening, at the beginning of Shabbat, one husband could enter the building to recite Kiddush. Following a visit from then-Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, restrictions on arrivals and departures were lifted. It was the first step toward normalization of life in the beleaguered outpost.

* * * * *

 

At the end of January 1980, nine months after the move into Beit Hadassah, Yehoshua Saloma, a Kiryat Arba yeshiva student, was murdered in the Hebron market. The next day, enraged Kiryat Arba residents seized five empty Jewish-owned buildings in Hebron, demanding the right to live there. Attacks on settlers and soldiers escalated but Defense Minister Ezer Weizmann, insisting on “restraint and forbearance,” warned the Knesset of the impact of retaliation on “world opinion.” By a narrow vote, the Cabinet authorized the establishment of a yeshiva in Hebron.

Local Arabs were furious. The mayor promised “force against force.” The Qadi insisted: “This land is Muslim…. We’ll fight until you, the Jews, are wiped out.” In a cave at the edge of the city, four Arabs – two from Hebron and two from Jordan – prepared their response. On May 2, before the beginning of Shabbat, they positioned themselves on the roof of a building overlooking Beit Hadassah and in an adjacent doorway, armed with assault rifles and hand grenades. As the Jews returning from Machpelah crossed the footbridge to Beit Hadassah, they were caught in a withering crossfire of bullets and explosions.

Eli Ha’Zeev was killed instantly, before he could reach for his gun. Miriam Levinger, trained as a nurse, rushed outside to treat the wounded, but nothing could be done to save Glatt, Klein, Zimmerman, Krauthammer, and Mermelstein. She would say, “Not only were their lives a continuation of the lives of the murdered community [of 1929], but also their deaths.”

But from those six deaths would come new Jewish life in Hebron. Twenty years later Beit HaShisha (“House of the Six”), with apartments for six families, was built adjacent to Beit Hadassah to commemorate the massacre victims. Now, after thirty years, may their memory be a blessing.

Now, too, when an American president adamantly insists that new Jewish “settlements” must not be built in Jerusalem, he needs a reminder that Jerusalem – and Hebron – are the ancient holy cities of the Jewish people.

By every plausible justification – divine promise, ancestral history, international agreement, modern settlement, and defensive war for survival – Jews have earned the right to live where their ancestors buried their revered patriarchs and matriarchs, built their sacred Temples, and exercised national sovereignty. That means Jerusalem – and Hebron.

Jerold S. Auerbach, author of “Hebron Jews” (Roman & Littlefield, 2009), is writing a history of the Altalena episode.

It All Started In Hebron

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

The great historical process of the Jewish people all started in Hebron, where Abraham made the first Jewish land purchase in Eretz Yisrael. In Hebron, he buried Sarah – establishing facts on the ground.

 

            Hebron is a place of connections. It connects heaven and earth. It connects the supreme ideal, the command to inherit the land – and its mundane fulfillment. Those who attach themselves to Hebron draw strength from it, as was the case with Calev ben Yefune and Yehoshua bin Nun when they, at Moshe’s behest, spied out the Land.

 

            The 12 spies arrived in Eretz Yisrael and found a difficult reality. Calev and Yehoshua went to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and their perspective was different. What they saw was that “the Land is very, very good” (Bamidbar 14:7).

 

            Didn’t Calev and Yehoshua see the reality, like the rest of the spies? Certainly they did. Yet they understood that to understand reality, you’ve got to introduce other data. God promised this land to the Jewish people. Calev and Yehoshua understood that theirs was a unique mission, involving precisely this land. Eretz Yisrael has unique virtues. It responds only to its children, and produces fruit only for them (as per historical proof). This is the land set apart for us, for us to fulfill our mission to the world and to invest the most profound, moral meaning in the entire universe.

 

            Those were the thoughts that preoccupied us 30 years ago, in late spring 1979, when – as a group of 13 women and 45 children – we prepared to secretly move into the Beit Hadassah complex in Hebron. Our purpose was to restore Jewish life to the city. At the time, Jews – eight years after Kiryat Arba’s founding, and 11 years after Rav Moshe Levinger’s settlement attempt in Hebron – were still forbidden to live permanently in Hebron. Our entry into that edifice, a military operation in every sense of the word, was intended to change that.

 

            Beit Hadassah had served as a medical clinic for Jews and Arabs. It was established by the American Hadassah Women’s organization in 1893, 36 years before the 1929 Hebron massacre. In that massacre 67 Jews were murdered, dozens wounded, and all of Hebron’s Jews were exiled from the city. Further, their property was looted by the Arabs. Thus, it had been 70 years since Jews had last lived in the Beit Hadassah compound. In fact the only Jewish business allowed in Hebron during the 1970s was “The Settlers’ Restaurant,” next to Ma’arat HaMachpela. It was run only during the day – by my husband, Zvi.

 

We reasoned the following: It cannot be that the Arabs could commit a terrible pogrom against the Jews and that the Jews should be forbidden to return to the homes where they were murdered – and which they were forced to leave.

 

In Kiryat Arba we climbed onto a truck in the middle of the night, with children and equipment, and went down to Hebron. We climbed into the Beit Hadassah edifice by way of a ladder that was set up inside the truck. We climbed up quietly so that the soldiers, on guard in front of the building at night to keep Jews from entering, wouldn’t notice. Amazingly (and even miraculously), none of the children cried or made noise. After getting in without the soldiers noticing, we felt that God was helping us. We knew we were doing the right thing.

 

            While life in Beit Hadassah was physically difficult, our spirits were joyous.

 

            There were people who told us worriedly, “How can you endanger your children? There’s a danger of malaria. There’s no running water, no electricity, no restrooms, no showers, no possibility of leaving or coming back.”

 

            There was an immense feeling of mission, an enormous sense of exaltation. We knew that if we take the correct steps, we would exalt the government, its ministers and the entire nation.

 

            Thank God, the act by these women renewed Jewish life in the City of the Patriarchs. For almost an entire year, we remained inside the edifice without ever leaving. At the end of that year, following the murder of six worshippers, we received permission to stay in Beit Hadassah. This constituted the first renewal of Jewish settlement in the ancient city of Hebron.

 

            From Beit Hadassah we continued on, redeeming the Avraham Avinu Synagogue and building the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Next came Tel Romeida and other new neighborhoods in Kiryat Arba. Today, thank God, the City of the Patriarchs is full of life from Tel Romeida to Ramat Mamre.

 

            The women’s act in Beit Hadassah set an example for other groups of women who likewise understood that only if they rose and initiated acts of settlement would they succeed in redeeming the Land, thus preventing the Arabs from taking control. That’s how it was, for example, in the summer of 1995, when a group of 10 women from Efrat and Gush Etzion, headed by Nadia Matar, settled on Dagan – a hill belonging to the town of Efrat but in danger, due to the Oslo II accords, of being handed over to the PLO. The women stopped their normal lives and went to live on the exposed hill.

 

Hundreds of Jews from the area and from Israel at large joined the struggle over Dagan. They lived there under harsh summer conditions – in tents, without water and electricity. But with strong faith in the justice of their path, they believed that only by such means would they save the hill and that only by such means would they arouse the public to the need to preserve every place in Eretz Yisrael.

 

            Two weeks later, the settlers were forcibly evacuated. This did not deter them, and they came back again and again. Today, thank God, Dagan is populated with dozens of young couples and a yeshiva with dozens of students. And at present, the residents of Efrat and Gush Etzion, together with the action committees of the Judea Region and the Women in Green, are continuing the struggle to settle the hill of Eitam.

 

            The same spirit of Beit Hadassah and Givat Dagan guides us to continue settling and expanding throughout the land. With that same spirit, we are acting at Shdema.

 

            Shdema consists of an army base that was abandoned for political reasons. The Arabs and international organizations want to take control of this piece of land. Shdema is a five-minute drive from Jerusalem on the new Eastern Gush Etzion road. We are working to keep Shdema in our hands, with the purpose of saving the lands of Eretz Yisrael. Additionally we are working to maintain settlement contiguity between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem, and to ensure security on the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem road.

 

            Each week we go to Shdema. We hold Torah talks and lectures. On holidays we hold large events with hundreds of people, with the support of Women in Green and the Gush Etzion Regional Council.

 

At first, we weren’t allowed to go up there. The army was in shock that we would even consider going back to a place that, to their way of thinking, was already abandoned and gone. Only thanks to weekly persistence and determination did we accustom everyone to the fact of our going there. The army understands that it is dealing with a serious group of adults that is unwilling to concede. Our present duty is to increase our presence at the site.

 

            We, members of the Committee for Shdema, plan to establish at the site a spiritual-cultural center. It is there that we will disseminate the special worth of Eretz Yisrael, study Bible and history, learn to work the soil, learn self-defense, and delve deeply into present-day questions about our Jewish identity. These measures are the essence of our survival – and our task at the present time.

 

            Our roots are in Hebron. From there we draw our spirit, our strength, our determination. We learned there that it is possible and necessary to change the national-political agenda through the stubborn, determined action of individuals who must do the work, who must rise and take the initiative. It is very important to keep up the spirit of the struggle. Among the Jewish people, there were always groups that led the national spirit forward with pride. Every struggle must be backed up with good public relations and political action, and with maintaining a presence at the site in question.

 

            We hope, God willing, that just as we succeeded in Beit Hadassah in Hebron, in Dagan in Efrat, and in other places, so it will be at Shdema. The Jewish people possess the fortitude to succeed and change direction, all in the name of settling Eretz Yisrael.

 

            The struggle at Shdema requires many participants. Toward that end, we plan to make a public relations trip to the U.S. from March 12-19. Women in Green Chairwoman Nadia Matar will join me (of Kiryat Arba-Hebron) in making the case for the Committee for Shdema.

 

We know that Jewish Press readers are with us in our determined struggle. Your hearts beat with the history of the Jewish people. With God’s help, we will succeed.

It All Started In Hebron

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

The great historical process of the Jewish people all started in Hebron, where Abraham made the first Jewish land purchase in Eretz Yisrael. In Hebron, he buried Sarah – establishing facts on the ground.

 

            Hebron is a place of connections. It connects heaven and earth. It connects the supreme ideal, the command to inherit the land – and its mundane fulfillment. Those who attach themselves to Hebron draw strength from it, as was the case with Calev ben Yefune and Yehoshua bin Nun when they, at Moshe’s behest, spied out the Land.

 

            The 12 spies arrived in Eretz Yisrael and found a difficult reality. Calev and Yehoshua went to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and their perspective was different. What they saw was that “the Land is very, very good” (Bamidbar 14:7).

 

            Didn’t Calev and Yehoshua see the reality, like the rest of the spies? Certainly they did. Yet they understood that to understand reality, you’ve got to introduce other data. God promised this land to the Jewish people. Calev and Yehoshua understood that theirs was a unique mission, involving precisely this land. Eretz Yisrael has unique virtues. It responds only to its children, and produces fruit only for them (as per historical proof). This is the land set apart for us, for us to fulfill our mission to the world and to invest the most profound, moral meaning in the entire universe.

 

            Those were the thoughts that preoccupied us 30 years ago, in late spring 1979, when – as a group of 13 women and 45 children – we prepared to secretly move into the Beit Hadassah complex in Hebron. Our purpose was to restore Jewish life to the city. At the time, Jews – eight years after Kiryat Arba’s founding, and 11 years after Rav Moshe Levinger’s settlement attempt in Hebron – were still forbidden to live permanently in Hebron. Our entry into that edifice, a military operation in every sense of the word, was intended to change that.

 

            Beit Hadassah had served as a medical clinic for Jews and Arabs. It was established by the American Hadassah Women’s organization in 1893, 36 years before the 1929 Hebron massacre. In that massacre 67 Jews were murdered, dozens wounded, and all of Hebron’s Jews were exiled from the city. Further, their property was looted by the Arabs. Thus, it had been 70 years since Jews had last lived in the Beit Hadassah compound. In fact the only Jewish business allowed in Hebron during the 1970s was “The Settlers’ Restaurant,” next to Ma’arat HaMachpela. It was run only during the day – by my husband, Zvi.

 

We reasoned the following: It cannot be that the Arabs could commit a terrible pogrom against the Jews and that the Jews should be forbidden to return to the homes where they were murdered – and which they were forced to leave.

 

In Kiryat Arba we climbed onto a truck in the middle of the night, with children and equipment, and went down to Hebron. We climbed into the Beit Hadassah edifice by way of a ladder that was set up inside the truck. We climbed up quietly so that the soldiers, on guard in front of the building at night to keep Jews from entering, wouldn’t notice. Amazingly (and even miraculously), none of the children cried or made noise. After getting in without the soldiers noticing, we felt that God was helping us. We knew we were doing the right thing.

 

            While life in Beit Hadassah was physically difficult, our spirits were joyous.

 

            There were people who told us worriedly, “How can you endanger your children? There’s a danger of malaria. There’s no running water, no electricity, no restrooms, no showers, no possibility of leaving or coming back.”

 

            There was an immense feeling of mission, an enormous sense of exaltation. We knew that if we take the correct steps, we would exalt the government, its ministers and the entire nation.

 

            Thank God, the act by these women renewed Jewish life in the City of the Patriarchs. For almost an entire year, we remained inside the edifice without ever leaving. At the end of that year, following the murder of six worshippers, we received permission to stay in Beit Hadassah. This constituted the first renewal of Jewish settlement in the ancient city of Hebron.

 

            From Beit Hadassah we continued on, redeeming the Avraham Avinu Synagogue and building the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Next came Tel Romeida and other new neighborhoods in Kiryat Arba. Today, thank God, the City of the Patriarchs is full of life from Tel Romeida to Ramat Mamre.

 

            The women’s act in Beit Hadassah set an example for other groups of women who likewise understood that only if they rose and initiated acts of settlement would they succeed in redeeming the Land, thus preventing the Arabs from taking control. That’s how it was, for example, in the summer of 1995, when a group of 10 women from Efrat and Gush Etzion, headed by Nadia Matar, settled on Dagan – a hill belonging to the town of Efrat but in danger, due to the Oslo II accords, of being handed over to the PLO. The women stopped their normal lives and went to live on the exposed hill.

 

Hundreds of Jews from the area and from Israel at large joined the struggle over Dagan. They lived there under harsh summer conditions – in tents, without water and electricity. But with strong faith in the justice of their path, they believed that only by such means would they save the hill and that only by such means would they arouse the public to the need to preserve every place in Eretz Yisrael.

 

            Two weeks later, the settlers were forcibly evacuated. This did not deter them, and they came back again and again. Today, thank God, Dagan is populated with dozens of young couples and a yeshiva with dozens of students. And at present, the residents of Efrat and Gush Etzion, together with the action committees of the Judea Region and the Women in Green, are continuing the struggle to settle the hill of Eitam.

 

            The same spirit of Beit Hadassah and Givat Dagan guides us to continue settling and expanding throughout the land. With that same spirit, we are acting at Shdema.

 

            Shdema consists of an army base that was abandoned for political reasons. The Arabs and international organizations want to take control of this piece of land. Shdema is a five-minute drive from Jerusalem on the new Eastern Gush Etzion road. We are working to keep Shdema in our hands, with the purpose of saving the lands of Eretz Yisrael. Additionally we are working to maintain settlement contiguity between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem, and to ensure security on the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem road.

 

            Each week we go to Shdema. We hold Torah talks and lectures. On holidays we hold large events with hundreds of people, with the support of Women in Green and the Gush Etzion Regional Council.

 

At first, we weren’t allowed to go up there. The army was in shock that we would even consider going back to a place that, to their way of thinking, was already abandoned and gone. Only thanks to weekly persistence and determination did we accustom everyone to the fact of our going there. The army understands that it is dealing with a serious group of adults that is unwilling to concede. Our present duty is to increase our presence at the site.

 

            We, members of the Committee for Shdema, plan to establish at the site a spiritual-cultural center. It is there that we will disseminate the special worth of Eretz Yisrael, study Bible and history, learn to work the soil, learn self-defense, and delve deeply into present-day questions about our Jewish identity. These measures are the essence of our survival – and our task at the present time.

 

            Our roots are in Hebron. From there we draw our spirit, our strength, our determination. We learned there that it is possible and necessary to change the national-political agenda through the stubborn, determined action of individuals who must do the work, who must rise and take the initiative. It is very important to keep up the spirit of the struggle. Among the Jewish people, there were always groups that led the national spirit forward with pride. Every struggle must be backed up with good public relations and political action, and with maintaining a presence at the site in question.

 

            We hope, God willing, that just as we succeeded in Beit Hadassah in Hebron, in Dagan in Efrat, and in other places, so it will be at Shdema. The Jewish people possess the fortitude to succeed and change direction, all in the name of settling Eretz Yisrael.

 

            The struggle at Shdema requires many participants. Toward that end, we plan to make a public relations trip to the U.S. from March 12-19. Women in Green Chairwoman Nadia Matar will join me (of Kiryat Arba-Hebron) in making the case for the Committee for Shdema.

 

We know that Jewish Press readers are with us in our determined struggle. Your hearts beat with the history of the Jewish people. With God’s help, we will succeed.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/it-all-started-in-hebron/2009/03/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: