Wednesday, September 6, 1995

The Ways of the Righteous

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
The Ways of the Righteous
September 6, 1995

If yesterday I wrote about Satan dressed up as humans, today I am obligated to speak about the other side. And there is another side.
A half hour ago I came home from an unbelievably joyous occasion -
happy for several reasons: 1. A wedding in Hebron is always a festive event;
2. This wedding took place in the courtyard directly outside the Caves of the
Patriarchs, attended by about 1,000 guests; 3. The wedding was that of Kfir
Katzover and his new bride Orit. Kfir is the son of Kiryat Arba Mayor Zvi
Katzover. 4.The special guest of honor was none other than Ariel Sharon, who
made a special trip to Hebron for the wedding.
Zvi Katzover has been mayor of Kiryat Arba for the past five plus
years. He has had to deal with some of the most complicated issues one can
possibly imagine. From the ‘intifada' to murderous terrorist attacks, from
the government's policy of ‘let's dry them up' and ‘give them back to the
Arabs' to the Baruch Goldstein affair, Zvi has had to function. And he has
done so with overwhelming success. That success can be measured by the
results of the local elections held in Kiryat Arba several months ago. Zvi
received 80% of the popular vote for Mayor, and his list for the town council
won six of nine seats. And if one takes into account the political
divergences among the Kiryat Arba population, made up of about 6,000 citizen,
consisting of Jews of every background possible, this is truly amazing.
Before entering politics Zvi spent most of his waking hours in Hebron.
One of the first people to reenter Hebron, Zvi opened up the popular ‘Jewish
Settlers' Restaurant and Gift Shop', outside Ma'arat HaMachpela. Before the
beginning of the ‘intifada' Zvi employed seven employees on a regular basis,
selling not only souvenirs, but also dealing with fine jewelry and precious
stones. One of his veteran workers told me that even during the dry spells,
Zvi refused to fire employees. They would sit in the store, drinking coffee
or tea, playing backgammon. The dry spells always ended, and the visitors
arrived, that is, until the intifada drastically cut back tourist visits to
the area.
Today, Zvi's building has been taken over by the Jewish Community of
Hebron and is being transformed into a guest house. And Zvi is Mayor of
Kiryat Arab. Tonight Zvi and his wife Yehudit married their first son, under
the stars, by Ma'arat HaMachpela. Over 100 tables, colored lights, a band,
and hundreds of people, singing and dancing, filled the courtyard outside the
Caves of the Patriarchs. Such an unbelievable sight, just overwhelming. Zvi
and Yehudit Katzover brought people from all over the country to celebrate in
Hebron, the city of the Patriarchs. In Hebrew we call this a ‘Kiddush HaShem'
or a Sanctification of the Divine Name. There is no stronger way to express
our connection to a location than by celebrating there - exhibiting our
happiness publicly, for all to see. And believe me, it was well seen.
Something like this is very hard to ignore. The Arabs, the police, the
soldiers, everyone, they all saw and heard Jews singing and dancing and
celebrating the birth of a new couple, the beginnings of a new family, in the
middle of Hebron.

The Guest of Honor was, as I mentioned earlier, Ariel Sharon. This man is
truly amazing. He was in Hebron last Friday morning with MK Moshe Peled, to
show support for the Jewish Community in the city. He arrives in Hebron time
after time, bringing with him visitors from all over the world. Some of them,
like Australian Chabad Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, have become major supporters of
the Hebron Jewish Community. Rabbi Gutnick has contributed to both the guest
house and also to the reconstruction efforts of Yeshivat Shavei Hebron, housed
in Beit Romano. The Yeshiva presently claims a student body of 200 pupils.
When the construction is finished, the building will be able to house five
hundred Torah Scholars. And Arik Sharon is largely responsible for this.
Sharon is one of the few people around today who is willing to speak
the truth. Tonite, for instance, he said: "If the Arabs want to live with us
together, they can. It isn't easy, but it can be done. But only if they
realize that the Jews are here to stay. If they want to live with us, fine,
but if they think they can push us into a corner, there is a limit as to how
far they'll be able to go. If they push too hard they must realize that it
won't be the Jews that will no longer be in Hebron - it will be them that will
be forced to leave."
Referring to comments made that too many soldiers have to protect such
a ‘small' number of Jews in Hebron, Sharon replied: "First of all, Hebron
isn't just four or five hundred Jews. Kiryat Arba is Hebron too. Kiryat Arba
and Hebron are one. But aside from that, the army isn't here just to protect
the Jews in Hebron. They are here because of the Jewish Cemetery, containing
graves of Jews that lived here hundreds of years ago. The army is here
because this is the city where King David ruled for seven years before
settling Jerusalem. This land, today called Tel Rumeida, should always be in
Jewish hands. The army must be here because of Beit Hadassah and Beit Kastel
and Beit Hasson, the army must be here because of the Jewish Quarter and the
Avraham Avinu Synagogue. And of course, because of the Caves of the
Patriarchs. Who can imaging that the Caves of the Patriarchs will not be in
Jewish hands?!"
Mentioning government plans to redeploy, Arik Sharon declared: "I hope
that the government will not remove the army from Hebron. But if they do,
they should know that hundreds of volunteers will come here to help protect
the Jews that live in the City of the Patriarchs".
Ariel Sharon has made mistakes in the past, but I don't know of too
many people that haven't. Today, he is, in my book, a true hero. He isn't
afraid of the truth and he isn't afraid to speak the truth. Most politicians
act like they are walking on eggs - Arik doesn't. He says what has to be said,
and more importantly, he acts - he does. He is a doer. In the Israeli
vernacular, he is a bulldozer. And credit should be given, where credit is
In the past I have advertised fax numbers, with requests that you
demonstrate solidarity with Hebron via fax protests. Today I request the
opposite. Please fax Zvi Katzover, Mayor of Kiryat Arba, with a letter of
Mazal Tov - good wishes on the marriage of his son Kfir. Tell him how happy
you are the wedding was conducted by the walls of Ma'arat HaMachpela in the
center of Hebron. And fax Arik Sharon, wishing him well, and expressing your
support of his many activities for Hebron. Even people like Ariel Sharon like
to know that they are appreciated. And Arik deserves our whole-hearted
appreciation. As does Zvi Katzover.
Fax Ariel Sharon at: 972-2-753896
Fax Zvi Katzover at: 972-2-9964277

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