Does Murder Pay Off? May 10, 1996 Sixteen years ago I lived in Jerusalem suburb Meveseret Yerushalayim. Lag B'Omer was on Sunday. The preceding Friday night was a normal spring Shabbat evening. Except for the helicopters flying south of us, in Jerusalem, in the area of Hadassah hospital. A friend of mine, taking an after dinner stroll with his wife turned to her and exclaimed, "something happened." One year before, shortly after Pesach, 1979, Rebbetzin Miriam Levinger, along with nine other women and forty children, left Kiryat Arba in the middle of the night for Hebron. Their destination - Beit Hadassah. Beit Hadassah, a beautiful structure in the heart of Hebron had stood empty for fifty years. Originally built in 1893 with funds contributed by Algerian Jews, Beit Hadassah served as a free medical clinic for anyone needing medical care - Jew and Arab alike. The clinic was so popular that in 1920 an additional floor was added. It was then that the well-known facade was constructed. Managed by the Hadassah Organization, Beit Hadassah served the entire Hebron community. Following the 1929 massacre Beit Hadassah turned into a vacant deserted shell, waiting for her children to return home. Even after the return to Hebron in 1968 and the founding of Kiryat Arba in 1971, Beit Hadassah remained barren, uninhabited. But not for long. The father of resettlement in Yesha, Rav Moshe Levinger, along with other Kiryat Arba citizens, decided that that time had come to return home, to return to Hebron. Shortly after Pesach in 1979, a group of 10 women and forty children, led by Rebbetzin Miriam Levinger, moved into Beit Hadassah. Entering the building via its back windows, just above the original 1893 entrance, the group hadn't really expected to succeed. But to their great surprise, no one discovered the clandestine midnight rendevous in Hebron. By first light the group had set up house in Beit Hadassah. They came with provisions for only a few days. The discovery of the Beit Hadassah women took the Begin government by surprise. Not wanting to forcibly evict women and children, Begin placed the building under siege. Surrounded by Israeli soldiers, no one was allowed in and anyone leaving was not allowed to return. Originally Begin planned to starve them out - he wanted to deny them even the basic necessities of food and water. However, after being approached, Begin agreed to allow them food, water and medical supplies. He was convinced after it was pointed out to him that following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israeli forces surrounded the Egyptian Third Army, the enemy army was provided with elementary living supplies. Begin was asked, "If we gave food and water to our enemy, who only days before had killed our soldiers, mustn't we at least provide the same thing to Jewish women and children in Hebron?" The women and children lived in Beit Hadassah for over a year. One of the women, Shoshana Peretz was pregnant. During an hepatitis outbreak in the building, brought on by almost nonexistent sanitary facilities, Shoshana's friends begged her to leave, rather than risk contracting the disease. But Shoshana refused. "If I won't be allowed back in, I wont' leave." As her due date approached, the other women didn't believe their ears. Shoshana planned on giving birth inside Beit Hadassah, rather than go to a hospital. Only after receiving promises that she would be allowed to return to the building, did she agree to give birth in the hospital. The Peretz family named their new daughter Hadassah, and Shoshana returned to Beit Hadassah. Shabbat evening was very special. Yeshiva students, studying at the Hesder Yeshiva in Kiryat Arba prayed in Ma'arat HaMachpela. Following conclusion of the prayer service, the boys would sing and dance from the Ma'ara to Beit Hadassah. They would continue to sing and dance in the street in front of the building, say Shabbat Kiddush for the women, and then return to Kiryat Arba. Friday night - Erev Lag B'Omer 1980. The Yeshiva students sang and danced in front of Beit Hadassah, as they did every Friday night. Suddenly shots rang out. Hand grenades flew through the air. The singing turned into a battle for survival. From the rooftop on the building opposite Beit Hadassah Arab terrorists attacked. Six men were killed: Gershon Klein, Ya'akov Tzimmerman, Hanan Kurthammer and Shmuel Marmelstein - all Kiryat Arba Yeshiva students, Zvi Glatt, from Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem, and Eli HaZe'ev, from Kiryat Arba. Many others were wounded. That same evening a number of Arabs, responsible for inciting, were deported, including Mayor Mustapha Natshe. The next morning the building from which the attack took place was blown up. The Hadassah women and children were allowed to reunite with their husbands in Hebron. Beit Hadassah became the first Jewish neighborhood in Hebron. But the price for their return was extremely high. That was sixteen years ago - fifty one years after Beit Hadassah's residents had been slaughtered by Hebron's Arabs. Today the Beit Hadassah Complex houses 25 families, a pictorial museum of the history of Hebron and a memorial room for the victims of the 1929 massacre. Tonight I will attend a special Shabbat service in front of Beit Hadassah, a memorial for the six men murdered sixteen years ago. The memorial service is an annual event, but tonight's service has special significance. Last week a reporter asked me if we have learned anything from the Arabs. My immediate reply was, "Yes - we've learned that murder pays off. Arafat the terrorist used murder to reach his goal - he is now accepted by the international community as a legitimate leader of his `people.'" And tonight, as I sit with my children in the street outside Beit Hadassah, listening to Rav Dov Lior and Rav Eliezer Waldman speak of what was, 16 years ago, I will ask myself again, will the Israeli people, in three weeks time, really give murder its victory, will the Rabin- Arafat-Peres triumvirate receive a stamp of approval- will the Israeli electorate justify the murder of the Beit Hadassah Six - along with the killing of so many others since then? That is the question - does cold-blooded, terrorist murder pay off?