Surrender to Terror
March 9, 1999
A few months ago, after years of waiting, and following the brutal stabbing murder of 63 year old Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan, Hebron's Jewish Community received building permits allowing construction of a new apartment building - Beit Ha Shisha. This building is named after six men: Hanan Krauthammer, Gershon Klein, Ya'akov Zimmerman, Zvi Glatt, Shmuel Marmelstein, and Eli HaZe'ev, all of whom were killed in a terror attack in front of Beit Hadassah in the early spring of 1980. Despite continued requests, previous administrations refused to OK the construction. Until the murder of Rabbi Ra'anan late last summer.
As construction began The Jewish Community of Hebron discovered that the road in front of Beit Hadassah, which had been closed to all Arab traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian since the murder, was about to be reopened to Arab pedestrians.
This stretch of road, at most a hundred meters, literally touches apartment buildings Beit Hadassah and Beit Shneerson, a children's playground and a daycare - nursery school complex. In the past Arabs found their way into the courtyard and stole children's bicycles and other toys. One day a Hebron resident living in Beit Shneerson came home to find an Arab in his kitchen.
Intelligence reports constantly warn of Arab plans to harm Hebron's Jewish population. From this street, into a Jewish residence, is a matter or seconds. The likelihood of a hand grenade being tossed into a house is far from wild imagination. Unfortunately, it is too real a possibility. For these reasons the community objected to the street's reopening. Arabs were able to easily reach their destination by walking a few meters out the their way. They were delayed, perhaps, two or three minutes.
Our objections reached deaf ears. The street was reopened.
However, it was not chance coincidence that the road was reopened when work began on Beit HaShisha. Arab leaders in Hebron and in the Palestinian Authority, utilizing their connections with the US State Department, issued a warning to Israeli military leaders: Hebron's Arab population is liable to violently object to the new construction by the Jews in Hebron unless they are appropriately appeased. Steady US pressure on Netanyahu and then Defense Minister Mordechai, together with the Arab threats achieved the goal - the reopening of the street.
During the week following Rabbi Ra'anan's murder Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the Admot Ishai neighborhood, paying his condolences to the Rabbi's widow and family. Upon witnessing the housing conditions in the neighborhood he immediately promised government approval to rectify the deplorable situation. Seven families live in this neighborhood in the equivalent of mobile homes - caravans 45 square meters. One family has two caravans - 90 meters - because they have twelve children. This is the way people have had to live for the past fourteen years.
Before permanent housing can be constructed, archeological excavations are required in the area, due to the antiquity of the site. Some four thousand years ago Abraham and Sarah resided here, as did King David almost a thousand years later. In order to commence with the archeological digs two of the caravans must be removed. The families living in them are supposed to move into a 'double-decker' caravan, to be placed on top of two other remaining caravans. Those two new caravans were supposed to be moved into the neighborhood today. Sometime next week the other two caravans were to be removed.
Last week we learned that the road leading to the Tel Rumeida-Admot Ishai
neighborhood, closed to Arab vehicular traffic for over eight months, was
to be reopened on the same day that the new caravans were to be brought
into Hebron. It was closed when tourists from Ranana, celebrating their
son's Bar Mitzvah, were shot at while walking down the road. The mother of
the Bar Mitzvah boy, Esther Hizmi, was hit in the leg.
A couple of days ago we learned that, again, Arab threats were responsible for Israeli relinquishment. Again, they warned of massive riots in Hebron, should two new caravans be moved into Tel Rumeida. They promised to maintain quiet if….the road was reopened to Arab traffic.
This road, a narrow steep winding hill, is our only route into the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, without having to travel through the section of Hebron controlled by Arafat. Reopening it to Arab traffic will pose a grave threat to the Jews who daily walk and drive up and down this road. In the past a man was stabbed on this road. It has also been the site of firebomb and rock attacks.
Again, American pressure is being applied. Sources close to the community revealed that the State Department is again twisting the screws, demanding that Israel reopen the road, despite the dangers involved. And again, Israel acquiesced and the deal was made. When the caravans were to be brought into Hebron, the road would be reopened.
This morning Hebron's Jewish leadership notified the appropriate authorities of cancellation of the new caravans. We refuse to play into Arab-American hands, playing chit for chat, thereby allowing the Arabs to use threat of force to gain Israeli concessions, concessions which endanger our lives. We refuse to cooperate with cowards in the Israeli administration who are bowing down to Arab threats.
A few days ago I participated in a conference in Jerusalem sponsored by the Victims of Arab Terror (VAT), founded and led by Mrs. Shifra Hoffman. There I heard Mrs. Joyce Baum, mother of David, who would shortly have celebrated his 20th birthday had he not been murdered outside Beit El a few years ago. She told how she was almost killed by the same terrorist who murdered her son, due the failure Israeli and PA forces to apprehend him. I heard Mr. Nisim Gudai of Kiryat Arba describe how Arabs stabbed him in the back in Hebron, and how, miraculously, the knife did not hit any vital organs. I heard the sister of Esther Ochana, a woman soldier killed by a rock, speak of her family's experiences. I too spoke, of two nursery school teachers shot by terrorists in Hebron a few months ago, and of Hebron's Nachum Hoss and Yehuda Partush, killed exactly four years ago that day.
And I ask now, as I did then, why does Israel continue to submit to Arab threats and American pressure? Why should Israelis have to pay the price of Arab-American blackmail?
Earlier today I was visited by a representative of the American consulate in Jerusalem. When she asked me why we had cancelled the caravans, I answered quite simply: "We refuse to acquiesce to Arab terror!" If need be we will force the Israeli government to relearn what we all know and what, in the past, Israel practiced - the ABCs of independence and sovereignty: Do not surrender to threats - do not surrender to terror!