May 7, 2014Iyar 7, 5774,
The year was 1996. Shimon Peres signed away Hebron, chopping the city into two pieces, the larger abandoned to Arafat. But then the miracle happened. Bibi was elected. The Messiah had arrived. Hebron was saved.
Except that in January, 1997 the Messiah was revealed as a phony. Implementing the Hebron Accords, the city was split.
We warned – if you give the terrorists all the hills surrounding us, they'll use them as a base to shoot at us. We were ignored, or rather we were accused of being hysterical. After all, the false messiah told us, if one bullet is shot, I'll send in the troops.
The last days of September, 2000. Israel's worst (then) CoC was Prime Minister. When the Arabs started shooting, on the eve of Rosh HaShana, Barak, was caught with his pants down. Those attacks continued through the middle of 2002.
We asked, we pleaded, we did everything possible, demanding that the IDF retake the hills. Nothing happened, they kept shooting.
The end of March, 2001. Shalhevet Pas, 10 months old, shot in the head and killed by an Arab sniper, from those hills.
Eruption. The volcano exploded, lava covered the already scorched earth.
How can you sit quietly and watch yourself, your family, your friends, everyone, being transformed into moving targets. The reactions were swift, and to a degree, violent. But nowhere near as vicious as the attackers.
And then, almost overnight, Hebron's Jewish community was transformed from the victim to the predator. The Arabs continued daily and nightly target practice on men, women and children. Simultaneously the Israeli police, together with IDF soldiers, who were ordered to use police tactics and treat us as aggressors, swooped down on us , turning our already hell-like lives into a nightmare. Facing an Arab enemy is much easier than dealing with so-called 'fellow countrymen,' who rather than assist you, brutalize you.
Occasionally I have reason to flip through photos from those days, months, and years. I have no idea how we were able to overcome the police-prosecution-court persecution. People's homes were broken into in the middle of the night. Kids were swooped up on the street, whisked away into police cars, disappearing. Police, chasing after teenagers, with guns drawn, ran through children's nursery school classes. Cars were stopped for 'routine checks' again and again and again.
Despite the continued shooting and terror, we were portrayed as monsters, who deserve whatever happens to them.
And it was much much worse than these few measly lines of writing can possibly describe.
Why write about this today, so many years later? Because these are the thoughts clogging my head for the past few weeks, as I witness the Hebronization of Yitzhar.
I'm not a fan of attacking soldiers. I also don't get my kicks throwing rocks at police. Or at anyone else, for that matter. But I do know that there are times when people lose it. Or almost lose it. There are varying degrees of 'losing it.'
After the expulsion from Beit HaShalom, in 2007, I wrote an article called Extremism breeds Extremism. It was true then and it continues to be true today.
The residents of Yitzhar, in the Shomron (Samaria) are no less idealistic than anyone else in Israel. And they are, just as most of the rest of us, loyal, law-abiding citizens, who work, serve in the army, pay taxes, and live, just like everyone else. But they've been labeled, and unjustifiably monsterized .
Sure, I agree, there are red lines. When those lines are crossed, the people responsible must be held accountable for their actions. But collective police-judicial terror, signed and dotted on the highest levels of Israeli government, is no less atrocious.
The episodes of the past month or so, culminating with the arrest and torture of a woman, a mother, over a period of three days, being strip searched numerous times, not being allowed to use a bathroom, being denied basic elements of life, for no reason whatsoever, is totally inexcusable.
Today's headlines were breath-taking. A twenty-two year old Yitzhar woman, eight months pregnant, arrested for incitement. I certainly don't find her comments particularly wise or correct. Such statements are too, not my cup of tea. Yet, I do know that I've heard people say all sorts of crazy things, expressing thoughts and opinions that, heard, recorded and broadcast on youtube would have caused them loads of trouble. And I have to admit, me too. I've thought things, and sometimes even spoken words, that could cause me havoc.
But, who hasn't?! Maybe there are a few people, somewhere in the world, who were born righteous and remained so all the days of their lives. But there aren't too many of them.
Last week the owner of a basketball team was recorded making some very stupid and racist remarks. I read more than one column, by very respectable authors, who, while decrying the comments, questioned the morality and ethics of publicizing private conversations. I mean, come on, who hasn't said really dumb things in private conversations?
The forum, where 22 year old Eliraz spouted her abhorrence of police and soldiers was private. She's about to give birth. She doesn’t seem to be a prime candidate to kill anyone in the near future. She didn't stand on a rooftop and declare before the people of Israel that they should take up arms against police or soldiers. She expressed her thoughts, as brainless as they were, at a given moment of rage. Is that illegal?
I don't know what brought it on. But I can guess. The constant attacks, by Arabs and Jews, the steady delegitimization, like Chinese water torture, drop after drop after drop, – as I wrote, sometimes people lose it. Legality and illegality is a question of definition. But in this case, it seems part of a grand plan by the 'authorities' to continue their fierce and somewhat sadistic campaign against Yitzhar, in an attempt to break them, all of the people there, good people, one at a time, until they simply disappear into thin air. Or into jails or dungeons.
I conclude with a facebook post that my son wrote:
'Daily, yes daily, there are tens, if not hundreds, who hurl rocks at Israeli soldiers. Ah, yes, also on police and civilians. And boulders, and firebombs, and sometimes, even shoot. Hitting, wounding, killing.
No one speaks or writes about the different theories of 'for' or 'against.' Rather, get up and do something.
But here begins the policy of containment. We can 'contain it,' absorb, ignore…and what else!?
When Arabs enemies hurt us, or our soldiers, well, we can 'contain' it. But when a young person writes something stupid, while overly agitated, she is attacked as an enemy of the people and state….'
Continued government extremism against Yitzhar will only exasperate an already deteriorating situation. They don't deserve it any more than we did. This extremism will only breed further extremism, with events liable to really spiral out of control.
This article does not necessarily represent the Jewish Community of Hebron