Sunday, October 29, 1995

Speaking your Piece (or is it Peace)?

Hebron-Past,Present and Forever
Speaking your Piece (or is it Peace)?
Sunday, October 29, 1995

 Last week the President of the State of Israel, Mr.

Ezer Weitzman, made some unkind remarks about the Piece
plan. In particular he said that the "agreement isn't an
agreement" and that a one-vote majority in the Knesset
does not justify the withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and
Azza. He also attacked the government's reactions to
"settler" dismay - "They live there and have something to
worry about".
Following Weizmann's remarks, MK Dedi Zucker of
Meretz suggested passing a law forbidding the President
to comment on issues being publicly disputed.
Ezer Weizmann isn't one of my favorite people. But
he has come a long way. It is true, he has done some
pretty good things in the past. Like in June, 1967, when
he was Commander of the Israeli Air Force. At that time,
the Commander in Chief of the Israeli Defense Forces
(Yizhak Rabin) had a nervous breakdown and we were in
need of some leadership. Ezer saved the day by taking
over for Yitzhak.

But the same Ezer, invited along to Camp David with
Menachem Begin, advised the then Prime Minister to accept
the agreement forcing Israel to relinquish all of the
Sinai to Egypt and to grant the "Palestinians" in the
"West Bank" autonomy.

And the same Ezer was kicked out of the Israeli
Cabinet by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir for giving "how
to create my own homeland" lessons to Yassir Arafat.
Well, Arafat did his homework. And so we are where we
are today.

In the not too distant past, the Israeli left has
vehemently decried any suggestion of `transfer' of Arabs
out of Israel - transfer of any type, even voluntary.
However, they today, are the primary force in favor of
involuntary transfer - of Jews - our of Hebron.
Jews can live anywhere in the world - to even
theoretically consider otherwise would be thought of as
blatantly anti-Semitic - except for Hebron, or perhaps
other areas in Judea, Samaria and Azza. And maybe also
Jerusalem. What would happen, for example, if Jews were
told that they could not live in, say, Hawaii? Can you
imagine the public outburst? Jews and gentiles, blacks,
whites, and Hispanics would march down 5th Ave together,
arm in arm, protesting this unheard of act of racism.
But tell a Jew that he can't live in Hebron, a 3,700 year-
old Jewish City? So, what of it?
Let's go back to Mr. President. You must understand
that the office of President in Israel is largely a
figurehead position. The President is elected, not by
the people, but by the Knesset, for a five year term of
office. The job was originally offered to (Ezer's uncle)
Chaim Weizmann by David Ben Gurion in 1948, in order to
fulfill an obligation without relinquishing any power or
responsibility. (When he died, it was offered to Albert
Einstein.) Until the 1970's the job was filled primarily
by non-politicians.
Ezer Weizmann, before his election, it was feared,
would represent only part of the country - the part
agreeing with his political philosophies, which are
slightly further left of left. He promised to be the
President of ALL the people, and woe-and-behold - he is
being accused of representing the wrong side, BY HIS OWN
want to shut him up.
Why? Because he is mouthing what everybody it
thinking. In a poll released on Friday, some 67% of the
Israeli population agree with him. That means, in
short, that the public is against the Rabin-Peres-Arafat
conspiracy to rid the Jewish People of Hebron and
Jerusalem. And with elections in the air, this doesn't
sit well with the ruling triumvirate. So, what do you
do? You try to pass a law shutting up the negative
And who is the victim? None other than the
schoolteacher. President Ezer Weizmann. Get this:
Everybody in Israel is covered by freedom of speech
....... except the President. He has to shut up. After
all, he's the President. Got it? Good.
This is modern Israeli democracy in action.
Welcome, Mr. President, to the club.

Sunday, October 22, 1995

? The Ghettoization of Hebron ?

Many of you who have visited Hebron are familiar with the

Avraham Avinu neighborhood - commonly known as "the Jewish
Quarter" - the heart of the Jewish Community of Hebron. The
Jewish Quarter was founded over 450 years ago by Rabbi
Malchiel Ashkenazi, who arrived in Hebron from Turkey after
being exiled from Spain in 1492. He initiated construction of
a Jewish Quarter in the middle of the city, a neighborhood
which quickly grew. Before World War One the total population
of Hebron numbered some 7,000 residents. Of these, 2,000 were
Perhaps the most famous site in Hebron after The Caves of
Machpela, the Avraham Avinu Synagogue, is located in the
Jewish Quarter. This synagogue was the religious center of
Hebron for almost 400 years, keeping in mind that the Caves of
Machpela were closed to all Jewish prayer or Jewish visitors.
(Ma'arat HaMachpela was closed to Jews from 1267 to 1967 - 700
The Avraham Avinu neighborhood officially ceased to exist
following the 1929 massacre, which left 67 dead and hundreds
wounded. The British rewarded the perpetrators by expelling
Hebron's Jewish residents from their homes. Hebron, for the
first time in literally thousands of years, was Judenrein.
The empty structures of the Jewish Quarter stood barren,
occupied perhaps only by the spirits of the past - Rabbi
Avraham Azuli - author of the "Hesed l'Avraham", or the "Sde
Hemed" - Rabbi Haim Hezkiahu Medini.
Until 1948 - until the fall of all Judea and Samaria to
Jordanian forces in the Israeli War of Independence. The
Jordanians totally destroyed the Jewish Quarter and all
within. The apartment buildings, some of which were six and
seven stories high, were demolished. The Avraham Avinu
synagogue was razed to the ground. A goat sty and public
lavatory occupied its sacred grounds. Part of the property
was transformed into a marketplace. Several large warehouses
were built and transformed into vegetable and fruit stores.
Almost all remains of the Jewish Quarter were eradicated from
the face of Hebron, as if they had never existed.
When Israel returned to Hebron in 1967 demands were made
to immediately restore Hebron to her former glory, but
unfortunately theses pleas were left unanswered. Over the
years Kiryat Arba was founded, and Hebron was resettled. The
superhuman efforts of the late Professor Bentzion Tavger z"l
led to the reconstruction of the Avraham Avinu synagogue. By
1989 the Jewish Quarter was rebuilt, including residences for
20 families, two Mikvas, offices of the Hebron Municipality
and of the Hebron Fund, a playground for children, and the
Jabotinsky Center, home of Beitar.
The goat sty was no longer existent, but the Arab market
did a thriving business - directly in front of the entrance to
the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish Community of Hebron demanded
removal of the market. Not only did it represent a serious
security threat to all Jews entering or exiting their homes,
but also an unspeakable injustice. Jewish land, stolen by
Hebron Arabs, rather than being returned to its legal owners,
remained in the hands of those who had murdered and caused a
50-year old exile from the city of the Patriarchs.
The Shamir government agreed to move the market, thereby
allowing continued development of the Jewish Quarter on Jewish
land. But then, unfortunately, national elections brought
about the formation of a national unity government including
the present Prime Minister and foreign minister. All plans to
move the market were frozen.
A year and a half ago, the wholesale market, the side of
the market facing the entrance to the Jewish Quarter, was
closed, for fear of terrorist activity against Jews in Hebron.
It has remained closed to the present day. However, according
to the Oslo B accords:
"7. Measures and procedures for normalizing life in the Old
City and on theroads of Hebron will be taken immediately after
the signing of thisAgreement, as follows: a. opening of the
wholesale market - Hasbahe, as a retail market; "
How is the Israeli government planning on opening the
market, while at the same time guaranteeing security to Jews
in Hebron? Simple - build a ghetto. A large cement wall is
to be built, separating the market warehouses from the road
leading into the Avraham Avinu neighborhood on one side. On
the other side, a second wall is to be built, separating other
buildings housing the "banana market" from the entrance to the
Jewish Quarter. In other words, the entrance to the Jewish
Quarter will be a narrow corridor, surrounded by cement walls.
This is "a free nation, in our land".
Last week, on the day after the end of the festival of
Succot, the women in Green, from all over Israel, together with
women from Hebron, staged a demonstration protesting the
building of a new ghetto in Hebron. Among the speakers was
Professor Emil Fackenheim, who noted that in the past he
participated in demonstrations demanding that Jews be allowed
to leave the Soviet Union and that now he was demanding that
Jews be allowed to remain in their homes.
The Jewish Community of Hebron has no intention to live
within a ghetto. We didn't come back to Eretz Yisrael to
reghettoize. We came back to Israel to live as a free people,
in our homeland, under Jewish rule. We will not allow, under
any circumstances, the conditions forced upon us in Galut, to
become the norm in the City of the Patriarchs. Hebron has
always been a forerunner - the first Jewish city, the first
Jewish capital, the first area resettled - WE WILL NOT BE THE

Sunday, October 15, 1995

The BIG 100,000

One morning last week Likud MK Limor Livnat was
interviewed on an early morning Israel TV news show. Limor
is a young, right-wing, up and coming leader of the
Likud. On the morning she was interviewed she, along
with a group Likud MK's, was due to visit Gush Etzion-
Efrat in the morning and then later on, Kiryat Arba-
The interviewer, one of the many leftists comprising
the Israeli media, asked Limor why she was visiting Gush-
Etzion-Efrat. Livnat then explained the strategic value
of the entire area, especially regarding Jerusalem.
These communities form a belt around Jerusalem,
protecting the capital from foreign aggression.
The interviewer then queried: "OK, I understand the
importance of Gush Etzion to Jerusalem, but what about
Hebron? Why are you going to Hebron? How is Hebron
connected to Jerusalem?
Limor Livnat looked at the woman interviewing her
and responded, "A Jew wouldn't ask a question like that."
How is Jerusalem connected to Hebron? Ask any of
the 100,000, yes ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND people who visited
Hebron since the beginning of the festival of Succot, a
week ago. This morning Ma'arat HaMachpela was so crowded
that there wasn't enough room for people to pray inside.
Some worshipers were forced to either pray outside or
wait for the crowd to thin out.
On Yom Kippur there was a Bit Milan at the Ma'ara,
on Thursday there were two such circumcisions, and this
morning there was another. On Thursday there was, in
addition to the Brit, a Bar-Mitzvah. Yesterday there was
also a Bar Mitzvah at the Ma'ara.
As you can see, activity in Hebron has far from
subsided. To the contrary, more and more people are
arriving, touring, and celebrating. If there was any
thought that with the signing of the Oslo Accords, and
their Knesset approval, we were going to throw up our
hands and give up, well, whoever thought that, was just
plain wrong. And it's not just the Jewish Community of
Hebron - the famous `500' that Rabin keeps calling `400'
residents. Rather it's all of Am Yisrael. One hundred
thousand people is a lot of people - and that is about
one fifth of the number of visitors who have made their
way to Hebron this last year, since the Ma'ara was
reopened last winter.
Over and over, again and again, Jews from Israel and
from the Diaspora are saying: Hebron is not an Arab city
- Hebron is a JEWISH CITY! Ma'arat HaMachpela is not a
mosque - Ma'arat HaMachpela is THE CAVES OF THE
ISRAEL! And this is the answer to the question asked
constantly: "What are you going to do now? How will you
continue to live in Hebron? Tens and hundreds of
thousands of Jews, pouring in to the City of Abraham - in
spite of everything, and maybe because of everything,
proving that the attachment of the Jewish People to the
Land of Israel, to Eretz Yisrael, is more resolute than
any piece of paper, is more tenacious than any signature.
The connection between Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael is as
eternal as time itself, as proven this week.
The 100,000 in Hebron this week know that if their
is no Hebron, there is no Jerusalem. If we haven't any
rights to Ma'arat HaMachpela, we will not be able to
withstand pressure concerning Temple Mount, the Western
Wall. This is as clear as daylight to anyone with open
eyes. Unfortunately, the Israeli media is, for the most-
part, blind. However, that will pass also.
Am Yisrael - Keep it up! "Netzach Yisrael Lo Yishaker" -
"The Eternal One of Yisrael will not lie or change his
mind, for he is not a man that he should change his mind"
1 Samuel:15:29
Hebron and Jerusalem - Forever!
Am Yisrael Chai!

Mordechai the Tzaddik

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
Mordechai the Tzaddik
15 Tishrei 5756
Sunday, October 15, 1995

Friday afternoon I came home from one of the most
exhilarating experiences I've had in a long, long time.
Hebron had a very special visitor - Mordechai ben David.
Mordechai ben David, for those of you who may not know,
is THE number one Hasidic singer - responsible for such
hits as "Mashiach" "Samchenu" and his current "Mitzvah
Gedola L'hiot b'simcha Tamid" (It's a big mitvah to
always be happy).
Hebron sponsored a number of major events over the
Succot holiday, including two music festivals, featuring
Mordechai ben David and Dedi Graucher. Conducted and
directed by composer Moshe `Mona" Rosenblum, the concerts
took place in Haifa on Wednesday night, to a capacity
crowd of 3,000, and in Tel-Aviv's Yad Eliyahu Sports
Center on Thursday evening to almost to 10,000 swinging
Hebron supporters.
The evening began with short speeches by Chief Rabbi
Yisrael Meir Lowe, who stressed the importance of "Eretz
Yisrael HaShlema" (the greater Israel), Tel Aviv Mayor
Roni Milo, who said, "if Jews don't have the right to
live in Hebron, which is over 3,700 years old, what is
our right to live in Tel Aviv, which is less than 100
years old?!", Noam Arnon, spokesman of the Jewish
Community of Hebron, MK Zevulun Hammer, Party leader of
the National Religious Party, and Likud MK Bibi
Netanyahu, who will hopefully be elected the next Prime
Minister of Israel. Netanyahu emphasized the major
problem plaguing Israel today, which in his words, is
EDUCATION. "Today's youth is ignorant of true Jewish
values, emanating from the Bible, and other Jewish
literature. When the Likud returns to lead the country,
we will make education our number one priority, and
educate our youth with the values evident in the children
living in Hebron."
The first of the two major features of the evening
was Dedi Graucher, who performed wonderfully for an hour.
Before his performance the packed audience viewed the new
Hebron sound and light show, Hebron, City of the
Patriarchs. This 15 minute feature radiates the lights
of Hebron, Past, Present and Future.
At 10:20PM Mordechai ben David took center stage and
gave the audience a performance never to be forgotten.
He sang one song with Dedi Graucher and dueted with "boy
wonder" Yehuda Ma'atuf from Kfar Habad for two numbers.
Singing until almost 11:45PM, ben David kept the crowd
clapping, swinging and on its feet until the very end.
On Friday morning Mordechai visited Hebron. Leaving
Jerusalem at 7:30 in the morning and accompanied by two
full buses, he arrived at Ma'arat HaMachpela for morning
services. The entire entourage received an in-depth
explanation of the Ma'ara and its history from Noam
Arnon, had breakfast in the huge Succah outside the
Ma'ara and split into two groups to tour Hebron. I had
the privilege to spend the next few hours with Mordechai
and his friends. We visited the Avraham Avinu
neighborhood and the Avraham Avinu Synagogue and then
traveled up to Tel-Rumeida, home of Hebron's most
infamous citizen, Baruch Marzel, who is still under house
arrest (for over a year)! Mordechai dedicated one of his
songs during the concert to Marzel and when he saw him in
Hebron hugged him and danced with him. Baruch gave the
guests a guided tour of the area, including Kever Rut and
Ishi, the tombs of Ruth and Jesse (King David's father).
Mordechai was photographed with almost all the soldiers
in the area, at his request. He entered a small base and
wished all present a happy New Year and a happy Festival.
After visiting Beit Hadassah, Mordechai sang and
danced his way up to the roof of Beit Shneerson, to the
Succah of the Heikan family. There he sang and danced
with Hebron's children for over 20 minutes, bringing
smiles and laughter to the faces of all. It was a truly
joyous event.
When the buses left back to Jerusalem at 2:00PM,
Mordechai ben David left a community of hand-clapping,
singing residents, who had the opportunity to enjoy two
of the star-singers appearances - one on stage and one in
person in Hebron. It was a day to remember.

Sunday, October 1, 1995

Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of ...

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David WilderThough  I  Walk  Through the Valley  of  the  Shadow  of  ...
(Psalms 23)
April 10, 1995
Erev Pesach 
     Which  shadow?   The Psalmist, David, King  of  Israel,
wrote, "Though I walk through the valley of  the shadow of  d
e  a  t  h,  I will fear no evil, for You are with me,"  for,
"the  L-rd  is  my  Shepherd."  Is this the key  phrase  "the
valley  of  the  shadow  of death?"   There  are  those  who,
perhaps,  feel that we are not walking though the  shadow  of
the  valley of death, but rather through the valley of  death
itself.  The finger points at immanent disaster.  Scarcely  a
week  passes without a massacre, whether it be two, eight  or
forty.  And the week before Passover, the holiday celebrating
the  birth of the Jewish People, the liberation from  foreign
bondage,  and  once again, it strikes again.   Names  on  the
radio, obituaries, funerals, and "condolences to the bereaved
-  but the Piece Process must continue!". "The valley of  the
shadow of death" or "the valley of death?"
     It depends how you look at things.  It's easy to see the
black,  the  void.  Is there any good?  Is  there  any  hope?
Vision  is very subjective.  Two people can view exactly  the
same event, and see it differently.  For example, Bob and Joe
can   witness  the  same  auto  accident  but  give  opposite
testimony.   Why?  Not because one is lying;  rather  because
Bob  was  looking at driver "A" and Joe at driver "B".   Both
told the truth, but it was only a partial truth. However, had
someone  filmed the entire event with a wide-angle lens,  the
truth  would  be  complete, because  it  recorded  the  total
episode.  That might be called the complete truth.
      This  is the way that we must observe what is happening
around  us  today.  But our observance must not include  only
today, but also yesterday, and tomorrow, past and future.  We
must  inspect not only  what is happening, but also the  goal
behind our actions and reactions.  This might not make life a
whole  lot  easier, but an understanding of what is happening
will  give us the inner strength to keep going, at any  cost!
It  will  allow  us to govern our fate, and not  let  present
circumstances to rule over us.
      How  can  we do this?  If we look at present conditions
from  a perspective of  "now" what do we see?  We face almost
total  despair.   Our own government has seemingly  abandoned
us, and is using all of the forces at its disposal to repress
us,  the  "settlers."  They have forsaken the Land of Israel,
preferring  to  see  the  heart of Israel  in  the  hands  of
foreigners,  whose only true desire is to see us drowning  in
the  sea.  And they have deserted a heritage over 3,000 years
old,  preferring Oslo and Geneva to Jerusalem and Hebron.  So
what  should  we do - get up and leave?  Is there  any  other
     This is an example of shortsightedness - Looking only at
today,  at  the  present.  What if we look from  a  different
perspective - from a little farther back?   If we go back  to
the  days of Moses, and our enslavement in Egypt then we  can
declare,  without  any doubt, that their situation  was  more
difficult  than  ours. They were in a foreign  land,  slaves,
without  a  ray  of hope.  (And if you pay attention,  you'll
notice  that  after  Moses  appeared  on  the  scene,  things
worsened,  before  they improved.)  And if  we  go  back  500
years, to the days when thousands of Jews were burned at  the
stake  for  not  believing and expressing the "truth"  as  so
asserted  by  the leaders of the Inquisition, and  were  then
exiled from their homes in the most enlightened land of  that
era,   is   there  any  comparison  to  today's  trials   and
tribulations.   And if we return 50 years in  our  past,  are
words  necessary?    We were literally reincarnated,  leaving
the ashes of Aushwitz to the dream of Eretz Yisrael.  How did
the  survivors do it?  If they had no hope, if they could see
no  light at the end of the tunnel, even from within the hell
that raged, they could never have survived.  They walked  out
of  death into life, from Exile to redemption, in the land of
Israel.   That  is  where  we are today,  in  the  middle  of
redemption,  rebirth, after 2,000 years of exile.   It  isn't
easy to be reborn.
      How  then, are we to live today? Is all lost?    If  we
were  able  to bring back all of those who died because  they
were  Jews  over  the last 2,000 years, would  they  despair?
Would they suggest that we leave our homeland because of  the
"Palestinian terrorists" or because of a few sick, despondent
old men who are still hibernating, and are still sleeping the
sleep of exile?
      Each generation has a mission.  We may be privileged to
have  several  missions:  to  return  to  Eretz  Yisrael,  to
resettle Eretz Yisrael, and to STAY in Eretz Yisrael, at  all
cost!  For we didn't return to Israel as private individuals,
but  as a nation, a people.  Outside of Israel we were groups
of  individuals;  our national identity  was  almost  totally
obscured.   However,  today, in Eretz Yisrael,  we  have  the
privilege  and the obligation to act as a nation,  a  people.
This demands sacrifice and hardship.  But does it demand more
sacrifice  and  hardship than that demanded of  the  Jews  of
2,000 years of exile, when they preferred to die rather  than
change  their religion.  How many thousands of Jews  suffered
and  died for the privilege to remain Jews.  Is our sacrifice
greater  than theirs?  I think not.  Are the demands made  of
us  more  difficult than what was demanded of them?  I  think
not.   Rather, for us, it is actually easier.  Why?   Because
come  back  to the land of our forefathers, the land  of  the
dreams of generations of Jews.  We just think that it's  more
difficult,  because  we  are in the  midst  experiencing  the
hardships.   That  is  why we must view our  present  in  the
prespective of past and future AND NOT ONLY THE PRESENT..
      If we return to the beginning - to the verse "Though  I
Walk  Through the Valley of the Shadow of ..."   which valley
are we walking through?  We are walking through the VALLEY OF
LIFE.   True, even when we walk through the valley of  death,
we  fear  no evil.  All the more so when we walk through  the
valley of life.
      There are those who say that the eyes of all Israel are
on  us, the settlers, in Yehuda, Shomron, and Gaza.  I  think
otherwise.   I  think that not only the eyes  of  Israel  are
focused on Kiryat Arba-Hebron - Yesha.  I think that the eyes
of  of generations of Jews are converged on us, in prayer and
in hope.  We shall not disappoint them.