Wednesday, November 13, 1996

The Day After

The Day After
November 13, 1996

The  Israeli army has, by all accounts, almost completely
concluded  its abandonment of the City of the Patriarchs.
The  IDF has removed almost 100% of its outposts  in  and
around  the  city,  in  the areas to  be  transferred  to
Arafat.  Legally, Israel still has access to  the  entire
city,  but  patrols in nearly all the neighborhoods  have
been halted.
       The  major  difference  between  today  and  post-
abandonment  is  the  entrance of  the  armed,  uniformed
terrorists  into Hebron.  Presently, Hebron's  Arabs  are
still  wearing  civilian clothing and their  weapons  are
still  in the closets.  Following official `redeployment'
that changes.  As will Israeli access to about 90% of the
      Barring a miracle - and miracles do happen, we know
them  very  well - but barring a miracle,  Arafat's  flag
will  actually fly over the Hebron military  compound  in
the very near future.  His soldiers will be patrolling in
the  hills above the Jewish Community of Hebron, possibly
by next Sunday morning.
       According  to  the  most  recent  news   accounts,
Netanyahu, who was supposed to leave tonight for the west
coast  of  the United States, canceled his  trip.   Early
this  morning palestinian negotiators met with  President
Ezer  Weitzman,  and  as a result of  this  meeting,  met
tonight between seven and eight, with Netanyahu.   It  is
possible  that  tonight, or early tomorrow  an  agreement
will be initialed by both sides.  The agreement will have
to  be  ratified  by  the  Israeli  Cabinet  and  may  be
implemented on Saturday night.
       Israeli  officers  hosted  palestinian  `officers'
including Jabril Rajub in the city, and discussed  Hebron
      Earlier tonight all roads leading into Hebron  were
closed off.  Not even Hebron residents were allowed  into
the  city.   The  reason  for the confusion:  A  enormous
military  exercise,  practicing  measures  to  be   taken
following  a  massive  terrorist attack  outside  Ma'arat
Peace has arrived.

     Earlier this afternoon a reporter sat questioning me
in  my office .  "So," he asked, "what will you do?   Are
you going to try and stop it?"  My response: "What can we
do?   Everything we could possibly do we have done.  Tens
and  hundreds of thousands of Jews have come into  Hebron
to  show support.  Meetings, rallies, both in Israel  and
in  the  US,  a  legitimate attempt to  influence  public
opinion, and to sway the politicians. We brought about  a
political   revolution  -  leading   to   a   change   in
governments.  Whatever there was to do, we did it."
      "Now,  we  cannot force the Israeli army to  patrol
where  they  don't want to patrol.  We have no intentions
of  forming  our  own militias - that is  not  our  task.
Fifty  four adult males will not be able to prevent armed
Arabs,   called  police,  dressed  like  soldiers,   from
entering  the  vacuum created by the abandonment  of  the
city  by the IDF.  There really isn't too much else  left
for us to do.  Barring a miracle."
      So then the reported continued.  "What will you  do
the morning after, the morning after redeployment?"
     "I suppose we will get up in the morning, the way we
get  up  every  morning," I answered.   "We  will  go  to
morning  prayers, eat breakfast, - the kids  will  go  to
school and we will go to work."
      "That's  it!?"  he queried, "life as  normal?"  His
voice sounded incredulous.
      "Yeah, I suppose so." What else is there to do?  We
aren't  planning  on  leaving, if  that's  what  you  are
alluding to."
     "But life as normal?"  He couldn't believe it.
      "Look," I answered, "our goal was, and still is, to
live   as   normally  as  possible,  within   the   given
circumstances.   True, things will  change  -  they  will
change drastically.  Unbelievable amounts of soldiers and
police will wonder the streets and rooftops in the  areas
still controlled by Israel.  We don't really want to live
feeling like we are embedded inside a military camp - but
we don't have too much choice."
      "Our  security, in spite of the military  presence,
will  have  been compromised.  No amount of soldiers  can
prevent  sniper fire from the hills surrounding  us.   We
know that, and will have to find a way to live with it."
      "O.K.," he said.  But what's next?  You've spent so
much  time  just fighting for survival.   That  was  your
goal,  almost since the previous government  was  elected
and  the Oslo accords were signed.  What do you do now  -
where do you go from here?"
      I  sat and thought for a moment and then responded.
"We  are  going to try to do whatever we can  to  proceed
forward  -  to build wherever we can and to  struggle  to
build where we will be told that we cannot.  We are going
to  bring as many more people into Hebron as we can, both
to  visit, and as permanent residents.  We are  going  to
keep  living  in Hebron, and we will develop  and  expand
however we can."
      It  won't be exactly as we wanted it - but  we  can
only do what is in our hands, within our limits.  We try,
but  that is all we can be held responsible for - trying.
What  we can do, we will do.  What we can't do, we  won't

Hebron  existed before Oslo, Rabin, Peres  and  Netanyahu
and will continue to exist after  them.    Three thousand
seven  hundred  years of history, of heritage, of Judaism
cannot be eradicated by anyone or anything.  There may be
those who believe, for one reason or other, that they are
above history.  But history will prove them wrong.   Just
as  the  Jewish  people are eternal, so  are  our  roots.
Nothing can severe those roots, because they are so deep,
that  they touch the very essence of existence.  That  is
the  status of Hebron.  There may be setbacks, there  may
be  failures  - but these are temporary.  We were  exiled
from  Hebron from 1929 to 1967 against our wills, but  we
returned home - the same as we returned to Eretz  Yisrael
after  a  2,000 year exile.  We may again find  ourselves
facing  a  situation whereby most of Hebron is Judenrein.
However,  we  will  be  back.  Hebron-Past,  Present  and
Forever  is  not only a slogan - it is an  expression  of
truth  -  of  essence.  And just as it was,  and  is,  it
always will be.

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