Sunday, June 29, 1997

E Tu Arik?

E Tu Arik?
June 29, 1997

Ariel Sharon finally received what he's been waiting for all these years - public acknowledgment of
his right to participate in the highest echelons of Israeli government. Since his ousting from the Defense Ministry following the Kahn Committee Report, holding him indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Sharon has been fighting his way back up to the top. He has brought suits against media publications, including the famous case against Time Magazine and presently against a major Israeli newspaper. He has consistently claimed innocence. He was at least partially exonerated last week when a former Israeli general who had testified against Sharon a decade and a half ago, admitted that he had lied.
Ariel Sharon is, to say the least, a very complicated personality. He has given over 50 years of his life to Israel and the Jewish People. He is many things to many people - loved by some and hated by others. One thing is for sure: he has accomplished a tremendous amount - both in the military and in Israeli politics. I won’t go into a biography of Sharon (although I can recommend his autobiography). The day may come, however, when Sharon is remembered as ‘the great unifier.’ He brought together right-wing politicians over twenty years ago, eventually leading to Menachem Begin’s victory in 1977. And he is overwhelmingly responsible for bringing David Levy and Raphael Eitan together with Bibi Netanyahu, resulting in the downfall of Shimon Peres and Co.

Sharon is not a vindictive man. Many times he has been slighted, but he seems always to follow a course of action based on ideological truth, rather than personal consideration. He seems to do what he really believes is right. And when he is wrong, he has tended to admit it. Two classic examples come to mind. Ariel Sharon implemented the abandonment of Sinai. Today he regrets that. During the Shamir administration he was one of the most vociferous assailants of the them Prime Minister’s policies concerning Judea and Samaria. Yet, when Shamir came under fire from the Americans, Sharon was his most active supporters.

Following the election of Netanyahu Sharon was expected to receive a plum position in the new government. After all, he played a major part in the victory. However, Netanyahu snubbed Ariel Sharon. Sharon was not included in the new Likud-led cabinet. Following a couple of months of negotiation, Bibi sewed together a new post - that of ‘Infrastructure.’ Since taking up his post, little has been heard from Sharon.

Why did Netanyahu leave Sharon out of the government? Did he really not have a place for him? I don’t think so. Bibi was afraid of Sharon - of his power, of his past, of his tremendous strength and political savvy. He knew that Sharon’s opposition to the Hebron Accords could endanger its acceptance in the government. Arik Sharon was one of Hebron’s most tenacious supporters. He visited Hebron frequently and knows the city like the back of his hand. By leaving Sharon out Netanyahu was signaling him - ‘Now I am the Boss.’ When Sharon finally received his coveted position in the government, he quite simply shut up.

The latest Bibi crisis were no exception. Sharon was no where to be heard. He didn’t say anything bad about Bibi. When he so desires, Sharon knows very well how to keep his mouth shut. The result of the Bar-On-Hebron dealings left Dan Meridor without a ministry - and his successor in the Treasury is almost surely to be Ariel Sharon.

The Ministry of the Treasury is one of the top three spots in the government - together with Defense and the Foreign Office. Once again, Arik Sharon will find himself up top. But treasury is not enough. Sharon demanded that Bibi bring him into the inner sanctum, together with David Levy and Yitzhak Mordechai. The two of them, along with the Prime Minister, formulate the positions to be taken concerning negotiations with Arafat. These are the people who, to a great degree, will determine the immediate future of the State of Israel - what are to be the borders of the Jewish State.

Theoretically, Sharon’s addition to this forum can only be positive. That is why Mordechai and Levy are reported to be upset about his membership in the select group. Sharon is known to take much harder right-wing positions than the others.

The question is whether Sharon will remember his previous errors and his later regret. Or, is he determined to maintain his seat in the cabinet, at all costs, even at the cost of compromising his positions, as has Netanyahu. Tonight Kol Yisrael reported that Sharon met, late in the week, with Abu Mazen - one of the senior, if not the senior official in the Palestinian Authority, after Arafat. He and Arafat haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but he is known to be a very powerful man in the PA.

Sharon hasn’t yet taken up his new posts - but he is already meeting with top palestinians. Is he acting on his own - or is he doing Netanyahu’s asking? Being that both David Levy and Yitzhak Mordechai had no prior knowledge of the Sharon-Abu Mazen meeting, it is safe to say that Sharon was acting on behalf of the Prime Minister. If he continues acting on Bibi’s behalf, we might be better off if he stays where he is in the Infrastructure Ministry, where he can only do good and little harm.

If he plans on being Bibi’s stooge the only phrase that we might conjure up for him is...
E Tu Arik?

Sunday, June 22, 1997

An open letter to "a Senior US Official"

An open letter to "a Senior US Official"June 22, 1997

The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday June 22, 1997 that you stated, last Friday, that it is "quite
possible that the violence in Hebron is "a plausible safety valve" allowing the Palestinians "to
vent their anger." You continued that "there is aggressive action the Palestinian Police could be
taking in certain circumstances which they are not, because it (the current situation) is not
serious enough."

Mr. Senior US Official, please define the framework of legitimate "venting of anger." What is the
boundary of licit violence? In view of the actions you sanction the perimeter no doubt includes
attempted murder: hurling rocks and slinging ignited firebombs has been known to cause death. A good
sized, sharp rock in the head can easily be fatal. A blazing bottle filled with petrol can envelop a
person in flames, causing serious burns and death.

What is the limit? For instance, Abraham happens to be standing next to Jacob, who is legitimately
burned to death by an exploding firebomb. Abraham, seeing the legitimate perpetrator, Muhammad,
decides to attempt to save himself from the same fiery hell by illegitimately shooting him.
Mohammad's legitimate colleague, Mustafa, seeing his friend shot to death, responds by
legitimately tossing an explosive device into a crowd of people, thereby reliving the frustration
of seeing his friend Muhammad killed.

Mr. Senior US Official, does your tolerance encompass all sides of the conflict, or does it just
excuse Arab brutality? Perhaps you would also see fit to exonerate any "Israeli agitation?" How
would you react if some of the 540 Jews living in the City of the Patriarchs began throwing
firebombs at Palestinian police, who not too long ago were leading terrorist attacks against them.
Am I to be entirely assured that you understand their physical and psychological disconcertion and
trepidation following the injuries and deaths of so many Israelis by Palestinian terrorists over the
past few years, since the advent of Oslo.

Mr. Senior US Official, how would you react, for instance, if an Israeli diplomat in the US were to
assert that racial violence is nothing more than a `release of steam, discharging frustration, and
is, therefore, to be pardoned!?' Mr. Official, how would you react if the New York City police sat
by and watched while a group of people spent a week heaving Molatov Cocktails at their police
counterparts? Would the police restrict themselves to, every once in a while, shooting at the
perpetrator's legs?

Mr. Senior US Official, why do you justify violence? Why do you defend Palestinian police inaction?

Mr. Senior US Official, I think I know the answer to these questions. Your remarks stink of bias
and partiality. Your tone is one of contempt and disdain for the Jews living in Hebron. You don't
care one iota if Jews die in Hebron. Your remarks signal continued US policy, rejecting all Jewish
presence in Judea, Samaria and Gazza. This policy persists in supporting Arafat, as indicated by
your opinion that Arafat is not responsible for spurring the violence.

Mr. Senior US Official, the United States was supposed to be playing the role of an impartial
broker, assisting negotiations between Israel and Arafat. However, you know, as well as I do, that
the United States cannot be, has not been, and will never be, impartial. Your remarks mirror US
policy, bolstering Arab claims to Israeli land, including Jerusalem. This may best be observed by
President Bill Clinton's veto of the bill demanding that the US embassy be moved to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Israeli people, and of the Israeli State. You refuse to
accept this, and, to the contrary, justify continued Arab terrorism, as has continued in Hebron for
the past week.

Mr. Senior US Official, your loathing is not limited to the Jews of Hebron - it encompasses all of
Jewish existence in the Land of Israel. There is no other possible explanation for your
justification of Arab use of firebombs against Israelis. Your life would be much easier if "those
troublesome Jews" weren't continually stirring up trouble in the Middle East. You know, as well as I
do, that `peace' is not achieved using firebombs. The only thing gained is bloodshed, which doesn't
seem to bother you.

But, Mr. Senior US Official, I have news for you. We were here long before you existed, and we will
continue to be here long after you are gone - both in Hebron and in all of Eretz Yisrael. Contrary
to your assumption, we despise all violence - our ideal is peace - true peace, where all live and
let live. We will eventually reach that goal, here in Israel, despite your attempts to justify our
demise. Our stamina is not 200 years old - rather it is embedded in faith dating back 3,700 years.
For 2,000 years the Jewish password was "next year in Jerusalem." Jews died because they dared utter
these words. Forty nine years age we began to fulfill a 2,000 year-old dream - we came back to
Israel. Thirty years ago we continued to implement this dream - we united Jerusalem, we returned to
Hebron. Mr. Senior US Official, you can do whatever you want, but I can assure you - we will never

Friday, June 20, 1997

Hebron - One Year Later

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
Hebron - One Year LaterJune 20, 1997

One year ago none of us could imagine that a year later Hebron would be something of a war zone. Yesterday Arutz 7 replayed an interview with Arik Sharon, recorded a day after the elections, in which he assured that Hebron would not be abandoned. Unfortunately, he was wrong.

The situation in Hebron is definitely worrisome. The security of Hebron’s residents and guests is of paramount importance. This week the IDF managed to keep the agitators from getting too close to the Jewish neighborhoods, as happened during the riots in April. So most of what happened wasn’t seen, but it was heard. Booms originating with the firebombs exploding between 200 to 300 meters from Beit Hadassah were answered with the booms of rubber bullets being shot at the terrorists. However, almost none of them were arrested. Israeli security forces refused to attempt to apprehend the Arab perpetrators attacking from within the H2-Israeli controlled part of Hebron. The palestinian police were nowhere to be seen - of course none of the attackers assaulting from the H1-Arafat controlled zone were seized. Today’s aggression was unparalleled - firebombs were thrown incessantly. I spoke with one of UN TIPH observers at the scene in early afternoon and asked him if he had any idea how many firebombs had been hurled. When he answered ten I stared at him unbelieving. Seeing my consternation he retorted, "that is, of course, in the last 20 minutes. Since this morning - dozens and dozens."

A few days ago a reporter speaking with me insinuated that Israel was the cause of the current ‘unrest.’ I asked him how the police would react in any US city if a group of fanatics started tossing firebombs at their uniformed colleagues. He had no answer. I’ve been questioned as to why this has started again. It is very difficult to respond with 100% knowledge that the answer it accurate. Most of what we surmise is just that, conjecture. It is obvious that Arafat is aware of Netanyahu’s current political sensitivity. He knows that now is the time to exert pressure. And that is exactly what he is doing, the best, and only way he knows - by using violence. It is not coincidental that Hebron’s problems began together with attacks by Arabs in Gazza on the Jewish community of Morag. It is not surprising that Israeli intelligence expects major disturbances in Shechem and other cities in Yesha. What is (or perhaps isn’t) surprising, it the lack of any real Israeli response. I have discussed this issue before and see no reason to repeat myself. Suffice it to say that Netanyahu’s policies have not yet changed - he hasn’t yet learned.

How should we relate to this "leader" - a man whose election platform has been turned inside-out? After a year, perhaps we should do a little summing up. Netanyahu is surely not the Messiah we prayed for - but we knew that a year ago. He is weak, indecisive and unassertive. We knew that too. What we didn’t expect was a total capitulation - an overall collapse of the ideologies he so succinctly phrased in his book, published before the election.

In the past I have called for the Prime Minister’s ousting - believing that we would be better off without him. Earlier this week an article appeared over internet, written by a highly respected analyst, Emanuel A. Winston, called FORCED EVACUATION OF JEWISH HEBRON . The article began: "It seems amply clear that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has adopted the Peres-Beilin evacuation plan for Hebron and its Jewish citizens." With all due respect, Winston is wrong. With all his troubles and faults, Netanyahu has no intentions to evacuate Hebron’s Jewish residents. There are details that I cannot publish over public internet, but I know that there are Israeli contingency plans in the event of an all-out attack on the Jewish neighborhoods by Arafat’s troops. Those plans DO NOT include evacuation on the lines suggested by Winston, according to the Peres-Beilin plans. Not only would evacuation of Hebron immediately bring down the government - it would destroy the Likud for the foreseeable future. Netanyahu knows this. Netanyahu is far from implementing the policies he promised previous to his election, but we have no doubt that he is far from being another Shimon Peres. Peres would have removed us from Hebron. Bibi won’t.
In spite of what I have written in the past, today we must do everything we can to prevent the fall of the government. Were elections to be held today, according to most polls, Ehud Barak would easily be elected. His ministers would include Haim Ramon and Yossi Beilin. Who knows - they might even try to make Peres the next president of the country, after Weitzman. Given today’s international political climate, this must not happen. Netanyahu has shown a little, (much much too little) strength concerning Har Homa. This is not enough to forgive his errors - but it is something. Rather than continue to weaken him by accusing him of planning to evacuate Hebron, we must find ways to strengthen him.
I am sure that Netanyahu will make policy decisions causing me to attack him again, in the future. But for the time being, we cannot allow the left to come back into power - we have to watch very carefully what we say, so as not to bring an even worse predicament upon ourselves.

Tuesday, June 10, 1997

Crying with Keren

Crying with Keren
Erev Shavuot 5757
June 10, 1997

I have been debating with myself, for the past few days, whether or not to write this. Finally, I give in. I feel that I have little choice, as it has been sitting on me for too long.

According to our Sages, once the People of Israel entered Eretz Yisrael, a concept called, ‘kol Yisrael arevim ze l’ze ( All Israel is responsible for one another) takes hold. We have an obligation for each other - what one Jew does, or doesn’t do, - may have an effect on all Jews. This concept exists because we are ONE people - as we received Torah at Mount Sinai as ONE BEING - not as a group of individuals - but rather as ONE UNIFIED BODY - known as AM YISRAEL - the People of Israel.

This concept became voided as an active process when Israel was forced into Galut - into exile. Whether or not it has once again come into effect, after our return to Israel, is debated. There is not doubt though, that the moral obligation remains with us.

However, the idea behind the concept is clear. We all have responsibility toward each other - this is what allows us to celebrate with true happiness when a friend celebrates, or, on the other hand, to feel genuine grief when another Jew grieves.

It also demands that we delve deeply into our deeds - examining them, searching for ways in which to correct whatever we do which may not be 100% - deeds that may have been, in one way or another, responsible for the grief that has befallen someone else. - Again, this concept exists due to the event we are celebrating today - due to the unity of Am Yisrael, as portrayed at Har Sinai, with the giving and accepting of Torah.

A few days ago Am Yisrael suffered a terrible tragedy. A beautiful young women named Keren sat at her home, dressed in a brides dress, waiting for her beloved husband-to-be, Uri, and his family, arriving from Jerusalem. They were to be married later that day. Both, coincidentally, had a strong connection to Hebron: Keren studied at, and graduated from the Kiryat Arba Ulpana - women’s religious high school and Uri had served as a deputy unit commander in Hebron.

On the way from Jerusalem to Keren'’s home in the northern part of Israel, Uri, his parents, and two close friends were killed in an automobile accident. The car, it seems, was traveling too fast, missed a curve, went over the side of the road, flipped over and landed on its roof, several meters down in a gully. All five died instantly. Keren sat in her brides dress waiting for Uri, while Uri lay dead in the gully. When the wedding party didn’t arrive search parties began looking for them. They weren’t found until the next morning - and later that afternoon they were buried in Jerusalem. The next day Israel’s newspapers contained unbelievably sad pictures: Keren in her bride’s attire - and next to that picture, Keren, weeping at Uri’s funeral. The happiest day of Keren’s life turned into a living hell. As one newspaper account related: Today, all Israel cries with Keren.

Why should I relate this unfortunate story on the eve of Shavuot? First, it is important to know that there still is some kind of unity in Israel - it made no difference whether they were religious or secular, where they lived, or what they thought - it wasn’t a ‘national tragedy’ as was the helicopter accident which took the lives of so many soldiers, or a terrorist attack, such as the killing of the school girls in Jordan. It was a family tragedy, transformed into a national tragedy - it was impossible to see those pictures, wedding pictures that will never be smiled over in a wedding album, it was impossible to see then without your stomach flip-flopping inside you. As the newspaper account - ‘all Israel cried with Keren.’

This story must be told for another reason: this kind of an accident is much too tragic to simply be "chance or coincidence ." It doesn’t ‘just happen’ that a chatan - a groom, is killed on the way to his wedding, in an auto accident and that his kalah, his bride, must bury him rather than marry him. It truly is a national tragedy, effecting all, because everyone feels a part of it. Everyone has a stake in it - somehow, everyone ask themselves the same question: Why?

That isn’t a question I can answer - I am not a prophet - I cannot read into individual souls, or into our national soul. I don’t know what brought this awful event upon Keren, or upon all of us. But what I do know is that it is incumbent on all of us, keeping in mind the concept mentioned above, that ‘all Israel is responsible for each other,’ to inspect our ways, to ask ourselves, how can we better ourselves, how can we give more without expecting anything back in return - how can we better actualize the unity of Am Yisrael without feeling like we are compromising the principals upon which we live.

On Shavuot we read the book of Ruth - a convert who mothered the family of David, King of Israel. Ruth symbolizes, above all, the ability to overcome, to unify, to bridge the concepts which could, otherwise, separate. I won’t attempt here to analyze the Book of Ruth - everyone can do that themselves. But tomorrow, when hundreds will visit the tomb of Yishai (David’s father) and Ruth in Hebron, overlooking the Caves of Machpela, there reading the Scroll of Ruth, the reasons and emotions of those present will not be only of personal delight, but those of national representation - as was David, King of Israel, who embodied within himself, all of Am Yisrael.

As we perform an act of introspection, let us hope that what we are able to learn and improve from such a tragedy as that of Keren and Uri, and that next year, approaching the holiday of Shavuot, we will be able to contemplate not calamity, rather festivity, both private and national, within the same framework of ‘all Israel is responsible for each other’ and that the newspapers will print pictures with captions saying, "today, all of Israel celebrated with Keren."

Chag Sameach.

Sunday, June 8, 1997

Tumbling Backwards

Tumbling Backwards
June 8, 1997

A good friend of mine is presently doing his annual military reserve stint. Each day and/or night for three weeks he patrols areas in the Southern Hebron Hills. I’ve done the same duty in the past. However, now the patrols have new jeeps, looking a little sturdier than those I remember from a few years past. This morning I mentioned this to him after Shabbat prayers and he agreed. "Yes, they are a little more dependable, but they are also slower. It’s very difficult to try and chase anyone or any other vehicle." When I asked him why, he replied, "They are like tanks. They are bullet proof." When I looked at him, more or less stunned, he added, "Each one costs about $60,000."
The Israeli army has a reputation of being one of the best armed forces in the world. The IDF has a tremendous amount to its credit, taking into account the wars and battles fought since 1948. Israel cannot afford to lose a war, and, thank G-d, we never have. Or, have we? The ‘intifada,’ fought for close to ten years by the Arabs in Yesha against Israel was successful. This revolt against the State of Israel had, in reality, almost died out when Rabin was elected in 1992. But that regime took advantage of the smoldering remains of the intifada to initiate the Oslo Accords, leading to all that has transpired since. I guess it is true to say that the intifada was a war which Israel lost. And what a costly defeat!
Why did we lose the intifada war? Was there another way? Of course there was, but, then again, who was minister of Defense when it broke out - none other than our late Prime Minister Rabin. He didn’t try very hard to stop it. The intifada could have been ended quickly, with very little, if any, bloodshed. It wouldn’t have been difficult to do, ten years ago. However, as time went on, as the world media began to give more air time to the ‘poor palestinians,’ we found ourselves in a very difficult situation. This condition was exasperated when the army was sent to do the work of police, and, as the plight deteriorated, were forced to do nothing. Perhaps that is not exactly true. The army didn’t do ‘nothing.’ Rather the IDF began taking only defensive actions, and refused to view the continued violence as a war against Israel. Consequently, the troops, in spite of their being dressed in uniform and equipped with weapons, were forbidden to be soldiers. They were almost never allowed to take the offensive. The leaders of the intifada were not rooted out. Quite simply, Israel refused to treat the war against the State as war - and the results are today apparent. A war cannot be won if it is not recognized as such - a war cannot be won if there is only a defensive posture, without any offensive against the enemy. That is why we lost.
One would think that, even if mistakes are made, they would be learned from. Unfortunately, in Israel today, the opposite is true. We are continuing down the road of errors, on several fronts. Perhaps the most obvious example is in Lebanon. Our forces patrol are attacked, wounded and killed by Hisbullah terrorists, our airforce bombs some villages, and on it goes. We have lost many many fine young men in this tragic cycle of events.
The new bullet proof jeeps are another prime example of basic capitulation. I am not in favor of soldiers being shot in their jeeps. But one has to ask oneself, if the vehicles are bullet proof, isn’t this an acceptance of that fact that we will be shot at and there is nothing we can do about it? This is tantamount to throwing in the towel - saying, "I give up." "I won’t leave, but I know that you are here, you are going to try and kill me, and this is my answer, my reaction - my jeep is bullet proof."
Is this the way the ‘best’ army in the world should perform?
Last week Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu released his plan for final status talks with Arafat. He has adopted the ‘Allon Plan - Plus.’ This plan, initiated by the late Yigal Allon almost 20 years ago, calls for an enlarged Jerusalem, and blocks of ‘settlements’ throughout Yehuda, Shomron and Gazza. According to some media reports, Netanyahu has accepted that fact that some ‘settlements’ will have to me ‘moved,’ i.e. uprooted. It accepts the fact that Arafat has rights within a large amount of Yesha. And, finally, it intrinsically accepts the creation of a palestinian state.
Is this why we elected Netanyahu? To hear about ‘settlement blocks?’ - to hear about bullet proof jeeps? - to hear about soldiers who aren’t allowed to be soldiers?
On Yom Yerushalayim the central event takes place at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem - the Yeshiva founded by Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook. This yeshiva is the leader of all Zionist yeshivas in Israel. This year’s guest of honor was none other than Bibi, who spoke about continued settlement in Eretz Yisrael. I was very sorry when no one there had the guts, in the middle of his speech, to get up and ask him, "What about Hebron - who gave Hebron to Arafat?" Instead, the yeshiva boys applauded him, clapped their hands, sang songs, and encouraged him. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why.
On the face of it we don’t have to attack Bibi’s peace plan because it will never happen. It is nowhere near enough for the Arabs. For them, it is much too little. But if this is Bibi’s starting point, if this is where he is beginning the negotiations, where will they lead to?
Netanyahu is playing with forbidden fruit - he is regurgitating the same blunders made by his predecessors - the blunders that led to the Camp David Accords, to the Madrid Conference, and to Oslo. If the fear of G-d isn’t enough for him, Bibi perhaps should closely examine what happened to all those who participated in, and concluded those historic transgressions. Where are they today? Where does he want to be three years from now? Netanyahu has made some very serious mistakes, but it isn’t too late to correct, at least, some of them. It isn’t too late to make amends, and stop now, before it gets worse.
But for the time being, he is just tumbling backwards, and taking us all with him.

Thursday, June 5, 1997

30 Years Later - Facing the Future

30 Years Later - Facing the Future
Hebron Day, 5757
June 5, 1997

On January 17, 1997 the Hebron Press Office posted the following:
At ten minutes after six this morning, the last officer left the Hebron Military Compound and handed the keys to his Arab counterpart. Leaving the compound, this act completed abandonment of 80% of Hebron to Arafat. Arab soldiers were deployed throughout the areas evacuated by the Israeli army. Thousands of Arabs, many of whom spent the night outside the compound, began chanting,"With blood, with fire, we will liberate palestine."
Over four months have passed since that fateful day, when the State of Israel executed the unthinkable - abandonment of over eighty percent of Hebron-City of the Patriarchs. Immediately Arafat’s army, euphemistically labeled ‘palestinian police’ filled the vacuum. Presently, armed terrorists occupy an overwhelming majority of Hebron. The question must be addressed: Is there a future for the Jewish Community of Hebron?
How do Hebron’s Jewish residents deal with the present situation? Are they packing their bags and leaving? No - the opposite is true. For example, Uri and Shelly Karzan were among the original families settling Tel Rumeida, almost 13 years ago. They lived, with their children in a 45 meter caravan, similar to a mobile home. Two years ago they finished construction of a new home in the Harsina neighborhood of Kiryat Arba. After having spent 10 years in such primitive conditions, they moved to their new house. However, almost everyday Shelly and Uri found themselves in Hebron - visiting their friends, praying at Ma’arat HaMachpela, bringing their children to play with their old neighbors. Finally, they had enough. After two years in their new spacious residence, they moved back to the tiny caravan at Tel Rumeida.
That is the secret of Hebron’s Jewish population. People do not live here for any material benefit. In theory, there aren’t any tangible incentives for those living in the City of the Patriarchs. The homes are small and the families large. Armed Arabs surround the Jewish neighborhoods. Large contingents of security forces are perpetually visible. So, why - why should we stay in Hebron?
However, for those living here, the dividends are palpable. Living in the City of Abraham, the ability to pray daily at Ma’arat HaMachpela, reading the Scroll of Ruth at the Tomb of Jesse and Ruth, this is our reward. Hebron does not belong to us - Hebron belongs to all the Jewish People throughout all the generations. We are the ‘keepers of the keys’ - we literally hold the fort. If there is no Jewish Community in Hebron, there are NO Jews in Hebron - AT ALL! It is our responsibility, and our Jewish communities of Hebron and the obligation, representing the ancient future residents of this Holy City, to ensure an enduring Jewish presence here - forever!
Many times journalists and tourists, seeing so many children and young residents in Hebron, ask, how is it possible to bring children into such a dangerous place, like Hebron. They ask if we don't worry about them. I recently told a group of reporters from the US that our goal in Hebron is not constant conflict - it is, rather, to live normal lives, just as people do throughout the world. A normal life includes families - men, women and children. How can one live a normal life without children. What should we do with them after they are born - send them elsewhere? 
In essence, the opposite is true.The children pictured in this article - they are our future - Hebron’s future, and the future of all the Jewish People. These children, seen here in Purim garb, are the seeds sprouting with the spiritual vitality to lead the Jewish People in the years to come. They live and breathe a vibrant ideal, enveloping their existence. This is the very fortitude necessary to guide us through the challenges of the next generation. Hebron’s youth, imbibed with the spiritual energy necessary to withstand the pressures of antagonistic neighbors, are the future of Hebron and of Israel. With G-d’s help, together, we will succeed in our task.