A few days ago I toured with an American family from California. A fifteen-sixteen year old youth asked me the same question any number of times during the two hours we spent together. I don't know if I was able to satisfactorily respond to his queries.
When we were at Beit Hadassah and I described how the women and children living there were surrounded and lived under siege, he asked, "What, Arab police surrounded them?" My response was, of course, "no, Jewish police." "But why would Jewish police do something like that?" he asked.
When I told them the story of a little boy with a tooth-ache who was sent from Beit Hadassah to nearby Kiryat Arba to the dentist, who upon returning to Beit Hadassah wasn't allowed back in, he again asked, "An Arab guard wouldn't let him in?" And of course again I answered, 'no, a Jewish guard." "But why would a Jew do that to a child?"
When we arrived at the Shalhevet neighborhood, the 'shuk,' and I related to them the events leading up to next week's planned expulsion of two families from that site, again he piped up, "Arabs are going to throw you out?" And of course I responded, 'no, Jews are going to expel us.'
He looked at me with astonishment, his eyes wide, filled with question marks. "I don't understand. What does the Israeli government care about two families in the Shalhevet neighborhood in Hebron? Why are they going to forcibly expel families? How can they do that?!"
Very good questions, coming from a young man, first time in Hebron. I have trouble giving him a good answer. Not that I don't know the answer. The question is, how to express it, so that it will be comprehensible.
Yesterday Hebron marked the 78th anniversary of the 1929 riots and massacre during which 67 Jews were slaughtered and over 70 injured. The Washington Post article, which I responded to last week, stated that the survivors 'fled.' This is, of course, a lie. The survivors were expelled. They weren't expelled once. They were expelled twice. First in August, 1929 following the riots, and then again, in the spring of 1936. A large group of families desired to return to Hebron, but were prevented from doing so due to 'political considerations' determined by the Jewish leadership at the time. However a group of some 30 families did move back to Hebron in 1931, and lived in the city until a few days after Passover in 1936. At that time the British again expelled them, saying that the Mufti was inciting, there was going to be trouble, and that the British police wouldn't be able to protect them. They threw them out with the clothes they were wearing, but nothing else. That was the end of a Hebron Jewish community until our return in 1967. It was, for all intensive purposes, the first time in almost a thousand years that Hebron had no Jewish population.
In the 1920s and the 1930s there was no Jewish state, no Jewish army, no Jewish ability to truly defend themselves. Today, 78 years later, we have Jewish police, Jewish military, a Jewish government, a Jewish state. It seems that they prefer not to follow in the footsteps of the first Jew, Abraham, who, being commanded by G-d to "Lech Lecha" to "Go" to walk the land, the length and width of Eretz Yisrael, did just that, stopping only in Hebron, making this city his home, the first Jewish city in the Land of Israel. Rather, the Israeli state, using all of the resources available to such a sovereign body, prefers to follow in the footsteps of the Mufti and the British.
Ah, you ask, the Mufti? The Mufti slaughtered people. How can you compare the Israeli government to Haj Amin el Husseini, a Jew-hater whose incitement led to the 1929 riots?
Very clearly, Amin el Husseini's goal was the expulsion of Jews, starting with Hebron, and reaching Jerusalem, and other cities in Israel. He wanted Jews out, and cared not how it happened. He had plans to annihilate all the Jews living in Eretz Yisrael following Rommel's expected invasion of Israel during World War Two. He met with Hitler in Berlin in the 1930s and clearly discussed more than formation of the Muslim Brigades, which fought against the allied forces in Europe.
And our government, where are they? Are they defending their people? Where are they today, as Kasam rockets continue to fall on Sderot? Where were they last year when rockets fired from Lebanon blasted northern Israel? How are they, at present, preserving not only the physical entity of the State of Israel, but also its heritage, its history, its essence?
Yesterday, the new-old Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, effectively declared war on Hebron's Jewish residents, and seemingly on all Jews living in Judea and Samaria. Barak received first-hand information from high-ranking legal advisors within the administration that the families do not have to be expelled from their homes, that there is no court ruling compelling forced eviction of the families, and that there are legally viable alternatives to the expulsion which could be acceptable to both sides. (One of Hebron's ranking legal advisors, former Justice Minister Ya'akov Neeman offered such a compromise, labeled the "Neeman plan" months ago, on behalf of the community, but the compromise was rejected for reasons not specified.) Despite this information, despite the chance to avoid what could turn into an ugly clash, Barak prefers to flex his muscles and show the country what he's made of: Black uniforms, hard-rubber batons, tear gas, and lots of force. Blood, sweat and tears. ('Settler blood and tears, or course!) (The last time such a decision was taken, the result was Amona).
A year and a half ago, nine Hebron families and a Torah study hall voluntarily left these homes in order to prevent what could have been an extremely violent situation. The community was given a firm promise, in the form of an agreement with the commander of forces in Judea and Samaria, General Yair Golan, that following our voluntary exit from the homes, families would soon be allowed to 'legally' return. That was a year and a half ago. The agreement was voided by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, using the excuse that Golan was not authorized to make the agreement. This, despite the fact that the General was on and off the phone with his bosses in the Defense Ministry during the meeting with Hebron representatives in order to receive their OK to the compromise.
Again we've been told that 'we can talk about the shuk after the families leave.' We've been through that once, once too many times. Not again. The property is Jewish property. A military appeals court recommended that the buildings be leased to the Hebron Jewish community. This too was rejected. What more do they want?
The answer to that seems very clear: they are looking for blood. Jewish blood. Shades of the Mufti – shades of the British; blood and expulsion. Not by Arabs and British, rather by Jews. Astounding. And very sad.
One of this morning's headlines in the ynetnews internet news site proclaims: 63 MKs demand that Israel not expel refugees from Sudan. [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L- 3433224,00.html] So now I have a new idea. Let's bring those refugees to Hebron and let them live in shuk. That way nobody will dare touch them. Unless, of course, they convert. Once they're Jewish, watch out. Then, for sure, they'll face expulsion: not from Israel, but from the Shalhevet neighborhood in Hebron.