Monday, April 23, 2012

Buying a cave in Hebron: The other side of the story

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In memory of Beit HaShalom, Beit HaMachpela, Beit Shapira, and (hopefully not) Beit Zachariya.

He heard footsteps approaching the tent. He started calling to his wife, to request she prepare a meal for the guests. But then stopped short. His beloved Sarah was gone. Only last week he’d buried her.

He opened the door and was startled to see about a dozen police, in uniform, crowding around the entrance. But then, looking at them closely, he breathed a sigh of relief. They were all adorned with ‘stars of david’ on their cuffs. Landsmen. His own.

Stepping outside he said, “Yes, my good friends. How can I be of assistance? Perhaps I can honor you with a good meal and some drink? Please come in and recite a blessing.”

The highest ranking officer cleared his throat and growled, “Are you Abraham the Hebrew?” Please show me your identification papers.”
Abraham, slightly flustered, turned to return inside. Suddenly he felt his arms in the grips of others. Two of the police were holding him tightly, escorting him back into his home. When he attempted to free himself, they squeezed harder.

“You asked for my identification card. Please let me get it for you.” One of the police released his hold, but stood close by.

Abraham opened a drawer, pushed aside some papers, found the necessary documents and handed them to the officer.

“It is written here that you are married. Where is your wife? Bring her here at once.”
Abraham gulped, and blinking back tears, answered, “Sarah is gone. She died suddenly while I was away with Yitzhak. We buried her last week, here in Hebron.”
“How can I help you gentlemen? Why are you here?”
“Abraham the Hebrew, you are under arrest. I have orders to take you to the local police station for immediate questioning. You are suspected of a heinous crime. Please do not cause us any trouble and come with us at once.”

The officer nodded his head at one of the other police, who promptly grabbed Abraham’s arms, pushed them behind his back and handcuffed them. Pushed along, none to gently from behind, Abraham had no choice but to follow them.

At the station Abraham was pushed into a chair, where he sat, waiting, for quite some time. Suddenly a group of people stomped in. Another, higher ranking officer, moved aside, and pointing at Abraham, asked the man behind him, “Is this him? Is this the one?”

The other man, a well-dressed villager, seemed to jump up and down and exclaimed, ‘yes it’s him. He’s the one. For sure. I could identify him anywhere!”
“Abraham the Hebrew,” declared the officer, “you are hereby accused of stealing the Machpela cave and the surrounding field, owned by Efron the Hittite, who has just positively identified you as the thief. Do you have anything to say on your behalf?”
Seemingly shocked, Abraham was, at first, speechless. Then he closed his eyes, and could be seen quietly moving his lips. His eyes opened, he stared directly into the eyes of the officer, and responded, “I did not, I repeat, I did not steal, the Machpela cave and field. I purchased them legally from Efrone the Hittite. There were many witnesses.”

“So you deny the charges of theft?”

“Yes I do. I paid a tremendous sum for the cave and field, four hundred silver shekels. There are witnesses to that too.”

Turning to the villager, the officer asked, “and what do you say, Efrone the Hittite?”

“Yes, well I did meet with this man, but we did not reach any agreement.”

“And you did not receive any money from him?

“Yes, of course I received silver shekels from him. He has been using the cave as a place of pagan worship for years. He is a strange man, saying that he prays to only one G-d.  A strange man indeed. He rented the cave from me for many years, using it daily. But I would never sell it to him.”

“Abraham, do you have a contract?”

“Ah, ah yes, but it cannot be revealed yet, not for another few hundred years. But I can give you a hint.”

“Yes, yes, go on.”

My family will leave here for hundreds of years. We will sojourn south to Egypt. Returning here, my offspring will receive the word of the living G-d, the Torah, the Bible, and there will be the eyewitness account of the purchase. What proof could be better than that?”

“That is clearly not good enough. The word of G-d is not sufficient. First of all, it is forbidden to sell caves to Hebrews. Second, the buyer must seek a license from the local ruler. Otherwise the purchase is invalid. You are law officers. You know this law. Don’t you?”
“Ah yes, ah, Abraham, did you receive the necessary permits to make the purchase? Where is your license?”
“I did receive permission from, ah, well, you’ll never believe this, but I really did, receive a permit from…”

“Yes, yes?”

“From Adam.”

“From who!?!”

“From Adam, and his wife Eve.” They okayed the purchase of the cave.”

“Perhaps you can explain yourself.”

“Well, many years ago I discovered them, also interred in the Machpela cave, and struck up a conversation with them. They liked me, and said I could use the cave too, for Sarah, and myself, when the time came.”

Efrone again jumped, exclaiming, “they have criminal records. That Adam and Eve. I’ve heard they also disobey orders. They are not to be believed. Neither is this man. He has no permit to use my cave! Give it back, give it back!”

“Abraham, we hereby judge you guilty of theft of the Machpela cave and field. You must return it to Efrone.”

“But Sarah, she’s buried there. So are Adam and Eve. What about them?”

The officer took out a piece of paper, scribbled on it, and gave to another policeman.

“Take this to the cave. This is an expulsion order. Get them all out. If need be, use force. Get the three of them out of the cave before nightfall.”

An hour later, hundreds of uniformed police surrounded the cave. Using a megaphone, the officer in charge yelled inside: “Everybody out. Yes, every body! Adam, Eve, Sarah, you must find another final resting place. This does not belong to you. You are occupiers. Out, now!

Moments later, the three of them straggled out. Squinting into the setting sun light, Sarah asked, “where to now?”

Adam looking at Eve and then at Abraham, shrugged his shoulders. “If I’d known it was going to be like this, I’d never have agreed to leave the garden.”

“Come on guys, let’s go. We’re not wanted here any more.”

With that, they wondered away, never to be seen again.

Good thing there weren’t Israeli security forces and an Israeli government back in the days of Abraham, or the above might very well have occurred.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Demanding annulment of the death warrant and pending execution of Muhammad Abu Shahala

Demanding annulment of the death warrant and pending execution of Muhammad Abu Shahala
Sunday Apr 15, 2012
 Sunday, April 15, 2012
An open letter to:

Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary of State of the United States , Mrs. Hillary Clinton
US Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Daniel Shapiro
President of the European Council of the EU, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy

Director General of the International Red Cross, Mr. Yves Daccord
President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres
Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu
To all those whom this may concern:
According to various news agencies, Mr. Muhammad Abu Shahala, a former intelligence agent for the Palestinian Authority, has been sentenced to death, following a hurried trial. His crime: selling property to Jews in Hebron.
Mr. Abu Shahala reportedly confessed following torture sessions at the hands of his captors.  The death sentence can be executed only following concurrence by Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, president of the PA. After he signs the death warrant, Abu Shahala may be killed.
It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a ‘capital crime’ punishable by death.  The very fact that such a ‘law’ exists within the framework of the PA legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages.

It is incumbent upon the entire international community, which views Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority as a viable Middle East peace partner, to publicly reject such acts of legal murder, when the ‘crime’ is nothing more than property sales. What would be the reaction to a law in the United States, England, France, or Switzerland, forbidding property sales to Jews?
Actually, less than one hundred years ago, such acts were legislated and practiced, known as the  infamous ‘Nuremberg laws.’ On October 3, 1938 the Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, implemented a  ‘Decree of the Confiscation of Jewish Property, regulating the transfer of assets from Jews to non-Jewish Germans.’  On December 11, 1938 another law was  passed:  ‘the regulation for the elimination of Jews from the Economic life of Germany.’  Among other sections was a clause forbidding Jews from offering merchandise for sale.
Is the Palestinian Authority a reincarnation of the Third Reich?
We appeal to all international leaders to demand the annulment of the death warrant and pending execution of Muhammad Abu Shahala, to be followed by his immediate release from imprisonment, for he has committed no crime.
David Wilder     Noam Arnon
The Jewish Community of Hebron

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pharaoh Bibi will fizzle and fail: The expulsion from Beit HaMachpela

Pharaoh Bibi will fizzle and fail: The expulsion from Beit HaMachpela
Wednesday Apr 04, 2012

I had just wrapped up a pleasant visit with my good friend Jack from the US.  As he pulled away the beeper beeped, with something of a blood-chilling message:  ‘Police have broken into Beit HaMachpela and are expelling its residents.’
Over the past few days, a number of important politicians had visited Beit HaMachpela, including Ministers Yuli Edelstein, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kachlon, Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel, and MKs Uri Ariel and Tzippy Hotoveli. And there may others that I’ve forgotten.
When Barak insisted on expelling the families from the building, others, including Gideon Saar and Limur Livnat protested, publicly.

Last night, as we were conducting a small dedication in Beit HaMachpela, Bibi was meeting with a group of ministers to discuss the ‘crisis.’ Unofficial results consisted of ‘no decision yet’ and no change in status, at least until of end of April.

So when the storm-troopers crashed the party early this afternoon, very few people were home.  Most were at their ‘other homes’ getting ready for Passover.  It only took a few minutes for the hundreds of police, border police, soldiers and riot squad to round up a few women and kids, and see them to the door. Quiet, peaceful, almost pastoral. Almost. But not quite. Watching a group of about twenty Border-police women surrounding and escorting a young women with her two very small children isn’t really tranquility-in-action. Actually, it’s rather sickening.

So what happened? Yesterday Bibi said that we’d have some time to prove our case. And today?

It seems that our Prime Minister, as we get close to the holiday celebrating our exodus from Egypt, decided to dress up as Pharaoh and assist with another exodus. This one from Hebron. Of course, his original great great granddaddy tried to keep us in Egypt. His great great grandson, the new version of Pharaoh is doing the opposite, which is, expelling us: from our homes, our property, our land.

Good ole' Bibi is the same Prime Minister whose actions took Hebron into Hell. The decision to split the city, leaving most of Hebron with Arafat, including the hills surrounding the Jewish community, led to massive gunfire directed at us for two and a half years. Leading to the killing of Shalhevet Pass, and others injured, physically and otherwise.  Bibi promised us we’d be safe. He lied.

In the government decision of January, 1997, Bibi promised to assist Hebron, building and developing its Jewish community. He lied.

A true Pharaoh at heart.

Bibi’s coalition is fairly right-wing. The people in his cabinet certainly lean right. Likud’s MKs, for the most part, certainly lean right. His coalition partners certainly lean right.

Except for one: Ehud Barak. Barak is, for all intents and purposes, partyless. He left Labor, and doesn’t place it the polls. He’s a nothing, a political nobody. Yet he is Defense Minister of the State of Israel and as such, wields tremendous authority. So much so that his lone opinion outweighs that of Netanyahu’s party, MKs, Ministers and coalition. So if Ehud says…, Bibi does. 

What a mighty, powerful Pharaoh!

It’s clear that this is not an isolated incident. It fits, hand–in-hand, with Barak’s plans to expel Jews from Migron, Beit El, and who knows where else. This is just the beginning of the rolling of the snowball, whose true goal is the deletion of all Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

Other Prime Ministers have expelled Jews from their homes: Menachem Begin, Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon.  What happened to them? 
That’s were Pharaoh Bibi is headed. In the same direction.

However, not to despair. We know that following Moses’ appointment as leader of the Jews in Egypt, by G-d Himself, the conditions of the Jews worsened. Rather than see an improvement, they had to work harder. Their situation deteriorated.

But then, almost bingo-presto, things started to turn around. One plague after another led to the exodus from Egypt, to the figurative birth of the Jewish people, reception of Torah, and entering into the Promised Land, the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael.

Despite the evil Pharaoh, despite the seeming hopelessness of it all, the ancient Israelites overcame all odds. 

So too, have the Jewish people, over the millennium, triumphed over all those against us, wishing to do us in, to bring us back to the Egypt of Pharaoh, to enslave us in the bounds of depravity, immorality, and all that is sacrilegious.  But it never did work. Not in the days of Pharaoh, not in the days of Hamen, not in the days of Hitler.

And they are not going to succeed today. There are still Pharaohs in the world, some from without, some from within. But they will fail. They are doomed to fail. Because our true destiny is that of a Jewish people as those who left Egypt, and came into Israel. That is our essence. That has not changed in the past 3,500 years. . We continue to live within the realm of holiness and sanctity; the antithesis of Egypt and its Pharaoh.

So, despite Pharaoh Bibi’s efforts, he will fizzle and fail. And Beit HaMachpela, as ensconced in the name (Machpela means ‘double’), will double, triple and quadruple itself, many times over. 


Tens of thousands will celebrate with us, next week, here in Hebron. And together we will reject the Pharaohism of Bibi, Barak and their cohorts, and rejoice in the true exodus, which is the return to our land, our city, to ourselves.

Happy Passover from Hebron. 

All photos and video: David Wilder

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Beit HaMachpela expulsion orders: Hypocrisy at its worst

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A little while ago leaders of Beit HaMachpela received notification from high official sources within the Civil Administration that, following extensive examination of the sales documents, it is clear that the  purchase of Beit HaMachpela is 100% legal.

Inside Beit HaMachpela
Simultaneously,  they received an eviction order from the Civil Administration, that being the extended arm of the Defense Minister in Hebron, ordering that the building be abandoned by three o’clock tomorrow afternoon. The only reason enumerated in the eviction order is that of ‘public order.’
Since moving into the building last Wednesday night, the area around the house has been calm and quiet, without any security issues whatsoever.
It is imperative to understand the workings of Israeli decision-makers and the wheels of justice. Two short episodes will make this crystal clear:
First, an example from Beit HaShalom, a huge building purchased for over a million dollars. Jewish families were forcibly expelled from this site after living there for almost two years, by Ehud Barak.
Minister Yuli Edelstein meeting with building residents
That case is presently in court, where recently testimony was given by those involved, including the original owner, Fais Rajabi. During questioning, Rajabi was asked if he had sold the building, to which he replied, ‘yes.’ He was then asked if he’d received money for the building, to which he also replied yes.  Then he added, ‘but I changed my mind and gave the money back.’
The judge then asked Rajabi if he had any receipt or proof of his returning the money. Rajabi replied, ‘no,’ to which the judge then asked, ‘you returned such a large amount of money without receiving a receipt?’ Rajabi replied, ‘We, Arabs, everything we do is based on faith.’  At that point, everyone in the courtroom started rolling on the floor, laughing, including the public officials there.
If it wasn’t so sad, it really would be funny. Because Rajabi’s claim, without any documentation or witnesses, seemingly brought about the Jews’ expulsion from the building, and is costing us hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Not to mention the fact that our building is left empty, desolate, for years.
A second example from Beit HaMachpela: A few days ago, during a meeting with senior military officials, representatives from the house were told that ‘there is a problem with the documents.’ Later, a lawyer for the residents spoke to officials in the Civil administration to clarify ‘the problem.’ The official told the lawyer that he hadn’t yet had a chance to examine the documents. “But, we were told that you said that there’s a problem with the documents,’ exclaimed the attorney.  “Yes, the Arab seller told us that there’s a problem with the documents,” answered the official. And if the Arab says so, must be so, no?
Well, now we know. There’s no problem with the documents. They are Kosher.  There also isn’t any problem with ‘public order.’ That is a total lie.  The real problem lies with people, in the highest leadership positions in Israel, who believe that Jews should not be living in Hebron. That’s the short of it. Can Jews live in the first Jewish city in Israel, or not?
View from the roof of Beit HaMachpela

The view from the roof of Beit HaMachpela is amazing. It overlooks Ma'rat HaMachpela, the tomb of the Forefathers. The question seems clear: does this belong to the Jewish people? Is Machpela part of our national heritage?  Can we continue to reside in the city of Abraham and Sarah?
Ehud Barak’s obvious ideology exudes a raucous, reeking odor, opposing a Jewish presence, a Jewish community, in the city of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. His actions, ordering expulsion from Beit HaShalom in December, 2008, and the present expulsion orders, are expressions of his personal beliefs, which do not, in any way, shape or form, represent the will of the Israeli public, or of this government. He doesn’t want Jews in Hebron. Period.
The question is now: what’s with Bibi and his cabinet. Do they have a differing opinion? Do they want Jews in Hebron? A minister and MK have already visited the house. Others have offered support. That is not enough.
MK Otniel Shneller hanging a Mezuzah in Beit HaMachpela
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu owes Hebron. His government, in January, 1997, passed and executed the Hebron Accords, which divided the city, leaving most of Hebron, and the hills surrounding the Jewish community, in the hands of Arafat. This, leading to shooting attacks against the community for two and a half years, from those hills. Leading to the murder of 10 month old Shalhevet Pass, eleven years ago.
The government decision of January 1997 specifically calls for the continued development of Jewish Hebron. Why is Bibi’s government doing the opposite, stunting the community’s growth?
A government decision from the Begin era, in 1980, states that, concerning Hebron, decisions will be made by the entire cabinet and not by one minister alone. Why did Bibi allow Barak to issue the expulsion orders prior to a discussion in the cabinet, a discussion which is scheduled for tomorrow?
The Israeli left, led by such people as Barak, love to live with contradictions. They oppose communities such as Migron and others, saying, ‘why live on ‘Palestinian land’ when there are so many other places where you can live?!’ Yet when Jews purchase property in Hebron, they declare that this disturbs ‘the public order.’
It should be noted that buying from an Arab in Hebron is not a simple task. This purchase was accomplished over a period of years, at great expense. And of course, the Arab seller has committed, according to ‘Palestinian Authority’ law, a capital crime for which the punishment is death.
Israeli ministers who support Hebron, who support continued Jewish presence in Hebron, as well as growth and development of this holy city, must do more that talk. Moral support, at this point in time, is worthless. They must present Netanyahu with an ultimatum that leaves no room for doubt. That must be a demand that the Prime Minister intervene, void the expulsion order, and officially recognize the legality and legitimacy of Beit HaMachpela. That’s why this government was elected. Not to support the extreme left. Rather to provide continued sustenance to places such as Hebron.
MK Otneil Shneller on the roof of Beit HaMachpela
Otherwise we are witness to hypocrisy at its worst.