Why Hebron is important and what just happenned there
Some Jews bought a house and moved in.
“So what?” you might ask. If it were anywhere else in the world, little notice would be taken. But in this case, the home is in Hevron, and the last owner was an Arab.
In this case, it is something covered by international media – a cause for governmental debate and military intervention. Sounds a little off the wall, doesn’t it?
The truth is that even with some background details, this story would be considered outrageous had it occurred anywhere else in the world. What is the story here? Hevron is one of four cities holy to the Jewish people: Tsfat, Tiberias, Hevron and Jerusalem.
It is the site of the burial place purchased by our father Abraham, founder of our faith, where he laid to rest his wife Sarah, mother of our nation. Our two other sets of patriarchs and matriarchs – Itzchak and Rivkah, Yaakov and Leah – were also buried in the same family cave when they passed away.
Our great King David sat on the throne in Hevron for seven years before he made Jerusalem the united capital of Israel.
Throughout the ages, the Jewish community thrived in Hevron. The pious came from afar to pray at the holy tombs and to study in the city’s great houses of Torah learning.
In 1929, in response to incitement by the grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Arabs of Hevron massacred, raped and mutilated their Jewish neighbors. 77 innocent Jewish residents of Hevron died that day, at the hands of Arab neighbors with whom they had lived at peace for decades.
The British Mandate government instructed the Jewish survivors to relocate to other cities, leaving behind their properties, which they were unable to see again until after the victory of the Israeli army in June 1967.
Less then a year later, on the eve of Passover, Jews returned to live in the holy city. However, to this day, the rebuilding of the Jewish community in the city is a great challenge. Residents are continually pressured by the international community that wishes to facilitate the Palestinian goal of a land free of Jews. Safety has always been a concern, with armed terrorists targeting and snipers killing even infants in their effort to again rid the city of Jews.
But, thank G-d; the resilience of the Jewish community in Hebron can be an inspiration to Jews and friends of Israel everywhere.
Slowly but surely, the community continues to grow and set down strong roots in the city of our fathers. The Cave of Machpelah has again become a site of mass pilgrimage, with a constant flow of visitors who come from around the world to pray at the holy site. Weddings, Brit Milahs [circumcisions] and other important events are held at this place of great significance.
Today, for a Jewish person to buy a home or property in Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem, from an Arab, is a very complicated procedure. Under the Palestinian Authority, capital punishment is the accepted punishment for those who sell property to Jews. That being the case, these types of deals are very complex, and can take years of secret negotiations, during which time monies are transferred and agreements are signed.
Before the deal can become public, the Arab seller needs to relocate to another country, where he will be safe from assassins from his own community. After the deal goes public, the new Jewish owners take possession of the property and move their families in. At this point, in almost every case, some other Arab will publicly make claim to the property and state that no deal was made.
In the above case, there was an emergency meeting of the leaders of Israel’s government, where it was actually decided that the new Jewish owners in Hevron would be given a few days to prove their claim before any action was taken.
But Defense Minister Ehud Barak took matters into his own hands and acted in defiance of that government stand. The soldiers of the IDF were sent in to evict the Jews from their new residence in the city of Hevron, next to the Cave of Machpelah.
Now, PM Netanyahu will have to decide where he stands.