In Hebron, Victory at Last!

March 12, 2014 11:01 am 18 comments

Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron.

The ancient city of Hebron, twenty miles south of Jerusalem, has long been a source of seething conflict between Arabs and Jews. According to the biblical narrative (Gen. 23), Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah for four hundred silver shekels as the burial place for Sarah. It was the first parcel of land owned by the Jewish people in their promised land.

It has been a Jewish holy site ever since. King David reigned from Hebron before relocating his throne to Jerusalem to unify his kingdom. But just as Muslims claimed the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, so they wrested Machpelah from Jews, who were forbidden entry to their sacred shrine for seven hundred years after 1267. The centuries-old Hebron community was destroyed in 1929 when rampaging Arabs murdered sixty-seven Jews.

For more than a decade after the Six-Day War restored Hebron to Israeli authority, Jews were not permitted to reclaim abandoned and stolen property in their ancient city. A hesitant Israeli government was unwilling to allow Jews to inhabit Hebron, lest their presence rile local Arabs – and Israeli politicians who wanted nothing to do with holy sites or religious Zionists.

In 1979 a group of women led by Miriam Levinger and Sarah Nachshon, accompanied by several dozen young children, made a surprise nighttime return to Beit Hadassah, the former medical clinic. Hebron, asserted Mrs. Levinger, “will no longer be Judenrein.” A fledgling community sought to restore the “duality of nation and religion” that had been entwined in Judaism before Jews were forcibly exiled from their homeland nearly two thousand years earlier.

As difficult as it was to persuade Israeli courts to permit Jews to return to abandoned Jewish property, the government made it all but impossible to purchase property even from willing Arab sellers. Nearly a decade ago Morris Abraham, a New York businessman whose great-grandfather had lived in Hebron until the 1929 pogrom, purchased a large four-story building through an intermediary after prolonged negotiations with its Palestinian Arab owner.

On the road connecting Kiryat Arba to Hebron, it was located near the site where twelve Israelis had been murdered in a deadly terrorist attack three years earlier. After extensive renovations, Hebron Jews took possession of their new home in March 2007, naming it “Beit HaShalom,” house of peace. Eight families moved in, and Israeli soldiers promptly claimed the roof as a superb lookout post.

Then began a legal struggle that resembled Jarndyce v. Jarndyce in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. The Supreme Court ordered an investigation of the transaction. Police concluded that it was a legal sale. A local Hebron Arab told a reporter: “We will find the seller and chop him up into tiny pieces.” To protect his own life, the middleman for the seller denied the validity of the sale but the seller had been filmed receiving and counting his million dollar proceeds.

More than a year later the Attorney General initiated legal proceedings to expel the new residents – eight families who had endured a miserably cold winter in their unheated apartments – until a lower court determined the legality of the purchase. The Israeli Municipal Court ruled in favor of the Jewish owners, but Arabs appealed. Dismayed by the endless delays, Morris Abraham despaired of “Israeli democracy.”

Pending a final ruling, the government authorized the evacuation of Beit HaShalom. As protests mounted, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned against “attempts by small groups of radicals to undermine the authority of the state.” That December Israeli security forces stormed Beit HaShalom and, with the aid of stun grenades and tear gas, forcibly evicted its residents. Barak announced: “The building will be under IDF and state control until the court decides to whom it belongs.”

Now, five years later, the Supreme Court has finally decided, rejecting Arab appeals and upholding the legitimacy of the purchase. The responses were predictable. Housing Minister Uri Ariel celebrated the decision that Beit HaShalom “belongs to Jews.” Left-wing Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz, joined by Peace Now, urged that Jews not be allowed to live in the building. But David Wilder, spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community, exulted “Victory at last!”

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Hebron Jews: Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel (2009).

18 Comments

  • brenda mcbrayer

    We will see soon what god will do

  • You should know better. Hebron belongs to all of Abrams children.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-c_PkRMqPH4

  • TRANSFER! it’s time

  • JACOB MANDELBLUM

    Re all these Israel basher NGO’s :

    Wasn’t there some time ago a proposal at the Kneset to
    tax the foreign funding of these “organizations” and
    wasn’t the proposal blocked by no less than NETHAYAHU
    and I guess Israel’s Judicial Dictatorship as well ???

    I guess it happened at the same time Ms BEINISH called
    “UNCONSTITUTIONAL” the attempt to correct the way her
    dictatorship did business and NETHANYAHU backed her…

    Then, whom’s fault is it …????
    The blind man’s or he who gave him the stick in the
    first place…??????

  • JACOB MANDELBLUM

    With all due respect and please correct me if I’m wrong,
    but wasn’t no less than BENJAMIN NETHANYAHU who gave
    HEBRON the animals….?????

    Please correct me if I’m wrong…!!!

  • JEWISH MESSIANIC MORONS ARE NO MORE THAN SCAVENGERS FEEDING ON THE BACKS OF ORDINARY HARD WORKING MIDDLE CLASS ISRAELIS. WITHOUT THE ARMY PROTECTING YOU WOULD NOT SIT THERE FOR 1 SECOND

    • The only moron is you. How can you call people who are risking their lives to be close to our patriarchs and matriarchs’ graves “messianic morons’? Jewish claim to the land of Israel is centred on places like Hebron, Jerusalem and Shiloh, not Eilat or Tel Aviv.

  • Hebron is a part of Israel and belongs to the Jewish people.

  • jeff mizrahi

    Is this morris Abraham the mohel

  • Sonia Willats

    What courage from those who believed the promises are valid and acted upon them, risking all! Kol hakavod lahem.

  • What kind of Jewish lunatic would tell another Jew where to live on legally bought land that is part of ancient and historical Israel.

    Nitzan Horowitz and Peace Now should both renounce our faith and become Muslims or Atheists and leave good Jews alone.

    THIS IS JEWISH LAND.

    AM YISRAEL CHAI.

  • M.A. Kinamohn

    ALL of Israel belongs to the Jews!

    • Wallace Edward Brand, JD Harvard, 1957

      All of Palestine between the River and the Sea, belongs to the Jewish People under International Law. You can find my legal opinion to that effect at SSRN.com/abstract=2385304 The notion that Jewish Settlements are illegal began with the gross distortions of International Law in 1979. SSRN.com/abstract=2404738
      It has been well publicized with Soviet and Arab petrodollars and has become a poetic truth that can’t be dented with facts, logic nor reason. The acclaimed Australian International Lawyer Julius Stone was so outraged by the distortions of international law that he wrote a book to repudiate them entitled Israel and Palestine: An Assault on the Law of Nations

      When the British found 69 Jews had been massacred in Hebron, the British idea of justice was to remove all the rest. The cause of the massacre was a lie of Haj Amin al Husseini claiming that the Jews were taking over the Al Aqsa Mosque. It is simply amazing how many times that falsehood has been used — and still works well.

  • Gregg Solomon

    Great!

    And just incredible to think Jews prohibited from Hebron.

    And just incredible that the world accepts any religion purposely building their holy sites atop holy sites of other religions. And then even calling the site off limits.

    Just amazing.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.