Hebron - A Huge Balagan
Trip Start Aug 20, 2013
27Trip End Jun 19, 2014
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I will give you a brief description of Hebron before I write about my feelings after visiting this city for the second time. The city is holy to both Jews and Muslims because Abraham is supposedly buried there. The Tomb of the Patriarchs is regarded as the second holiest site in Judaism. For centuries there was a small but vibrant Jewish community until the Hebron Massacre of 1929. 67 Jews were brutally butchered by Arabs; sometimes it was their own neighbors doing the killing. In 1967when Hebron was conquered or liberated: it matters how you think politically, Jews began once again praying at the Tomb of Patriarchs. It was not until 1980 that the Israeli government allowed a Jewish community to resettle in the old City Center of Hebron
Our tour started with an ex-Israeli soldier named Nadav who is part of an Israeli NGO called Breaking the Silence. This group is made up of ex-soldiers who want to educate Israelis and others about what they are witnessing in the Occupied Territories. Our first stop was the Grave of "The Doctor Healer" Baruch Goldstein. He is buried in the middle of Meir Kahane Park in Kiryat Arba and his grave is revered by many of the locals. It was horrifying to me to see a grave of a mass murder revered as a site of pilgrimage. Now to those who say that Goldstein is not regarded as a hero, I heard the Rabbi of Kiryat Arba call him “holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.”
Next we saw the Jewish neighborhoods of Hebron and Nadav explained how he as a soldier was forced to deny access to Shuhada Street, which used to be the major thoroughfare and business center and now looks completely deserted. The road is closed for Palestinians. Nadav told us about the small things that he did to show his presence to the locals
The next part of the tour involved hearing from a spokesman, Noam Arnon, from the Hebron Jewish community. He spent a few hours with us and spoke about the importance of Hebron to Jews. He gave us a very good tour of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is supposedly the burial spot of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Leah. I remember watching Jews at prayer: hearing the Muslim call to prayer and thinking wow this is interesting. Our final stop was the Beit Haddash Museum which dealt with the Hebron Jewish community. The museum was powerful, especially with its images of the 1929 Massacre.
Now, I’m going to express my beliefs about Hebron
The Palestinians in Hebron are also not innocent of committing violent acts against the people of Hebron. One instance includes a sniper who deliberately targeted a 10 month old baby for death. The Palestinians have reacted to the occupation with violence and violence begets more violence. I think that the actions of some of the inhabitants are making it impossible for any type of co-existence to be possible in the future
Hebron is a city that I thought I would never visit again, because it affects me in so many ways. I’m proud to be Jewish and I love my faith. However, being in Hebron makes me ashamed that some people who share it are using as an excuse to abuse and displace Palestinians. In the end, I agree with Lezley Hazelton when she said, “We’ve allowed Judaism to be claimed by violently messianic West Bank settlers, Christianity by homophobic hypocrites and misogynistic bigots, Islam by suicide bombers. … This isn’t faith. This is fanaticism.” Today, I saw the fanaticism that my chosen religion has inspired. Yet after looking into the abyss I still firmly believe in peace and co-existence. Much like the youngsters with whom I work I will fight for peace as hard as the fanatics fight against it.