Friday, October 21, 2005

An Article by Dan Ben-Simon

*I have mixed feelings about the context in this article, but nevertheless, it brings up important points.

Flame of hatred

By Daniel Ben Simon

For two days, yesterday and the day before, Jewish believers were able to pray in the Yitzhak Avinu hall in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, without being disturbed by Muslim worshipers. The Goldstein massacre, which took place in the winter of 1994, gave rise to a complex separation arrangement between Jews and Muslims. For 10 days a year, Jews are permitted to pray in the cave without seeing a trace of a Muslim worshiper. The Muslims benefit from a similar gesture. During the rest of the year, the cave is open to all believers, with strict separation arrangements.

To date, the arrangement has proved itself. There is no other city in which coexistence between Jews and Muslims is so perverse. Its residents go to sleep with a common fantasy: to wake up and discover that the earth has opened up and swallowed the other side. Hatred still bubbles up from every corner. That is the reason for the impressive presence of the security forces. Every few meters, soldiers, policemen, roadblocks, watchtowers, firing posts. There is not a calm moment here.

On Hol Hamoed Sukkot "(the intermediate days of the holiday"), the settlers make merry in the city. Thousands of Israelis come to the city to pray in the Cave of the Patriarchs. The residents of Hebron add a tour of the Jewish Quarter to the standard package. The guides don't skip a single detail. Every drop of Jewish blood that was spilled over the generations is documented down to the last detail. The riots of 1929 are the crowning jewel of Jewish sacrifice in the history of Hebron.

Only blood and death and murder and massacre and pogroms and despair and destruction and extermination. There is not a single happy moment in the Jewish existence inside or outside of Hebron. It is hard to believe that after the establishment of a Jewish sovereign state, so many Jews are walking around feeling as though they were sheep being led to the slaughter. The rain interfered with the visitors? programs. The organizers are to be pitied. Almost every year it rains and the Hebron festivities are spoiled. Over and above their worshiping in the Cave of the Patriarchs, the visitors are meant to serve as a public justification for the Jewish settlement in Hebron. The residents here still feel that the treasonous government is capable of uprooting them from here. If not the Sharon government, then perhaps a leftist government that will follow. They still remember the moments of horror that followed the massacre by Baruch Goldstein. It was not the blood of the 29 Muslim worshipers who were murdered in cold blood by a Jewish suicide attacker that disturbed their peace, but rather the fear of its results. A few hours after the massacre, Shaul Mofaz, the current defense minister who was then commander of Judea and Samaria, received an order to prepare to evacuate the settlers in Hebron. It was not clear how many. Mofaz sent military forces to the area. After deliberations, it was decided to evacuate only Tel Rumeida.

Then-foreign minister Shimon Peres convinced prime minister Yitzhak Rabin that evacuating Tel Rumeida was likely to mollify the great anger that seized the Palestinians and the Muslim world. Rabin acceded. Only a few hours later, the order to evacuate was shelved." The truth is that it isn't clear to me why," explained a Peres associate who was in on the secret of the evacuation. "I think that Rabin and Peres were struck by what I would call "the fear of being first." Both of them were afraid to be the first to evacuate Jews from Hebron."

That evacuation was canceled at the last moment, but the fear that it will recur still hovers like a menacing cloud over the settlers. The disengagement from Gaza intensified their fears that they are liable to be next.

Burning with hatred

They did not believe the government would go all the way, and uproot Jews from the sacred ground of Gaza. For years they had been accustomed to dictating to the government how to behave. They always knew that they had the last word. Suddenly this pattern was broken. The implementation of the disengagement shook up the settlers? leaders in Hebron like an earthquake, and caused them to go into shock. Since the disengagement, they have cut off contact with the outside world. The residents have withdrawn into themselves; they are having difficulty defusing their anger. They are still burning with hatred toward the state, the government, the left, the secular community, the fawning religious community, the soldiers − indeed, toward anyone seen as a collaborator with the enemy government.

"I have nothing more to say to you. You are not my nation and you are not a part of my nation. We are two different nations. You are my enemies, and I pray for the day when we will take our revenge. I hate you more than the Arabs. You will pay for what you did forever." These are a few of the words hurled by a well-known resident of Hebron at a journalist who happened to visit the city this year with the pilgrims. On ordinary days, he is a personable and pleasant man. He smiles a lot, and is certain to the depth of his soul of the justice of his way. If these were normal times, he would reveal his identity. The disengagement has driven him crazy, and has made it difficult for him to have any contact with the "other side," or "the enemy that resides in Israel."

Four sons refuse to serve

A., 51, is a resident of the Jewish Quarter, and a father of eight. Recently, his fourth grandchild was born. "What did you think?" he asked angrily. "That it would pass quietly? What did you think? That this is Yamit? I want to tell you how we feel. Take the 1977 revolution, when the right came to power, take the feeling of doom that was felt by the kibbutzim after Menachem Begin came to power, and multiply that by 10. And perhaps you will understand a little of the destruction that we are feeling."

"This is a deep rupture that will take us years to get rid of, if we ever do. We are no longer one nation, and you are not my nation. We are the Jews and you are Israelis. We have nothing in common, and in the end, we will win. When you die, we will continue to pray over our forefathers who are buried in the cave."

"For me, you are another nation. You are not Jews. Even your cities have nothing Jewish. When I come to Tel Aviv, God forbid, I feel as though I'm in another country. You have beaten us now, but we?ll let you have it in the next war. You're in euphoria now, but in the end you will weep, because we will conquer you and take over the country. With the help of our children and our grandchildren. We will beat you with the bellies of our women," he warns.

His face reddened in fury. The man stood in front of the Cave of the Patriarchs, and displayed his heartbreak in front of everyone. His friends suggested to him that he not speak that way to "the Israeli" visitor who happened to be there. "It's a wasted effort," they suggested to him. But he insisted. Recently, he decided not to send his four sons to serve in the army. "They reached that decision on their own," he corrected himself.

His son, the soldier, who is serving in the Nahal Haredi "(an ultra-Orthodox IDF unit"), was required to remove his uniform before he crossed the threshold of the house. "Otherwise, we wouldn?t have let him in," explained his sister H., who stood next to her father and nodded in agreement with his words. The girl, 15, explained that her father is one of the moderates. Among the community of settlers there is an atmosphere of war. Not against the Palestinians, but against the Israelis, those who uprooted Jews from their country. "You, the secular Jews, can't imagine what they are saying about you," she added, with a broad smile on her face. "I hate Sharon, and I want him to die." Her father smiled, perhaps feeling that he had succeeded in bequeathing his legacy to his progeny. "We will not forgive you, and we will not forget what you did to us," added A., having difficulty calming down. ?Why should we forgive you? The halakha [Jewish law] forbids the forgiveness of sins between man and his fellow man, and only God can forgive you. Because we don?t have an iota of confidence in you, not in the media and not in the judicial system. We don?t have a dialogue with you, because you deceived us. In the near future, we are about to establish a museum in memory of the settlements that you uprooted, so that all of the Jewish people will come and see the crimes that you committed against the Jews."

And then, surprisingly, he fell silent, took his daughter's hand and pulled her toward the cave. Several young men and women were crowded at the entrance to the Avraham Avinu hall in the Cave of the Patriarchs, reading a silent prayer to find a suitable mate. "God of the universe, let me find my worthy match from heaven, like the root of my soul," says the prayer. "Already now I am ready to marry and to be rescued by doing so from my passion that burns within me ... Why do I deserve that? That I should spend all my youth in sinful thoughts?"

On the main street, food and prayer stands were set out, reminiscent of a Jewish shtetl in Eastern Europe. Dozens walked around among the crowd, asking for money. There were more Gush Katif products than Hebron products. Shirts with the slogan "We won't forget and we won't forgive" were more in evidence than shirts with "Hebron forever." They also sold posters showing the Gush Katif settlements before they were bulldozed.

On the steps leading to the cave, a last consultation of regional commanders took place, before the large throng of believers began to enter. Border Police Commander Hasin Fares came to exchange a few words with Deputy Commander Avraham Yitah, the commander of the Border Police in the Judea and Samaria region. Yitah explained that the quiet of Hebron is misleading and deceptive. One moment it's quiet and pastoral, and the next it's lethal and frightening. "You never know where the trouble can come from," he added.

Fares said that of all places, Hebron is the most sensitive, because of the religious baggage of the two sides. "The smallest attack here exceeds the boundaries of the region, and goes straight to a discussion in the UN," he explained. "Therefore, our main task is to stop the fire before it spreads." The two senior officers went their way, and left behind hundreds of policemen and soldiers.

Bentzi, the owner of the local souvenir shop, shot them a look full of contempt and anger. It was clear that he and his friends do not feel too much love for the uniformed personnel who have been sent here to protect them.

1 comment:

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