Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of HebronHebron at 28 - Hitler’s Youth or Israel’s Strength
May 26, 1995
This is a direct (translated) quote a small portion of an article appearing in the Israeli Press on April 28. The title of the interview with Israeli Professor Moshe Zimmerman, was: "The Children of Hebron are exactly like Hitler’s Youth." - "Look at the children of Hebron, they are exactly like Hitler’s Youth. They are inundated from the earliest age with the evil Arabs, and anti-Semitism, how everyone is against them. They are turned into paranoids who think that they are the supreme race, exactly like Hitler’s Youth."
On that note, on Monday, the 29th of Iyar (29.05) the Jewish Community of Hebron, with the rest of the People of Israel, will celebrate the 28th - "Koach" -anniversary (Koach - in Hebrew, the letters symbolizes the number 28, also meaning "strength") of the liberation of Hebron. In 1967, one day after the liberation of Jerusalem, the Jews returned to Hebron after an absence of almost 40 years. (See "The return to Hebron" in the Jerusalem1 gopher.)
At 28, in the midst of a "piece plan" designed to once again rid Hebron of its Jewish residents, can we really speak from a position of "koach" that is, strength? Superficially, the answer would most likely be negative. The Israeli government, over a year ago, decided to "transfer" the city’s Jewish residents out of Hebron. Theoretically, they could do it any day now. Hebron represents one of the greatest stumbling blocks to the fulfillment of the "Oslo Accords". However, a year has passed, and the decision still hasn’t been implemented. I can assure you that at this time next year, or five years from now, and fifty years from now, it still will not be implemented.
How can I be so sure of myself? If the above-mentioned quote is accurate, we don’t stand a chance. But the question is: Are these Hebron’s children. No! Hebron’s children are definitely a special breed - and they have very thick skin. They face problems that very few, if any, other Israel’s have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. But one thing is for sure - they are not taught to hate, they are not taught racism, at least, not by Jews. They have no great love for Arabs, but then, would you love a next-store neighbor who was constantly attempting to have you evicted from your 3,000 year-old home, who was abusing you, and who, upon occasion, tried to kill you, or your father, or neighbor, and who occasionally, succeeded.
Hebron’s children desire to act as children all over the world, to play, ride bicycles, run around. But they have an additional task: they represent the people Am Yisrael in the city of the Patriarchs. They are literally "serving on the front lines" and they and their families wouldn’t have it any other way. They are not paranoid freaks, believing themselves to be a super race. Rather, they realize that they are carrying, on their shoulders a weight of centuries, preserving a 3,000 year-old heritage for their children and grandchildren. Stemming from a deep-rooted understanding of the importance of Eretz Yisrael to the entire Jewish People and the centrality of Hebron to the land of Israel, these families are not the supreme racists of Hitler’s Youth, but rather the paramount force personifying Jewish ideals. The Jewish Children of Hebron don’t study ideals, they live them!
I’ve been asked, "how is it possible to so endanger children, living in such a dangerous environment?!" Obviously the inquirers have learned very little history: In the early 1900’s entire families were wiped out by malaria and other fatal diseases while drying out the swamps in the Galil area in north Israel. In the 1950’s terrorists from GAZA killed tens of Israel’s throughout the country. Did anyone ever ask a parent living in Rechovot, Tel-Aviv, or Jerusalem how they could continue living there after a terrorist attack. Or what about Kiryat Shemona, after Katusha rocket attacks? Rather than being looked at as being totally "nuts" for living there, they are treated (rightfully so,) as heroes, for not caving in to fear and death. But, Hebron’s Jewish residents are considered to be extremists, who know no boundaries in attempting to live in "conquered Arab land", including endangering their children’s lives - an inexcusable act of negligence.
Hebron’s children are not Hitler Youth, but they are our Koach - our strength. This week we witnessed an example of this koach - at an "all in the family" simcha-occasion. Isca, the daughter of Hebron’s Ze’ev family married Shlomo Levinger, son of Hebron Rabbi Moshe and Miriam Levinger at the Cave of HaMachpela in Hebron. The Levinger’s initiated the original return to Hebron, when in 1968 they celebrated Passover in the middle of the city. The Ze’ev family, in Israel for over 20 years but originally from the US.. arrived in Hebron slightly over a year ago from the Shomron settlement of Shilo when the children requested, in return for the Passover Afikoman, that they move to the city of the Patriarchs.
This unity, a bond of the old and the new, a bond between the children of Hebron themselves, a bond between the children and the city of Hebron does not exemplify racism, as Moshe Zimmerman suggests. Rather, it represents the future of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel as learned from our past. It is the future of Hebron. It is our Koach. And there here is no force in the world that can evict such a people , such a Koach, such a strength, from their legitimate home.