Sunday, August 27, 1995


Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
August 27, 1995

    On Friday evening, before the beginning of Shabbat prayers, a good friend of mine, (and
one of the best tour guides in the country), Haim Mageni, approached me and asked me if I
recognized the pictures in last weeks' newspapers. I responded no, I hadn't seen anything out of
the ordinary - what was he referring to? Haim had brought a summer adult education group,
studying at Hebrew University, to Hebron two weeks earlier. I spoke to them in the Avraham
Avinu neighborhood, answered some questions, and showed them our video-film. One of the
members of the group was a woman from the US who has just arrived back in Israel.
Unfortunately her picture was in all the Israeli papers during the week. Her name was Joan
Davenny Hy"d, who was killed while riding in an Egged bus from her apartment in Rechavia to
the Mt. Scopus campus. An American, Joan lived in Connecticut, and taught at the Ezra Academy
Day school in Woodbridge. She came to Israel to for a sabbatical.
The truth is that I meet a lot of people in Hebron, and rarely do I remember all the faces or
names. I didn't recall Joan Davenny having been with the group. In spite of the fact that all
murders in Israel are extremely upsetting, I found it somewhat traumatic knowing that one of our
most recent visitors to Hebron, one of the people I had spoken with, was dead, murdered by
another Arab terrorist, seeking the blood of more Jews.
Last week the army closed the Caves of the Patriarchs for the entire week to both Jews and
Arabs. The reason given was to allow the special police-army security units a vacation. (I
wonder if the country closes up when the Chief-of-Staff takes a couple of weeks off?) In any case,
Ma'arat HaMachpela reopened on Thursday afternoon at 12:00 in the afternoon. The Hebrew
date was the 28th of Tamuz, the day before the commencement of the last month of the year,
Elul. This is a very special day, which usually sees thousands of people arriving in Hebron to pray.
This year was no exception. Over 10,000 people traveled from all parts of the country to pray at
the Caves of the Patriarchs. Buses were still arriving at 10:00 at night.
It is extremely difficult to describe such a sight. Thousands and thousands of people,
lining up to enter the 2,000 year-old structure, covering the ancient burial caves of the Patriarchs
and Matriarchs. The rooms inside were so crowded that it was almost impossible to move around.
Hundreds of men and women, formed groups outside, in the courtyard, beseeching the G-d of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Prayers are individual and private, but I have the impression that
many people prayed for the opportunity to be able to pray at this same site at the same time next
I spent some time taking small groups around the city, visiting Beit Hadassah, Beit
Romano, and the Avraham Avinu Synagogue. We walked the whole way. One woman asked me
several times if it wasn't dangerous to walk the streets of Hebron - shouldn't we have an army
escort? I finally asked her where she was from and she replyed, Jerusalem. I asked her if it was
safe to ride a bus in Jerusalem, or Ramat Gan, or anywhere else in the country. She didn't answer
me, but she stopped asking if it was dangerous to walk the streets of Hebron.
If it's not clearly understood from these two accounts I've given, the point I'm trying to
make is that we are all in this together. It doesn't make any difference if it's Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv,
Haifa, Eilat, Hebron, or even Woodbridge, Connecticut. In the end it catches up to everyone.
Netania, Hadera, Beit Leid, - the problem isn't at any specifically designated spot - it's
everywhere. The question isn't where, rather it's what are we going to do about it. The only
thing I know for sure is that running away isn't going to solve anything, it's just going to make
things worse. And that is the present direction - running away, attempting to escape. First we
have to stop that - then we can continue, not going backwards, but forwards.

Sunday, August 20, 1995

Delegitimization of a species - the Death of Ideals

Delegitimization of a species - the Death of Ideals
August 20, 1995

Friday evening Israel Television broadcast a feature concerning the inadequacy of Hebron's water
supply.  I quote from today's Jerusalem Post editorial:
      "But the fact is that many Arab residents do not get water for days, weeks and months...At the same time, the 450 Jews living in the center of the town and the 6,000 living in the adjacent Kiryat Arba have no problem getting enough water, not only for basic needs but for swimming pools and large lawns. 
          What the TV report failed to mention is that until 1967 no water at all
     was supplied in Hebron in the summers...
          The fact is that Kiryat Arba uses no more water per capita than Kiryat
          Shmona, Kiryat Gat or any other Jewish community in the country.  It           does not rob Arabs of water.  Nor does the government take from Arabs to give to
          The most notorious antisemitic propaganda film of the 1930's, "The
     Eternal Jew" features a scene which shows unemployed Germans in mid-winter
     trying to keep warm at street-corner bonfires while rich Jews enjoy the
     amenities of sumptuous homes.
          Friday's television show was on that level.  That it was an Israeli
     production seems to confirm the claim of the Jewish residents of Judea,
     Samaria, and Gaza that they have become the "Jews" of Israel: A target of
     mean-spirited generalizations, scapegoating and blind hatred.  That
     Environment Minister Yossi Sarid could, on the basis of such a transparent
     propaganda exercise, call Kiryat Arba "the Sodom of Israel" casts serious
     doubts on his qualifications as cabinet member, let alone his aspirations to
     national leadership."
     Under the vigorous leadership of Minister of Communications, Shulamit Aloni, the Israeli
media has reached new levels of disparagement.  The above-quoted editorial is only one example.
Let's examine an additional one.  Last week, Rabbi Moshe Levinger was crudely arrested while
leaving the Caves of the Patriarchs to attend and perform a wedding ceremony.  When he refused
to pay 800 Shekels demanded by the police he was uplifted, pulled by his arms, legs, and yes, by
his beard.  A Kiryat Arba resident was hit by the police van, speeding the "criminal" to justice.
The next day, after having spent an evening in a jail cell, Rabbi Levinger was released by a
Jerusalem Court Judge who reprimanded the police.  The payment Rabbi Levinger was demanded
to pay was unnecessary, as was the arrest.
     Did this make the papers? Of course not!  What was headline news, both in the
newspapers and on the radio was a derogatory  remark made by one of the people protesting
Rabbi Levinger's arrest, pertaining to Druse soldiers and policemen. 
     The remark may very well have been unnecessary, but it was uttered by one protester in
the midst of a police-pogrom.  But this was the headline news.  No more need be said.
     Why is this happening?   The answer is very clear.  I will try to depict it for you by way of
a story that actually happened in Jerusalem several months ago.  A group, attempting to bridge
the communications gap, invited couples of various political leanings to participate in face-to-face
discussions.  The couples were paired off and each person was given two minutes to state his or
her views concerning Israel's present political situation.  A woman from Kiryat Arba was given
the opportunity to begin in her group.  She spoke for two minutes and them paused to allow her
counterpart to respond.  Rather than respond, the woman opposite her just sat and looked at the
woman from Kiryat Arba.  She literally could not speak.  When she finally was able to overcome
her speechlessness she said, "I can't believe that you are a  settler'."
     What then is a "settler"?  Do we have horns, wings, or tails?  Do we breath fire or spit
blood?  Do we feed off of vermin and cast spells using dead cats? 
     This is precisely what the Israeli government, with the extended assistance of the Israeli
media, would like the public to think. The  settlers', 150,000 Israeli's, all of whom have two eyes,
a nose, a mouth, two arms and two legs, ten fingers and ten toes, have been transformed into a
new species: a subhuman being, categorized as being  dangerous to the continued well-being of
the Israeli People'. 
     Why?  It sounds so exaggerated - but unfortunately it's not.  Why?  Because we represent
the antithesis of all that Rabin, Peres and their friends stand for.  We represent ideals, values,
moral and ethics, we represent an Israel that doesn't fit in with their convoluted perceptions of a
"new Switzerland in the Middle East".  We represent the Jews of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses,
Aharon, Joseph and David.  We represent the Jews who want to be Jews.  For Rabin and Peres
we really are "the Jew", mentioned in the Jerusalem Post editorial.  And we represent the greatest
threat possible to the "new world order" which Rabin and Peres see as an integral part of the
future of the Jewish People. 
     So, you see, they have no choice but to dehumanize us, to create a new species of being, a
sub-Jew.  But there is one thing they don't know - that they are wrong.  We are not a new
creation, rather we are the original thing - the real thing - the one and only.  The original Zionists
that came over to Israel 100 years ago, and even previous to that, had sparks of the same zeal.
They had ideals and they lived their ideals.  Had we lived at the same time with them we probably
would not have agreed about everything, but we would have respected each other.  There were
once people, even on the right, who respected Rabin, the "Rabin of 1967".  No more.
     Rabin and Peres are trying their hardest to deal a death-blow to ideals.  They will not
     Five months ago Hebron resident Nahum Hoss and Kiryat Arba resident Yehuda Partush
Hy"d were killed by terrorists while returning from Jerusalem.  The bus they were riding was shot
at and both were hit. 
     The Partush's were on their way back from having signed the contract for their new home,
which they had just bought. Yehuda Partush, when hearing the shots being fired, jumped on his
wife, shielding her from the terrorist bullets.  He saved her life.  She was, at the time, four months
pregnant with their fourth child.  Two weeks ago she gave birth to their son - their first boy.  She
named him Avi-el Yehuda - Avi-el meaning my father is with G-d.  
     Rabin and Peres are no different from the same terrorists who shot and killed Yehuda
Partush and Nahum Hoss.  And our reaction to them will be similar to our reaction to the
terrorists - they want us dead - but we will, in spite of everything they attempt to do,  continue to

Thursday, August 10, 1995

The Hebron Massacre- August, 1929

Hebron-Past,Present and Forever
by David Wilder
The Hebron Massacre- August, 1929
August 10, 1995

Next Monday, the 18th of Av marks the 66th anniversary of the 1929
riots that plagued Eretz Yisrael. Jews were murdered throughout the land, but
the worst slaughter was in Hebron.
What was the relationship between the then Jewish Community of Hebron
with their Arab neighbors? We have witnesses accounts that the Arabs spoke,
aside from Arabic, Yiddish and Ladino, and that the Jewish women would leave
their small children with the Arab neighbors when they went to the market. The
Jews and Arabs were very accustomed to each other - the Jewish Quarter of
Hebron having been founded some 450 years previously.
What happened over those fateful 24 hours. Here are portions of "The
Scroll of Blood" excerpted and translated from "The Book of Hebron" by Oded
Avisar. [] denote editor's note.

Thursday, 16 Av 5689 (August 1929)
Members of the Hagana arrive in Hebron from Jerusalem. They requested to
leave weapons in Hebron, in the bank, so as not to be found and confiscated by
the British police. [The Jews in Hebron refused the weapons. The responded
by saying that they had nothing to worry about. Hebron's Arabs were their
friends. They had no need for weapons.]

Friday 17 Av 5689
At 2:30 in the afternoon a young Arab was seen on a motorcycle,
arriving from Jerusalem. He announced to all Hebron's Arabs that the blood of
thousands of Jerusalem Arabs had been shed. He called on Hebron's Muslims's
to seek revenge. Hebron's Arabs were noticeably excited, especially after tens
of automobiles from Jerusalem began arriving in Hebron, notifying the Arabs of
riots in Jerusalem. Arabs called for revenge from rooftops of cars.
[In 1923 the British had appointed Amin el-Hussainei (Feisal's granddaddy) as
grand Mufti of Jerusalem. (He later planned, with Hitler in Berlin, the "final
solution to the Jewish problem in Eretz Yisrael, when Rommel's forces entered
the area.) Hussainei had been inciting for years, but now spread rumors that
the Jews were conquering Temple Mount in Jerusalem.]
A mass of frenzied Arab rioters proceeded towards the (Hebron)
Yeshiva. The hour was late and it was nearly Shabbat. For this reason the
study hall was empty, with the exception of two people: the custodian and one
student, nicknamed the "matmid" or perpetual student, Shmuel Rosenhaltz, from
Lita. He was already dressed in his Shabbat clothing, and was studying his
daily lessons. When the murderers appeared at the entrance to the Yeshiva,
their faces full of madness and their eyes shining like those of wild animals,
holding knives and daggers, the Yemenite custodian managed to jump into a
water pit and hide there. Rosenhaltz, the perpetual student, engrossed in his
studies, continued concentrating on his Gemara, totally unaware of the
impending danger. Suddenly, hundreds of stones flew into the Yeshiva. A
large stone hit Rosenhaltz in the head, stunning him. Blood poured from the
wound onto the pages of the Gemara. In shock, he stood and ran towards the
door. Within moments he was stabbed by tens of Arabs. He fell on the Yeshiva
floor, lying in his blood, the first victim of the Arab mob.
An English officer declared: "All Jews should remain in their houses
on Shabbat, and shouldn't be seen outside. I am responsible for their lives.

Shabbat - Saturday 18 Av 5689 - August 1929
Hundreds of Arabs surround Eliezer Dan Slonim's house. (Slonim was the great
grandson of Menucha Rachel [Shneerson] Slonim, grand daughter of the "Admor
HaZaken - "Ba'al HaTania.") They charged the house in fury. The air shook
with screams from unspeakable atrocities. Over seventy people sought refuge
here, including Yeshiva students, and family members, who thought this to be
the most secure place in Hebron. For Eliezer Dan Slonim was highly esteemed
by the Arabs. He was the director of the local English-Palestine bank whose
many clients were Arabs, and was the sole Jewish member of the Hebron
Municipal Council. He had many friends among the Arab elders and they had
promised to protect him. Therefore, many families gathered at his home, for
fear of the Arab mobs, hoping to find here refuge and safety.
Wrapped in their prayer shawls and full of fear, the men stood and
prayed in awe, morning Sabbath services. Several watched the massacre at the
Borland house. Suddenly the house exploded with the sound of broken glass.
Yeshiva students moved furniture to the front door to prevent it from being
forced open.
For over fifteen minutes the sound of metal bars and axes pounding at
the door filled the air, along with the horrid screaming of the people inside.
Suddenly a hole appeared in the door. Gunshots thundered. Mr. Vilanski is
hit in the face and badly hurt. A bullet hits a yeshiva student, Yisrael
Mordechai Kaplan, killing him. Voices screaming "Shema Yisrael" fill the house
The murders enter the house through the door on the roof. The front
door is forced open. Eliezer Dan Slonim shoots from his pistol. A metal bar
splits open his head, his weapon flying from his hand. Death screams fill the

[The British police stood by the entire day and did almost nothing.
Most of the police were unarmed. Towards evening, two Arabs approached an
English policeman on horseback. Feeling threatened, he removed his gun from
its holster and fired into the air. Hearing the gunshots, the Arab mobs
immediately dissipated. The riot came to an end. Sixty seven Jews were
killed and hundreds wounded. The survivors were herded into the basement of
the police station at Beit Romano and left their for three days. The Arabs
rampage their houses, stealing and destroying Jewish property, undisturbed. A
minion of 10 men were allowed to participate in the funeral for the murdered
Jews, held at night, in the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron. After three
days the Jews were loaded onto cars and sent to Jerusalem, exiled from their
homes, the city of the Patriarchs. For the first time in hundreds of years,
Hebron had no Jewish residents.]

Friday, August 4, 1995

A Time to Cry - A Time to Laugh

The past week has been extremely turbulent.  The struggle over the Dagan Hill in Efrat, and the addition to Beit El,

climaxed with the arrest, detention and release of Efrat's Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.  Rabbi Riskin, having left the Lincoln Square Synagogue pulpit in Manhattan, for the Biblical landscape of the Judean Hills, is never far from productivity, or controversy.  He was instrumental in initiating and building Efrat, and has developed wide- ranging educational institutions of the highest quality.        Never known as an extremist, Rabbi Riskin's political ideology is not necessarily definable.  In the past he might have been called "dovish," leaning toward the "religious left."  However, this week the Israeli news media proclaimed "The leftist Rabbi is arrested."  According to news reports, Rabbi Riskin may be charged with inciting and insurrection for his role in the demonstrations on the Dagan Hill in Efrat.      The other major event has been slightly overshadowed, but it must not be forgotten.  Rabin's minister of communications, Shulamit Aloni, decided that the time has come to impinge on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of thought.  She instructed her cronies to impound the transmitters on the Arutz 7 broadcasting ship.        For those of you who may not be aware of the significance of Arutz 7, a little background.  Israel Broadcasting, better known as "Kol Yisrael" or the Voice of Israel is run the elite left, people who generally regard "settlers" or religious Jews, or both together, as the dregs of Israeli life.  They have done their best to propagate these views in whatever ways possible, utilizing their control of the media to the best of their advantage.   A number of years ago, led by Rabbi Zalman Melamed from Beit El, a new, "religious/right-wing radio station was founded.  Being unable to receive a license to broadcast, the station operates and transmits from a ship, outside the legal waters of Israel.  The station could conceivably broadcast illegally from within Israel proper, as do many other pirate stations, but prefers not to publicly disobey the law.  Therefore, the ship.  The costs involved in maintaining a ship are enormous.  However, the listening audience is very large, thereby attracting major commercial investors that help to defray the costs.  The public-at-large, appreciating the importance of the station, also contributes generously to its continued operation.       Arutz 7 broadcasts Israeli music, offers short lectures and classes dealing with Judaism and Eretz Yisrael, and provides news services unbiased by the Israeli left. In short, Arutz 7 is a major source of discomfort to the Rabin-Peres-Arafat triumvirate.  So Shula decided to come to their rescue.  While the radio station was temporarily closed down and in the docks for repairs, Shula's goons invaded.  The transmitters were impounded and two men were arrested.  Democracy in action.      On Sunday we will remember the destruction of the first and second Temples by fasting, reading from the Book of Lamentations, and reciting memorial dirges.  It may seem difficult to mourn the destruction of something that hasn't existed for almost 2,000 years, but actually it's not.  For mourning is an act of sorrow for something or someone who is lacking from our lives.  Even if it is difficult to imagine the lack of the Temple on our lives, we don't have far to turn.  We just have to look over the horizon to Rachel's tomb or a little farther south, to the Caves of the Patriarchs, or perhaps we don't have to go anywhere - we need only look toward the remnants of the Western Wall that once surrounded the Temple - what is to be of them?  Will we, you and I, still be able to visit them next year at this time?  Try to envision, as horrible as it may sound, a negative response.  How will we feel, as a nation, seeing an enemy army force guarding the entrance to Temple Mount-the Western Wall in Jerusalem,  or to the Caves of the Patriarchs in Hebron?  Isn't it enough to make you cry?  That's the way, even more so, that we should feel on the 9th of Av, Tisha b'Av.      Why do we have Tisha b'Av?  Why were the two most important, most central foundations of Jewish life destroyed on or about the same day, hundreds of years apart?  The Bible tells us of 12 spies, sent by Moses to investigate the Land of Israel, to determine how best to conquer it.  Ten of these spies reported back to Moses and the People of Israel that Eretz Yisrael was unconquerable.  Rather than risk their lives, or their position as leaders among their peers, they preferred to stay in the desert.  They preferred the desert to Eretz Yisrael.  They managed to convince the rest of the nation that their way was right - Eretz Yisrael was dispensable.  This day, the day that Am Yisrael wept about having to enter Eretz Yisrael was declared to be a day of "crying for all generations." The date was the 9th of Av - Tisha b'Av.  On Tisha b'Av we despaired of Eretz Yisrael.  How history repeats itself?!        We are promised that the days of mourning and fasting will be transformed to times of happiness, to holidays. But this won't happen without a major effort on our parts.  We must be convinced, and we must convince our friends and neighbors of the importance and significance of Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish People.  We must all get up and DO - And in the words of the great sage Hillel, "If not now, when?"