Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
In Memory: To Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Duker, z"l h"yd
February 28, 1996
As I write this, the time is midnight - the daily news summary is being
broadcast on Kol Yisrael, and once again I find myself sitting here with tears
in my eyes. The first story is a report of the funeral and burial of Matt
Eisenfeld and Sara Duker in West Hartford Connecticut, USA. On both sides
their parents were quoted, saying that they would continue to send their
children to Israel, where they belong.
I first came to Israel over 20 years ago, in the summer of 1974, as a student
on the one-year program, at Hebrew University. I studied in Cleveland at CWRU
and was thrilled with the idea of spending a year in Israel. I wasn't
religious, nor did I have any intentions of making Aliyah. My life was all
planned out - my major goal was law school and later, some kind of civil
liberties legal job.
I also had no illusions about Israel. A good friend had spend a summer
touring the country with tremendous expectations. He came back to the US so
disappointed: it wasn't the way he thought it would be. I don't think he ever
came back. But, I decided that it would be whatever it is - I wanted to learn
about it and absorb it, and then go back home to the the US.
So, Israel it was - one year after the Yom Kippur War - and the environment
was still of war shock. There was much tension on the Syrian border and a new
outbreak of hostilities was considered very possible. But that didn't overly
concern me. I was getting acquainted with my Homeland, touring, learning
Hebrew, meeting people and feeling at one with the city of Gold, Jerusalem. As
the year evolved I grew closer and closer, both spiritually and physically, to
Israel, Jerusalem, and slowly, to religion. It was an extremely powerful year,
in almost all aspects of life. Even though I still had no intentions of living
here, I used to get upset with people who said, "I could never live here - I
don't like the way it is, socially, religiously, etc. etc." I would answer
them, "If you want to live in the US, fine, but if you want, you can come here
and change the way things are - you don't have to accept everything the way it
is today. Israel is a small country. You can have an influence. You can come
back and change it."
By the end of the year I realized that I had to come back - not necessarily to
stay, but to give it a chance, to be here again. And so, while back in
Cleveland for my senior year, I did everything possible to prepare myself to
return, immediately following graduation. I had help from Above - and less
than a month after graduation, on Entebbe Day - July 4, 1976, I was back. And
as it turned, with the exception of a brief interlude in NJ for needed dental
work, I as here to stay.
Looking back 22 years, I can see, in some kind of perspective, where I was
then, and where I am now - where Israel was then and where Israel is today. I
have been blessed with a beautiful family, a loving wife, wonderful children,
understanding and generous parents and parents-in-law. I live that way I want
to live, according to the values and ideals that I thing are important. I
raise my children according to these ideals -the ideals of true Zionism, the
ideals of true Judaism as I understand it - the ideals that I preached to my
friends 22 years ago - "if you want to, come back and change it - don't just
say, 'I don't like it.' " I try, the best I can to do what I can for the
Jewish People, in Israel and in the Diaspora, from Kiryat Arba - from Hebron.
I don't know what my personal future will be, and that holds little importance
in my life's philosophy. I know that I am living the way I think I should,
where I think I should - not just for me, but for Jews everywhere. Hebron,
city of the Patriarchs, reflects the values and ideals of eternal Judaism, and
so I am here, trying to insure that we will all be able to be here, forever. I
have managed to live my dream - not necessarily easy, not always pleasant, but
this is it - this is what it's all about. Sometimes you have to pay a price to
for what you believe in, if you really want it and believe in it.
And then I think of Matt Eisenfeld, having lived where my father's brother
lives, and Sara Duker, who lived a few miles from where I went to high school,
and I see two people similar to me - who came to Israel because of similar
reasons, with similar goals, with similar values and ideologies - not
necessarily exactly the same- politically, socially or religiously - but the
ideal was pure - for the good, not of 'me', but for the good of the Jewish People. They
came here, found each other, and together, wanted to continue in the footsteps
of their Forefathers, in the land of Israel.
Until Sunday morning, at 6:40 am, in Jerusalem bus #18, on Yaffo Street, 3
minutes from the Central Bus Station
And I ask myself, where would they be, what could they have done
22 years from now?
Wednesday, February 28, 1996
Sunday, February 25, 1996
Unity - At What Price?
February 25, 1996
This morning, following the announcement of the second bomb blast, I hazarded a guess that today would be remembered as ‘black Sunday.’ Since then, with the number of dead and wounded sky high, it would seem, unfortuntely, that I was right. Today really is ‘black Sunday’. So far, 25 dead, 14 still unidentified, (at 3:15 pm - almost nine hours after the explosion), and tens in critical condition. Over 80 people were wounded.
On such a day, the name of the game should be unity. Bibi called for unity, at least until the conclusion of the traditional seven-day mourning period. Shimon Peres actually complemented him for that. But, I have no choice but to ask, both Bibi and the rest of the Jewish world, unity at what price?
Shimon Peres, during his press conference early this afternoon, was twice asked whether the redeployment in Hebron would continue as planned. His contradictory answer, both times: “Today is not the time to deal with anything but matters at hand. However, Israel will meet all of her obligations and follow the timetables determined for redeployment. We will fight the Hamas-Jihad terror at all places, at all times, using all the tools at our disposal.”
What kind of convoluted response is this? Shimon Peres -
1. If today is not the time to make decisions, why do you continue to proclaim that redeployment in Hebron will continue as planned?
2. Why must Israel continue to meet all its ‘obligations’ towards the palestinian authority while the p.a. continues to ignore its obligations to the State of Israel. Major Israeli security officials including Amindror reiterate time after time that Arafat has done nothing to eradicate the terrorist infrastructure in Gazza, and that he has no intention of doing so.
3. Why, if according to your claims that Isael will fight terror at all places, were we told, in Hebron, by General Gabbi Ofer, that IDF soldiers will NOT BE ALLOWED to enter palestinian-controlled territories in Hebron, even in response to a terrrorist attack from within these area against Jews in Hebron?
4. If you are willing to use ‘all tools’ at your disposal, then why don’t you use redeployment? Presently, there is nothing Arafat wants more than Hebron - it is the last major city in Yesha still under Israeli control. If you stop redeployment in Hebron, Arafat will feel the heat.
5. Shimon Peres, what are you more concerned with - Israeli life or the peace-plan timetable?
Is this the unity we are to bow down to? Unity specifiying the
Wednesday, February 21, 1996
Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
An Interview with Shimon Heres - Candidate for Prime Minister
Q. Mr. Heres, what, in your opinion, is the main issue of the election?
A. The main issue? That is very clear. There is no main issue. There is
nothing to debate. It is agreed by all segments of the population that
everything my government has accomplished has been successful. There is no
question - and no issue.
Q. Mr. Heres, please excuse me, but what about the issue of the of
the peace plan? This seems to be a very controversial issue.
A. What are you talking about? This is not an issue. The peace plan has
succeeded more than anyone could possibly have imagined. Arafat has given up
terror for diplomacy, guns for a legislature. What more can you ask for?
Q. But Mr. Heres, Arafat continues to call for Jihad, and according to reports
from Sweden, Arafat expects to witness the destruction of the Jewish State within five
years, as a result of the peace plan?
A. First of all, that report was broadcast by a radio station which knows only
how to incite. I won't even mention its name. It is a pirate station with
pirate news. Anything they say is a lie. Aside from that, we all know that
Arafat can be trusted. He has already explained that Jihad is a spiritual
term, and it has no military connotations.
Q. What about the destruction of Israel?
A. Well, I think that this is also a figurative term. We are facing a clear
change in Israel. Life here will be different. Israel will stop being a Jewish State. Rather, it
will be a State where Jews can live freely, but our character will be similar
to that of a modern Scandinavian country. I think that this is perhaps
Arafat's meaning. If so, I agree with him, and so,does, I am sure, an
overwhelming majority of Israelis. This is not an issue.
Q. Mr. Heres, let's move on. How can you escape the issue of the Golan
Heights? This is definitely a point of contention.
A. Excuse me but you don't know what you're talking about. The Golan is not
an issue. I have promised a referendum on the Golan following signing of the
treaty with the Syrians. There is nothing to be discussed. We cannot argue
about an egg that hasn't yet been hatched.
Q. But Mr. Heres, it is possible to debate your intention?
A. We will not discuss the Golan. That is tantamount to showing the Syrians
all our cards while in the midst of negotiations. Anyone discussing the Golan,
or questioning the government's stand is aiding and abetting the enemy. This
Q. O.K. Mr. Heres, but there is one other major question on the agenda. That
A. Jerusalem - the question is, in and of itself, incitement. What are you
talking about. Jerusalem will never be divided. Jerusalem with remain a
united city. That has always been our policy and it will continue to be so.
Anyone broaching the issue of Jerusalem is committing a major crime.
We will not allow this. There is nothing to talk about.
Q. But Mr. Heres, before the last election Labor promised never to even
discuss the Golan, and promised not to talk to Arafat, and promised that there
would never be a Palestinian State. You haven't kept any of these promises.
Why should anyone believe your statements concerning Jerusalem?
A. Your questions are out of line. This line of questioning is ridiculous. It
is not true. We have never broken any promises. I demand an immediate
apology. I reiterate, there are no issues to discuss. The truth is that I
don't understand why we need the elections. Everything is clear, and everyone
agrees with us. Perhaps we'll cancel them.
Mr. Heres, thank you very much.
(Backstag,e to an aid - 'What did you think - not bad? And the Jerusalem
question-what Chutzpah. What? - Of course Jerusalem will remain united - but I
neglected to say under whose authority - Heh Heh Heh - they won't be able to
catch me on that one...'