The Jewish Community of Hebron
February 02, 2007
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Inequality and Discrimination in
In contrast to the false, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israeli propaganda,
here are the real facts:
Hebron , a Jewish City
From the standpoint of some of the Israeli and international public,
Hebron is an “Arab city.” This view is occasioned by Hebron’s location over the “Green Line,” its current demographic situation (tens of thousands of Arabs alongside only around 1,000 Jews in the inner city, plus 7,000 or so in adjacent Kiryat Arba), and incessant propaganda by the Left. History, however, did not begin in 1967. No cultured person who has studied Bible and ancient and modern history can deny the facts:
Hebron is the first Jewish city in history. It is the place where the Jewish national patriarchs lived and were buried. Their burial plot—Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs—was the first Jewish property purchased in the Land of Israel, and one
of the Jewish people’s most impressive monuments was built atop it. Hebron is an object of yearning for Jews throughout the Diaspora and is numbered among the four holy cities (along with
Jerusalem , Tiberias, and Safed). The Jewish community in
Hebron existed for thousands of years until it was brutally displaced in 1929—after Arab marauders murdered, raped, and burned to death scores of Jews and dispossessed the community of properties that included hundreds of acres of real estate.
If the Jewish people has undeniable rights anywhere on earth, it is in
Hebron . The Jewish community of
Hebron today resides on a relatively small fraction of the Jewish property that had been plundered in the 1929 pogrom. This community constitutes the basis and the beginning of the return of Jews to the world’s oldest Jewish city.
* Jews are allowed to enter only 3 percent of the municipal area.
The city limits of
Hebron encompass eighteen square kilometers. Of this area, fifteen square kilometers are defined as H1, the area that was surrendered to the Palestinian Authority; this area is off-limits to Jews. Nearly all of the remaining area, H2, is open to unrestricted Arab traffic and presence. The presence of Jews is also forbidden in most of this area. In fact, Jews are allowed in only six tenths of a square kilometer, 3 percent of the municipal area!
Thousands of Arabs continue to live in the Israeli zone. The Palestinian Authority deliberately operates and is establishing institutions in this area for the express (written!) purpose of “strangling” the Jewish community by attracting masses of Arabs. Across from Beit Hadassah, for example,
School continues to operate even though most of its students come there from other parts of town. Next to Tel Rumeida and the Jewish cemetery, another school is under construction today—not to meet any urban need but rather solely to crowd out the Jews in this area.
Due to long-term geo-economic processes (that have nothing to do with the Jewish community), the town’s central business district has moved to the western side of town. The area where the Jews live has not been the central business district of Hebron for quite some time. On the west side, opulent multistory commercial and office buildings are being put up. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority has instructed merchants who have shops near the Jewish community to keep them going even though there is no economic justification for doing so. In contrast, Jews are not allowed to engage in any activity whatsoever in the areas that are off-limits to them, including access to properties that they own. For example, Jews are barred from Parcel 37 (adjacent to the cemetery), the street that runs past Beit Hadassah, the bottom floor of Beit Hadassah, and Jewish-owned houses deep in the “Palestinian” zone. A Jew who dares to enter these areas risks his or her life, not to mention arrest and prosecution for “violation of orders.”
* Jewish traffic is confined to a minuscule area and to one street.
The Oslo War (beginning in September 2000) brought on a string of terror attacks and murders against the Jewish community of
Hebron that claimed dozens of casualties, including some at short range within the community’s cramped area. In response, the defense system was forced to restrict and inspect Arab traffic in the Israeli part of the city. The area where the Jews dwell—only 3 percent of the town’s territory, as stated—is not totally off-limits to Arab movement; instead, vehicular traffic is restricted and pedestrians are checked (per the conventional Israeli practice at entrances to public places). Thousands of Arabs continue to live and circulate in the Israeli zone; the area totally forbidden to Arab movement adds up to only a few hundred meters. Importantly, over the years the defense system has attempted to ease the movement restrictions. These attempts, however, have repeatedly failed, as each leniency was exploited for provocations and attacks that claimed a toll in blood.
Concurrently, the movement of Jews in 97 percent of the town area, the part that was handed over to the Palestinian Authority under the 1997 “Hebron Accord,” is totally forbidden even though the accord stipulates total freedom of movement. The prohibition was imposed after "Palestinian police" and terrorists threatened to murder any Jews who entered. The sweeping injunction includes revocation of the right to visit and worship at shrines such as Elonei Mamre and the Tomb of Otniel b. Kenaz, even though the Hebron Accord entitles Jews to free access and worship at these locations. Even within the Israeli zone (H2), Jews are denied access to various holy places such as the Tomb of Avner b. Ner and the kabbalistic yeshiva in the casbah.
The most significant difference between the movement restrictions imposed on Arabs in Hebron and those imposed on Jews is neither the size of the restricted area nor the motives for the restriction. The Israel High Court of Justice recently ruled that movement restrictions should be applied against the side that threatens violence and lawbreaking and not against the threatened side. “As a rule, the military commander should discharge his duty to defend the safety of the inhabitants ... in some other way and not by closing off the areas” (Justice Beinish). “The military commander should refrain from declaring areas off-limits … for the purpose of protecting the inhabitants themselves” (Justice Rivlin). “The upholding of public order and the inhabitants’ safety … should be accomplished by taking appropriate measures against the factors that perpetrate riots and not by imposing further restrictions on the casualties of the violence” (Justice Joubran; all quotations are from Ruling 9593/04). The restrictions on Arab movement correspond to the rule established by the High Court of Justice because they are meant to prevent attacks, acts of violence, and lawbreaking by those whose movements have been restricted. In contrast, the restrictions imposed on Jews’ movement clash with this basic rule: they were imposed on the casualties of the violence.
* The Jews are almost totally deprived of their property rights.
The Arabs of Hebron enjoy the natural and basic right of possession and ownership of real estate—a right that is almost totally denied to the Jewish population.
The houses, shops, and lands that the Jews of Hebron left behind when they were banished from the city after the 1929 program were expropriated after the Jordanian occupation in 1948 by the Jordanian Administrator of Enemy Properties, even though these Jews had never been anyone’s enemy and had been murdered and expelled for no reason whatsoever and in no context of belligerency. These properties have never been returned. The Government of Israel decided to let the injustice stand and to transfer the plundered properties from the Jordanian administrator to the Israeli one. In practice, this decision means the continued leasing of these properties to Arabs, who often treat them with contempt. To this day, for example, a building next to the Avraham Avinu quarter had once housed a kabbalistic yeshiva is being used as a cattle barn, until recently a flea market operated on the ruins of the Chabad synagogue, and so on. Even when the original owners of these properties submit official applications for possession or for the right to allow Jews to settle in them, they are answered in the negative. For example, the Government rescinded its decision to lease to Jews the dwelling units in the Hebron “marketplace,” in disregard and repudiation of the request of the owners of the property.
Furthermore, Jews are being denied the natural right to purchase houses and enjoy the right of ownership that all human beings share. The withholding of this right from Jews only is a blatant act of racist discrimination. Jordanian and "Palestinian law" establishes the death penalty for any Arab who sells his home to a Jew, and this stricture has in fact been carried out. The State of Israel takes no action whatsoever against these racial laws.
To deny the Jews their right to possess real property, the Israel Civil Administration staff has been instructed to adopt a strict enforcement policy toward Jews and a lenient one toward Arabs. The planning and building laws are totally unenforced when it comes to Arabs, resulting in Arab illegal construction on a massive scale. Sometimes laws are even invented for the sole purpose of thwarting the purchase of property by Jews. An internal document written by a senior official at the military prosecutor’s office, revealed in the press, states that in any legal dispute between Jews and Arabs over property, the Army, the Civil Administration, and the police are to side with the Arab party even when the latter’s claim is groundless. This means that Jews will find it virtually impossible to register title to land. The directive is tantamount to racist discrimination against Jews, in contravention of the international law stating that no population group shall be given summary preference over another.
* While the Arabs build massively in Hebron, the right to build is almost totally denied to Jews.
Everyone in the world has the right to engage in construction and development in accordance with accepted local rules and regulations, irrespective of religion and race. The Palestinian Authority exploits this entitlement cynically by initiating wide-scale construction and development. On the western, Arab, side of Hebron, multistory buildings, malls, and high-tech buildings are going up on an immense scale, with funding from foreign governments and international organizations. On the “Israeli” side, too—the H1 area—a building, development, and housing project is moving ahead under the sponsorship of the "Palestinian government" (today, the Hamas government). The Palestinian Authority has declared Hebron a Class A Development Area: it has established a lavishly budgeted special office for the declared purpose of “strangling the Jewish community” by surrounding it with dense Arab building. Arabs who move into the Jewish area are exempted from taxes and municipal duties and receive free water, free electricity, and a monthly stipend of NIS 1000 in return for their participation in a project that is being carried out to “strangle the Jewish community.” Other Arabs, who lawfully possess buildings near the Jewish community but are not interested in living in them, are forced to transfer their properties to the Palestinian Authority.
In contrast, the Jews of Hebron are virtually deprived of the right to build, even on property that is unquestionably Jewish-owned, including the core of the minuscule Jewish community area, and even when the plans comply with all regulations and professional requirements. In the past twenty years, building permits have been issued for only three buildings. Offspring
of the Jewish community who marry and wish to live in their community cannot do so—due to the racist Jews-only building restrictions. The Government of Israel, unlike the "Palestinian municipality," withholds building permits from Jews and busies itself with evicting Jews from lawfully purchased homes.
* Law enforcement—zealous against Jews, lax against Arabs
There are two de facto levels of law enforcement in Hebron—one for the Jewish population, another for the Arab population.
For the Jewish population, enforcement is applied zealously, anchored in tough procedures under guidelines from the State Attorney’s Office. These procedures, which were secret until revealed in a 1997 investigation by a committee of the Hebron Jewish community, stirred fierce public criticism due to the odor of crude discrimination that they exuded. The “special procedures” were ostensibly amended in 1998, but the main sections that instructed police to apply excessive enforcement against Jews remained on the books and obligatory. The procedures require the police to invest unprecedented resources in personnel, funds, and motor vehicles. High-ranking officials at the State Attorney’s Office watch closely for any violation of the law—even the most trivial—on the part of Jews. The direct results of this over-enforcement are the wholesale opening of investigation files for trifling offenses and inconsequential acts, and the submission of indictments and holding of trials that often end with acquittals or closure of files on technical grounds. The direct result is a grievous ongoing blow to the personal freedoms of the Jewish inhabitants of Hebron, coupled with cumulative damage in the form of files that besmirch the inhabitants with criminal records—files that would not have been opened anywhere else in Israel.
For the Arab population, in contrast, the law is chronically under-enforced and applied for show. Usually, lawbreaking by Arabs is dealt with only if it reaches the level of terrorism. Thus, dozens of daily attacks by Arabs against the Jewish inhabitants of Hebron—physical attacks, stone-throwing, sexual harassment, property damage, etc—are ignored. This is the outcome of written procedures from the military prosecutor’s office, exacerbated by a shortage of police personnel because nearly all such personnel are pledged to enforcing the law against the Jewish inhabitants. The direct result of this under-enforcement is the denial
of the Jewish inhabitants’ right to police protection against waylaying, harassment, and miscellaneous attacks.
* Activities of leftist organizations
Various international and anti-national organizations have targeted Hebron for hostile activities.
Most of these organizations are funded by anti-Israel foundations, enemy states, and European governments. They disseminate falsehoods and conduct propagandistic field trips, media shows, tendentious visits with VIPs, and sundry provocations in order to substantiate what they call “discrimination against the Arabs.”
For example, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a blatantly pro-Palestinian-Arab organization, floods Hebron with “anarchists” from all over the world to harass the security forces that are charged with protecting the Jews in the tiny Israeli zone. Organizations such as Ecumenical Escorters and the Christian Peacekeeping Team, among others, engage in constant provocations and incitement. Groups of antisemitic Christians encourage terrorism and endanger the lives of soldiers and civilians alike. Israeli leftist organizations such as B’tselem, Machsom Watch, Sons of Avraham, and Breaking the Silence love to tour the city with groups of Israelis, non-Israelis, and diplomats, inciting against the Jews of Hebron by giving false, warped presentations.
Especially grave is the fact that these organizations act in full cooperation with the observers of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), even though TIPH is supposed to be objective and to refrain from provocations. Furthermore, these organizations act with the cooperation of Palestinian disrupters of order and marauders to undermine the operations of the Israel Defence Forces.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) recently joined the activities of the Left in Hebron, acting continually by legal means to breach and trample the Jewish citizens’ rights to life and safety.
In fact, the activities at issue, cynically huddling under the umbrella of “human rights,” are racist actions that aim to bring about the ethnic cleansing of Hebron and restore the situation there to that following the 1929 program—a Hebron that is Judenrein.
* Jewish worshippers are confined to only one-fourth of the Tomb of the Patriarchs area.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the oldest Jewish-owned property in the Land of Israel and the burial place of the nation’s patriarchs. The building atop the burial cave was constructed by the Jewish people during the Second Temple era, about two thousand years ago. For generations, it has been a magnet for Jews from all over the world. After the Muslim Mameluks occupied the Land of Israel, they forbade Jews and Christians to enter the building and required Jews to stand outside, next to the seventh step. This injunction lasted for 700 years, until the State of Israel struck it down.
However, Jews face grave discrimination at the Tomb of the Patriarchs today—in the apportionment of floor space inside the shrine, forced separation, and the ability to develop and enhance the site.
Apportionment of floor space:
At first glance, the tomb appears to be divided between the worshipers of the two faiths. In fact, however, the area available to Jews is only one-fourth of that handed to the Muslims, and most of this area is an open courtyard exposed to cold, rain, and other ravages of weather.
The ironclad rule of “separating” the adherents of the two faiths, established by the Shamgar Commission, is implemented only against Jews for all intents and purposes. Representatives of the Muslim Waqf and the muezzin are allowed to enter the Jewish area; the muezzin continues to cross the Jewish area and play raucous cries over the loudspeaker during the Jews’ worship services. In contrast, Jews are unconditionally enjoined against entering the areas reserved for Muslim worship.
Permission to develop and enhance the site:
Jews are deprived of the basic right to enhance and improve their shrine because the Muslim Waqf is allowed to veto the Jews’ enhancement and development plans. The Arabs, in contrast, are not limited in any way; lavish budgets are reserved for the halls allocated to them and are used relentlessly. Obviously, these plans are not presented for the approval of, or even for consultation with, the Jewish authorities in charge of the tomb. Consequently, the Isaac Hall, the main and largest hall in the building, is being enhanced with the help of mammoth investments in paint, decorations, and Muslim ritual objects, in total insensitivity to the Jewish nature of the place.
The Jewish community of Hebron demands:
Stop the discrimination!
* Assure the right of free and safe movement for Jews in all parts of Hebron.
* Assure the right of Jews to possess, purchase, and dwell in properties throughout Hebron.
* Stop the hostile and racist propaganda against the Jews of Hebron.
* Banish inciteful, antisemitic, racist, and anti-Israeli players from Hebron.
* End the discrimination in law enforcement and religious and civil rights.