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Professor Hillel Weiss and the Hebron Expulsion: Words and Deeds

David Wilder
August 12, 2007


The past few days have been somewhat traumatic. True, the community had been notified of the impending expulsion. The thousand plus troops, dressed in black, gray, blue and green came as no surprise. Even Yaron London's statements about reviving the spirit of the Altelena, and permitting soldiers to shoot us has been heard before.
 
But some of the day's events were not expected.
 
During discussions conducted by the community leadership, one of the subjects raised was the 'western shuk,' i.e. the longer of the two buildings comprising the Rinat Shalhevet neighborhood, the structure perpendicular to the main road leading from the Tomb of the Patriarchs through the community neighborhoods. That building contained six apartments, a Torah study hall, and a room used by the children as a Bnei Akiva youth group club house. For the past year and a half this building was empty. The two families that had 'illegally' moved back into their old homes were in the smaller building, parallel to the road, and adjacent to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood and courtyard.
 
When a decision was made to refrain from voluntarily moving out, as had been done a year and a half ago, the question was raised: should we fill up both buildings with people, or should we just deal with the homes in question, the homes of the Yahalom and Bar Kochva families.
 
After much discussion it was decided to leave the empty and larger of the two buildings out of the dispute. 'That building is empty – leave it that way. At present the struggle is for the homes of two families – those two apartments, as well as the third home, formerly housed by the Shlissel family, will be the symbol of our opposition and our protest. Those three apartments will be filled with protesters, refusing to leave of their own accord. Should the government demand that these structures be empty, they will have to physically evict us. We won't leave on our own two feet.'
 
And so it was. The larger of the two buildings was left empty; no struggle took place there. However, the troops that expelled the families and protesters from the smaller building, upon concluding their initial task, took it upon themselves to destroy the six apartments in the larger building. It was a horrible sight to see: Israeli soldiers and police destroying Jewish homes in Hebron, and a Torah study hall, built in memory of a murdered ten-month old infant. It was distinctly reminiscent of other periods of our history, not in Israel, but rather in Russia, Poland, Germany, and other such countries. Then, the predators were Cossacks, and anti-Semitic Jew-haters. Today, in the State of Israel, 2007, the vulturous acts were taken by Jews, in uniform, representing the state.
 
It is not surprising that people might lose control of themselves. What is surprising is that virtually nobody did lose control. There was little violence initiated by demonstrators. The vicious brutality used was that of the Riot Squad "Yasam" forces and the border police. No one took up weapons against the destroyers, no knives, no guns, and almost no rocks or other dangerous objects. There were a few exceptions to the rule, but very few. Those were the instructions issued to the protestors, and an overwhelming majority abided by this decision.
 
I know people attending such demonstrations who intentionally leave their weapons at home. Even though they are licensed to carry arms, they lock them up in a closet, 'just to make sure.' However one of the things you cannot leave home is your mouth, or your emotions. Such horrid scenes reach the very depths of a person's neshama, a person's soul, and the suffering can be almost unbearable.
 
I've know Professor Hillel Weiss for a number years, have read some of his articles and have participated in discussions with him. He is an extremely intelligent man and has very firm beliefs. I personally do not agree with all his ideas or necessarily his form of expression. But clearly, his concern is not for his own benefit or well-being; his concern is for the Jewish people only.
 
The expressions he uttered towards the military commander of Hebron, Col. Yehuda Fox, are not necessarily to my liking, for a number of reasons. I personally know Col. Fox and, despite my major misgivings about his participation in the expulsion process, I know that he was not responsible for the decisions made on that particular day. But I must admit, even though I would not curse him, there are others that, even if I don’t say the words out loud, I certainly think them about them. Not about Col. Fox, but about others, in much higher decision-making positions than the commander of forces in Hebron. There are, unfortunately, people in Israel, making decisions which could, G-d forbid, endanger the existence of the State of Israel. These people deserve whatever hardships should befall them, and you won't find any of us sad about their downfall.  Some of these people are ignorant, but others are simply evil, and to hide this fact is stupid blindness. The truth must be met head-on, despite the unpleasantness of it all.
 
So even though I personally don't agree with Prof. Weiss' words in this particular instance, I find it difficult to swallow the media bias, which lambastes the Professor, but does not print pictures of the pogrom, which left Jewish homes in ruins. Why didn't the press print pictures of the destroyed furniture from the Bar Kochva or Yahalom homes, devastation which was totally unnecessary.
 
One other thing: true, Prof. Weiss' statements were very harsh. But perhaps people are unaware of a simple fact: Professor Hillel Weiss is the father of Tehila Yahalom, who has now, twice, been evicted from her home. The first time, it should be remembered, she, her husband and family agreed to voluntarily leave their home as part of an agreement with the Commander of forces in Judea and Samaria, who, representing the state, promised that families would soon be able to return to these homes, without any legal hassles. That agreement was broken by the State of Israel. This time she and her husband refused to give in. And Tehila's father, Professor Hillel Weiss, was more than just a little upset.
 
So, even though his words were harsh, and not necessarily what we would all agree to, Prof. Weiss said the words, but did not execute them. The police and soldiers in Hebron last week may not have said too much, but the damage they did was equivalent to pogroms of a hundred years ago.
Which is worse?   

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