Tag Archives: Sarah

The trouble with Hebron

Praying at the Western Wall

Praying at the Western Wall

The main trouble with Hebron on the West Bank is that it is one of the holiest sites for the Jewish people. It is second only to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

In Hebron sits the Machpelah, which is said to have been purchased by Abraham, the progenitor of the Jewish people.

In the Machpelah, which is one half beautiful mosque and one half beautiful synagogue, are said to be buried the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. Rachel is buried in nearby Bethlehem, where she is said to have died in childbirth.

And Joseph’s tomb is said to be located in the West Bank town of Nablus.

Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus are all in the West Bank and are wanted by the Palestinians, along with east Jerusalem, as part of a future Palestinian state.

The Synagogue of the Machpelah, Hebron.

The Synagogue of the Machpelah, Hebron.

But Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus are as much a part of the religion, culture and history of the Jewish people as the two Jewish Temples that used to sit atop the Temple Mount in east Jerusalem and which have since been replaced by the Golden Domed Mosque. The Western Wall is the only remaining remnant of the Second Jewish Temple.

And it is partly with all this in mind that the Jewish people were granted the authority to return to these areas via the 1917 Balfour Declaration.

But between 1949 and 1967 Jews were cleansed from these areas by the Arabs when Jordan controlled the West Bank. Israel took it during the 1967 war and since then Israeli Jews have been able to visit these sites for prayer or just cultural curiosity, if they wish.

Most Jews, including non-Israeli ones, generally don’t though and the reason is clear.

On Tuesday four Israeli civilians were gunned down in their car near Hebron. Hamas proudly claimed responsibility while Palestinians poured on to the streets of Gaza to celebrate the murder of innocents.

The usual sickening excuses that the victims brought it upon themselves by being in the West Bank in the first place are being rolled out, but those who were murdered had every right to be where they were when they were killed.

However many times an ignorant journalist or lazy presenter calls the settlements or the settlers “illegal”, that does not make it a fact.

No where in international law are the settlements stated to be illegal.

Anyway, it is not like Hamas thinks about international law when it wants to carry out a terrorist act.

When they murdered those four people on tuesday they saw four Jews, not some dubious legal grievance.

It was the same in Hebron in 1929, 19 years before Israel was born, when the Mufti of Jerusalem incited the slaughter of 60 members of the orthoodox Jewish community of Hebron.

That said Jewish settlers should not necessarily stay in the West Bank just because they have the unambiguous right to.

If there is a reasonable prospect of a proper accord with the Palestinians then the settlers can be removed in the cause of peace. This is all subject to negotiation now.

The only people who can decide the course of events and history are those currently ensconced around the negotiating tables in Washington.

However, it is highly incongruous that while the Palestinians are insistent on having all their religious needs met by holding on to Hebron and the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem (as stated, both being sacred ground for Jews also), the Jews are expected to lay waste to their own religious heritage.

In a final peace agreement the Temple Mount in east Jerusalem, the holiest of Jewish sites, will be in Palestine as will Nablus and Bethlehem. The Palestinians also expect to obtain Hebron, the second holiest of Jewish sites.

While the Jewish people will still retain the Western Wall, where they can pray for dead and dying loved ones, it is only the Jews that will have sacrificed important parts of their religious heritage.

If religious sites cannot somehow be shared then the Palestinians must also expect to give up parts of their own religious heritage for peace.

Golden Domed Mosque sits atop the Jewish Temples' site

Golden Domed Mosque sits atop the Jewish Temples' site

Inside Machpelah Synagogue, Hebron

Inside Machpelah Synagogue, Hebron

The Mosque of the Machpelah, Hebron

The Mosque of the Machpelah, Hebron

Israeli army outside the Machpelah

Israeli army outside the Machpelah