Writing for The JC, under the heading, “This is Israel? Not the one I love“, Jonathan Freedland abandoned his usual relatively mild tone reserved for the ‘Organ of British Jewry’, and launched into a vitriolic, Guardian-style attack on the situation in Hebron today – Judaism’s second holiest place – not from the Jewish or Israeli perspective, but only through the prism of the Palestinians, the evidently rightful inhabitants of the city.
“What I saw would shock those who think they know it all” he opined (using a mini-headline in red for added emphasis), to prepare us for the worst.
So what was the the shocking scene he described? Could it be that Israelis were hurling rocks at their Palestinian neighbours, using them as target practice in drive-by shootings, breaking into Palestinian homes to lynch their children while they sleep, etc.?
No. It was that the centre of Hebron (he coyly omits to say how much) “…has been utterly emptied, its streets deserted, its shops vacant, thanks to a policy the Israeli army calls ‘sterilisation’–ensuring the area is clear and safe for Hebron’s 800 settlers”.
He goes on to lament that “in what was once a throbbing market district…..successive restrictions have been placed on Hebron’s Palestinian population”, such as roads where they are not allowed drive or “even walk”.
Added to that, horror of horrors, the graffiti daubed on shuttered shops by the ‘settlers’, and, perhaps the most shocking of all, Stars of David used to “spit in the eye of a population hounded out of their homes”. Not nice, but not life threatening.
He then invoked the wisdom of Shaul, his “kippah- wearing army reservist guide” from the NGO Breaking the Silence, (anti-Israel activists generously funded by the EU who have been criticized by Israeli police for “antagoniz[ing]…settlers [in Hebron] in the hope that the settlers will attack them.”), who conducts tours for Anglo Jewish Zionist youth leaders, and “believes that Hebron…reveals the reality of the occupation in an intense, distilled form”.
Of course, the devil is in the detail, and what Freedland omits is not mere details but, rather, essential facts, omitted because they would expose his damning accusations for what they are.
So here they are :
Abraham resided in Hebron when he arrived in Canaan, King David was annointed there, and Jews have lived there almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods.
It was only in 1929, long before the creation of Israel and the “occupation”, that the city became Judenrein, following a murderous Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered, and the rest forced to flee.
After 1948, during the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank which followed Israel’s War of Independence, Jews were forbidden to live in Hebron, and, despite the terms of the Armistice Agreement, forbidden from visiting the city to pray at the Jewish holy sites there – namely, the Cave of Machpelah, burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca and leah, the world’s most ancient Jewish site.
Even though Israel controls Hebron today, the Islamic Waqf controls the holy sites, and Jews have access to Ohel Yitzchak only 10 days a year, and visits are severely restricted to the other rooms.
It should be noted that the Jordanians together with local residents, between 1948 and 1967, undertook a systematic campaign to obliterate evidence of the Jewish history of Hebron. They razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of Avraham Avinu synagogue.
Hebron was first called Kiryat Arba, mentioned in the bible, and today is a Jewish suburb of Hebron, the first re-established Jewish community in Judea and Samaria after the Six Day War, with some 6,000 Jews.
Today, 80% of Hebron is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
What Freedland wilfully ignores is that without the protection of the IDF the Jewish inhabitants would be in grave danger of violent attacks from the Arab majority.
For Freedland, Jews are always the “illegal settlers”, even in cities where they’ve lived for thousands of years.
Well done Jonathan—-your job at the Guardian is safe for a while—-your minders there will be delighted with this latest effort…you have proved yourself!
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