Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Passover 1968 - The Settlements Begin

Today is Day 14,235 of the Maintenance of the Immoral (and Illegal) Settlements on the West Bank

Micah.6:8 “He has told you, O man, Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God."

We read every day about the terms of a possible peace agreement and they all include the closing of the settlements in the West Bank. What are the settlements? How did they begin? Why do I consider them to be immoral and contrary to the highest values of Judaism as well as illegal? Why should they be closed NOW without the need to wait for negotiations?

In my most recent Passover post, I wrote about Joshua and his “liberation” of Jericho to free it from the evil of idolatry. Unfortunately, the residents were prevented from greeting their saviors with open arms since Joshua slaughtered all of them except for Rahab, “the collaborator” and her family.

Let us now move forward in time about 3500 years to Passover, 1968, April 13 to be exact., From the website of the Jewish Israeli residents of Hebron entitled “The Return to Hebron” “Wanted: Families or singles to resettle ancient city of Hebron For details contact Rabbi M. Levinger” This unassuming newspaper advertisement captured the attention of many Israelis in 1968. The euphoria of the Six Day War had subsided, Judea and Samaria were in Jewish hands, and yet, no Jews had made their homes this area. Rabbi Moshe Levinger and a group of like-minded individuals determined that the time had come to return home to the newly liberated heartland of Eretz Yisrael. As their first goal, the group decided to renew the Jewish presence in the Jewish People’s most ancient city, Hebron. Word of the decision spread quickly and soon a nucleus of families was formed. Their objective: to spend Pesach in Hebron's Park Hotel. … the Park Hotel's Arab owners were delighted to accept the cash-filled envelope which Rabbi Levinger placed on the front desk. In exchange, they agreed to rent the hotel to an unlimited amount of people for an unspecified period of time. The morning of Erev Pesach, April, 1968 saw the Levinger family along with families from Israel's north, south and center packed their belongings for Hebron. They quickly cleaned and kashered the half of the hotel's kitchen allotted to them and began to settle in. …. Eighty-eight people celebrated Pesach Seder that night in the heart of Hebron. “We sensed that we had made an historical breakthrough", recalls Miriam Levinger, and we all felt deeply moved and excited". Two days later, Rabbi Levinger announced to the media that the group intended to remain in Hebron. Dignitaries, Knesset members and Israelis from far and near streamed to the Park Hotel to encourage the pioneers. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was anxious to remove the pioneers from the hotel. He suggested that they move to the military compound overlooking Hebron. A heated debate ensued. There were those who felt that moving to the compound would in effect, strangle the project. Others saw in Dayan's suggestion official recognition, albeit de facto, of their goal. Six weeks later, the pioneers moved to the military compound. Rabbi Levinger insisted on accommodations for 120 people even though they numbered less than half at that time. Rabbi Levinger was accused of being an unrealistic dreamer. Within a few short weeks however, he was proven correct. The 120 places in the military compound could not accommodate the hundreds of people who wanted to be part of the renewed Jewish life in Hebron, city of the Patriarchs. "We received Eretz Yisrael on a silver platter in 1967", explained Miriam Levinger. "It was an honor and a privilege to be among the first people to make the dream of return a reality."

After an initial period of deliberation, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol's Labor-led government decided to temporarily move the group into a near-by IDF compound, while a new community -- to be called Kiryat Arba -- was built adjacent to Hebron. The first 105 housing units were ready in the autumn of 1972.

Today, Kiryat Arba has approximately 6,650 residents. Hebron is also home to around 160,000 Palestinians

On April 14, 2002, - Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold at Harvard Hillel said– “Building of Israeli settlements in parts of the West Bank has frustrated their (Palestinians) hopes. At this point three generations of Palestinians have lived for thirty-five years under Israeli occupation and the persistent building of settlements on their land has led to violent conflict. When Sharon was elected . . his commitment to the preservation of the settlements precluded the possibility of a peaceful resolution of the conflict. . the conflict can not be solved by power alone. Then by what? By removing the basis for the conflict. The Jewish settlements on the West Bank are a grave and dangerous mistake that have done much harm to Israel. Micah. “He has told you, O man, Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” By all means, Humbly.

"Rabbi Levinger fit the battle of Hebron
Hebron, Hebron
Rabbi Levinger fit the battle of Hebron
And tzedakah began a tumblin’ down."

1 comment:

Richard said...

Good luck/Mazel tov, Ron with this project. It's the Lord's work as the Christians say, to try to bring Israelis & Arabs to their senses & pursue peace.

Chazak v'amatz.

Richard