The Hebron Market

To innocent listeners, who are upset at the fact that Arabs have been displaced from their property, I address this commentary.

Atty. Elyakim Haetzni,

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Knesset Member Zahava Gal'on (Meretz) asked why Jewish trespassers have not been expelled from the Arab wholesale market in Hebron. The deputy defense minister answered that the present sensitive situation in Hebron does not permit it, for the moment.

To innocent listeners, who are upset at the fact that Arabs have been displaced from their property, I address this commentary.

The market in question was part of the "Avraham Avinu" Quarter until the 1929 pogrom. I took a blood sample from this event, in the way of a memorandum presented to the British High Commissioner by Hebron's community: "?the rabbis, Meir Kastel, 68 years old, and Tzvi Drabkin, 70 years old, and five other young men? were robbed, castrated, tortured and murdered? The baker, Noah Immerman was roasted alive on an oven, Rabbi Ya'akov Orlanski HaCohen? was found? praying? they took his brain from his skull and his wife's intestines were crushed? the pharmacist, Ben-Tzion Gershon, lame, unable to move, who served in Hebron for 40 years, kindly assisting many Arabs, they cut off his nose and fingers, killed him, raped his daughter and murdered her with awful torture. The teacher Dubkinov and Yitzhak Abushdid were strangled with a rope? six synagogues? including 64 Torah scrolls, many of them ancient, from the Spanish exile, all were stolen and desecrated...."

In response to this, the remainder of the community was expelled "for their own safety," and the murderers inherited them. Following the Jordanian occupation, King Hussein built a fruit and vegetable wholesale market on part of the quarter, rented it to the Hebron municipality, who rented it to wholesalers. When the city was liberated, it was discovered that the Jewish property, including the wholesale market, was still registered in the name of its Jewish owners, but was transferred to the Custodian for Enemy Property (Israel). In fact, the Israeli military government did not return the property to its owners, but continued to rent it to Arabs under the title "property of the Israeli enemy"!

The Jews who returned to the quarter were forced to pass through the crowded wholesale market, leading to many incidents. In any case, as the city grew, the area was no longer appropriate for a market and the wholesalers turned to the mayor to find a more suitable site. However, he refused, in order to prevent Jewish return to the area.

In the meantime, Hebron Arabs returned to murdering Jews. Yeshiva student Aharon Gross was stabbed to death opposite the wholesale market. Other murders, including the Goldstein carnage, forced the government to close the market. The Israeli custodian did not renew the lease with the city and the wholesalers found another location, much more appropriate. Two intifadas left scars, and most terribly, the murder of infant Shalhevet Pass, next to the wall of the wholesale market.

This is the key to much friction between Hebron's Jews and the government, who were afraid to "openly and rightfully" return, as Herzl said, that which was stolen from them, fearing 'what the world and the Left would say.' So it was that Hebron's Jewish community - which just as any other living, healthy organism, expects to grow and develop - was left to do for itself, by itself.

So it was that the Avraham Avinu synagogue, originally built by Spanish exiles, were renovated from their ruin only after demonstrations; so it was at the ancient Jewish cemetery, only after scandals; so, too, did Jews return to pray at Ma'arat HaMachpela only after sit-down strikes and protests; so, too, was the return to Beit Hadassah only after women sneaked into the basement, followed by the murder of six men by a terror gang - men who had come on Sabbath eve to say Kiddush for the besieged women.

After Arab rights to the empty wholesale market expired, families who had waited much too long, due to government refusal to allow new construction, transformed the buildings into livable apartments. During a Supreme Court hearing, initiated by the Hebron municipality, the State argued that the Hebron municipality had no rights to the site and that the only title-holder was the Israeli Custodian for Abandoned Property, who issued an eviction order against the Jewish residents of the market. The order was appealed to an appeals committee, which, by majority vote, upheld the decision to expel the Jews. One of the judges accepted the settler's claims and another recommended that the custodian rent the property to its present inhabitants. A request was forwarded, but it is still pending. The reader can judge: where is the logic and justice?

Two questions remain. To the Arabs ? When you transformed the Jewish Quarter with blood and fire into an Arab market, there wasn't yet a "conqueror", "refugees" or a Jewish state. So, why?

And to Zahava Gal'on ? Thousands of eviction orders against Arabs in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and pre-1967 Israel have been issued and are not implemented. Why, among them all, does only the Hebron wholesale market keep you awake at night?




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