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      Blessings from Hebron
      by David Wilder
      Personal Reflections on Hebron, Eretz Yisrael, Friends, Family and anything else that comes to mind.
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      David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation.

      For over eighteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He initiated the Hebron internet project, including email lists of over 15,000 subscribers who receive regular news and commentaries from Hebron in English and Hebrew. David is responsible and continues to update the Hebron web sites, portraying various facets of Hebron, utilizing text, audio, video and pictures. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and occasionally travels abroad, speaking at Hebron functions.

      David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 35 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 15 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.

      Links to sites David recommends:
      www.hebron.com (English)
      www.hebron.org.il (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshlomo.org (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshalom.net (Hebrew)
      (others to be added)

      Tevet 3, 5770, 12/20/2009

      No more music at Ma'arat HaMachpela?

      Ma'arat HaMachpela

      For the first time in years - probably as a result of a direct order from the new Commander of the Central Region, it will be forbidden to play Jewish prayer music at the Ma’arat HaMachpela courtyard.

      The Gutnick Center, outside Ma'arat HaMachpela
      He was warned that if he dared to again play music over the speakers he would be arrested immediately

      For years, Jewish visitors arriving at the Ma’arat HaMachpela have been greeted by  Jewish music, played from loudspeakers atop the Gutnick Center, outside Ma’arat HaMachpela. The lyrics of all the songs are taken from the Jewish liturgy, changing from time to time depending on the time of year: the Ten Days of Repentance, Elul – Selichot, holiday prayer melodies, Shabbat songs and so on.
      Yesterday, for the first time in years, these prayer melodies were banned: Ofer Ochana a resident of Kiryat Arba, was summoned by the police, interrogated, and charged with  a criminal offense.

      Following the investigation he was warned that if he dared to again play music over the speakers - would be arrested immediately. From information we received, this is probably a direct order of the new Commander of the Central region, who also demanded that the police carefully examine the law and find a criminal offense that could be attributed to Ochana. After tedious searches the police discovered several laws relating to noise being publicly broadcast via a business in a residential neighborhood. Ochana, who also directs a store and a banquet hall inside the building, was summoned, interrogated and warned. His speakers were disabled, and the music which delighted the hearts of the many visitors to Hebron, was silenced.

      As a result of these baffling measures, the organization Human Rights in Yesha contacted regional police commander Itzik Rachamim, in a letter titled: Selective law enforcement regarding loudspeakers in the vicinity of Ma’arat HaMachpela.

      The letter reads as follows:
      "For years Jewish worshipers at Ma’arat HaMachpela have complained about the unreasonable and illegal noise of loudspeakers sounding the Muslim calls to prayer into the area assigned exclusively for Jewish worship, and in the Machpela courtyard. There is no need for this because these areas are not used for Muslim prayer (excepting 10 days a year.) Two years ago a professional examination was carried out in to measure the noise level compared to conventional criteria. The results, delivered to the Hebron DCO reported that "if the regulations to prevent hazards (unreasonable noise) from 1990 were applied in this case, the noise levels recorded very highly exceed permissible levels." Despite these official inquiries, nothing was done to stop the daily disturbances which greatly impaired daily Jewish worship at the site. This, despite the fact that the Supreme Court recognized the right of prayer as one the foremost human rights

      In light of this, it is very puzzling why Mr. Ofer Ochana is being invested for playing Jewish prayer music from the speakers (with far less intensity than the Muslim prayer calls), from the Gutnick Center, an area allocated for Jewish worship with the specific goal of creating an atmosphere of Jewish worship. Much graver is the threat that he would be arrested immediately if he dared to again play Jewish music in this area while no similar criminal steps were taken towards the Arab muezzin. If the criterion which you utilize to examine the decision whether to conduct a criminal investigation and threaten detention is a suspicion of "breach of peace" (the language of Section 194 (a) of the Penal Code) - then there is enough to push the public Jewish worshipers at the Ma’arat HaMachpela to take steps which will be understood to reveal that their welfare and tranquility have been violated by the muezzin’s call to prayer. Is unadulterated strength the way in which you think law should be enforced? Your actions yesterday can only be defined as selective law enforcement, and represents serious denial of freedom of expression and freedom of worship, and encourages violent reactions. I ask you to explain why this extreme step was taken and, why you do not enforce the law equally, allowing freedom of expression and worship equally to the two religions."

      A Copy of this letter was sent to the Minister of Religious Affairs, other ministers and Knesset members.

      Tevet 1, 5770, 12/18/2009

      The Hanukkah Chronicles

      Hanukkah is a holiday of light and faith. A little light pushes away a lot of darkness. A little faith displaces much doubt
      ‘(After the war) …the Jewish leaders strengthened Jerusalem and refused to allow the enemy to raise his head. When the enemy leader saw that the Jews were strong, he feared them and began moving his large army. The Jewish leaders suspected the enemy and also began moving his army too. When the enemy saw the huge Jewish army he decided to act utilizing deception.  He sent representatives with kind words, promised not to harm them, and invited them to a meal with him. The Jewish leader believed the deceptive promises, sent his soldiers home, and arrived with little protection. The enemy leader entrapped him, captured him, and after a few days, murdered him and his sons.

      This was the tragic end of the Jewish hero who was victorious in war but was slain when he believe the deceptive words of his enemy’.

      Who is this tragic Jewish leader, felled by words and promises of peace? Sounds very familiar, no? We’ve been hearing these deceptions for how many years now?  This could be written and titled the ‘annals of Oslo.’ But no, this story is slightly older than Oslo, Rabin, Peres, Sharon, Olmert, Livni and the others. The above paragraph is an approximate translation from Dr. Haggi Ben-Artzi’s publication called the Scroll of Hanukkah, based upon the “Books of the Maccabees” The leader, murdered by the Greek Tarifon, was none other than Yonatan, one of the five sons of Mattetayhu, who liberated Beit HaMikdash and Eretz Yisrael from the Greeks.  This truly heroic warrior feel for the trick.  He believed the call for peace.  But after it happened then, well over 2,000 years ago, why do we, Am Yisrael, continue to fall prey to the same exact scenario? The only factors that have changed are the names and the nationality of the enemy. Otherwise, the situation is virtually identical. Yet we continue to send home the soldiers, only to be stabbed in the back.

      Yesterday we all read Ehud Olmert’s ‘peace plan, offered to today’s Tarifon, called Abu Mazen or Mahmud Abbas, so-called president of the Palestinian terrorist organization. Thank G-d, just as in Egypt, God hardened Pharoh’s heart, so too, with Abu Mazen, who rejected Olmert’s offer, which included expulsion of tens and tens and more tens of thousands of Jews, and destruction of places such as Hebron, Kiryat Arba and many more communities in Judea and Samaria. There are no words. It is totally unbelievable, incomprehensible.

      This week, the week of Hanukkah, the holiday of revealed miracle, we witnessed other  such disasters, such as Barak’s frontal attack on religious Judaism (shades of Hellenized Jews). Another example of anti-Jewish, selective law enforcement happened here in Hebron, only two days ago. Kiryat Arba resident Ofer Ochana was detained by police and interrogated because he dared to play Jewish music from loudspeakers atop the Gutnick Center, outside Ma’arat HaMachpela. Following the interrogation he was warned that should he again sound music from the loudspeakers, he would be immediately arrested.

      The organization for Human Rights in Yesha, led by Hebron’s Orit Struck, wrote a letter to police officials and others, questioning this action, accusing them of ‘selective law enforcement: “For years Jewish worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs have complained about the unreasonable and illegal noise of loudspeakers sounding the Muslim calls to prayer into the area assigned exclusively for Jewish worship, and in the Machpela courtyard. There is no need for this because these areas are not used for Muslim prayer (excepting 10 days a year). Two years ago a professional examination was carried out in order to measure the noise level compared to conventional criteria. The results, delivered to the Hevron DCO reported that ‘if the regulations to prevent hazards (unreasonable noise) from 1990 were applied in this case, the noise levels recorded very highly exceed permissible levels….Your action yesterday can only be defined as selective law enforcement, represents serious denial of freedom of expression and freedom of worship, and only encourages violent reactions. I ask you to explain why this extreme step was taken and, why you do not enforce the law equally, allowing freedom of expression and worship equally to the two religions.” (See full text http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/135075 )

      Let’s keep in mind that the building atop the caves of Machpela was built by Herod some 600 years before Muhammad was born, but that makes no difference to a confused Hellenized Israel leadership, who prefer to not to follow in the footsteps of the Maccabees.  Such a decree is preposterous.

      Then again, there are miracles today, as there were then. Today, the eve of the last night of Hanukkah, 20 year old Tzviya Sariel was released from jail, after being held for over 45 days because she refused to identify herself and cooperate with the ‘authorities’ following expulsion from an ‘illegal settlement’ outside Migron in the Binyamin region. When the judge ordered her release the state appealed to a Municipal court – releasing this little terrorist is unheard of! – but the judge overruled the appeal and tonight, finally, she’ll be able to participate in candle-lighting with her family. A true Hanukkah miracle.

      This week in Hebron we witnesses another kind of Jewish hero. Visiting with us was Dmitiry Salita, a 27 year old Russian born Jew, presently living in Brooklyn with his new wife Alona. Last week Salita competed for the World Boxing Association’s welterweight championship. (It was the first match he ever lost.) A Ba’al Tshuva (a Jew returning to observant, orthodox Judaism) at the age of 14, Dmitiry began boxing a year earlier and is today, one of the best in the world. True, it is unusual to find Jewish boxers, especially orthodox ones, but when I asked him about this he said, ‘G-d gives people different talents. This is mine and through boxing I can, in my way, further Israel and Judaism.’ Salita’s boxing trunks are adorned with a Magen David, a star of David. (The interview with Dmitiry Salita can be seen at: http://www.hebron.com/english/article.php?id=605 together with a sparring match here in Hebron.

      I’m not sure I’d ever want to be a boxer, or get into the ring with Dmitiry Salita, but seeing a Jew with no fear, willing to get into that ring, leaves me with a feeling of pride and honor.

      Hanukkah is a holiday of light and faith. A little light pushes away a lot of darkness. A little faith displaces much doubt. One last miracle. Lately the ‘human rights’ organization, B’tzelem, has requested that a representative from Hebron speak with groups they bring into the city. (That, in and of itself is a miracle!) I spoke with one of those groups not too long ago, for about 25 minutes, answering their questions. One of the women on the group was kind enough to record the conversation and transcribe it. The transcription isn’t 100% accurate, but, relatively speaking, it’s not bad.  The last question I was asked dealt with whether or not we, in Hebron, had failed in achieving our goals. My answer, as she transcribed it:

      Look, success and failure are very relative. If you’re asking me, do I think we’ve failed? No, I don’t think we’ve failed. The fact that I live here today, as far as I’m concerned is a success. The fact that there are things we haven’t succeeded to do, there are ups and there are downs, we’ve been exiled from Israel for the last 2000 years, Hebron for the last 700 years. It’s very difficult to get everything. There are problems and there are issues we have to deal with, sometimes you’re able to achieve what you want, sometimes it takes long to achieve what you want. I think that most of the goals you’re trying to achieve, you eventually will achieve. I don’t believe that God brought us back after 2000 years to throw us out again.

      I know it sounds weird but I think our presence today in Israel everywhere – in Hebron, in Tel Aviv, in Haifa or Be’er Sheba is a miracle, it’s also a miracle, because if anybody here had been behind the fences in Auschwitz in 1944 and someone came and poked you on the shoulder and on one side there’s chimneys and smoke and the other side of that there’s fences, and somebody says ‘you know something, don’t worry about it, everything’s going to be ok, in another 40 years we’re going to have a Jewish state and there are going to be people that come and invade us, and we’re going to win’, then the guy would look at you and say ‘you’re nuts, you’re out of your mind, you need to wake up! This is the fence and we can’t get out and there’s the smoke and that’s it’. And we’re here today. And if that’s not a miracle, nothing is. 1967 was a miracle, 1973 was a larger miracle and – I don’t have time now – but I can give you miracles that happen here in Hebron one after the other after the other. You know, it’s tangible, you can touch it.

      Do I think that we have problems? Of course we have problems. There are things we haven’t succeeded, we haven’t succeeded perhaps in explaining ourselves well enough. But in order to be able to express yourself you have to have a form in which to express yourself. We know where the media is, the Israeli media and the world media and that’s one of the ways I ask you also... And I do thank you very much for this opportunity because in most cases groups like this that come in aren’t interested in even hearing what the other side have to say and I think it’s very praiseworthy that despite differences of opinion that are huge there’s a willingness at least to allow people to hear a little bit of another side and I think that’s important and significant and so I thank you for that. But do I think I’ve failed. It’s difficult but whether I call that failure, no.

      Wishing all of you continued light, enabling you to see the miracles that occur all the time, even after Hanukkah is over.

      With blessings from Hebron.




      Kislev 29, 5770, 12/16/2009

      Tonite at Ma'arat HaMachpela-Rav Lior lights candles

      Kislev 28, 5770, 12/15/2009

      Claim Hebron settlers threw acid at police: False

      Susie Dym: It is important to set the record straight - They (settlers) have not committed one-thousandth of the [crimes] of which they have been accused
      Dec. 15, 2009
      THE JERUSALEM POST: Claim settlers used acid against police
      in Hebron unsubstantiated


      A widely publicized police allegation that settlers threw acid at a policeman during the evacuation of a four-story Hebron apartment building in December 2008 was unsubstantiated, The Jerusalem Post has established.

      Border Police and the IDF made a surprise raid on the structure - known as Beit Hashalom - in the midst of a legal dispute between Hebron's Jewish community and a local Palestinian, both of whom claim the rights to the property. A Jerusalem court is still adjudicating the matter.

      During the evacuation by security personnel on December 4, 2008, many media outlets, including the Post, reported a police claim that settlers threw acid into a police officer's eye.

      But subsequent investigation by the Post has established that no one was formally charged with acid-throwing in the months following the incident, and no evidence has been presented to substantiate the claim.

      A former Judea and Samaria Police spokesman confirmed that he sent the media a message during the evacuation alleging the acid attack, after being told by a police medic who was on the scene that an irritant was thrown into an officer's eye.

      The spokesman said he did not know what medical diagnosis had been reached by hospital doctors who later treated the policeman. Neither the police nor the Police Investigations Department has asked the former spokesman to comment on the issue since the incident, he added.

      A police check carried out at the request of the Post found that state prosecutors did not charge any suspect arrested in connection with the evacuation for acid attacks.

      Thirty people were arrested on the day of the evacuation and in the days leading up to it. Since then, 20 suspects have been indicted on charges ranging from assaulting an officer to interfering with a police officer and preventing him from carrying out his duties.

      Susie Dym, a spokeswoman for the pro-settler organization Mattot Arim, said that settlers and the right-wing community had always mistrusted the authenticity of the acid claim and suspected that it was false.

      Dym said the lack of any subsequent charges or further personal testimony by police and prosecutors had led her to conclusively dismiss the claim.

      Dym had urged the Post to examine the veracity of the acid-throwing charge, as the allegation had continued to resurface in the media and was cited as an example of settler violence, she said.

      It was important, she added, to set the record straight in light of what she described as a litany of false charges being directed at settlers. "They have not committed one-thousandth of the [crimes] of which they have been accused," Dym said.

      Some 600 members of the security forces, made up of soldiers, civilian police officers and Border Police entered the building during the evacuation last December.

      Twenty-three activists and four police officers sustained light and moderate injuries during the operation. The bulk of the activists resisted the evacuation non-violently.

      Once the building was cleared, police told reporters the situation could have taken a more violent turn and displayed to reporters home-made weapons they had found in the house - including 30 potatoes laced with nails as well as a stockpile of home-cleaning detergents, which they said they suspected had been assembled for possible use against security personnel.

      After the evacuation, settler youths took over a Palestinian home in a nearby valley situated between Kiryat Arba and Hebron. They also lit a fire that threatened a Palestinian home nearby.

      Settlers and Palestinians pelted one another with rocks, and another group of settlers entered the Palestinian-controlled part of Hebron and set fire to at least three cars.

      In the most serious incident, a 51-year-old settler from Kiryat Arba allegedly shot and wounded two Palestinian men during a confrontation in Hebron.

      The alleged gunman, Ze'ev Braude, was arrested, but state prosecutors later dropped charges of aggravated assault against him after Braude's defense attorney demanded that a witness to the shooting who is an undercover member of the security forces testify in the trial.

      State prosecutors said the exposure of the witness would harm national security, and dropped charges against Braude so that the witness would not have to come forward.

      This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1260447442232&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

      Kislev 26, 5770, 12/13/2009

      Champion Chabad boxer Dmitriy Salita visits Hebron


      Dmitriy Salita at Beit Hadassah in Hebron

      Sparring with Michael Pollack

      At Ma'arat HaMachpela

      Outside Beit Shneerson - home of Menucha Rochel Slonin, in Hebron

      A sensational welterweight prospect, Dimitriy is a sharp, accurate puncher with good handspeed. After he moved to Brooklyn, Dmitriy was exposed to orthodox Judaism and became an observant Jew. He strictly follows Jewish law – if he has a fight on a Saturday, it must begin after sundown, the end of the sabbath. Dmitriy said, “Anyone who wants a good whuppin’ from me is just going to have to wait until sundown.” There are as many as 70 Jewish holy days on which he will not fight, and he follows Jewish dietary laws. When he’s training, he stays within walking distance of a synagogue for Friday and Saturday services – he’s not allowed to drive on the sabbath. 

      Promoter Bob Arum said, “If he’s as good as it appears he is, and he can be held up as an example of religious devotion to both Jews and gentiles, he’ll be a great attraction.” 

      Dmitriy said, “I will never compromise my beliefs. Never. It’s not a question. I have a personal relationship with God that I won’t compromise. My boxing is such a big part of my life, but it won’t get in the way of my religion. It can’t, and it won’t.” 

      Dmitriy said, “I enjoy being different. People are surprised at how good the white, Jewish kid is, surprised that I can fight. I take that as a compliment.”  http://www.dsalita.com