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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)

      Tishrei 28, 5770, 10/16/2009

      Hebron by Robbie Knopf

      I didn’t find a stressed or dying community but, rather a young, vibrant and content one. I saw children doing things my sister and I like to do
      - And after that, Avrham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan. (Bereshit Chof Gimmel: Yud Tet)

      My name is Robbie Knopf and I am 13 years old. On November 17th 2008, I experienced the greatest honor of my life, so far, when I was honored, along with my dad, by the Hebron Fund with the Lev Avot U’Banim Award. It is a night I will always remember.

                  My introduction to Hebron began in the classrooms of Yavneh Academy in Paramus, New Jersey. I knew that Hebron was one of the 4 Holy Cities. I also knew that in the Torah, Avraham bought Maa’rat HaMachpelah in Hebron to bury Sarah.  I also knew that one of the spies sent out by Moshe, Calev, went to Hebron and davened there and as a reward got the land as his Nachalah- land portion.

      This past summer I had the opportunity to travel to Israel with 25 family members and friends for a 12 day trip during which I celebrated my Bar Mitzvah. I had the chance to visit all 4 holy cities. We started up north in the Galil and Golan, and spent a day in Sfat where we visited the shuls of the ARI and Rav Abuhav. We went on to Tevaria where we visited the graves of Rambam and Rabbi Akiva. On a Thursday in Yerushalayim I was called to the Torah and leined at the Kotel among many other Bar Mitzvah celebrations. On our last day in Israel, my family and I went to Hebron where I was called to the Torah for an aliyah in celebration of my Bar Mitzvah.

      I wasn’t sure what I was going to find in Hebron. I knew that there was controversy surrounding the city. From my father, who has supported Hebron for as long as I can remember, I heard that it was one of Israel’s most holy cites and land that had been “purchased by Avraham at above market value” so that it was very clearly Jewish property.  At some point, I realized that not everyone supported maintaining a Jewish presence in Hebron. The government’s strategy was to give away land to the Arabs to make peace. I knew that there are more Arabs then Jews in Hebron and that there is a large IDF presence there to maintain the safety of the Jewish community. What would we find in Hebron? What would the people be like? Would I feel in danger? Is it a healthy Jewish community? How many people would be davening in Maa’rat HaMachpelah? Do the Jews in Hebron live normal Israeli lives?  Is it a sad and stressful existence for the Jew there?

      My family was picked up from our hotel in Jerusalem to go to Hebron in what looked like a regular car.  My mother seemed a little nervous about that and when she asked, the driver told us that the car had bullet-proof windows. We drove through security, crossing the green line. When we arrived in Hebron, we were greeted and escorted to Maa’rat HaMachpelah by Hebron’s official spokesman, David Wilder.

       We went up many stairs where I encountered my first surprise.  On our way to the shul we passed room after room of young children being taught by their teachers. When we reached the shul, we found not a handful of people but--approximately 75 people there.  There were young and old—but all energetic. They were singing loudly. They were welcoming me and my father. After my aliyah people there danced with my dad and I in a circle. The dancing went on and on.  After that, we were taken on a tour by an American born resident of Hebron, Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum, Hebron’s director of tourism.  He seemed so familiar as though he could be our next door neighbor back in Teaneck. He gave us a tour of Maa’rat HaMachpelah.  Then we got back in the car and were driven up the hill on a winding road past many soldiers.  Our guide then showed us the first homes (trailers) in modern Hebron. I saw older kids riding bikes and smaller kids playing on a playground. People looked like they were happily going about the activities of a vital community. We also were shown the Avraham Avinu shul and the gravesite of the people who died during the tragic massacre of the Jewish community in Hebron in the 1920’s.  Then The Hebron Fund’s executive director Yossi Baumol took us to the Shalom House which is the most recently acquired building in Hebron.  We said hello to the soldier who was guarding the building.  We passed bicycles in the corridor and then saw the spaces carved out for individual families to live, often separated only by a shower curtain. We saw how families lived there without certain basic necessities such as electricity.  From the rooftop, we could see for miles.  Yossi pointed out the excellent view of the road between Kiryat Arba and Hebron.  It was easy to see what a critical and strategic location the Shalom House possesses.

      Clearly, Hebron isn’t your typical town. The residents contend with day to day problems and obstacles that are so different from anything I have ever experienced.  But, there were familiar elements also.  I didn’t find a stressed or dying community but, rather a young, vibrant and content one.  I saw children doing things my sister and I like to do.  I saw families laughing and doing laundry.  I saw a community that I felt a great deal of respect for and one which I find so natural to lend my support to.  Thank you to the Hebron Fund for giving me this opportunity to join my father in support of Hebron.

      The Hebron Fund Dinner at CitiStadium in NY is on Nov. 21 - see www.hebronfund.com or call 718-677-6886 for details and reservations.




      Tishrei 20, 5770, 10/8/2009

      Succot events with friends from around the world

      Tishrei 18, 5770, 10/6/2009

      Over 50,000 visit Hebron on Succot - Photos&Video

      Tishrei 13, 5770, 10/1/2009

      A dirty little secret by Moshe Dann

      That the State of Israel should commit suicide to accomplish this goal is unthinkable.
      The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Nakba (catastrophe) for Arabs, and the aggression by five well-armed Arab countries, assisting local Arab gangs and militias that had been attacking Jews for years, placed Jews in Israel and the state in mortal danger.

      Fighting back, Israel eventually negotiated an armistice in 1949 that allowed a respite from open war, albeit not terrorism, and without peace. The Egyptians occupied the Gaza Strip; the Jordanians occupied Judea, Samaria and the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City and Temple Mount; Syria continued to occupy the Golan Heights, from which it constantly shelled Israeli settlements; all trained and supplied terrorists who raided Israel. The UN did nothing.

      Arabs who left homes and property in Israel and many from other countries who joined Arab armies and did not want to return, remained in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, most as "refugees" under the care of UNRWA.

      This heterogeneous population was called "Arab refugees," not "Palestinians," because at the time there was no such group, or people.

      One reason they were called "Arab refugees" was because there were many other refugees in Palestine, who were Jewish. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries streamed into Israel. UNRWA offered no aid, although Jewish refugees had lost everything and the newly established state had few resources.

      It took a crafty Egyptian, Yasser Arafat, to create the PLO with his friends to promote the destruction of Israel and the return of Arab refugees. Arab countries saw them as convenient proxies in their war against Israel, to "liberate Palestine."

      Except for Jordan, no Arab host country permitted the newcomers to obtain citizenship; as temporary residents, their civil and humanitarian rights were harshly restricted.

      The designation "Palestinian" did not become widely accepted until after the war in 1967, in which Israel, in self-defense, captured areas that had been assigned to a Jewish State by the League of Nations and Mandate, and then occupied by Arab countries: Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem; the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, rich in Jewish history and archeology, and the Sinai Peninsula.

      As the PLO launched mega-terrorist attacks around the world, "Palestinianism" became accepted, backed by the Arab League, Muslim and "non-aligned" countries, and the United Nations.

      As the proportion of anti-Israel countries in the UN grew, "Palestinians" were given more and more recognition, support and legitimacy, unlike any other group.

      And the fraud worked! It worked so well because the world's media accepted the Palestinians' self-definition and their cause. Even the Israeli media, politicians and jurists adopted this myth. Academics promoted "Palestinian archeology," "Palestinian society and culture." Every time someone writes or speaks of "Palestinians" it reinforces this myth.

      Liberating Palestine’

      Most major newspapers use only the term "West Bank" – a Jordanian reference from 1950 to distinguish the area from the "East Bank" – rather than its authentic names, Judea and Samaria, apparently to deny its Jewish history.

      "Palestinian" came to mean Arabs who lived in Judea, Samaria and Gaza – as well as those in UNRWA-sponsored "refugee camps" in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and hundreds of thousands of "Palestinians" living throughout the world. By UNRWA's unique and controversial definition, anyone who claims to live or have lived in Palestine, and all descendents, forever, are considered "Palestinian," with full rights and privileges.

      Spread among 58 "refugee camps" (in many cases entire towns) UNRWA's over half-billion dollar budget supports about 1.5 million "refugees in camps" and 5 million "registered refugees;" the total population is expected to reach 7 or 8 million next year, and growing.

      As Palestinian nationalism spread among Israeli Arabs, the term became an identity magnet for Arabs on both sides of the 1949 Armistice Line – the "Green Line," as well as those living in other countries. Today, "Palestinian" can be anyone who for whatever reason identifies as such, including their children, grandchildren, etc.

      This amalgam of national identity is possible because "Palestinian" is not a separate, unique linguistic, cultural, ethnic, religious or racial group. Nor does this motley group, currently led by Fatah and Hamas terrorist organizations, aspire to a country with clearly defined borders. Their goal is not statehood, but exterminating the Jews, thereby "liberating Palestine."

      The success of "Palestinianism" is a tribute to what money, influence and Jew-hatred will buy and attract. That Jewish and Israeli media and NGO's support Palestinianism stems from liberal ideals of helping those who are less fortunate, the underdog, and even a genuine, although misdirected desire to live in peace, a supreme Jewish value.

      Although there's probably no way to prevent the notion of "Palestiniansm" from spreading, there's no reason to ignore it, and less to accept it. Arabs of Palestine are entitled to civil and human rights in the countries in which they have resided for generations. That there needs to be a second Arab Palestinian state, in addition to Jordan, which was carved out of Palestine and whose population is two-thirds "Palestinian," and whether such a state will resolve all the attendant problems is extremely doubtful.

      That the State of Israel should commit suicide to accomplish this goal is unthinkable.

      Printed in Ynet


      The author, a former assistant professor of History, is a writer and journalist living in Israel