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 33 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 14 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
Links to sites David recommends:
(others to be added)
Adar 24, 5772, 3/18/2012
Seventeen years ago, I seem to recall walking around outside in Kiryat Arba, when news of a terror attack started making the rounds. A bus had been shot at, not too far away, at the ‘Glass junction’ on the way to Hebron. I jumped in a car going in that direction and about five minutes later found myself face to face with two dead men, others injured, and a large group of people, who were, a few minutes before, passengers on that ill-fated bus.
Yehuda Partush had already been taken off the bus. A doctor examined him, did whatever he could, and then threw his hands up in disgust. Partush and his wife Mazal were coming back from Jerusalem with the keys to their new home, that they’d just purchased. When the shooting started, Partush jumped on his wife, who was then pregnant, saving her life. She later gave birth to their first son.
Nachum Hoss was still on the bus, sitting near the front. I knew him; We had met and talked a few days earlier. I helped to take him off the bus. I only remember mumbling, again and again, ‘Nachum, we love you, Nachum, we love you.’
Today was the 17th anniversary of that horrible day. A small group of people, their family and from Hebron, met at the cemetery, to recite some Psalms, say a few prayers, and remember them.
I try, every year, to attend the short service. But, even after so many years, it still hurts. Especially to hear Yehuda’s son, Aviel Yehuda, not yet 17 years old, repeating the holy Kaddish prayer for a father he wasn’t privileged to know.
That was terror past. But there still is terror, present.
Yesterday I participated in an event that was new to me. A few weeks ago I received a very emotional, actually heart-rending letter from Michael Palmer, father of Asher and grandfather of Yonaton Palmer. These two, father and son, were murdered at the end of September when Arab terrorists hurled a rock at their car from a moving vehicle. The rock went through the windshield, hitting Asher in the head, causing him to lose control of the car. He and his infant son were both killed.
Michael Palmer’s letter described the first court hearing, held at a military prison outside Jerusalem. Michael and one of his sons were present. Along with dozens of Arabs, supporting the murderous terrorists. He suggested that perhaps others could attend the next hearing, together with him and his son.
I responded positively, as did many others. He presented a list of over 100 people who wanted to participate in the next hearing. He was told that only ten people would be allowed in the courtroom. (The six Arabs charged, with each one being allowed 10 representatives, could have at least 60 representatives to cheer them on.)
Yesterday morning I drove, with a few other people, out to “Machane Ofer” just over an hour away from Hebron. It was a nightmare come true.
In order to be allowed in, you had to be on ‘the list.’ I was on the list. One step in. Of course, I had to leave my ID at the gate, to be received back on the way out. After that, the fun began. I went through three security checks in order to be allowed in. The first two were the normal, magnometer machines. Just like the airport. Or Ma’arat HaMachpela. But the third one was manual. The guard who went over me with a fine-tooth comb was given orders, before starting with me, ‘to check us the same way they check the prisoners.’
Of course, we couldn’t bring anything inside. Including, no beeper (pager) or mobile phone. I have a press card and asked if I could bring a camera, after identifying myself as an accredited journalist. The answer was no. However, later on, a group of journalists all came in, with their cameras, videos and recorders.
The actual hearing, which began about an hour after I got in, at 10:30, was horrible. It is very difficult to sit in a room with terrorist killers. I sat next to Michael Palmer and his son Shmuel. Behind us were the other nine they let in. On the other side of isle were a group of Arabs (I counted about 15), a group of journalists and somewhere between 15 to 20 security personnel.
Six handcuffed Arabs were led in from a side door. The handcuffs were removed; the leg cuffs stayed on. They immediately began conversations with their family members present. We were told that this is allowed. One by one, the terrorists were asked if they understood the charges against them. Two were indicted for murder. The others are suspected of participating in other such rock-throwings at moving cars from a moving car and also belonging to a group attempting to kill Jews. Some of them are charged with 25 such attempted killings, besides the actual killing of the Palmers. With one exception, they all pleaded innocent, saying they hadn’t done anything wrong.
The proceedings, before a military panel of three officers, are in Hebrew, with full translation into Arabic. The lawyers for the terrorists are all Arabs. They are, of course, allowed to bring cell phones and the like into the courtroom.
One of the military people participating in the trial introduced himself to me and said, ‘don’t worry. All Am Yisrael (the Jewish People) are behind you. They’ll get what they deserve.” To which I responded, ‘unfortunately they won’t. They’ll get a five star hotel for a few years until being released for a Jewish hostage.” “Yeah,” he said, “you should see the conditions they have here. They’re better off in jail than at their homes.”
This man, who conversed with me, isn’t Jewish.
After each set of two men pleaded not-guilty, they were led out of the courtroom. When one was left, another Arab was brought in, for a different hearing. The two saw each other, smiled broadly and started hugging and kissing each other. This too was allowed. It when on for at least five minutes. It was disgusting. When they sat down, they had their arms around each other, and continued smiling and talking. In a military courtroom, in front of three military officer-judges and the prosecutors.
When the last of the Palmer murderers left the room – I think he pleaded guilty – again they hugged. This time, after a minute or two, their mutual affection was broken up by the guards.
As I mentioned earlier, in my experience it’s very, very hard to sit near these rancid creatures. I really don’t know how Michael Palmer does it. They killed his son and grandson. But we surely can’t let him sit there alone, in a room filled with Arabs, showing support for these murderers. But it really was horrible.
They’ll sit in an Israeli jail, receive ‘compensation while imprisoned, get fed three times a day, and also graduate from an exclusive terrorist university, with at least one college degree, and a specialty in advanced terror tactics. And guess who pays for it!
In seventeen years, Asher Palmer won’t have a son to say Kaddish for him at the annual cemetery service. His only son was killed together with him. But his daughter Orit, who was born only months after his murder, will likely stand next to her father’s and brother’s graves, asking herself, ‘what was he really like’ – thinking, ‘I am so sorry I was never able to talk to him, hold his hand, have him pick me up and hold me.’ And anyone else there, in seventeen years, like me today, at the service for Nachum Hoss and Yehuda Partush, will too, feel that pain, the pain of a child who wasn’t privileged to know her father, because a terrorist killed him, because he was a Jew, living in Israel.
Adar 18, 5772, 3/12/2012
Hebron attracts all sorts of interesting people, who say all sorts of interesting things. Not too long ago, when the Meretz party came to tour, former (thank G-d) MK Musi Raz told me, in answer to a question that, no, Hebron should not be Judenrein. Rather it should be (in Hebrew) ‘mitnachalim-rein’ – in other words, ‘cleansed of settlers.’ He was referring to people like me, my family, my friends, and all the others who live here.
I thought that was a cute phrase, ‘mitnachalim-rein.’ Ethnic cleansing at its best. For if, for example, one were to say Hebron should be ‘michabel-rein,’ that is cleansed of Arab terrorists, that would probably be considered racist.
Raz was one up on his colleague, the head of the party, Zahava Gal-on, who, when asked if Jews may worship in Ma’arat HaMachpela, refused to acknowledge or answer me.
This morning I received notification of a large group of diplomats on their way into the city. Outside Ma’arat HaMachpela I found a delegation of Germans, from the consulate, embassy and from Berlin, congregating around a representative of ‘breaking the silence,’ listening to his anti-Jewish Hebron tirade. Spoken in a soft voice, seemingly presenting a ‘balanced’ point of view, he ranted about the ‘poor arabs’ and the ‘big bad Jews’ who oppress them.
This is nothing new. This organization, funded by the EU, and many foreign governments, was blamed by the Israeli government for assisting the infamous ‘Goldstone’ research and report. Need more be said? They work tirelessly to besmirch Hebron’s Jewish community, the IDF and Israeli policy in this holy city.
However, today, my focus was not on them. It was on the German guests. I approached one man, held out my business card and introduced myself. He ignored me. I asked if I could too speak with the group. He ignored me. I asked if he would take my card. He ignored me. I asked is he would speak with me. He ignored me. Finally he said something. “It’s not personal.” Wow!
I approached another man, and asked if I could speak with the group. He told me I’d have to set it up with the German consulate in Ramallah. Then a woman came over and told him to stop talking to me. So he stopped.
Then I found the ‘leader’ who said his name is Tobias, an employee of the German Foreign ministry in Berlin. He did speak to me. We actually had a long conversation. When I asked if I could also address the group he told me that they choose who they want to hear. What, not me too. Well, he said they’d already talked to us, a few years ago.
He told me that perhaps we could have a meeting with an ‘official’ German delegation in Tel Aviv, because ‘you are aware of our legal position when it comes to Israeli settlements in the West Bank…’ and a talk at Beit Hadassah would ‘complicate things.’
I told him that it would be preferable to speak in Hebron, but that if necessary we’d be willing to talk to them in Tel Aviv. ‘Tel Aviv is also a part of the state of Israel, even though it’s not mentioned in the Bible. We are about 4,000 years old and Tel Aviv only about one hundred.’ He then interjected that it’s the capital of Israel, to which I answered that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He retorted, ‘the internationally recognized capital,’ to which I answered, the international, eternal capital of Israel is Jerusalem and all countries, especially Germany, should accept that.’
The Germans haven’t changed. In my opinion, their outward civility does not and cannot hide their inner animosity to the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Hearing a left-wing Israeli spout hate in Hebron is legitimate; listening to a resident of Hebron’s Jewish community speak about Hebron is illegitimate. A balanced approach to learning.
We will celebrate the Purim holiday. We commemorate G-d’s great miracle, saving the Jewish people from the attempts of the wicked Hamen to exterminate them. Hamen was an Amalakite, a people known to be the root of all evil, as is taught in the Torah. There is a positive precept, or commandment in the Torah, to literally wipe out, or in modern jargon, delete Amalek from existence.
The nation of Amalek is thought to have disappeared, or assimilated into other nations of the world. But, in the tenth chapter of Genesis, the “Tirgum Yonatan’ a well-known translation of the Torah, written some 2,000 years ago, identifies the nation of ‘Magog’ with Germany.. (Genesis 10:2). Magog, as Hamen the ‘Agagi’ was an Amalekite.
That is not to say that there is a Mitzvah to try and annihilate Germans. But, anyone with eyes in their head, having studied a little bit of early 20th century history, would be well advised to beware of Tobias,’ and other such germanely Germans from the Deutchland.
Adar 11, 5772, 3/5/2012
When Ma’arat HaMachpela, the tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, was reopened, after having been closed for almost a year, in 1994, the huge, 2,000 year old structure was divided. About 75% of the building was opened to anyone not Jewish; the other 25% was opened to anyone not Moslem. Excepting 20 days a year; for ten days the entire building was closed to Jews and open only to Moslems and for 10 days a year it was open only to Jews.
The main area for Jewish worship is the central courtyard inside the building, with the two small memorial rooms for Abraham and Sarah to the east and for Jacob and Leah to the west. (The largest room, memorializing Isaac and Rebecca is open only to Moslems.) The courtyard is open, with no roof covering it. Upon division of the building, the IDF constructed a big tent inside the courtyard, in an attempt to provide some semblance of a closed-in structure. That endeavor failed, miserably.
Despite the canvas ‘walls’ and ‘roof,’ it is just that: canvas. Such material does not offer protection from heat or cold, rain, snow, sleet or a hot summer sun. During the rainy season water puddles form on the roof and remain there for months, attracting assorted insects, including mosquitoes and other small creatures. And not only small animals. During the spring and summer months, birds, sensing the holiness of the site, flock to the building. A net had to be stretched above the courtyard to prevent winged creatures from flying around, inside the building. But the net does not prevent them from discharging unpleasant droppings from above, onto holy books, chairs, tables, and worshipper’s heads.
Needless to say, without any heat during the winter, an open courtyard is very cold. And very wet. Last year the tent ripped open as a result of rainstorms, leaving visitors entirely unprotected until a new tent was assembled. This year, for four weeks in a row, women were unable to pray in the women’s section of the courtyard because that area was transformed into something of a pond, as a result of the rain and snow. Additionally, the electrical wiring system, not overly sophisticated, is located dangerously close to this winter swimming pool, creating a life-threatening situation for anyone wading in the water while trying to pray.
This year’s snow added some color to the place. The Ma’ara in white is a beautiful site. But preferably when it is outside. Here, at Ma’arat HaMachpela, we are privileged with indoor snow.
During the summer, without any air-conditioning, during July August and September, there are times when the heat is unbearable.
These features could be dismissed as minor discomforts. After all, Ma’arat HaMachpela, after being off-limits to Jews for 700 years, from 1267 to 1967, is now, thank G-d, back in the hands of its rightful owners, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Last year, some 700,000 people visited this so holy a site, second in sanctity only to Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
And there lies the real problem.
Any normal people, any normal country, and normal national entity, would glorify such a site. Presently the Arabs are demanding that UNESCO declare Ma’arat HaMachpela as a ‘palestinian national heritage site.’ They invest huge amounts of money at the Ma’ara, performing major renovations in the area open to Moslems as can be witnessed by the structural work and painting inside the Isaac Hall and on the outside of the building.
How is the State of Israel staking it claim? What is the Israeli expression of the Jewish people’s first national heritage site? What does Israel invest?
This is not a disgrace. It is a humiliation to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs; it is debasement upon the heads of thousands and thousands of Jews, who for 700 years stood outside, at the 7th step, pouring out their hearts to G-d above. It tarnishes Israel’s very roots; for this is where the Jewish people began, almost 4,000 years ago.
The solution is quite simple. Construction of beautiful roofing; not a canvas tent, but a world-class designed roof, to prevent the rain, snow and bird-droppings from bothering people’s prayer; allowing for heat in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer. After all, this is the 21st century.
What’s the problem? That’s a good question. It should be put to the 120 Knesset members who represent the people of the state of Israel, it should be put to the deputy ministers and full ministers, to the Chief Rabbis, to the collective leadership of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the Diaspora and of course, to the defense minister and prime minister of Israel. Shouldn’t Bibi care?
It should be clear: The missing element is that the issue of the roof is not one of money or design. The only problem, I repeat, the only problem, is the issuance of the appropriate permits from the defense and prime minister, themselves. Were that to be granted, the project could be completed.
This is not a political issue. It is an ethical concern of the highest value. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, looking upon their holy resting place from above, must be shaking. Not from the cold, not from the rain or snow. Rather they are quiver and tremble from the apathy, from the degradation and contempt displayed by their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, who, it seems, know only how to embarrass them, at their final resting place, at Ma’arat HaMachpela, in Hebron.
All photographs and video: David Wilder, Hebron
Shevat 7, 5772, 1/31/2012
Where are American Tax Dollars being spent?
has spent $3.4 billion in development funds in the Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza
So, it appears that this poor, oppressed, underdeveloped Arab city
has doubled the number of building permits issued since 2006, and is preparing to solicit bids for a road to a new $13 million water treatment facility -- financed, of course, by USAID.
Not everyone is happy about spending so much money in the PA.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: By providing the Palestinians with $2.5 billion over the last five years, the U.S. has only rewarded and reinforced their bad behavior.
The US State Department disagrees: We think it is money that is not only in the interest of the Palestinians; it's in U.S. interest and it's also in Israeli interest.
What is this money used for?
New schools were built
to teach incitment: "The Zionist gangs stole Palestine ... and established the state of Israel"
... and judges were trained,
to sentence Arabs selling property to Jews, to death:
What about accountability? Where is the money really going? Where are hundreds of millions of dollars that went missing under Yasser Arafat
Ghassan Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority: This money is going mainly to development and humanitarian projects. There is no justified reason for holding it. It's important for stabilization.”
Development and humanitarian projects:
From the objectives of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee
There are others who believe and act otherwise. South Carolina State Representative Allan Clemmons initiated a resolution
Whereas, Israel has been granted her lands under and through the oldest recorded deed as reported in the Old Testament, a tome of scripture held sacred and reverenced by Jew and Christian, alike, as the acts and words of God; and
Whereas, as the Grantor of said lands, God stated to the Jewish people in the Old Testament; in Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 24: "Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey"; and
Whereas, God has never rescinded his grant of said lands;
This resolution was used as a model for a similar resolution passed in Florida, called Florida Stands with Israel. And most recently, the Republican National Committee adopted a similar policy, with a resolution stating: BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the members of this body support Israel in their natural and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon their own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others; and that peace can be afforded the region only through a united Israel governed under one law for all people.
Presently, USAID to Arab Hebron is in jeopardy as a result of Abu Mazen’s attempt to unilaterally declare a ‘palestinian state’ in the United Nations as reported in the foreignpolicy.com
I have no doubt that when such people as Rep. Allan Clemmons, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and others, like Rep. Louis Gohmert from Texas, (who introduced a similar resolution in the US House of Representative
Whereas with the dawn of modern Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, some 150 years ago, the Jewish people determined to return to their homeland in the Land of Israel from the lands of their dispersion;
Whereas in 1922, the League of Nations mandated that the Jewish people were the legal sovereigns over the Land of Israel and that legal mandate has never been superseded;)
and other like-minded US politicians continue in major leadership positions in the United States, they will insure that US tax dollars are utilized properly, rather than in the best interests of their enemies, and our enemies, in the worst interests of the State of Israel, and ultimately, in the worst interests of the United States.
Shevat 2, 5772, 1/26/2012
A few days ago, January 20, was the fifteenth anniversary of the implementation of the Hebron Accords, which divided our holy city into two unequal zones. Jews today have access to 3% of Hebron, while Arabs access some 97% of the city.
Yesterday we posted an interesting, important and timely article by Noam Arnon (in Hebrew) marking this ill-fated act, which led to so much violence and tragedy. I decided to also write about this, not with a ‘new article,’ rather using words of the past, clips from articles I authored fifteen plus years ago. They speak for themselves.
Clearly, should Israel continue on the same path in the future, the results won’t be any different. It is essential to learn from the errors of the past, in the hope that they will not be repeated in the future. History’s virtue lies not in names, dates and places. Rather it should be a tool, with which we can examine what occurred, why it occurred, and its implications for the future.
As for peace, this morning’s headline in HaAretz newspaper says it all:
Perhaps prior to future, prior to such fateful decisions, decision-makers should pay a little more attention to us?
(These articles, in their entirely, can be viewed at www.hebronblog.com).
We dwell in Hebron not out of benevolence but as a right. Hebron belongs to the Jewish people eternally as a result of our right and as a result of our strength, our strength of faith, our strength to stand up for what is legitimately ours...We must protect the foundation of Eternal Israel. Hebron is ours, Jerusalem is ours, the entire Eretz Yisrael is ours. Benyamin Netanyahu, December 7, 1994
…Jerusalem isn’t yet on the chopping block – but unofficially...- and anything that the present junta can get away with in Hebron will seem like child play if and when they move on - to the Golan, Jerusalem... June 08, 1995
Netanyahu:"The Jewish settlement will remain in Hebron permanently, if someone tries to take it away, my friends and I will be here, and they will have to take us away as well".
However, the real danger is not in Hebron. It is in Jerusalem, Tel- Aviv and other Israeli cities. Hebron will become a breeding ground, a nest of Hamas terrorists. The attacks will be planned in Hebron, and the city will serve as a refuge following perpetration…He said, "I fear the results of an IDF withdrawal from Hebron. We have lists of hundreds of Hamas supporters living in Hebron who have signed written statements, agreeing to commit suicide attacks throughout Israel. As long as we are in Hebron, we have some control over them. Once we leave, it will be that much more difficult to prevent them from carrying out their missions." May 1996
… plans by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to renew suicide terrorist attacks within Israel…these groups have reached a decision to once again wreak havoc inside Israel, AFTER THE REDEPLOYMENT IN HEBRON. Of course, it goes without saying, that the terrorist attacks will be much easier to plan and carry out after Israel abandons 90% of the city to Arafat.
Husni Mubarach's declaration: that "if Israel insists on continuing a policy of resettlement in Judea and Samaria, the intifada will be renewed. And this time, IT WILL NOT BE LIMITED TO THROWING STONES."
Photographs: David Wilder