TNL: Life and Eviction in Hevron

The holy city of Hevron took center stage at Tuesday Night Live as residents of the Biblical city spoke about living in the eye of the storm.

Ezra HaLevi,

photo: INNTV
The Biblical city of Hevron took center stage at this week's Tuesday Night Live, with residents of the holy City of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs interviewed about what it's like to live in the eye of the storm in terms of the struggle for Israel's future.
The Pollack family - Michael, Orli and their children - lived the past year and eight months in Beit HaShalom [Peace House], the Hevron building that most recently propelled the city to the headlines as Israel's High Court authorized the Defense Minister to evict the Jewish residents despite their heavily documented claim to the strategically placed building.
 
Co-host Ari Abramowitz, who himself served in Hevron during his IDF service, asked Michael Pollack how it felt to be at the heart of so much antipathy 24/7. "A lot of people would say, 'You're crazy, you're putting yourself in a ghetto and you're putting your kids at risk,'" Abramowitz said. "What would you say to that?"
 
"As a Jew, we constantly have to think about what HaShem [G-d] wants from us as a Jewish family," said Pollack, who made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from New York. "It is definitely safer living in Florida or Brooklyn, but I think what HaShem wants from us is to be where we can give the most to the Jewish people - in Hevron."
 
Orli Pollack, asked about life in Beit HaShalom, had smiles and fond memories. "[Living in Beit HaShalom] was an amazing experience," Pollack said. "The people there gave each other strength just by being there..[Even the] kids, of all ages, would defend each other, look after each other and play together."
 
Even the time leading up to the forced eviction was a positive experience, the mother-of-five said, despite the daily headlines heralding their eviction and the uncertainty that each night would be their last. "The last two months of living in Beit HaShalom were full of tension, but full of spirit," she said. "Youth from all over came with this incredible spirit and even though we are now away from there briefly, we will be back. The youth really gave us strength until the very end."
 
When the actual time came, the Pollacks and the rest of the residents were caught off guard. "The Yassam (riot police) came in and took us by surprise," Orli said. "I called a friend to maybe take the children out, but there was no time. A lot of the youth had gone to school, and the police just came straight through the wall of our room. They fired tear gas, pushed everyone – whether four-years-old or adults. They treated everyone like animals."
 
Pollack seems shaken at the fact that her countrymen were able to act in the way that they did. "They seemed completely desensitized to anything," she laments. "My six-year-old was sitting there afterward, and a policeman told us 'Go home already.' He said to him, "That is our house!" and the guy just walked on, couldn't care less. So now the kids, unfortunately know what tear gas is, but we are going to go back, b'ezrat HaShem [with G-d's help]."

Spokesman as Teacher
Abramowitz recalled his service in Hevron, describing a man who climbed up to his lookout post to invite him over for a Sabbath meal. That man was David Wilder, the Hevron spokesman who also took the stage at this week's Tuesday Night Live.

"How do you deal with the constant criminalization and vilification," Abramowitz asked.

"It's not easy," Wilder says. "And I work with the media, so I've heard it all. [But] we know what the truth is. We know we have to continue that truth and bring it to the world. My job is to be an educator, to teach what it is to be a Jew in Hevron, to be a Jew in the Land of Israel. We know there are people working against us. But you know something, there were people working against us for 2,000 years, and now I am talking to you from Jerusalem."

Wilder said his main message was for world Jewry: "To all of those Jews watching us, wherever you are. Come here. Be here in the Land of Israel. The fact that I can be living in Hevron today and that Jews can pray there – it was off limits to Jews and to Christians for 700 years – is reason to celebrate. So if you can't come live here yet, come to visit – so see it with your own eyes."

Never This Good
The evening closed with a local Hevron musician, Sinai Tor, who sang: "Never has there been a time that was so good as now." Though one could not tell from his wide smile and uplifting tunes, Tor himself was evicted from another domicile in the Hevron region.

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