Hevron: Cave of Patriarchs
Hevron: Cave of PatriarchsIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Members of Knesset with the left-wing Meretz party had planned to tour Hevron Sunday with the far-left organization Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika). Instead, the MKs got a surprise tour from local Land of Israel activists. 

The Meretz tourists showed up and were greeted by Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, both well known for their strong nationalist stance. Marzel and Ben-Gvir, along with members of the local Jewish community, began to follow the Meretz-Breaking the Silence group and give their own explanations of life in the city.

The nationalist tour included unveiled criticism of the left-wing visitors. “Good morning. We heard nothing about you visiting Haifa, where two soldiers were almost murdered,” Ben-Gvir greeted the group. “You only care about human rights when it comes to Arabs.”

At a certain point, the Meretz visitors’ patience with the unasked-for explanations provided by Marzel and Ben-Gvir wore thin, and they asked police officers to arrest the two so the Breaking the Silence tour could continue uninterrupted. However, as law graduate Ben-Gvir explained to the police, the nationalists’ actions constituted a legally protected form of protest. The unofficial “tour” was allowed to continue.

Meretz later complained that the nationalists had ruined the tour scheduled with Breaking the Silence, which took place two weeks after Breaking the Silence escorted soldiers from the National Security College on a tour of the city. Jewish Hevron residents responded to the complaint, saying, “We have the right to give visitors to our city objective explanations, and to teach them what love of the land of Israel means.”