Sheikh Farid al-Jabari of Hebron grew up on stories of close ties between Arabs
In keeping with that tradition, he hosted an unusual gathering
of Palestinians, settlers and conservative European parliamentarians on Thursday
afternoon in his large tent, set back from the road in the South Hebron
In the heat, flies buzzed over plates of grapes, peaches and plums
laid out on silver trays on the red oriental carpets that adorned the tent’s
“I come from a generation that lived with the Jews peacefully in a
brotherly relationship,” Jabari, 64, said, as he looked out at his
He wore a white robe and a white keffiyeh. At times during the
two-hour meeting, he held prayer beads in his hands as people spoke. At other
moments, he smoked.
Among those who sat to his right were representatives
of Hebron’s Jewish community – Noam Arnon and David Wilder. They sat, like all
the guests, on red cushions set up on the floor.
To Jabari’s left were
Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika and spokesman David Haivri.
Austrian parliamentarian David Lasar and Belgian parliamentarian Filip Dewinter
were also there. Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev was briefly present.
meet Jabari in Brussels at a conference on the sidelines of the European
Parliament about Middle East peace.
Mesika noted that it was symbolic to
be part of a meeting in a tent with Jews, Muslims and Christians, in the same
place where Abraham had lived.
“Only a wise leader like Sheikh Jabari
could bring together the sons of our father Abraham,” he said.
and Jabari have been meeting for close to four years. Arnon said that just
before Rosh Hashana, Jabari had prevented Palestinians and anarchists from
destroying the Hazon David synagogue, a small outpost on the edge of
“A few later we visited him and gave him a certificate of merit,”
“Since then there have been warm ties between us and we meet
regularly,” he said.
He has brought many other people to meet with him as
Arnon added that he views Jabari as a brave man and a
Wilder, who also has recently started to visit Jabari, said he
was surprised when Jabari called him right before Shavuot to wish him a happy
Arnon said that both he and Jabari oppose a Palestinian
Jabari is not a Zionist, said Arnon. He is advancing his own
Muslim ideas. “But,” he added, “they come together in some ways with our
Jabari recalled a meeting he held in his home in 2008 with Hebron
settlers. “We spoke honestly.
We put everything on the table. What are
our requirements and needs,” he said.
After that, he said, “people
[Palestinians] turned against me.”
However, their resistance did not
“This is a small ball that keeps rolling,” he said. “I hope we
made progress in changing the way of thinking for some people who did not have
anything to do with the peace process.”
Jabari added: “The Israeli nation
is ready for peace. The Palestinians want peace.
“I just hope that we can
lift this occupation...We would like to feel our dignity and
Jabari later explained to The Jerusalem Post that his vision
for the future was not two states, but one democratic state for all of its
citizens in which Jews and Palestinians lived as equals.
Although he has
never been to the United States, he imagines a state like it in Israel and the
Palestinian territories with a similar type of democracy.
“There won’t be
two states,” he said, as he looked out at the surrounding hills through an open
flap in the tent. It is not possible, because Islam does not allow its followers
to relinquish land, he said.
“In our religion, Tel Aviv is like Hebron,”
The land belongs to God and the entire Muslim world, he
“I cannot sign away something that is not mine,” he said. But he
can live together with Jews in one state, in which Palestinian rights and Jewish
rights are preserved.
He said that if in the US, the son of a student
from Kenya can become president, then in this region Jews and Palestinians can
live together as equals in one country.
“This will happen,” Jabari said.