(photo credit:Ariel Jerozolimksi)
Following the expulsion of families from Beit Hashalom in Hebron, during a radio interview with the BBC, I was asked about our future plans. When I responded that the community would continue to purchase property in Hebron, the interviewer asked, "But won't that just cause more violence?" I answered, "If I bought a home in London and was told that a Jew purchasing on 'that side of the city' would cause a violent reaction, how would that be viewed? Probably as anti-Semitism and racism. Why then can't a Jew buy property in Hebron, just as people purchase homes all over the world?"
Another common question I've had to field from journalists is, "Don't you think this has all gotten out of control?" My response is quite simple: "Of course it is totally out of control. That's not the question. The question is who is out of control?" Clearly, in my opinion, those who have lost control are those democratic institutions which are designed to protect citizens from despotic leadership.
FOLLOWING PURCHASE of Beit Hashalom for close to $1 million, the Hebron community found itself under attack from numerous sources. Rapidly the question of our legitimate presence in the building made its way to court. The original court decision found enough evidence supporting our claims to prevent immediate eviction. However, harsh restrictions were imposed, including denial to install windows and to hook up to the Hebron municipal electric grid. Only in the middle of a major snowstorm did the defense minister allow installation of windows in the building last winter.
Due to the political sensitivity of the case, we soon found ourselves opposite a Supreme Court panel hearing the various issues involved. That panel was composed of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Justices Edmond Levy and Uzi Fogelman. Levy is religious. Following a break in the court hearings, Beinisch changed the panel, removing Levy and Fogelman and replacing them with Justices Ayala Procaccia, who is known to be one of the most left-wing justices on the court, and Salim Joubran, the only Arab on the court. Beinisch, it must be noted, is not known for her right-wing ideological opinions. Two leftist justices and an Arab were left to decide the fate of the Jews living in Beit Hashalom. If that's not a stacked deck, nothing is. So wrote retired District Court judge Uzi Struzman, calling the court's final decision blatantly political.
In that decision, the court ruled that it would not examine the evidence presented, including proof of authentication of the legal sales documents, a video of the seller receiving and counting the money received for the building, and an audio recording of his description of the sale and receipt of the money.
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, when presented with new evidence in the case, specifically the audio cassette, refused to meet with community attorneys or examine the proof of purchase.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced only two weeks ago his intention to legalize all the illegal Beduin construction in the South. Yet he gave the go-ahead to violently expel all residents of the building in the midst of advanced high-level negotiations which would have allowed him to forgo the brutal confrontation.
These are examples of nothing less than terror - administrative terror, utilized by the highest echelons of the country's democratic institutions to further their own political beliefs against loyal citizens of the state, in this case, residents of the Hebron Jewish community.
FOLLOWING VIOLENT reactions to the extremely harsh expulsion, which included use of tear gas and stun grenades, I was asked about "red lines" - and decisions to "cross those red lines." Unfortunately we are presently facing situations where the government is crossing all the red lines that previously existed. The transformation of the judicial system, including the attorney-general and the Supreme Court, into an extended arm of the political arena ends all notions of impartiality or objectivity.
Hebron residents are often labeled extremists. However nothing could be more extreme than the above-described actions of Mazuz and Beinisch. But due to their positions and political ideologies, their extremism is considered legitimate.
It should be clear. Hebron's Jewish community opposes and rejects any and all violence aimed at innocent people, be they Arabs, Jews or anyone else. However it is unthinkable and intolerable that Israel's top leadership should change the rules in the middle of the game, expecting the other side to play by the old ones, while they play by the new. Such actions, as we have recently witnessed, quite literally push a large segment of the population into a corner with no way out, creating a dangerously volatile situation. Peace may breed peace but by the same token, extremism breeds extremism.
The real danger to Israeli society is not a few dozen kids throwing rocks while violently and illegitimately being thrown out of a home in Hebron. The true threat to our country is the warping of the fundamental institutions whose presence is supposed to protect the people rather than terrorize them. The decisions made concerning Beit Hashalom were not based upon justice, rather upon pure judicial terror.
The writer is spokesman of the Jewish community of Hebron.
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