(photo credit: Btselem)
That woman, the one who it turns out is named Yifat Alkobi, the Jewish woman that confronted, cursed, spat on and threatened her Arab neighbor in Hebron, she who is imprisoned in her own home, seemed somehow familiar to me.
Gradually, from the cobwebs of my childhood memories, I dredged up the image of a Hungarian neighbor in Novi Sad, who used to stand at the entrance to her home and curse us every time we went into the street - just like Yifat Alkobi.
When we decide, and rightly so, to never under any circumstances compare the behavior of Jews to that of Nazis, we are forgetting that anti-Semitism only reached its height at Auschwitz. It had existed, was active, frightening, harmful and disgusting - exactly like Alkobi's image - in the years that preceded Auschwitz too. And behind shuttered windows hid terrified Jewish women, exactly like the Arab woman of the Abu-Isha family in Hebron.
It is unthinkable that the memory of Auschwitz should serve as a pretext to ignore the fact that living here among us are Jews that behave toward Palestinians exactly the way that German, Hungarian, Polish and other anti-Semites behaved toward Jews.
I am not referring to crematoria or pogroms, but rather to the persecution, hounding, stone-throwing, undermining of livelihood, scare tactics, spitting and contempt.
It was all of these things that made our lives in the Diaspora so bitter and harrowing, even before they began the wholesale killing of Jews. I was afraid to go to school because little anti-Semites lay in wait on the way and beat us. In what way is a Palestinian child in Hebron any different?
EVEN THOSE that justify the occupation for ideological or religious reasons - or perhaps especially those that seek to justify the occupation - should be ashamed, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said of himself, when seeing these pictures. We all bear responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinians, but it would not have been possible to establish a Jewish state without causing them some harm.
But there is no reason or justification for the thuggery of the kind demonstrated time after time by the residents of the Jewish settlement in Hebron toward their Arab neighbors.
The settlement of Jews in Hebron is the original sin. Now, they are adding insult to injury. And at best, we, the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel say, "Tsk, tsk, tsk."
We forget that this hounding of the Palestinian neighbors in Hebron happens not only at the moment we see it on television, but rather day after day, every day of the year (with the exception of Yom Kippur). The truth is that I too only pipe up occasionally and pay lip service by means of articles such as this. Even worse: I reacted with silence to this when I was justice minister too. We left the task of protest to the extreme leftist groups, who provoke well-deserved loathing from us all other days of the year.
We are familiar with the excuse of "We didn't know." So, for the record: We do know.
We will never be able to forgive ourselves - our consciences won't let us - and neither will our children if we do not make our army and police put an end to the Jewish barbarism in Hebron.
The writer is a former MK.