Right-wing hecklers break up Meretz Hebron tour

Tensions soar as Meretz, left-wing activists interact with settlers, right-wing activists in Hebron.

By
February 26, 2012 22:23
3 minute read.
Meretz activist Gitzin argues with Baruch Marzel

Meretz activist Gitzin argues with Baruch Marzel_390. (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)

 
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“A child was killed here,” yelled out Itamar Ben-Gvir at the three Meretz parliamentarians and activists who toured Hebron on Sunday morning in order to hear first-hand about the hardships of Palestinians living in the section of the city under military rule.

But the tour quickly descended into a screaming match between right-wing and left-wing activists. To drown out the heckling, the Meretz group burst into song.

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Clapping their hands, they walked through the street singing, “We shall overcome,” and “Sing a song of peace, don’t whisper a prayer.”

“Arabs and Jews do not have to be enemies,” they called out, as Hebron settlers at times chanted that extremist Rabbi Meir Kahana “was right” and played traditional Israeli music.

The tour began quietly with a visit in the Kiryat Arba settlement to the grave of Baruch Goldstein, who on February 25, 1995, killed 29 Palestinian worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The trouble started when the group got off their bus in Hebron on Shuhada Street.

Meretz party leader Zehava Gal-On explained that the trip was organized to protest the Education Ministry decision to bar Breaking the Silence from leading school trips to Hebron.

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The group, which is made up of former soldiers who served in Hebron, opposes Israel’s military rule of a portion of the city.

“We respect the work of Breaking the Silence and believe that pupils should have the right to learn from them,” she said. “They shouldn’t only have the settlers’ narrative.”

Gal-On also lashed out at the Hebron Jewish community.

“This is a group that does not recognize the rule of law,” she said.

“It should have been evacuated years ago,” Gal-On added.

Even as she spoke, a small number of settlers, including Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, surrounded them and began to shout at them.

“Why don’t you go to Haifa?,” asked Ben- Gvir referencing the soldiers who were assaulted there on Friday.

“The soldiers there are waiting for you,” he said.

Ben-Gvir also yelled out that Arabs had killed Jews in this city.

One Meretz activist cried out in response, “You were a partner in the murder of [former prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin.”

Meretz activist Mickey Gitzen shouted out, “You support Goldstein.”

Ben-Gvir said, “Why don’t we hear your voices when Arabs throw stones at Jews?” Marzel said that Jewish history in the city dated back to the Bible when Abraham purchased the Cave of the Patriarchs.

In one heated exchange with Marzel, Meretz party secretary-general Dror Moorage yelled, “You are a criminal.”

Pointing his finger at him as he screamed, he said, “You are a terrorist. You are a dangerous man.”

At several points in the hour-long event, police tried to distance the settlers.

Marzel yelled out, “We have a right to freedom of expression.”

He added that Jews were not allowed in the area of the city under Palestinian control.

“This is apartheid,” he said.

At times, however, settlers did reach out to the activists.

“Does someone here want to drink?” asked Hebron resident Ofer Ohana as he held up a tray of paper cups filled with soda.

He explained that he wanted to make sure the Meretz group felt that the Hebron residents have been hospitable to them.

A few activists took him up on the offer.

But one grabbed a cup only to throw the soda in his direction.

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