What's at stake in Hebron

Observant Jews have no problem obeying the law, if we're not forced to transgress our beliefs.

masked settler hebron 88 (photo credit: )
masked settler hebron 88
(photo credit: )
On January 19, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, quoted in Haaretz, "warned that 'the conflict between settlers and the government is a struggle for supremacy.'" Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "declared war on law-breaking settlers in the West Bank… and described illegal acts by settlers as 'the undermining of the rule of law.'" What is the cause of such blatant demagoguery? Hebron's Jewish community has come under fierce attack due to disturbances in the city a week ago. How did Hebron's leadership relate this turbulence and the youth involved? Quite simply, these youth are neither hoodlums or hooligans. Rather, they are some of the most ideologically motivated people in Israel today. These young people are true lovers of their land, of Eretz Yisrael. They are still crying the pain of expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria. Their hearts are still bleeding for our land abandoned to our enemies. They hurt the hurt of thousands of homeless Jews, who committed no crime but to live in Gush Katif. These youth want to prevent more expulsions, here in Hebron, in Amona, and in other places throughout Judea and Samaria. Enough is enough! No more expulsions, no more homeless, no more abandoned Jewish property. Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael, the Jewish people. AND WHAT about the excessiveness, the seeming violence? Sixteen-year-olds don't react the same way as 50-year-olds. Sometimes the reactions are exaggerated, but then again, remember what they are struggling for. Is ideological motivation a "struggle for supremacy"? Clearly, all honest people must be able to live with themselves, with their actions and their conscience. True Jewish ideology has it roots in an eternal Torah, which has existed, not for 50 years, but for thousands of years. This Torah, as David Ben-Gurion told the Peel Commission, is the justification for our national existence in Eretz Yisrael. Religiously observant Jews have no problem obeying the law of the land, as long as that law does not force them to overtly transgress their beliefs. Should the Knesset pass a law demanding that one meal a day must include pork, or that Shabbat must be desecrated by each and every Israeli citizen, of course it would not be heeded. Eretz Yisrael is no different. Chopping up our land, or demanding that it be abandoned is certainly no less serious than eating treif meat. Why is one publicly acceptable and the other decried? The present conflict has nothing to do with law and order, or governmental sovereignty. Rather, it is entirely political. An unwritten law of Israeli society requires that preceding elections, or during the rule of a transitional government, major national actions and decisions should be postponed. For example, despite Shimon Peres's signing of the Hebron Accords in 1996, he refrained from implementing them due to upcoming elections. In January 2001 then-attorney general Elyakim Rubenstein, publicly scolded prime minister Ehud Barak: "An election-eve agreement with the Palestinians should be such that it does not raise even the suspicion that it was subject to time-related considerations - namely, election considerations. Thus, great care and constant awareness of these suspicions is required, and even more so in the case of a minority government whose prime minister has resigned." Currently, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has ordered the justice minister to refrain from convening a special panel to appoint Supreme Court judges, due to the upcoming election. He has even gone so far as to disallow new appointees to the Kiryat Ono religious council, because of the impending election. WITH REGARD to the contested housing in the market stalls area, Hebron's Jewish leadership has been in constant communication with officials in various government offices in an attempt to reach a suitable agreement, satisfactory to all involved. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and senior officers in the IDF are clearly in favor of a negotiated settlement, as opposed to a forced expulsion. The government has already expressed a willingness to rent the structures in question to Hebron Jewish residents. This being the case, we can only ask, why the hurry? Why not allow the process to be completed, without eviction scenes on Israeli and world television. And should, God forbid, the attempts to reach an agreement fail, the opportunity to evict us will still remain a viable option. In January 2003, then-Jerusalem mayor Olmert issued a 166-page book, together with Dore Gold, called Illegal Construction in Jerusalem, which enumerated over 6,000 instances of illegal Arab building in the capital. The conclusion declared: "Illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions." Yet, an overwhelming majority of those illegal structures are still standing. Why then is there such an urgency to forcibly remove nine families in Hebron and destroy nine buildings in Amona, when so many other illegal structures are being overlooked? The answer, it seems, is that Acting Prime Minister Olmert has undertaken to use Hebron and Amona as a means to politically prove his worth: "I too know how to throw Jews out of their homes, whatever the cost." The real question is: are we dealing with the rule of law and order, or an attempt to usurp political power for political purposes? The writer is spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron.