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Jews of Hebron: You Can’t Make Me Shed A Tear

Last week, the IDF and Israeli police forces forcefully removed settlers from Beit HaShalom, a disputed home in Hebron. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the story is the same as usual– the Jews claim that they bought … Read More

By / December 9, 2008

Last week, the IDF and Israeli police forces forcefully removed settlers from Beit HaShalom, a disputed home in Hebron. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the story is the same as usual– the Jews claim that they bought the home legally and Palestinians dispute the claim. The court sided with the Palestinians and the settlers were forcefully removed. As Jeffrey Goldberg reminded us in his recent post, the event was marked by extremism on part of the settlers.

Well, some of the settlers. Despite what the media may have you thinking, the small group of young people that carried out these heinous, inexcusable attacks on Palestinian people and their property, in addition to vicious attacks against the IDF soldiers carrying out the evacuation, do not come close to representing the actions of the majority of the Jews in Hebron. Regardless, even if the community rabbis warned settlers that they must protest peacefully, some people didn’t adhere to that advice. What happened in Hebron was a tragedy on more than one level, and it illustrates the mixed feelings that the settlements bring about for Jews in Israel, myself included.

The day before the pullout began, the IDF declared Beit HaShalom a closed military zone. The evacuation seemed imminent and I was fuming. I’d heard this story before, and I was disgusted with the court for its ruling based on a general rejection of the settlements and a denial of their legitimacy. I sat on my bed, in uniform, wondering what to do. I didn’t want to be a part of the IDF on a day in which they removed Jews from a home that they’d purchased– something that I’d naively hoped would never happen again in the Jewish State. Suffice it to say that I didn’t perform my duties in the army during this time and I can confidently say that I did not in any way assist the IDF during this operation. Strangely enough, I’m not feeling content.

Given my feelings about so-called ‘disengagement’, you’d think that I’d be proud of, or at least satisfied with, my actions. It’s not so simple. I don’t doubt my principles related to the settlements, but reading about young extremists and seeing masked Jews looking like members of Islamic Jihad takes its toll. My commitment to the land is unwavering, but it’s a separate issue. I don’t feel strongly for the community of people that allows violence like this to take place. I could almost cry for the settlers that peacefully protested and watched their Jewish brothers and sisters forcefully remove their friends and family– except for the fact that their condemnation of the violent extremism isn’t loud enough. Sure, a few important rabbis have condemned the attacks and I’m thankful for that– but where are the protestors? Why aren’t the residents of Hebron bullying their violent community members like they tried to bully the soldiers that carried out the evacuation?

They aren’t protesting because deep down, they aren’t ready to make the statement that violence targeting the innocent is unjust, even when one is certain that his ideology and his claims are morally sound. My political views aside, until they’re ready to make that statement, I won’t feel much for the residents of Hebron. We don’t have much in common, and our respective visions of what it means to be a state held to the standard of Jewish values can’t coexist.

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