For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
When the Israeli cabinet announced the other day that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, would be included in a list of Israeli “heritage” sites, it touched off a wave of Palestinian violence and threats—along with diplomatic protests that were all too concordant with the Palestinian bullying.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has launched the “heritage” program as a way of strengthening Israelis’ connection with their Jewish and Zionist roots, initially left the two West Bank sites (though other West Bank sites were included) off the list, apparently fearing various kinds of fallout. Netanyahu was only persuaded to include them at the last minute by Shas, a religious party that is part of his coalition.
Sure enough, the West Bank heated up with an increase in rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli vehicles, and, particularly, daily disturbances in Hebron, where crowds of Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks and bottles at Israeli soldiers. By Sunday the disturbances had spread to Jerusalem.
On the verbal plane a spokesman for the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad terror organization declared that “If the Israelis continue to damage our mosques and holy places, we will respond [i.e., mount terror attacks] within the Zionist territory”—alluding to the fact that the Cave of the Patriarchs is a compound with a mosque as well as a synagogue, while Rachel’s Tomb has recently been claimed to be a mosque as well. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas prime minister in Gaza, piped up with “Jerusalem is ours, the land is ours, and God is with us. We will not accept these decisions….” And Mahmoud Abbas, president of the official, West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and considered secular and a moderate, was hardly more moderate in his reaction, calling the decision to add the two sites to the heritage list “a serious provocation which may lead to a religious war.”
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"