...Many people have asked what a few Jews are doing among a sea of Muslims in Hebron. The unequivocal answer to that question: What are 7 million Israelis doing among hundreds of millions of Muslims? When the Jews understand that the connection of our nation to eternity passes through Hebron, among other places, then the Arabs will also understand that the Jews are not Crusaders who arrive only to leave again.
18 March '14..
At a cafe in Hebron last week I met Musa, the son of an established trade family which conducted business first under the Ottomans, then under the British, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In broken Hebrew, he said that politicians do not make peace, people do.
The peace of politicians, he said, is paper, while peace between peoples is concrete. To prove his theory, he pointed out a young boy playing on the street whose legs had been saved from necrosis at an Israeli hospital. None of this boy's family members could be convinced that Jews are bad people, he explained. I caught sight of a tear in the corner of his eye.
He reserved his most scathing comments for the Palestinian Authority. According to Musa, PA officials are far more corrupt than those under the Ottomans, to whom his grandfather used to pay baksheesh. PA officials only worry about their own good and stuff their pockets with the U.S.'s and the EU's generous aid money, secreting the funds earmarked for Hebron's residents, he said.
Musa said the amount of trade, industry and commerce between Israel and Hebron amounts to about 5 billion shekels per year ($1.45 billion), a huge amount for a city with a population about the size of Ramat Gan. The plastic, mattress and oil industries have flourished. A whole new generation of new money has developed in Hebron. Such individuals understand that the commotion over a Palestinian state is a false vision, because they never had a Palestinian state of their own, and they never will. The young generation wants to live well, visit Hebron's new malls, enjoy its sprawling estates and conduct business quietly. Toward the end of our meeting, Musa said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ought to meet with him so he could give him a few pointers on how to make peace between people in the region.
After the conversation with Musa, we -- Noam Arnon, one of the leaders of the Hebron Jewish community, and myself -- made our way to the Cave of the Patriarchs, an impressive structure built thousands of years ago over a small burial cave in which our nation's forefathers and foremothers were interred. A cave that was purchased at full price. A large group of visitors from the Jewish settlement area filled the prayer space nestled between the markings separating the graves, men and women who came for a few minutes to connect with the Israeli nation's historical inheritance and to share the secret of the nation's eternal survival.
For thousands of years it was possible to cut the Jewish people off from the Cave of the Patriarchs, but it was never possible to cut the cave from the Jewish heart. Every year, a million people visit the Cave of the Patriarchs, Jews and non-Jews alike. At a stall just outside the building, one can find tourist pamphlets in a number of languages, including Japanese and Chinese.
Many people have asked what a few Jews are doing among a sea of Muslims in Hebron. The unequivocal answer to that question: What are 7 million Israelis doing among hundreds of millions of Muslims? When the Jews understand that the connection of our nation to eternity passes through Hebron, among other places, then the Arabs will also understand that the Jews are not Crusaders who arrive only to leave again.
Only then can we move toward making peace between people. Meanwhile, we must build everywhere -- in the cities and villages, on the mountains and in the valleys -- an iron wall of Jerusalem stone to ensure the return of Zion.