Monday, July 22, 2019

The myth and fantasy of Hebron’s Shuhada Street - by Steve Frank

Like the rest of the Palestinian narrative, the myth of an apartheid Shuhada Street is grounded in misrepresentations, omissions and facts taken out of context.

Steve Frank..
21 July '19..

Shuhada Street is a half-mile long road in the Palestinian city of Hebron in Israel’s West Bank. It was once the thriving market center of the city, frequented by Palestinians and Israelis daily. Today it is a virtual ghost town, largely shut down by the Israeli military for security reasons. It has become central to the Palestinian narrative and the symbol of an alleged Israeli apartheid that underlies the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel.

Why Shuhada Street was closed, how the commercial center of Hebron has moved less than a mile from the now abandoned Shuhada Street and become a thriving market district seldom if ever visited by outsiders, and a place where Jews (not just Israelis, but Jews from any country) are banned is a story seldom told in full. It represents the true story of “apartheid” in Hebron. I visited the city last week and expose the myth of Shuhada Street for the first time here.

The Jewish connection to Hebron dates back almost 4,000 years to when Abraham, the father of Judaism, came to the Land of Israel and settled in the city. Abraham purchased a plot of land, known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, as a burial plot. The site is considered to be the final resting place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish religion. It is also said that King David was anointed king in Hebron and that Hebron was the first capital of Israel, until it was moved to Jerusalem.

As a result of this historic significance, Jews have prayed in Hebron since biblical times, and with a few interruptions have lived there continuously. Hebron is considered to be the second holiest city for Jews after Jerusalem.

Hebron has a long and complicated history, having been conquered by many invading peoples, including the Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, Muslim Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Mamelukes and the British. Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Hebron was captured and occupied by the Jordanian Arab Legion. During the Jordanian occupation, which lasted for 20 years, until 1967, Jews were not permitted to live in the city, nor to visit or pray at the Jewish holy sites in the city. No one complained of “apartheid.”

(Continue to Full Column)

Steve Frank is an attorney, retired after a 30-year career as an appellate lawyer with the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Mr. Frank’s writings on Israel, the law and architecture have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel, and Moment Magazine.

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