Saturday, April 25, 1998


April 25, 1999

On March 25, 1999 Minister of Transporation Shaul Yahalom sent a letter to Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein, at which time he posed the following questions:
1.                 According to the Chief Army Prosecutor, criminal charges against palestinians will be filed only if it is in the public interest. “Public interest will be defined in accordance with policy regulations as determined by the IDF commander in the area, the chief army prosecutor…”
Please notify me as to the policy regulations concerning the closing of cases against Palestinian lawbreakers.

2.                 According to the same above-quoted document, the prosecution will not indict any Palestinian minors under the age of fourteen excepting unusual cases dealing with causal of death or similar crimes of a special seriousness.”
To the best of my knowledge Jewish minors are arrested in Judea, Samaria, and Gazza for crimes not considered to be serious, and are indicted on a regular basis. For example, an indictment was presented against Akiva Lebovitch of Hebron for “improper behaviour.”
How can you justify this discrimination in which the rules of law enforcement against Jewish minors is much stricter than that practiced against Palestinian lawbreakers?

3.                 According to the above-quoted document, if all are to be considered equal under the law, why is it necessary to obtain a special permit from the chief army prosecutor in order to indict a suspected Palestinian who has a “public position?”
4.                 According to the above-quoted document, the chief army prosecutor has determined that a Palestinian minor under the age of sixteen will not be arrested without obtaining a permit from the Judea and Samaria prosecutor’s office. Does this same rule apply to Jewish minors? As far as I know, it does not.

The difficult conclusions I reach is that the law enforcement policies in Judea, Samaria and Gazza are selective: more law enforcement against Jews and less against Palestinians. Unfortunately, I reach the conclusion that there is no equality before the law in Judea, Samaria and Gazza. This taints the settlers and endangers their lives. To a greater degree, this is liable to cause damage to the public faith in the law enforcement bodies, faith which is the soul of our democratic system.

Sunday, April 19, 1998

Tranquility Mixed with Blood

Tranquility Mixed with Blood 
April 19, 1998

Dovi Dribin wasn't a friend of mine. I don't remember ever even speaking with him. But he was a familiar sight in Kiryat Arba for many years. He was hard to miss - a big fellow, tall and muscular. And he was quite conspicuous - more often than not he was sitting atop a huge horse, prancing through the streets.
Dovi Dribin's father Eddie is described by many as a 'cowboy.' A gruff-looking man, he preceded his son on horseback. To the best of my recollection, he came to Israel in the 1950's after serving in the US army in the Korean War. He was employed for many years in security-related jobs. He moved to Kiryat Arba in the early 1970's, not long after the establishment of the community.
Dovi Dribin married Adi, a strong-willed woman, a couple of years older than himself. Together they had four children - four boys. The oldest is seven and a half. The youngest, less than a year old. The five year old, Nir, suffers from cerebral palsy. His legs don't work. But his head does. One of the speakers at the funeral told how he sat with Nir in the Maon community sandbox earlier today. Nir started telling him Bible stories, focussing around King David. He related the story of David and Goliath, and told how David had wandered in the same fields, near his own house, trying to escape King Saul. When asked who had taught him these stories, Nir answered: "My father, when we would ride together on his big horse, through the fields."
Two years ago Dovi and Adi moved to Maon, a small agricultural community about 20 minutes south of Hebron. Maon's 40 families work fields, milk cows, grow fruit, and raise children. An overwhelming majority of Maon's residents are children. The total population is somewhere over 200. Adi Dribin, aside from child-raising and fully participating in her husband's activities, works in the community's nursery school.
Dovi Dribin wasn't your normal kind of guy, who could live just like everyone else. Not too long after the family moved to Maon they requested to live on the outskirts of the community, in a house separated from the others. Dovi liked the feeling of openness - and didn't like to be crowded in. From his new dwelling, Dovi could look around him and see fields and hills. The view is breathtaking. The air is clean and the fragrances on a spring day, like today, are something out of the Garden of Eden.
Eighteen months ago Dovi, and two of his friends, Yehoshefat Tur, nicknamed Fetti, and Efraim (Effi) Pearl, started a small agricultural farm on a hilltop, a few kilometers from Dovi's house. They spent much of their time here, working the land. The hilltop is located within the municipal boundary of the Maon community.
Several weeks ago the men were attacked by Arabs. Fetti Tur shot his pistol in the air, to chase away the attackers. Hebron police later arrested him, confiscated his gun, and charged him with shooting in a 'populated area.' Only a few days ago was the weapon returned and the charges dropped.
Last week Dovi Dribin filed charges with the Hebron police against Arabs in the vicinity. He reported that they were harassing him and had threatened to kill him. It seems that the police ignored his complaint. This morning, eight to ten Arabs ambushed him. When he arrived at the farm they started pelting him with rocks and hitting him with clubs. Fetti Tur, ran to his friend's aid. Again he tried to shoot in the air, to chase away the attackers. However this time he was overcome and his gun taken from him. The Arabs used this gun to shoot five bullets into Dovi Dribin - through his heart and into his head.
Effi Pearl, hearing the noise, came running. He too was hit with rocks and clubs. The murderers escaped. A suspect was later apprehended.
When I heard that Dovi was to be buried in the Sussia regional cemetery, not far from Maon, I was surprised. Dovi lived most of his life in Kiryat Arba and it seemed fitting that he should be laid to rest in Hebron. But when I arrived at the cemetery, along with the thousands of others who accompanied Dovi on his final journey through his beloved fields and hills, I finally understood. The small graveyard is ensconced in the spacious tranquility Dovi Dribin so cherished. The green fields, the wavy hills, the blue sky - tranquility mixed together with Dovi Dribin's blood. And soaked with tears.

Thursday, April 16, 1998

150,000 - In The Right Direction

150,000 - In The Right Direction
April 16, 1998

This week somewhere in the vicinity of 150,000 Jews visited
Hebron. Yes, ONE HUNDRED FIFY THOUSAND. Over 80,000 arrived
for the Jubilee festival on Sunday, celebrating Israel's 50th
Independence Day and The Jewish Community of Hebron's 30th
anniversary. But the crowds didn't stop then. Monday, Tuesday
and Wednesday witnessed a continuous flow, streaming into
Ma'arat HaMachpela and touring Hebron's neighborhoods and
sites. Needless to say, it really was an amazing week.

I would like to share with you some of the special moments I

The first was the sight of Hebron decked out in Israeli flags.
From the entrance to the city, all the way up to Tel Rumeida,
blue and white filled the air. Thirty-two years ago, this was
more than a dream. It was fantasy. Yet today it is reality.
True, more than once during the week Arabs ripped down some of
the flags, stomped on them, and even burning some of them.
This is their way of saying, "we want to stamp out The Jewish
Community of Hebron and State of Israel." This week, Am
Yisrael again answered: "You can walk all over a piece of
cloth or plastic, but you cannot walk all over us."

On Sunday a reporter asked me for my reaction to all the
'settlers' visiting the city. I heard the same terminology on
the radio - 'settlers' coming to Hebron. I find this to be
very special because many many of those arriving came from Tel
Aviv, Haifa, Ranana, Beer Sheva, and other cities in Israel.
In other words, people coming from anywhere in Israel are
automatically 'settlers' if they visit or support Hebron's
Jewish presence. Judging from the results of the last
elections, well over 60% of Israel's Jewish population are

The most emotional moment for me took place in the midst of
the festival program on the huge stage, next to Ma'arat
HaMachpela. Children from Hebron and Kiryat Arba participated
in a play called 'Passing the Torch - The History of Hebron.'
Beginning 3,700 years ago the children acted out Hebron's
illustrious and moving past. They passed a paper torch from
one to the other. Each child represented a time in history -
the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, King David, through to today.
At one point all the children on stage turned their backs to
the audience and lowered the torch - for it had extinguished.
From 1936 to 1967 Hebron's light was doused. But then, a man
in an IDF uniform appeared - Rav Shlomo Goren - the first Jew
to freely enter Ma'arat HaMachpela in 700 years. The last
figure to emerge was a tall, thin, bearded man - responsible
for rekindling Hebron's torch - Rav Moshe Levinger, father of
modern Hebron.

Watching these children was so emotional, not just because
they acted out Hebron's history, but because they are making
Hebron's history. They are not just passing the torch - they
are holding today's torch. Without their courage and
persistence Hebron's light would long ago have snuffed out.
During the Gulf War children from the Tel-Aviv area came to
Kiryat Arba and Hebron, fleeing Saddam Hussein's missiles.
Hebron's children have had to live with rocks, firebombs,
bullets, hostile police, etc. etc. - yet they keep holding the
torch high, for all to see, for all to feel, for all to
experience. They are quite literally on the stage of Jewish
history. Perhaps 70 years from now, when Hebron's Jewish
citizens celebrate the 100th anniversary of our return to
Hebron, these children will be represented in a play, as those
responsible for Hebron's continued Jewish presence.

One other event - Seeing Dedi Graucher sing anywhere is an
experience. Watching him sing 'Hebron, Ir HaAvot' (Hebron-City
of our Forefathers) in front of Ma'arat HaMachpela is really
special. But the best moment was when he previewed his new
song - which expresses in music all our thoughts: Lo lo lo, lo
nazuz mi po, shelanu Eretz Yisrael - NO - NO - NO -WE WILL

Shalom Achshav - Peace Now, tried to keep the throngs from
Hebron. On Sunday they closed the Jerusalem-Hebron road for
almost three hours- but in the end they didn't succeed -
because they cannot succeed. No one will succeed in cutting
Hebron off from the Jewish People. This week 150,000 helped
us show all the Jewish people and the rest of the world that
we are moving in the right direction. Our past is also our
future - and our roots will continue to provide our
nourishment. That is why we say: Hebron- Past, Present and
Forever. Chag Sameach.

Friday, April 10, 1998

Thirty Years Ago - On A Silver Platter

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever by David Wilder Thirty Years Ago - On A Silver Platter
April 10, 1998
14 Nisan 5758

Wanted: Families or singles
to resettle ancient city of Hebron
For details contact Rabbi M. Levinger

This unassuming newspaper advertisement captured the attention
of many Israelis in 1968. The euphoria of the Six Day War had
subsided, Judea and Samaria were in Jewish hands, and yet, no
Jews had made their homes this area. Rabbi Moshe Levinger and
a group of like-minded individuals determined that the time
had come to return home to the newly liberated heartland of
Eretz Yisrael.

As their first goal, the group decided to renew the Jewish
presence in the Jewish People's most ancient city, Hebron.
Word of the decision spread quickly and soon a nucleus of
families was formed. Their objective: to spend Pesach in
Hebron's Park Hotel. Hebron's Arab hotel owners had fallen on
hard times. For years they had served the Jordanian
aristocracy who would visit regularly to enjoy Hebron's cool
dry air. The Six Day War forced the vacationers to change
their travel plans. As a result, the Park Hotel's Arab owners
were delighted to accept the cash-filled envelope which Rabbi
Levinger placed on the front desk. In exchange, they agreed to
rent the hotel to an unlimited amount of people for an
unspecified period of time.

The morning of Erev Pesach, April, 1968 saw the Levinger
family along with families from Israel's north, south and
center packed their belongings for Hebron. They quickly
cleaned and kashered the half of the hotel's kitchen allotted
to them and began to settle in. Women and children slept three
to a bed in the hotel rooms, while the men found sleeping
space on the lobby floor. At least Ya'akov Avinu had a rock to
place under his head, remembered one of the men in dismay.

Eighty-eight people celebrated Pesach Seder that night in the
heart of Hebron. "We sensed that we had made an historical
breakthrough", recalls Miriam Levinger, "and we all felt
deeply moved and excited".

Two days later, Rabbi Levinger announced to the media that the
group intended to remain in Hebron. Dignitaries, Knesset
members and Israelis from far and near streamed to the Park
Hotel to encourage the pioneers.

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was anxious to remove the
pioneers from the hotel. He suggested that they move to the
military compound overlooking Hebron. A heated debate ensued.
There were those who felt that moving to the compound would in
effect, strangle the project. Others saw in Dayan's suggestion
official recognition, albeit de facto, of their goal.

Six weeks later, the pioneers moved to the military compound.
Rabbi Levinger insisted on accommodations for 120 people even
though they numbered less than half at that time. Rabbi
Levinger was accused of being an unrealistic dreamer. Within a
few short weeks however, he was proven correct. The 120 places
in the military compound could not accommodate the hundreds of
people who wanted to be part of the renewed of Jewish life in
Hebron, city of the Patriarchs.

"We received Eretz Yisrael on a silver platter in 1967",
explained Miriam Levinger. "It was an honor and a privilege to
be among the first people to make the dream of return a

In Hebrew, the number 30 is represented by the
letter Lamed, equalling thirty. "Lamed" is composed of three
letters, which also form the root of the Hebrew word which
means to learn, (Lilmode) and to teach (lilamed).

Over the past 30 years we have had to do much learning. Since
the elation of the miracles of the Six-Day War we have
undergone a tremendous amount, much too much to enumerate
here. When we will be able to look at this time period in the
perspective of history, perhaps the most important and
miraculous event was the modern recurrence of the exodus from
Egypt - that being the arrival of our brothers and sisters
from the late Soviet Union. This was truly an emergence from
darkness and slavery into light and freedom. As we say tonight
at the beginning of the Hagadda - 'in the beginning, shame
and in the end, praise.

Present day Israel is still in a learning phase - a stage in
an identity crisis plaguing us for many years. We have come
home from a two thousand year Galut, but we still haven't been
able to, as a nation, determine, or perhaps admit, who we are.
Those ancient Israelites needed 40 years in the desert to
eradicate the impurities of 210 years in Egypt. The
contamination of a 2,000 year old Diaspora undoubtedly takes
time to purify.

Thirty years ago we began a new level in our national
rediscovey - we returned to the foundations of our existence -
we came home to Hebron and Jerusalem. There are those who
still don't understand the significance of this event - but
eventually they will - that is assured.

When we say, twice a day, Shema Yisrael, the last letter of
the first word, Shema (Ain) and the last letter of the last
word, Echad (Dalet) are enlarged. Together, these letters
spell the word Aed - meaning witness. The numerical value of
Aed is 74. The Hebrew letter Lamed, when spelled out - Lamed,
Mem, Dalet - (Lamed = 30, Mem = 40, Dalet=4) 74, is the
equivalent of Aed = witness = seventy four.

Each and every one of you can find significance in this - I
will give you my short interpretation: Our thirty years in
Hebron and Jerusalem bears witness to the well known phrase -
"Netzach Yisrael lo Yishaker" - "The Eternal Israel cannot be
falsified." In 1967 the Israeli government pleaded with King
Hussein of Jordan not to get involved in the Six-Day War.
Hussein ignored them and started bombing Jerusalem. As a
result, Israel 'had no choice' but to return to East
Jerusalem, Hebron, and the rest of Judea and Samaria - the
heart of the Land of Israel.

Our comprehension of this is equivalent to our saying "Shema
Yisrael" - which is our acceptance of G-d and His Will.

On Sunday, we will celebrate, together with tens of thousands,
our 50th Independence Day and the 30th anniversary of the
renewal of Hebron's Jewish Community. From darkness to light -
so it was, and so it will be. It isn't a chance occurrence the
first major Independence Day celebration, sponsored by the
official Jubilee Committee, is taking place in the first
Jewish city in Israel, in the first city in Judea and Samaria
to be resettled following the Six Day War. Nothing could be
more appropriate. I'm sure that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs,
together with the generations of "Netzach Yisrael" will be
there too, celebrating with us in spirit - celebrating our
true national identify, on our national birthday. In Hebron we
have learned, and we are also trying to teach, by means of
example, the real value of being a free people, in our land.
For this is our true identity. With G-d's continued help, our
success will be the success of all Israel.

Chag Sameach - Happy Passover.
(The first part of this article was written a number of years
ago by someone in Hebron. It mirrors the account by Rabbinit
Miriam Levinger, videoed and available to all viewers on the
Hebron Web Site.)