So, for some unknown reason, I am on the email list of the “Jewish community of Hebron”. As a result of this good fortune I receive an email two or three times a week from David Wilder, the spokesperson of the community. This morning my inbox brought me Mr. Wilder’s response to Nicholas Kristof’s column in today’s New York Times (mentioned here). I won’t rehearse Wilder’s “arguments” (which seem to consist of repeating a version of “x is exaggerated” or “y is a fairy tale”) which are available here.
The telling thing about his response is his opening paragraph:
Nicholas D. Kristof called me a few days ago and we spoke for a while on the phone. Obviously he visited Hebron, but did not see fit to interview me at the time, preferring a phone conversation. That fact, in and of itself, is unfortunate, for had he spent some time with me on site, seeing Hebron through Jewish-Israeli eyes also, perhaps his column would have been written differently.
“Seeing Hebron through Jewish-Israeli eyes.” Since Kristof seems to have spent time with many apparently Jewish Israelis, it seems that Wilder does not consider people who care about Palestinian human rights, or who work for or with B’Tzelem, or who volunteer at checkpoints to help Palestinians to be Jewish-Israelis.
This brings to mind a Shabbat I spent in Hebron in the mid-80s. It was pre-first Intifada Hebron and therefore Jewish settlers could swagger through the Arab markets brandishing AK-47s with impunity. I spent Friday night with the Levingers. Over Shabbat dinner, Moshe Levinger told us that Israel should, in fact, invade Jordan since it was Eretz Yisrael but that the time was not right. This was just a few years before he was arrested and convicted of shooting towards shops in the Arab market at random, killing Khayed Salah, a 42 year old Hebron shopkeeper, after Palestinians threw stones at his car.
The Jewish settlers in Hebron have created a religion which is foreign to the traditions of our ancestors. The open question is, as Jeffrey Goldberg asked in an important 2004 New Yorker piece, will they destroy Israel?