Hebron, Area H2 (guest post)

This post is by guest contributor Shira Levine.
Below is a reflection I wrote after traveling last Friday to area H2 of Hebron, the twenty percent of the city that is under direct Israeli control. I toured with Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israelis who served as soldiers in Hebron and are aiming to educate the public on the reality of the situation.
The most frightening part of the area of Hebron that is under Israeli control is the totality of the tragedy – the complete emptiness which serves as evidence that you can erase a presence with enough guns and padlocks. But there are still Palestinians there. On the few streets that Palestinians are allowed to walk on, they walk with trepidation – brief encounters with a soldier who asks you on the street to open your jacket and show that you’re not wearing a bomb belt must happen countless time a day for the few residents who stayed in this part of the city. The soldier gestures and it’s clear to the pedestrian what he wants. And in the space between the houses that have not been abandoned, or where residents have not been driven out, you see a young women step out to empty trash. She’s wearing a bed sheet as a headscarf. It’s surprising to see her here. It’s surprising that anyone is left. Palestinians in Hebron seem to live with a low profile, clinging to their houses. Many of the houses are empty. And all are surrounded by trash. Much of it is the trash thrown by Jewish settlers onto the houses of Palestinians, with the clear intention of driving out their neighbors. Every Palestinian window is covered with chicken wire to prevent rocks being thrown in from the settlers. Since windows have still been bashed in, some Palestinians have enclosed their homes with metal shutters. How dark is it inside those houses?
The darkness. The day was sunny, but the barrenness cast a deep shadow. Row upon row upon row of locked up shop fronts. Like in abandoned American inner-cities. Only these shops weren’t left voluntarily – different streets have different levels of what our guide described as sterilization. After the Baruch Goldstein massacre in 1994 of Palestinian worshippers, there was a legitimate fear of Palestinian retaliation. As a result, Palestinians were closed in their homes and allowed out only every few days for provisions. Beginning with the meat market, areas of the city began to be emptied and shut. Shop owners there continued paying the rent that, under the complex property laws in Hebron, maintained their right to the land. They were paying rent for stores that were locked up on roads that they still aren’t allowed to walk on. A few settlers have started building in the empty storefronts.
There are no cars, no stores, and even walking is forbidden on the sterilized roads in what used to be a bustling Palestinian city. The former soldiers who give the tours tell horrible confessional stories of the violence and harm that the army did in its efforts to make Hebron a place where 800 Jewish settlers can live.
800 people who don’t want to live with their neighbors. People who send their children to attack Palestinian students returning from school. Videos, filmed by residents with hand held camcorders from the Israeli human rights group Betselem, show pure hatred in fifteen year old settler girls who push down adult Palestinian women teachers. The settlers’ goal is clear. The Palestinians should leave.
The encroaching emptiness has succeeded. Is it possible to stand in the ruins and imagine a restored market place? Is it possible to imagine that children could bring back milk without walking through empty streets and army check points? When you’re there, it feels like the end. 15 years ago, if we’d stood in the market and you’d told me that the army and the settlers together would clear out this section of the city of its Palestinian residents, I couldn’t have believed you. I couldn’t have imagined how strikingly different the place would become. It’s hard to imagine that it still can.

61 thoughts on “Hebron, Area H2 (guest post)

  1. Wow, powerful. The Pals who live in Jewish Hebron really suffer. Wonder how that compares with the condition of Jews who live in Muslim lands -oh, forgot, those Jews have all been murdered or driven out by the Muslims. And wonder how that compares to the Christians who live in Muslim lands – oh forgot, they are all in the process of being murdered or driven out by the Muslims. Wonder how that compares to the Muslims who live in Israel – oh forgot, they have all the civil rights of Jews, are allowed to worship their awful religion, have the right to vote and have their own mk’s, etc. Yeah, let’s have a discussion of who you would rather be – a Muslim in Israel, a Muslim in the West Bank, or a Jew or Christian in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia, or other Muslim land.

  2. cut the crap, PLEASE!
    if some of this is true and even all of it, still, the overly sensational attempted poetry is really too much.
    and, i dont buy this farce, as poetically as you think you may be packaging it.
    this is a small small price to pay for all the crimes they’ve committed against us. and here we hold liable the collective arab community of hebron, even the good ones.

  3. Jacob, and just what am I incorrect about. You can’t be a Jew and be a citizen or Jordan or Saudi Arabia (and probably many other Muslim lands). You can’t wear insignia of any religion other than Islam in Saudi Arabia (and probably many other Muslim lands). The % of Christians in the Pal territory, Egypt and other Muslim lands has been reduced by probably 80% in Muslim lands in the last 50 years – and that’s the result of the the targeting, reviling and murder of Christians in those lands. So I’m obviously not incorrect about how Muslims treats the “other” (the other being all those who are non Muslims).
    And I’m obviously correct about Muslims in Israel having civil rights, electing their own MK’s, etc.
    The above are facts – to deny them means you’re not on that big river in Egypt (for those lacking a humour gene, that’s a joke).
    So let’s not argue objective facts – I’m pointing out real world conditions.
    And isn’t it ironic (and not just in the Alannis version) that those, usually of the left, who preach moral equivalency, all cultures being of equal worth, the honour killers of Islam’s women being owed their cultural due, etc. somehow find only Israel uniquely morally repugnant.
    Dhiminni on, leftists!

  4. The author of the post is an Israeli citizen and therefore, at least in theory, has some tiny amount of influence over what Israel does, whereas she has no influence over what Saudi Arabia does.

  5. incorrect: “Wonder how that compares with the condition of Jews who live in Muslim lands”
    BZ’s alluded to this, but I’ll reiterate. Conditions for Jews in Muslim countries may suck. But, Israel needs to take responsibility for its treatment of Palestinians.
    Whether you think that treatment is appropriate or not is a separate issue.

  6. An IDF Soldier gestures at a Palestinian, and the Palestinian knows that what the soldier wants is to see that there is no concealed bomb.
    Wow, that’s beautiful. There are armies whose soldiers might not be satisfied with that.
    I find the actions of the settlers a bit more disturbing, but given the stated goals of the arab militant factions, it’s hard not to see anything worse than quid-pro-quo in them.
    It would be nice to take the moral high road, but it seems always to lead to golgotha.

  7. Hebron sucks. It really blows goats. It takes 1500 Israeli soldiers stationed nearby to protect a set of apartment buildings of Israelis in the VERY CENTER of 300,000 Arabs in the center of the southern West Bank. In case you’ve not seen Hebron or read the testimonials of former soldiers who describe how insane the settlers are, read it and see the photos here.
    Why is that not the discussion here?
    First, the “they did it first” argument gets us nowhere. Secondly, anybody who says that Palestinians in the southern West Bank in 2007 “deserve it” for Iraqi or Lebanese expulsions of Jews in 1948 or 1967 is someone that has a shallow understanding of justice and the Middle East at large.

  8. Hebron is one of Judaism’ holiest cities; Jews have lived there for millenia until they were massacred by the Muslims in the last century and driven out. We have reclaimed a portion of that city for Jews, who are surrounded by Muslims who would kill them if they could. So is it any wonder that in the Jewish portion of Hebron, Muslims are dealt with with suspicion? The overwrought language of the poster is a demonstration of her emotional state – the Jews are bad, the Pals good. It’s not that the Pals have brought their treatment on themselves as punishment – it’s that the Pal’s by their murderous actions have forced the Israeli’s to take action to protect against murderers. And I don’t understand why anyone, other than fascistic fanatical Muslims, would object to Israeli presence/actions there.

  9. Wait, wait, wait, all this “reclaiming for Jews” is bullshit:
    The soldiers who are assigned to protect the Hebron Jews protest to Jews living in Hebron! Read it all in this article.
    The property of Jews who were driven out of Hebron by the British in ’39 belongs to the descendants of the Hebronite Jews. The Jews living there now are right-wingers from Brooklyn. They’re not related to the Hebronites from ’39. And furthermore, they have no right to any land such as that of the shuk and the cordon closed down around the Jewish compound.

  10. Actually, that above link is to the much more extensive NY Times article about the soldiers of Breaking the Silence.
    This is the article about Hebron descendants, excerpted here:

    “My grandfather was cruelly killed here,” said Rahav, who came to the city Tuesday as part of a tour organized by two left-wing groups, Sons of Abraham and Breaking the Silence.
    Standing on a street lined with the locked metal shutters of Palestinian shops closed by the IDF, Rahav told a gathering crowd that the humanist values she learned from her family are not being enacted in this city where Arabs live under harsh conditions as the result of Jewish settlement.
    “I’m not saying what happen here [in 1929] was right,” she said, “I’m saying that one wrong doesn’t justify another.”

    And again:

    “My roots are in Hebron,” he said. “But just like I don’t want to see the Palestinians return to Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood where I live, I don’t think Jews should live in Hebron.”
    Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence said he helped bring the group of descendants to the city to show that there was no connection between the original community and the present settlement.
    Descendent Shabtai Gold recalled how his grandfather was injured in 1929 and buried under a pile of his friends’ dead bodies. Gold said he doesn’t think the Hebron Jews should leave, but they have to find a way to live in harmony with their Palestinian neighbors.
    His family dreams of returning, he said, but not to a city where Palestinians have no freedom of movement and where the buildings are filled with graffiti that states: “Death to the Arabs.” He was particularly concerned, he said, by acts of violence on the part of settlers in the city against the Palestinians.
    “This way of doing things was not the way of the old community,” Gold said.”What we are saying is don’t use our name to justify the violence.”

  11. But they started it! But they do the same thing! But they are bad guys!
    Do people who make these arguments with regard to the Middle East conflict make the same arguments in their personal lives? I wonder how far I would get in my career or my love life if I continually justified my bad behavior by insisting that there were others who did worse.

  12. I was in Hevron last week, too. There are police and soldiers on every corner. Enormous numbers of them, guarding a mere 800 fanatical settlers who value land over their lives, the lives of their children, and the lives of the Israeli soldiers who guard them. Eight hundred settlers who hate and who teach their children to hate. Eight hundred settlers who’ve magically found a halachic loophole that allows them to throw rocks, act violently against other human beings, and destroy Palestinian hproperty on Shabbat and chagim. Eight hundred settlers who disobey Israeli law time and again, perpetrating violence against both Israelis and Palestinians, and illegally appropriating Palestinian property. (In fact, a number of Hevron’s settlers have been officially labeled as terrorists by the Israeli government and are not allowed to enter Israel proper.) Eight hundred settlers who seem to revere cold-blooded murder. (Baruch Goldstein’s grave calls him a saint, claims that he “gave his life for his country and his Torah,” and declares that he is “naki kapayim uvar leivav.”)
    And yep. The majority of Hevron’s Palestinians are Hamas supporters, and they’re not so moderate. That’s not anyone’s point. Judaism is not a religion of lowest common denominator behavior: “they did it to us, so we can do it to them, especially if we do it just a little bit better.” We are expected to be an or lagoyim, even in the most difficult times. There are much better solutions to this problem than the ones that are in place. If you don’t believe me, go talk to the combat soldiers and officers who served there.
    Incorrect, go take your hate speech, your ad hominem attacks, and your faulty logic elsewhere.

  13. I never understood the relentless efforts of some troubled individuals to help to create new blood libels – against themselves.

  14. Siviyo:
    Do people who make these arguments with regard to the Middle East conflict make the same arguments in their personal lives? I wonder how far I would get in my career or my love life if I continually justified my bad behavior by insisting that there were others who did worse.
    Word. Incorrect, do you have children? When you tell them to stop hitting each other, do they say “Come on, which is worse, me hitting my sister, or Hamas blowing up a cafe?”

  15. War is ugly. Conflict is ugly. Either we have a right to the land or we don’t. I believe we do – which necessitates some ugly actions. I don’t condone unnecessary violence; but it isn’t ugly to fight back to protect your rights. And the descriptive words used to describe the Jewish residents of Hebron are amazing. Just how do you describe Muslim murderers?

  16. As far as I’m concerned, a Jew-less Chevron would just be another typical tragedy of this long long empty war, like the many towns in Canaan that have had their natives (Jew, Arab, & other) driven out, withdrawn, or scared away.
    I worry for the Ma’arat haMachpela, however. Knowing what typically happens to Jewish holy sites under Palestinian control, I wouldn’t be eager to transfer it to the good Hamas-supporters of Arab Chevron.
    It’s tough.
    Any way to bring the settlers back to the Jewish people, and replace them with other Jews who might comport themselves with dignity while safeguarding our access to the Ma’ara? Folks who might make a kiddush-hashem through their insistence on the particular rights of the Jewish people as well as the universal human rights of our neighbors?

  17. And the descriptive words used to describe the Jewish residents of Hebron are amazing. Just how do you describe Muslim murderers?
    I tend to call anyone who murders another human being a “murderer.” You?

  18. chillul who? —
    I’m with you, but I’m skeptical. These folks are beyond crazy, at least the ones I’ve met.
    As for Ma’arat Hamachpela, I suspect it would be treated better than, say, the jewish quarter of the old city, or the Har Hazeitim cemetary, just because it’s holy to Muslims also. It would just be…free of Jews.

  19. And isn’t it ironic that those, usually of the left, who preach moral equivalency, all cultures being of equal worth, … somehow find only Israel uniquely morally repugnant.
    Yes, yes I do. And do you want to know why? Because these are my people, and this is my Torah in whose name they claim to be acting. I don’t have the same vested interest in cleaning up everyone else’s house as I do my own. And, so long as parts of the world community equate Judaism with the State of Israel, it’s in all of our best interest to do what is morally right.
    We can’t claim to know what Hashem wants for us and this land – we have to put our trust in Him, and while doing so treat all people as He would want us to treat them – created B’tselem Elohim, in His image.
    Rebbe Nachman teaches (LM I:282)
    “Know that you must judge all people favorably. This applies even to the worst of people. You must search until you find some little bit of good in them. In that good place inside them, they are not bad! If you can just find this little bit of good and judge them favorably, you really can elevate them and swing the scales of judgment in their favor.”
    How do you think we’re doing?
    This land has thrown us out more than once for improper behavior, and I don’t doubt that it could happen again.
    When Moshaich comes, bimheirah v’yameinu, I’ll be happy to continue the conversation.

  20. Amit, funny, but never once in this discussion has anyone on my side of the argument asked anyone on your side to “shut up”. I’ve never been to Saudi Arabia, but am I allowed to say it’s a hell hole? I should I shut about about that too? I’ve actually found some of the postings on the other side interesting and worthy of consideration (not the overwrought initial posting) – if you have any intellectual honesty and strivings, suggest you discuss ideas/facts and not ask those who disagree with you to “shut up”. If you think we have no right to be in Hebron, that’s an intellectually supportable position; so is saying the cost of being there is too great – ultimately it gets down to a value determination – and part of that judgment is based on the “facts on the ground”. But I would never ask you to “shut up”. I would have thought college graduates were levels above that.

  21. >“There are no cars, no stores, and even walking is forbidden on the sterilized roads in what used to be a bustling Palestinian city.”
    Huh? There are at least 130,000 people in Hebron plus a university. Have they all evaporated???

  22. No, they’re stuck in their houses. At least those in the area of town called “Area H2”.
    Check the maps here and here.
    Jewish Virtual Library: “H2” covers approximately 20 percent of the municipal territory. It comprises the entire Qasba and areas adjacent to the Jewish settlements. The population in this area is composed of an estimated 30,000-35,000 Palestinians and approximately 400 Jewish settlers.
    This relatively small sector is the geographic, economic, historic and religious center of Hebron.

  23. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – any Israeli who illegally settles in Hebron renounces his or her citizenship. The State can’t handle all these schoolyard bullies, especially when its existence is threatened by their behavior.
    Here we go again with the poster who claims everyone else is stupid/evil except himself… SSDD.

  24. Right now almost the entire American Orthodox community supports the settler movement even though most Orthodox Jews in America do not support the settlers’ doctrines about the land of Israel. The settlers have managed to cast themselves as the ones defending Israel. How do we go about changing this dynamic?
    As a political conservative I object to the settler movement because I see it as an extreme form of government welfare.

  25. I can’t help but think that if the local Arabs were to stop assaulting and murdering the local Jews then the entire elaborate, costly security program described here would be unnecessary.
    >>“Enormous numbers of them, guarding a mere 800 fanatical settlers who value land over their lives, the lives of their children, and the lives of the Israeli soldiers who guard them. Eight hundred settlers who hate and who teach their children to hate.”
    That feels like an enormous overgeneralization. Please apply some context here: we’re talking about a tiny group of Jews surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people many of whom would probably like to kill them. I certainly do not endorse random violence if it’s taken place, but there’s no doubt that the most severe violence in Hebron has been endured by the community that has lost members to acts of murder and terrorism.
    I also question the premise that it’s morally wrong to apply imposing security measures to secure the safety of a minority group which would otherwise be unable to live in peace. (We did it in the US all through the 1960s.) If the members of the threatening majority want to be rid of the security impositions, all they have to do is stop the violence and threats.
    The truth at this point is that only extreme Israeli pressure is likely to motivate Arab Hebronites to oust their more violent neighbors out of town. Certainly in the US it was relentless, determined and increasing Federal force (along with some genuine changes of heart) that finally convinced southern society that the days of turning a blind eye to “acceptable” levels of violence against their minority neighbors were over.
    The supposed sin of “valuing land over life” is frankly an odd accusation to launch at Israelis. The country would simply not exist if millions of people hadn’t valued the land over their personal lives for the last century.

  26. “do you have children? When you tell them to stop hitting each other, do they say ‘Come on, which is worse, me hitting my sister, or Hamas blowing up a cafe?'”
    A kid who says that deserves either a smack or an ice-cream cone.

  27. Eric, these are not overgeneralizations. The settlers are engaged in active — one could say pro-active — violence against their neighbors. They’re not peaceable. They even hate on the soldiers for intervening against their attacks on Arabs. Here’s one of the BTS soldier’s testimonies:

    In Hebron, the settlers built an illegal outpost and they decided that the local population could not use the route that the settlers used on their way to prayers, despite the fact that they had no authority to do so. Whenever an Arab walked by they would throw stones and shout at him and sometimes even beat them. The settler’s children heaped abuse on the Arabs and pregnant Arab women. They denigrated the religious soldiers in our platoon and said that they did not deserve to be religious.

    More where that came from here.

  28. I remember going into the Jewish area of the Tomb of Machpelah, and being in the shul there. Everyone else were settlers. And I remember getting such a weird feeling from them. A feeling of anger, or even hatred. Not a single one of them was at all friendly or welcoming to me (I didn’t have much of an agenda then; I was just a Jewish-Australian tourist).
    My view is that the Hebron settlers are different to all the other settlers of the west bank in that they are particularly ideological, fanatical, and violent.
    I believe that the Jewish tie to Hebron is ancient and that we do have every right to a presence there. However these fanantics don’t speak for anyone but themselves. As someone else pointed out – the Hebronite Jews are the descendants of the old comunity there; they can claim the legacy of the 1929 massacre; the people in Hebron now are just Brooklynite fanatics. They do not belong there.

  29. Ez, having never been to Hebron I can’t speak to the characteristics of the settlers there. However, you go down a dangerous path to say that only the direct linear descendants of the Jews who once resided there can claim a relationship with Hebron. All Jews have an equal right to all of Israel – that’s the whole point of a Jewish state, that’s what the Jewish nation is all about. I derive my rights to Jerusalem not because I can identify ancestors who lived there, but because I am a Jew. So if the Hebron settlers are fanatical (although almost by definition you’d have to be a fanatic to place yourself in the midst of Muslim murders – although on further contemplation isn’t that what Israel has done, so maybe we are all fanatics in that sense), and not nice, maybe other nicer Jews should move there to balance them out – and if the “nice” Jews don’t, shouldn’t we be thankful that at least a few “not nice” Jews are willing to risk life and limb to preserve one of our most sacred cities for Judaism?

  30. maybe other nicer Jews should move there to balance them out – and if the “nice” Jews don’t, shouldn’t we be thankful that at least a few “not nice” Jews are willing to risk life and limb to preserve one of our most sacred cities for Judaism?
    As a Jew, I want to be able to visit the places where the Avot and Imahot lived and (supposedly) died. I therefore have a very hard time countering the argument (often made by right-wingers to justify settler activity) that if it weren’t for the settlers, we probably wouldn’t have access to many of the holy sites that are the reason the Zionists pursued Israel in the first place (as opposed to accepting a Jewish state in Uganda or Madagascar or elsewhere). Clearly if we were all pacifists all the time, we wouldn’t have Israel today.
    That said, when I read about what is happening in Hevron, I simply don’t believe that the desire to have access to the place can possibly justify the particular wrongs that are being committed.
    It would indeed be wonderful if thousands of “nice” Jews would move to Hevron to protect and preserve the city’s status as both an ancient and modern home for Jews. But as sad as it would be to cede Hevron to Palestinian control (with the consequences possibly including the destruction/desecration of Jewish holy sites), I really think I would prefer Hevron to have no Jews rather than continuing (or expanding) the status quo.
    In their zeal to “preserve” Hevron, the settlers who live there are unwittingly working to destroy Israel. Perhaps they believe that G-d will step in and make all the Palestinians suddenly disappear or become willingly subordinate to them. But I don’t believe that, and neither does 99.99% of the rest of the world. It’s time to move beyond fighting Arabs for land and figure out how to live with them.
    Yes, there are murderers among the Palestinians, but there are many more decent human beings who just want to live their lives. And rampant hooliganism and humiliation are not going to turn the murderers into good neighbors. We should instead simultaneously work both (a) to bring the murderers on both sides of the conflict to justice and (b) to make peace between everyone else. Because as elusive a dream as peace may be, it is a more worthy–more Jewish–goal than simply enabling a handful of people to pray at a particular site.
    Yes, I realize my position leads to a slippery slope. Clearly we would get along far better with the Palestinians if we pulled out of all of Israel, which I obviously don’t support. While we may disagree about the location of the fuzzy line between legitimate defense of our homeland and unjustifiable offense against other people, however, the situation in H2 is absolutely on the wrong side of the line.

  31. After all that has been said about the “religious” and pseudo-religious and even halakhic reasons for maintaining Jewish rule over the territories and their Arab inhabitants, and for the annexation of the territories to the state of Israel, I have nothing to add to what already appeared in the Scriptures, the same Scriptures to which national religious fools appeal for support of their lust for conquest. Two thousand six hundred years ago, the prophet Ezekiel foresaw Gush Emunim and the arguments of its rabbis and leaders. His words read as though he knew in advance the words and terms they would use, and he already gave them a reply which penetrates to the heart of the matter.
    Then the word of God came to me saying, Son of man, They that inhabit these waste places of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one man and yet he inherited the land, but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance. Therefore say to them, thus says the Lord God: You eat with the blood and lift up your eyes towards your idols, and shed blood; and shall you possess the land? You stand upon your sword, you carry out disgusting deeds, and you defile every man his neighbor’s wife; and shall you possess the land?
    These words were not meant for Ezekiel’s own generation only. He said them to all generations, and especially to the generation of the “liberators of the Holy Land” in our time. The Jewish people has legitimate claims to this country. But these claims have no “religious cover.” To speak of the divine promise to Abraham and his issue as a gratuitous gift, to ignore the conditions of the promise, and to disregard the obligations it confers on the receivers is a degradation and desecration of religious faith.

  32. The land of Israel is a holy alter. The town of Hebron is a holy shrine. Yet we defile the land in the name of redeeming it.
    Should this type of behavior be tolerated within a mile of Avraham Avienu’s tomb, let alone within spitting distance of it?

    “He who spills blood in the land defiles the land and drives away The Divine Presence.” — Rebbe Yishamel

  33. A few weeks ago I received the latest report from B’Tselem entitled “Ghost Town: Israel’s Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinians from the Center of Hebron”, May 2007.
    This report sits on top of the file of to-be-read material but I just cannot overcome the nausea that overwhelms me as I contemplate reading 107 pages about the 800 Jewish residents of Hebron. I did read the first sentence of the Conclusions:
    “The constant and grave harm to Palestinians living in the center of Hebron is one of the most extreme manifestations of human rights violations committed by the State of Israel.”
    Sadly, George W. Bush, the President of the United States, who is visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, is not likely to visit Hebron Area H2 and be made aware of the story of the 800 Jewish settlers living there.
    On New Year’s Eve, for perhaps the twentieth year, my wife and I and another couple, our good friends, enjoyed First Night in Boston. One of the four performances we attended was at the Universalist-Unitarian Church. The sounds of the talented guitar player from Mexico reminded me of music of Andre Segovia played by my roommate Bill in college now over 50 years ago. I took out the prayer book in the pew in front of me and read an excerpt from “The Heart of the Torah” Leviticus Chapter 19.
    Today, I took a look at the entire Chapter. Here is what struck me as I thought about the 800 Jewish settlers of Hebron.
    “1. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
    2. Speak to the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.
    9. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not fully reap the corner of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
    10. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you collect the [fallen] individual grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am the Lord, your God.
    11. You shall not steal. You shall not deny falsely. You shall not lie, one man to his fellow.
    13. You shall not oppress your fellow. You shall not rob. The hired worker’s wage shall not remain with you overnight until morning.
    14. You shall not curse a deaf person. You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person, and you shall fear your God. I am the Lord.
    15. You shall commit no injustice in judgment; you shall not favor a poor person or respect a great man; you shall judge your fellow with righteousness.
    16. You shall not go around as a gossipmonger amidst your people. You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow’s blood. I am the Lord.
    17. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account.
    18. You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
    32. You shall rise before a venerable person and you shall respect the elderly, and you shall fear your God. I am the Lord.
    33. When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him.
    34. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.
    37. You shall observe all My statutes and all My ordinances, and fulfill them. I am the Lord.”
    The American Jewish Committee just released its 2007 survey of American Jewry. I wonder what percentage of American Jews know the story of the 800 Jewish Settlers in Hebron. I wonder what percentage of American Jews are familiar with the above passages from Leviticus 19. I wonder what percentage of American Jews who are familiar with the story and the above passages would condemn the actions of the settlers and the Government of Israel for supporting the settlers.
    I wonder what percentage of American Rabbis know the story of the 800 Jewish Settlers in Hebron. I am quite certain that American Rabbis are familiar with these passages. I wonder what percentage of American Rabbis who know the story and are familiar with the passages would condemn the actions of the settlers and the Government of Israel for supporting the settlers.
    The Jewish settlers in Hebron are one of the primary reasons I regret that the Great Sanhedrin (the supreme court of the Jewish people) was dissolved about 1700 years ago. One of my fondest dreams is for a Great Sanhedrin to be reinstituted so that the Jewish settlers could be indicted for their violations of Leviticus 19. What might be appropriate would be to frame the accusation as attempted murder of Judaism – the thrusting of a knife into the heart of the Torah.
    For those who are interested in, as Paul Harvey says, “the rest of the story” including the deceit and deception of Rabbi Moshe Levenger who led a gang of squatters into Hebron in 1968 as well as their immoral, illegal, hateful and cruel acts and activities in the 14,516 days up to and including today, I encourage you to read the following articles on my blog:
    Passover 1968 – The Settlements Begin:
    and the Twelve Articles on Hebron beginning with Fighting Anti-Judaism in Hebron, Part 1:
    Elsewhere in the Torah is another piece of the Heart of the Torah – Deuteronomy – XVI, 18:20 – “Justice, Justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Another question to ask is “Where is God?” We would not need to reestablish the Great Sanhedrin if God was observing the Hebron settlers. She would likely summarily disinherit all the 800 and evict them.

  34. Mmmmm: “he who spills blood”? I watched both videos and saw one loundmouthed obnoxious woman running amuck, and two drunken out of control loutish teens who needed a good spanking. Didn’t notice the blood, though, perhaps Mobius would like to post videos demonstrating the language he cites. Not to say those 3 in the videos are not displaying disgusting behavior and should be dealt with in the appropriate fashion; but if that’s the worst that happens, hardly compares with murdering little Jewish babies.

  35. Mobius, once again you cite sources that don’t support your claims. I did go to that website, sat through most of six or seven video, mostly saw kids throwing rockw (at what appeared to be an empty house), and a bunch of teens making unseemly and threatening gestures towards a fellow clearly attempting to create a ruckus by filming them (and saying who knows what to incite them).
    And context and editing is everything, we can now be pretty sure that the 12 year old arab that was supposedly shot by the IDF several years ago while being sheltered by his dad was a phony made up story created by French tv by editing and splicing tape to create a fraud. So even giving credence to the tapes you cite (which given their source is a stretch) you haven’t shown that the Hebron settlers are “He who spills blood”.
    And btw, Ron, B’Tselem is a far left anti Israeli organization, widely viewed as a fabricator of facts. Why do you believe them? And would you mind saving your bile for the murderers of little Jewish babies, the Hebron settlers at their worst don’t deserve you adjectivew.

  36. “And btw, Ron, B’Tselem is a far left anti Israeli organization, widely viewed as a fabricator of facts.” incorrect
    B’Tselem is the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Ghost Town: Israel’s Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinains from the Center of Hebron, May, 2007, is a 107 page report with includes: interviews of Palestinians and Israeli army soldiers; quotes from Jewish Hebron setllers; Government of Israel rules and regulations, international law. The report contains: a history of the Israeli settlements in Hebron, the Palestinian abandonment of the City Center, restrictions on Palestinian movement and the closing of businesses, the refraining from protecting Palestinians and their property from violent settlers, harm to Palestinians by soldiers and police offices and Israel’s policy in Hebron from the legal perspective and conclusions.
    I would appreciate it if you would provide a definition of “far left anti Israeli organization”.
    How can we identify such groups?
    What do you have to do to be labeled “far left” rather than somewhat left?
    What does it mean to be “anti Israeli”?
    Are you anti Israeli if you criticize an action of the Government of Israel?
    Are you anti Israeli if you provide evidence that an Israeli is acting in violation of Jewish principles?
    Is one “anti Israeli” if one provides evidecne of wrongdoing of the Government of Israel?
    It is my understanding that B’Tselem is a highly credible organization with a reputation for thorough research and honest reporting.
    You apparently do not agree.
    Could you please provide the names of those individuals and organizations who you are relying on for your statement that B’Tselem is “widely viewed” as a “fabricator of facts” along with their allegations to back up their claims for the most recent report referred to above, Ghost Town, as well as the following previous reports:
    Land Grab – Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank, May 2002
    Standing Idly By – Non-Enflorcement of the Law on Settlers, Hebron, 26-28 July 2002
    Abuse of Palestinians by IDF Soldiers in Hebron, 3 December 2002
    Hebron, Area H-2 – Settlements Cause Mass Departure of Palestinians, August 2003
    Through No Fault of Their Own – Punitive House Demolitions during the al-Aqsa Intifida, November 2004
    Facing the Abyss – The Isolation of Sheikh Sa’ad Village Before and After the Separations Barrier, February 2004
    Means of Expulsion – Violence, Harassment and Lawlessness against Palestinians in the Southern Hebron Hills, July 2005
    One Big Prison – Freedom of Movement to and from the Gaza Strip on the Eve of the Disengagement Plan, March 2005
    Take No Prisoners – The Fatal Shooting of Palestinians by Israeli Security Forces during “Arrest Operations”, May 2005
    Under the Guise of Security – Routing the Separation Barrier to Enable the Expansion of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank, December 2005
    Barrer from Contact – Violation of the Right to Visit Palestinians Held in Israeli Prisons, September 2006
    Perpetual Limbo – Israel’s Freeze on Unification of Palestinian Families in the Occupied Territories, July 2006
    Crossing the Line – Violation of the Rights of Palestinians in Israel without a Permit, March 2007

  37. ron– btselem and acri aren’t the same orgs, but nonethless, i agree with you that btselem is the most important human rights organization in israel.
    incorrect– a far left anti-israel organization — founded and staffed by knesset members? widely viewed as a fabricator of facts by who? gerald steinberg? caroline glick? camera? the zionist propaganda hounds?
    i didn’t realize that mobs of jewish children heaving stones at palestinian civilians doesn’t count as bloodshed.
    you need more?
    you seriously disgust me.

  38. Thanks, Mobius
    You are correct. Ghost Town was a joint effort of B’Tselem AND the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
    The full name of B’Tselem is
    B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

  39. From Carolyn Glick, the well respected columnist for the JPost:
    The press reports made no mention of the fact that B’Tselem and Hamoked are radical leftist organizations with documented histories of falsifying and distorting data. No mention was made of the funding these groups receive from European countries.
    I guess most of us determine truth by relying on those we trust, I trust Glick.
    I’m not disgusted by those who disagree with me. I am disgusted with those who knowingly lie – e.g. Noam Chomsky clearly lies with ease (it may be on Google, take a look at the debate he had with Dershkowitz on cpsan about a year ago, Dershkowitz pointed out lie after Chomsky lie, and Chomsky would non respond by going onto another topic).
    Bottom line, to get back on topic, worst case that’s been demonstrated for the Hebron settlers is that some of them are louts and hotheads, and willing to resort to mostly playacting violence if provoked (and that’s all the tapes cited demonstrate). Were that the worst that could be said about our enemies.

  40. you trust glick? glick who was embedded in iraq and falsely reported that the unit she traveled with had discovered WMDs? glick, who was such a bitch and a bad editor that jpost took her off the news desk?
    and playacting violence? when arab children throw rocks at israeli soldiers, they’re gunned down as enemy combatants. a thrown rock can be deadly. ask harry at the view from here who had a rock tossed at his car while driving on 443. ask any jew who ever had a rock thrown at them by an arab from atop the temple mount. if it were palestinians throwing rocks at jews and they were killed for it, you’d be saying it was a justified retaliation to a deadly attack. but when jews do it, they’re “playacting.”
    you are SO full of it.

  41. Mobius, I’m getting exhausted from this discussion, you can have the last word (and as was just reiterated at my Torah study class yesterday, there is that special spark in all Jews that comes from G-d and therefor requires me to consider you someone I have special kinship with – I may have to grit my teeth but I do).

  42. You quote Caroly Glick as follows, “The press reports made no mention of the fact that B’Tselem and Hamoked are radical leftist organizations with documented histories of falsifying and distorting data” and you then add “I guess most of us determine truth by relying on those we trust, I trust Glick.”
    I often use the phrase coined, I think, by Ronald Reagan
    “Trust, but Verify”
    Could you find or request from her the documents that she has relied on for her “documented histories of falsifying and distorting data”?
    Is she the only person you are relying on for your criticism of B’Tselem?
    Are you able to find others who accuse B’Tselem of falsifying data?
    I am surprised at this allegation because I know that many do not like what B’Tselem says but I thought that there was agreement that its reports are accurate.
    I know that this is an example of relying on those you trust but here is an excerpt from B’Tselem’s website:
    “B’Tselem has attained a prominent place among human rights organizations. In December, 1989 it received the Carter-Menil Award for Human Rights. Its reports have gained B’Tselem a reputation for accuracy, and the Israeli authorities relate to them seriously. B’Tselem ensures the reliability of information it publishes by conducting its own fieldwork and research, the results of which are thoroughly cross-checked with relevant documents, official government sources, and information from other sources, among them Israeli, Palestinian, and other human rights organizations.”
    What can I do to convince you to reconsider your charge that B’Tselem is “widely viewed as a fabricator of facts”?
    (I am also still interested in what the criteria are for labeling an organization “radical leftist” “far left” and “anti Israeli”.)

  43. Ha ha, this report of CAMERA’s is laughable. It cites a couple instances where it disagrees with B’Tseelem’s categorization of terrorist/non-terrorist death statistics. Nevermind that B’Tselem reports Palestinian casualties in the HUNDREDS each year.
    Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha! Is that all CAMERA has to say against the pages and pages of B’Tselem collections? A few protests?

  44. Hi Incorrect. In response to your comment, “you go down a dangerous path to say that only the direct linear descendants of the Jews who once resided there can claim a relationship with Hebron.”
    I don’t think that its only they who have a relationship with Hebron. Agreed all Jews have a relationship with Hebron and Abraham’s grave. However, I think that when it comes to politics, it’s better to say that only the descendants of the old Hebron community can reclaim Hebron in connection to the 1929 massacre. The settlers there claim to have resettled Hebron after the end of the community there in 1929; however they are not the same community. So if they want to create a settlement in Hebron, they can do so, but it’s incorrect to view it as a continuation of Hebron’s ancient Jewish community.

  45. Incorrect, you said, “War is ugly. Conflict is ugly. Either we have a right to the land or we don’t. I believe we do – which necessitates some ugly actions. I don’t condone unnecessary violence; but it isn’t ugly to fight back to protect your rights.”
    What makes you believe that this is a war? It seems to me to be an occupation in which one body, the Government of Israel, has won a war in 1967 and reigns supreme over another body, the Palestinians, with overwhelming superior military force.
    Just “who” is the “we” that has a right to the land? Is it anyone who is Jewish? Do I and my family have a right to the land? What laws do you cite as authority for who you believe owns the land?
    “Ugly actions” – for sure!!! – Stealing land, beating and killing children, women and men, cutting down olive trees, preventing the harvesting of olives and cutting down olive trees, harassment to force the closing of commercial establishments, destroying property, pouring filth.
    “ isn’t ugly to fight back to protect your rights”. Assuming that the Jewish settlers own the land, what laws guide them on how to take the land back. In Massachusetts, we have a legal process that dictates the steps in court that a landlord must take in order to evict someone on his or her land. What laws are the settlers relying on when they do what they do? What they do is not only ugly but contrary to what we expect from those who live in civilized society.
    Ugly, ugly, ugly……
    Here is an article published over this past weekend about what it like to be a Palestinian in Hebron.
    The Sword is Mightier
    Seth Freedman / The Guardian [UK] / Jan 12, 2008
    An unarmed civilian observer mission can’t offer balanced policing to Palestinians in Hebron, a city where the IDF runs the show
    It’s easy to claim that the pen is mightier than the sword from the safety of a university lecture hall, or a middle class soiree in a suburban dining room. However, in the bandit country that is Hebron, the adage rings somewhat hollow, as I found after spending a day out on patrol with Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron TIPH. What I saw during my six-hour shadowing of the dedicated yet ultimately toothless members of the TIPH team made me question the wisdom of their presence in the troubled city.
    Established in the wake of Baruch Goldstein’s shooting spree in a local mosque, TIPH’s raison d’etre is to “monitor the situation in Hebron and record breaches of international law.” In essence, they are stationed in the city to bear witness to the almost daily violent incidents that erupt between the Jewish settlers of Hebron and their Palestinian neighbours.
    So it was on Wednesday, as I set out with Sibyll and Mortens, respectively Swiss and Danish TIPH workers, who are old hands at dealing with the explosive situation using the limited tools at their disposal. Our first incident was fairly mundane by comparison with what we’d see later – a youth protesting to the pair that every time Palestinian Authority workmen came to try and fix a sewage blockage in the souk, Israeli soldiers ordered them to leave the area without allowing them to carry out their repairs.
    “This is the third time we’ve heard this story in four days,” said Sibyll, as she noted down the boy’s complaint in her notebook. “All we can do is to try and get our liaison officers to try to intervene with the army and the PA, and attempt to get permits for them to complete their work [unimpeded].” Mortens concurred with her plan of action: “It won’t happen overnight, though – we have to write a report, contact the DCO, and hope that they can achieve results.” And in the meantime, the stench of raw sewage hangs over the market and adds to the sense of discomfort that the shopkeepers are forced to endure.
    There had been reports that it was the settlers who had blocked up the sewage system, causing the problem, although that was hard for the team to verify. However, the next incident they were called to appeared far more clear cut. In a busy street underneath a barred window of one of the settlement buildings, a couple of tin cans with unidentifiable viscous liquid oozing from them lay on the edge of the pavement. “They tried to light it before hurling it at us,” declared a middle-aged Palestinian man breathlessly, pointing up in the direction of the offenders’ homes.
    “They were 16 or 17,” he continued, “not small kids at all.” Hanging from the bars of the windows were sandbags filled with stones, which Sibyll said, “are prepared by the children, who then throw the rocks down at the Palestinians. The IDF come, but always deny that anything has happened.” All that TIPH can do in such circumstances is pull out their notebooks, log a record of the incident, and then file the report with the DCO, which does little to placate the injured parties or to reassure them that anything tangible is being done to protect them.
    “There’s a feeling of real frustration amongst us,” said Ghassan, a Swedish member of TIPH. “We can’t intervene in a situation; all we can do is turn up and take photos.” He explained that this causes inevitable resentment on the part of the Palestinians, while others on the Palestinian side “don’t like us because they’re convinced we work for the Israelis.”
    As we continued along the route of the patrol, we came across a gaggle of teenagers surrounding a dishevelled-looking man sitting askew in a wheelchair. His T-shirt badly ripped from shoulder to shoulder and covered in bloodstains, he shook as he turned plaintively to Mortens and Sibyll and pleaded for their help. “The army did this,” he began. “They beat me, and there are 15 of them still in my house now – you’ve got to go and do something.”
    After taking photos of his injuries to use as evidence, we hurried off in the direction of his house in the company of one of the boys who was acting as guide. However, our way was obstructed by a shaven-headed Russian IDF soldier who ordered us to take a far longer, circuitous route, since the Palestinian boy was banned from walking past the Cave of Machpela. When we eventually got to the raided house, the operation was still in full flow, with heavily-armed soldiers milling around on every floor of the building as the children of the house nervously looked on.
    Thanks to the terms of their mandate, TIPH members are unimpeded in their monitoring work, thus the soldiers had to let them photograph the ongoing search and interview the commander once he’d declared the building safe. “There were rocks being thrown from the roof,” he stated flatly when questioned. “I didn’t see anyone in a wheelchair,” he went on, looking to his charges for confirmation, “and if there had been, I promise you he’d still be here with us.”
    “It’s a bit fishy that he managed to get out of the house and all the way down the road in a wheelchair in the middle of a raid.” He proposed that the man’s injuries might instead be a result of him jumping off the roof and trying to escape arrest, implying that the wheelchair was merely a prop used to garner sympathy from the TIPH team. Once the soldiers had left, we entered the house and interviewed the wounded man’s children, who assured us that he had been beaten by the troops.
    However, they also admitted that their younger brother had been throwing rocks at the army, and refused to stop when his older siblings and father remonstrated with him. At the same time, they couldn’t give a convincing explanation for how their apparently wheelchair-bound father had made it up the impossibly narrow stairs onto the roof to chastise their brother. This prompted Sibyll to complain that the hardest part of her job was trying to decide who was being honest and who just wanted to apportion all the blame to the other side.
    The commander’s parting words to us had been “We were just doing our job – no one should have rocks thrown at them, should they?” While entirely right, his concern seemed pretty ironic given the complete ambivalence the army showed earlier when Mortens and Sibyll tried to report the missile attacks on the Palestinians. That the IDF runs the whole show in the city, and TIPH can do little more than meekly complain from the sidelines is the heart of the problem when it comes to policing the area fairly.
    Of course, Israel is hardly likely to agree to arm the likes of TIPH, just as they have all but repealed the authority’s mandate to be in charge of keeping order in the Palestinian half of the city. However, given that a large part of TIPH’s purpose is to try and afford the same level of protection and security to the Palestinians that the settlers enjoy, it is clear that there is no balance whatsoever at present.
    Well-meaning but ultimately impotent foreigners wielding notebooks and pens are no match for M16-toting soldiers when it comes to delivering justice to the city’s residents. Therefore it is no surprise that, despite what TIPH was set up to deliver, the Palestinians feel no better looked after now than they did before 1994. And that is no more likely to assuage their frustration and fears than any other half-hearted internationally-led initiative – meaning that their ongoing feeling of abandonment is entirely understandable while the best they’ve got is TIPH.

  46. Thank you, incorrect, for responding to my request to provide material critical of B’Tselem.
    As for the article by Tsvi Sadan, this is the key paragraph:
    “The context was a Palestinian provocation that included spitting and stone throwing. Alkobi herself was spat on by the woman who videoed her. The video camera was given to the Palestinian family by B’Tselem – an extreme Left entity that operates in disguise for the human rights organization. The video clip itself was edited by B’Tselem to serve its purpose – evacuation of all Jews from Hebron. The journalist who helped push this video clip was Rafi Reshef – an enthusiastic supporter of the extreme Left agenda. Reshef brought “witnesses” who supported the Palestinian version but failed to bring witnesses who could present the settler’s version.”
    I have no evidence, of course, but I think that her version of the facts – the Alkobi was spat on by the woman who videotaped her – is simply a fantasy of hers along with the hope that settler’s witnesses might provide a different version (which, of course, they might). Her primary accusation is that B’Tselem is an “extreme left entity” and that Rafi Reshef is “an enthusiastic supporter of the extreme Left agenda”.
    I have asked you on a few occasions to define what are the items on an “extreme Left agenda”. When I read what B’Tselem is doing, I think that it is fighting for human rights, civil rights, democracy, equality, social and economic justice and a government of laws not a government of Jewish settlers and IDF soldiers.
    I have the press release for B’Tselem’s 2007 Year-End Report but could not find the actual report on its website. According to the press release, the report includes the increase in the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention without trial, the 66 checkpoints and 459 roadblocks, the increase in settlement population, the freeze policy on family unification, the number of houses demolished in East Jerusalem increased to 69, the severe discrimination in the allocation of water in the West Bank and the number of Palestinians killed in intra-Palestinian clashes.
    The citation you provided for CAMERA is for an article I now believe to be an example of the Standard Operating Procedure for CAMERA which alleges that its goal is accuracy in middle east reporting. What it actually seems to do I have examined in five articles in my blog on Judaism and Israel.
    In one, I analyzed a CAMERA smear of the founder of SABEEL just as its conference was beginning in Boston last October. I titled it the “CAMERA Comedy Troupe”
    I then posted a series of four articles all about what I referred to as “CAMERA Obscura”:
    I am reprinting this last one, “CAMERA Obscura – Gaza Glazing”, in full because it begins with my hypothesis and conclusion about the approach and method of CAMERA and another analysis of how it works.
    CAMERA Obscura – Gaza Glazing
    The last three articles have focused on CAMERA. I would like to continue doing that since I think I am beginning to get a picture of what CAMERA does and how it works.
    To test it, I am going to make a working hypothesis: CAMERA is not concerned with accuracy in middle east reporting; CAMERA only examines media material that is critical of the Government of Israel; CAMERA does in depth research to find something, anything, in an article that is not factually accurate or which it can possibly interpret as inaccurate; CAMERA makes, in common vernacular, a mountain out of a molehill; and CAMERA works tirelessly to protect the Government of Israel from criticism.
    (NOTE – I have not yet devoted time to researching one of my assumptions. Would someone please forward to me, if you can find it, an article that is highly critical of the Government of Israel where CAMERA issued a press release indicating an inaccuracy which, when corrected, made the article more of a criticism of the Government of Israel.)
    Even though I intended to focus on the CAMERA attack of ICAHD, I came across this press release
    (I think that’s what this is) dated June 30, 2005 entitled “No Excuse for Ha’aretz Gaza Population Error”, read it and could not move on.
    Here is “accusation” CAMERA hurled at Ha’aretz
    “In a May 23 Snapshots blog entry, CAMERA documented that Ha’aretz that day ran an Op-Ed by Amram Mitzna which wrongly identified the Gaza Strip as “the most densely populated area in the world.” (My note – In that entry it says that Amram Mitzna said “A million-and-a-quarter Palestinians living in the most densely populated area in the world, and in terrible poverty across the way from the red rooftops of Gush Katif, are victims.”) Gaza is not the “most densely populated area in the world.” According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2004-2005, the population per sq. mile for 2003 in the Gaza Strip is 8,666. Gaza is less densely populated than numerous places around the world, including Monaco (41,608), Singapore (17,751), Gibraltar (11,990), Hong Kong (17,833), and especially Macau, which is nearly ten times more densely populated than the Gaza Strip (71,466). CAMERA that day contacted editors providing them with the Statistical Abstract’s figures and requesting a correction. The Israel Press Council’s Rules of Professional Ethics and Journalists requires:
    Substantive mistakes, omissions or inaccuracies in the publication of facts must be corrected speedily, fairly and with the appropriate emphasis relative to the original publication.
    Ha’aretz never ran a correction as required by the Press Council, and instead settled for a letter to the editor by this researcher on May 26. Not only did the paper not run a correction, but the very same error appeared in an Op-Ed yesterday by Yitzhak Laor.
    Writing about the Gaza disengagement and the demolition of Jewish homes there, he continued:
    The thirst and the destruction that have been imposed on the most densely populated place in the world for the benefit of a few thousand settlers . . .
    Gotcha, Ha’aretz!!!
    I assume that you think I am making this up. I’m not. CAMERA issued this and really demanded that Ha’aretz correct it.
    CAMERA quotes from the rules of ethics for journalists stating that “substantive mistakes, omissions or inaccuracies … must be corrected.”
    What do you think that these two were talking about? What was the point they were trying to make?
    Monaco is the most densely populated country. Singapore is an island nation (one of the few remaining city states). Macau and Hong Kong are special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. Look up “densely populated” in Wikipedia and it only lists these countries and regions. It does not even list the Gaza Strip so I guess it is just a densely populated place or area, right? What it does point out, however, is that after these five the next six have between 2000-3000, the next ten have between 1000-2000 and the remaining 224 countries/regions have less than 1000 people per square mile, most less than 500 with the United States listed as having 80 people per square mile.
    As an aside, the most recent figures I found for Gaza on MSN Encarta were “2007 population was 1,482,405, giving the region a population density of 10,665 per square mile.
    Just google “Gaza most densely populated” and you find pages and pages of quotes from around the world from those who say that it is the most densely populated “place” or area” in the world”. There is only one link cited that says that Gaza is NOT the most densely populated” from, guess who, CAMERA.
    But just a minute, let’s give CAMERA a little support in its attack on Ha’aretz. I did a little of my own research and guess what I found in this article on a Sears News page about the Sears Tower in Chicago. “The Sears Tower turns into a city of 10,000 ‘residents’ every morning.” Being somewhat of a researcher myself (and a math major in college) I also found that the square foot area footprint of the Sears Tower was designed to be 55,000 square feet. A few strokes on my reliable handheld calculator and, what did I find? During every work day there are approximately 5,000,000 people per square mile in the Sears Tower. . Take that, Monaco!!.
    I just received a cover letter from B’Tselem enclosing a newspaper insert addressing Israel’s continued control over the Gaza Strip. The letter notes, “The situation in Gaza is more dire than ever. Some 1.5 million Palestinians are living under dismal conditions as health, education and economic conditions continue to deteriorate. Israel bears a large measure of the responsibility for this situation. The insert shows the far-reaching control that Israel continues to exercise in the Gaza Strip, affecting all aspects of daily life.
    Now here’s someone who, fortunately for him, will not incur the wrath of CAMERA,
    “But the full picture of what comes next in Gaza remains open. It is one of the most densely populated places on earth, grinding poverty abounds, and the unemployment rate approaches a staggering 60 percent.”
    But, just in case CAMERA has not gotten around to attacking this miscreant journalist, I am taking the opportunity of “ratting” on him by printing Gaza: Yesterday, today and tomorrow by Micah D. Halpern, September 5, 2002
    “I recently spent a day in Gaza. This was by no means my first visit to Gaza. There was a time when I used to go there just for fun, to relax and enjoy the beach. Those days are probably gone forever. It might very well have been my last visit to Gaza outside Israel’s small borders. It was a fascinating visit. I’ll tell you why. The day was a kaleidoscope of contradictions – some of the most beautiful and serene seashores I have ever seen careening against some of the worst squalor and poverty known in this world. Almost 7,000 Jews living in their enclaves, about 1,300,000 Palestinians fenced into theirs. I came away spinning and over stimulated…. Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world. Hong Kong is the most densely populated city, but Gaza is the most densely populated area. It is very small and it is home to several major Palestinian cities: Gaza City, sister city Jabaliya, Khan Yunis and Rafiah. There is no urban sprawl in Gaza, nothing like Mexico City. Gaza is dust and sand. Gaza is poverty and sewage. And many, many people.”
    What do YOU think was the substance was in the comments by Amram Mitzna and Yitzhak Laor? Do you really think they were trying to win the Pulitzer Prize for Writing about Geography?
    What difference does it make where the Gaza Strip ranks in the list of densely populated areas?
    Isn’t the “substance” – the issue, the focus, the heart – the inhuman and inhumane living conditions of a really, really large number of people living in a really, really small area?
    Here is what CAMERA did in this case. It attempted to attack the credibility of Ha’aretz by pointing out what it has decided is an inaccuracy by forcing one interpretation of a phrase. The inaccuracy was not at all a significant fact. It did not in any way detract from the point of, or the substance of what was being said. (Were I had been able to find the entire op-ed in the Ha’aretz archives, I believe I would have been even certain of this.) CAMERA issued and publicized a demand that the paper run a retraction. CAMERA tried to divert the attention, and the eyes, of its readers from the issue – the wrongdoing of the Government of Israel for disengaging from its responsibilities in Gaza.

  47. I’m on a one year program in Israel and I did a similar tour to the person who wrote the blog. In a large sense it is relieving that someone shares my view of Hebron but on the other, the amount of attacks and the fact that it is true sickens me. Having toured Hebron with not just breaking the silence but also visiting the centre of the jewish settlers and speaking to David Wilder (I’m not too sure of the spelling but it’s close) where we were told about how there was deceipt and lies. That both sides wrote the graffiti. That there is a lot wrong in Hebron and nothing wrong in Hebron.
    It got to the point where David actually denied the existance of the “Sterilized zone” despite the fact that we had walked down it merely ten minutes ago.
    The most potent moment of the tour was summed up in this simple sentence when walking down the sterilized street. Someone saw a pack of stray dogs walking down the street and called “It seems that even the stray dogs have more rights then the palestinians do in Hebron”.

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