Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hebron - Redemption or Humiliation? - 1976

“K A H A N E”
The magazine of the authentic Jewish Idea
September 1976  – Elul 5736

Hebron – Redemption or Humiliation?

Below is the text of the speech given by Rabbi Meir Kahane at the Central Hotel in Jerusalem 28 AV (August 24) on the eve of a large demonstration in Hebron.  The audience consisted of mostly American tourists.  The Rabbi wanted these tourists to join him in Hebron and wave their American passport, since the Israeli government’s eyes are raised unto Washington.

Rabbi Kahane spoke:
The First Jew came early to the city.  It was burying his wife Sara, “in the field of Machpelah before Mamre – the same is Hebron.”  And there he lived and there he died as did his son Isaac along with Rebekah.  And when Jacob lay on his deathbed in the exile of Egypt, he called his sons together and charged them: “Bury me…in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah which is before Mamre…There they buried Abraham and his wife Sara; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.”

And the Jews left the exile of Egypt and returned home and Caleb, the Jew who was sent to spy out the land and who found it good, was given as an inheritance that which he desired, the City of Patriarchs: “And Joshua blessed him and he gave Hebron unto Caleb and the son of Jephuneh for an inheritance.”

And the Jews dwelt in the land and their first king Saul fell in battle and David lamented and sought to return from the exile into which he had been driven.  And he asked G-d: “Whither shall I go up?”  And He said: “Unto Hebron.” And David went up unto Hebron and established there his kingdom, his first capital city.  And for centuries the Jews lived in and possessed Hebron until the terrible Roman legions came and burned the Temple, destroyed the land and exiled its Jews.  But the longing of the Jews for their land could not be quenched and slowly they returned and a Jewish presence was once again established in Hebron.  Poor, oppressed, suffering the terrors of both Moslem and Christian persecution, forbidden to go beyond the seventh step of the mosque that the Moslems had built over the Jewish shrine-the Jews nevertheless built their community in Hebron with synagogues, houses of learning, and institutions of charity.  The Avraham Avinu Synagogue, the Istanbul Synagogue, Yeshivat Firra, Yeshivat Magen Avraham, Yeshivat Torat Emet, Yeshivat Knesset Yisroel; all thrived in the Hebron that was poor in Jewish body but rich in Jewish spirit.  All of them-and Chesed L’Avraham.

The generous and charitable Jew of Bagdad, Yosef Avraham Shalom, decided, in 1909, to build a hospital for the Jewish community of Hebron.  He and the famous Sasoon family of India, contributed handsomely and on Lag Baomer of the year 1911, in the presence of the rabbis of Hebron led by the Haham-Bashi, Rabbi Saliman Mani, the cornerstone was laid.  And a Turkish deed, dated 1910, still exists today, confirming title to the building as residing equally with the Rabbis Mani and Franco.  The hospital was to serve Jew and Arab alike, healing their pains and illnesses.  It was Jewish built and Jewish owned and it went into tragedy along with all the other Jewish buildings of Hebron on that hot summer Sabbath eve in August, 1929.

The Arab mobs began to gather in the afternoon.  The mood was ugly and the perfidious British advised the Jews to remain in their houses.  But, the first victim was already counted as the matmid, the diligent student, at Yeshivat Hebron, Shmuel Rosenholtz who never left his study, sat alone in the Study Hall and the mobs turned his body into sieve with their knives.  But it remained for the next day, the Holy Sabbath, for the horror to be completed.  That Arabs raged through the town as the Jews cowered in their homes.  Moshe Goldschmidt was castrated, his eyes gouged out, and murdered; Nahum Segal saw his two-year-old son snatched from his arms and his head cut off; they thrust Noah Immerman’s head into a stove and he was burned alive.

And Chesed L’Avraham, now operated by Hadassah to serve all the citizens of Hebron, was put to the torch.  As the flames leaped high into the Judean air, in the adjoining building the Arabs dealt with 65-year-old Ben Zion Gershon, the pharmacist who had done so much for them.  His eyes, nose and hands were cut off and as he died the mob stabbed his wife with nailed clubs and knives so that she took two weeks to die; his daughter was raped before she died.  Seventy Jews took refuge in the home of A.D. Slonom, the banker and lone Jewish representative on the Hebron Town Council, in the belief that he, the dignitary, would be spared.  Most died along with their illusions and along with Slonom.  Within a few days nothing was left of the Jews of Hebron.  Nearly seventy were buried and all the rest fled to Jerusalem.

From that day forward, Hebron remained Judenrein.  Its emptiness of Jews was symbolized by Chesed L’Avraham-Hadassah standing silent, empty of its Jews as Arab murderers and robbers took possession.

And then came the Miracle.  “And thou shalt smash west and east and north and south…”  The miracle of the Six Day War as Jews, armed with the decree of the All Mighty, smashed through the Arabs to free their homeland unto the Jordan, and Hebron, city of Patriarchs, rejoiced in its first freedom in 19 centuries and wept tears of happiness as the flag of the Jews went up.  And Chesed L’Avraham, too, looked on its Jewish soldiers and waited to be redeemed.

The Messiah knocked on the door as the call of Redemption rang out and Rachel, weeping for her children, saw them returning to their borders.  Redemption was waiting, waiting for the Jews to understand her, to seize and embrace her.  Woe unto a people that saw nothing, called darkness light and light, darkness…

The Arabs of Hebron, cowering in fear as they anticipated their just punishment, were stunned to find the Defense Minister of the Jews, Moshe Dayan, race into town to comfort them with the news that the Cave of the Patriarchs would remain theirs and that the Jews would only be allowed to use it at certain hours.  How the Arabs could not believe it as the Jews were barred from returning to their city, their homes and property.  How the Arabs-who would have slaughtered every Jew they found had the positions been reversed and who waited in their homes with white flags hanging from every window-stared in disbelief as the insane Jews heard the Messiah pounding on the door and turned him away!  How they could not comprehend the Jews allowing Sheikh Ja’abry, inciter of murder in Gush Etzyon in 1948, to remain mayor and to wine him and dine him in the process.

How the Arabs watched in amazement in contempt for the stupidity of the Jews, as a handful of Jewish believers in the Messiah tried to open the door by coming to Hebron on Passover of 1968 to demand Jewish settlement there, only to be viciously attacked by Dayan.  (And how they ground their teeth as the Jews of Moshe Levinger defied the gentilized Dayan and government, and who with faith and stubbornness and sacrifice,created a Kiryat Arba.}

But Hebron itself remained Judenrein and the desecrated Synagogue of Avraham Avinu
-built in 1604 by Sephardi Jews - remained a wreck, buried under the droppings of sheep who used it as a pen leased to the Arabs by the Jewish military government of Hebron.

And Chesed L’Avraham-Hadassah remained silent, empty of its Jews, mourning for the dead who would never return and for the living that were as dead to redemption as all those who lay in the Jewish cemetery.  And, indeed, something inside the Jewish government of Israel had died.  It looked and saw nothing, it saw and understood nothing.  The men at the helm, the men to whom G-d is an abstraction, the men of socialism and secular nationalism and rationalism - did not understand that the rise of the Jewish State and the smashing of the enemy was the hand of G-d, the beginning of the Redemption.  They did not comprehend that the resurrection of Israel was the beginning of the end of the era of Hillul Hashem, the desecration of the name of the L-rd, which had been epitomized by the humiliation, persecution and the graveyard of the exile.  They were blind to the fact that a Jewish State was the beginning of the Sanctification of the name of the L-rd, putting an end to His humiliation, putting an end to the gentiles’ nineteen-century laughter, as they mocked the down-trodden Jews by saying: “Where then is your G-d?”  They did not see that the Jewish State, Jewish return, Jewish government, Jewish army and Jewish power were the Sanctification of G-d, were proof of His Omnipotence, were the answers to the mockery of the baffled gentiles who now blinked to see their holy places under Jewish sovereignty.  They did not have the vision to grasp the fact that refusal to allow Jews to return to Hebron because of realpolitik, because of fear of what the gentile world would say, was a retreat from Jewish might and sovereignty and that in turn was a retreat from Sanctification and from Redemption – a return to humiliation and desecration.  They did not realize that the refusal to return to Chesed L’Avraham was a refusal to open the doors to the Messiah and would bring down a terrible and needless tragedy on the Jewish State. 

When Jews of faith demanded return to Chesed L’Avraham, the gentilized Hebrews replied that they were bound by Jordanian law and that the law had turned over Chesed L’Avraham, to the United Nations!  When aged Avraham Franco showed his deed of ownership, the Defense Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, replied:  “Jordan took over Jewish property under the Enemy Property Law and gave it to the UN.  We in turn pledged to the UN to honor their holdings in the occupied (sic) territories.  We have no intention of breaking that pledge.”

And so, the Messiah sighed and remained outside in the cold, while the Jewish Defense Minister of Israel continued to honor enemy definition of enemy property as “Jewish” – and Chesed L’Avraham and all the rest were zealously kept from the enemy by the enemy…

But there are good Jews in Israel.  There are Jews who understand the Divine origin of the state, the era of sanctification.  There are Jews who hear the Messiah’s knocking and who struggle with the government to open it.  They are Jews of Kiryat Arba, of Gush Emunim, who returned to Chesed L’Avraham-Hadassah with the deed of Avraham Franco in one hand and the deed of Abraham, our father and his One G-d, in the other.  The building is ours, they cried, the building is Jewish!  Open the doors to us, open the doors to the Messiah!

And the gentilized Hebrews refused and arrested them.  And when more came they arrested them, too, and put up barbed wire and soldiers with guns to make sure that the Jews and their Messiah would not enter.  And the gentilized Defense Minister of Israel complained that the Jews of faith were “inciting” the Arabs and swore that Chesed L’Avraham would not go back to the Jews, that he, the enemy, would keep the enemy property from entering the hands of the enemy…It is a desecration of all the holy and martyred dead who fell on that Sabbath 47 years ago.  It is a disgrace to the living Jews who won the battle for Hebron and lost the war as the Arabs stand and laugh because they know that just as they shouted during the pogrom of 1919, “the government is still with us…”

And what will be?  What will be depends in such great measure on the good Jews of America.  What will be depends on whether the Jews of the Exile who have such power because they have the money and influence that the government of Israel needs, will act.  It depends on whether the American Jew who loves the state will understand that there is a difference between the state he loves and its government which is such a disaster.  What will be depends on the American Jew saving the state from its government.

What will be depends on the American Jew rejecting the false anger of the Israelis who demand UJA money from him as an obligation because he is a Jew, and then telling him that he has no business interfering in Israeli affairs because he is not an Israeli.  It depends on his shouting back: “Precisely because I am a Jew I have the right to save Israel by more than just money.  Because I am a Jew I have a right and an obligation to save Israel from a disastrous government that leads her to tragedy.  It is not I who will cause more Jewish tragedy and losses but the government of Israel because I am a Jew I must stop this.  Because I am a Jew I know that this is not an “Israeli” issue but a Jewish one.  Because I am a Jew I have an obligation to go to Hebron and to open the doors of Chesed L’Avraham-to open the doors of the Messiah.

American Jews.  Come tomorrow to Hebron.  Bring your Jewishness and your American passport.  Wave the first before the world and shout: I am a Jew!  Make Hebron Jewish!  Open the doors of the Messiah!

And then wave your American passport that is so respected and revered by the men who rise each morning and say:  “I raise mine yes unto Washington, from Ford shall come forth my salvation…”  Wave it before those who have nothing but contempt for the Israeli citizen but who nervously need the American UJA contributor and Bonds purchaser.

American Jews!  You can do that which no one else can.  Hebron is not an Israeli issue but a Jewish one and you are Jewish.  Be Jewish.  Come to Hebron tomorrow and open the doors of Chesed L’Avraham.  And when your return to America-temporarily, before your immigration home-join the struggle against the tragic policies of a tragic government.  In the exile, open the Jewish struggle for a Jewish State.  Cease being intimidated.  Israel is as much yours as any Jew.  If you truly love Israel, you will know that “any love that does not have within it chastisement is not real love.”  Love Israel.  Save her from those who bring tragedy upon her by barring the way of the Messiah.  On to Hebron and the final redemption.

[Jews have returned to Hebron, by their blood, sweat and bravery – but the battle to remain and keep on building, and liberate all of Hebron still continues by the brave, devoted Jews.]

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