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Dear editor, I’m giving up my property in Hebron

Some of the most notorious settlements – for example, in Hebron, Sheikh Jarrah or Silwan – are based on the claim that settlers are “returning” to places held by Jews before the creation of the state of Israel. It’s interesting to note, therefore, that in most cases, descendants of Jews that lived in those places oppose the projects undertaken in their name.

Check out this letter to the editor, from today’s Haaretz:

…The settlers in Hebron have introduced the method of searching for pre-state Jewish property to undermine the situation created in 1948… My mother’s family lived in Hebron from the beginning of the 18th century or even earlier. In 1880 my great-grandfather Rabbi David Eliezer Melamed and his brother Haim Yehezkel Melamed bought two apartments in Hebron next to the Eliyahu Synagogue. I have the purchase contract. The contract is approved with the seal and signature of Hebron’s “young” chief rabbi, Rachamim Yosef Franco, as required during the Ottoman period − approval of a document by the head of the religious community.

As is true of veteran Jewish residents, there are tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs who have papers proving ownership of property in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias and Safed. It is folly to try to turn back the clock to 1948.

I hereby declare that I fully waive any right of possession in Hebron. I am not a stranger to settling the land, nor do I oppose it; on the contrary. I have been engaged in settlement all my life, beginning with the establishment of Tel Katzir on the Syrian border in the demilitarized zone east of Lake Kinneret.

The difference is that back then settlements were built out of a perception of the overall picture, not to seize every hilltop. We settled to stabilize the borders, not to distort them so that it would be impossible to reach the necessary territorial compromise.

Hebron can serve as a good example for teaching students to distinguish between messianism and reality.

Yoram Katzir
Tel Aviv

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    1. Sinjim

      So this guy is a pragmatic settler giving advice to others of his ilk on what types of land it’s best to steal. No thanks, Noam. I’d much rather have the honesty of the Hebron settler over the two-facedness of the one in the Golan.

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      The premise is that Jews are fungible. Any property once held by any Jew can be transferred to any other Jew. It makes me wonder if any Jew with a pre-1948 title to property seized by settlers has ever challenged their claim and turfed them out.

      I also wonder why the letter writer didn’t sell his property to a Palestinian instead of simply relinquishing title, which will only result in its seizure by settlers.

      Reply to Comment
    3. sh

      @Sinjim – ” I’d much rather have the honesty of the Hebron settler over the two-facedness of the one in the Golan.”
      Oh fine, enjoy.
      If that enjoyment allows you time to peek at a map, you’ll find that Tel Katzir is not in the Golan (though some of its cows might be). It was founded in 1949 – yes, on the site of a “depopulated” Palestinian village. The way the legal cookie crumbled, Israel’s 1948 cease-fire lines included Tel el Qasr, but excluded Al-Khaleel.

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    4. Jazzy

      Commendable (or really just obvious) pragmatism. Well done Yoram.

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    5. Palestinian

      @ SH ,so its either we enjoy the violence of the honest burglar or accept the status quo as our “decent” settler suggested ?

      Reply to Comment
    6. @Palestinian, @Sinjin
      One note: Tel Katzir, the settlement at hand, is on the Israeli side of the old Syrian border. It was established in 1949 on what was an abandoned Syrian military outpost.
      Either the word “settlements” caused the confusion, or you consider all Jewish towns and villages illegitimate, which takes the debate to a whole different place.

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    7. richard Allen

      Actually, yes, Aristeides, I met a woman in Israel who provided the deeds to her family’s property and forced out settler squatters, and turned it into a museum.

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    8. Jazzy

      “or you consider all Jewish towns and villages illegitimate, which takes the debate to a whole different place.”
      And what a wonderful place that is. Let’s go there, shall we?

      Reply to Comment
    9. sh

      @Palestinian – “so its either we enjoy the violence of the honest burglar or accept the status quo as our “decent” settler suggested ?”
      The status quo, as I see it, is my country’s occupation of Hebron, East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the encagement (just coined a new word) of Gaza. I don’t accept it, so I wouldn’t ask it of you. What do you see as the status quo, Palestinian?

      Reply to Comment
    10. aristeides

      Richard Allen – what a great story! Good for her!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Caribou

      I heard Avrum Berg say this in 2003-4. Not new, but still pragmatic. But nobody – Jewish or Palestinian, should have to resort to relinquishing their rights. It’s an option which must be done as two collectives – Jewish and Palestinian, by their respective governments, as a concrete move towards end of claims.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Palestinian

      @ Noam , I am not confused.
      @ SH , Kiryat Shmona is a 63 year-old settlment located in north of Palesine.I think you already know what I meant by the status quo SH ,dont you ?

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    13. sh

      I don’t put words in other people’s mouths, Palestinian. How much does Yuli Edelman pay you?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Palestinian

      SH , I didnt claim you put words in anyone’s mouth .Who is Yuli Edelman ? a friend of yours ?

      Reply to Comment