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The day after the massacre, in Hebron's Jewish settlement

Something saddened the Jewish settlers of Hebron following the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre: the army canceled their Purim parade.

By Yigal Mosko / ‘The Hottest Place in Hell’

Read this post in Hebrew here
+972-Hamakom Hebron special coverage
Much to my surprise there was no lock on the door. “Does this look safe?” Orna asked. The truth is that it seemed like an irresponsible thing to do, entering Hebron without so much as a single contact while the blood was boiling. Just one day earlier, a doctor from Kiryat Arba by the name of Baruch Goldstein entered the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Dressed in IDF officer garb and using his Galil rifle, he murdered 29 Muslim worshippers and wounded many more, until his ammunition ran out and he was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher.

Along with photographer Orna Itamar, I set out to write an article for Kol Ha’Ir. At the entrance to Goldstein’s home in Kiryat Arba, it was made clear to me that his widow would not agree to be interviewed. We began walking, and not far from Goldstein’s apartment we stopped to look out at Hebron across the fence. After a few moments we realized that someone was calling us. Two hundred meters ahead, on the Hebron side, we saw faces in the window of an unfinished home.

We began our unsuccessful, spontaneous interview by shouting. After a while one of the people in the window invited us to come to them. I thought he was kidding and told them, “we can’t, there’s a fence.” But he pointed toward a small gate in the fence a short distance from us, and said, “go through there.” There is no lock, and we hesitate. In silence, the Arabs in the window look at us, a photographer and a journalist. We go in.

After a short walk we arrived at the house, which was only half built. The walls were not yet plastered and the windows had no panes. Inside there was a big family, including children. It was cold and we were invited to crowd around the bathtub filled with coal that they had put in the middle of the room. First we drink sweet tea, then we start talking.

Like all 120,000 Arab residents of Hebron, they too were placed under curfew by the IDF, which feared riots, until further notice. I do not remember why they were stuck in an unfinished building but at that point they had no choice. They were not upset but it was clear that they were suppressing their anger, and especially their shame over the fact that they, the Arabs, were being punished after a massacre was committed against them.

After a few hours we parted ways and crossed the line back into Kiryat Arba. Now I wanted to return to Hebron, but this time to the Jewish settlement. Although the army didn’t allow it, I managed to catch a ride with Noam Arnon, the eternal spokesperson for the handful of Jews in Hebron. It was already nighttime by the time we entered the city in his car; the soldiers who stood at the entry gate did not demand to see our IDs. We were, however, stopped at a makeshift checkpoint near the Tomb of the Patriarchs by a sergeant and two of his soldiers. None of Arnon’s connections helped.

We continued waiting and eventually stepped out of the vehicle. Arnon and the sergeant struck up a theological conversation. At a certain point, Arnon explained that every person has a soul. The sergeant made a surprising follow-up: “do Arabs also have souls?” As Arnon began fumbling with an answer, the two-way radio announced our redemption, and we continued to the Jewish settlement.

There, too, everyone was angry and in terrible moods. And while no one had massacred them, and no one had placed them under curfew, because of the increased tensions the regional brigade commander canceled their Purim parade that was supposed to take place the following day. Rude. We slept there with a group of young people. (To this day I ask myself whether Yigal Amir, Yitzhak Rabin’s killer, was among them. It was well known that he would spend Sabbaths and holidays in Hebron.) After a few interviews in the morning, we returned to Kiryat Arba with a great sense of relief.

On the sidewalk, we were happy to bump into Kol Ha’ir‘s West Bank correspondent, Hillel Cohen (today a lecturer at Hebrew University). He was on his way to Hebron to walk around the mourner’s tents. A woman pushing a stroller confronted us: “you’re journalists right? Meet my son, Baruch. I named him after the tzadik (righteous person) even before I heard he committed his act of bravery. Dr. Baruch Goldstein, what a tzadik.”

What can I say, I was practically ready to burst after the last 24 hours. “Yalla yalla, get out of here with your Baruch,” I said to the mother from Kiryat Arba. The next day I met with Hillel Cohen at the office. “I ran into that women again,” Cohen said to me. “Just know that she was very offended by you. She told me ‘what kind of journalist is your friend? Okay, I support killing Arabs, he is against killing Arabs, but we can talk about it in a civilized manner!'”

Related:
In Hebron, terror begets a reign of terror
PHOTOS: 20 years since Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre
PHOTOS: IDF brigade commander vs Hebron’s kindergarten

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    COMMENTS

    1. bob wisby

      Does anyone else join me in taking exception to the use, in the title of this article, of the word ‘massacre’? It’s an inflammatory word, and one which ignores the nuances that always exist in these incidents.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Yes Moron.

        Nuance:
        The massacre of the Jews of Hebron in 1929 by a frenzied Arab mob. As opposed to a horrible crime committed by a deranged Jew who could no longer stomach constant random acts of murder of Jews by Arab terrorists.

        Is that what you were looking for Wisby?

        Reply to Comment
    2. bob wisby

      Thanks for explaining the moral differences for us, Tzutzik. Some people were beginning to value all human life equally. You’ve cleared that up for us all.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        For the life of me I cannot see how I devalued non Jewish lives with my above comment.

        To the contrary, I feel that you are the one who is devaluing Jewish lives as compared to non Jewish lives Bob. Why don’t we ever hear people like you complaining about Jewish lives lost?

        Whenever Jewish lives are lost, you guys are as quiet as mice. You only come out of the woodworks when you can point at deranged Jewish people like Baruch Goldstein. And you are almost thankful that Jews like him exist. So that you can point at the rest of us and say with great satisfaction and say, see what the Jews are like …

        One lonely Jewish gunman went berserk 20 years ago. How many other similar acts by Jews can you show me since?

        I on the other hand can show you hundreds of equally bad attacks by Arabs against Jews in the same 20 year period.

        I know … now you are going to mention the IDF. And you are going to pretend that the IDF attacks are just random and unprovoked. And that they target civilians rather than terrorists, just because they (the IDF) have a bad hair day. Right Bob?

        Reply to Comment
    3. bob wisby

      “Why don’t we ever hear people like you complaining about Jewish lives lost?”

      You would, if Israeli lives were being lost in any measure comparable to those of Israel’s designated ‘enemies’. Yes, it’s a numbers game. I see all life as sacred. I know you see it as a quality over quantity equation, but there we disagree.

      Reply to Comment
      • bob wisby

        You probably agree with Rabbi Yaacov Perrin’s assessment that a million Arab lives isn’t worth one Jewish fingernail. Be honest, you do, don’t you?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Tzutzik

      Give me a break … Just give me a break.

      That’s all you want from us? Equal number of Jews dead to Arabs dead?

      Well, I want something better. I want NO deaths on either side. But it seems that the Palis give themselves a licence to kill Jews by using the “occupation” trope. And people like you say, of course, the Arabs have a right to resist. By that you guys mean that the Arabs have a licence to kill ANY Israeli Jew, or even non Jew for that matter who happens to be at the wrong place and the wrong time.

      The only trouble with the “occupation” excuse is that it is wearing thin. Wearing thin because Hamas considers ALL of Israel to be occupied so it is impossible to make peace with them and the occupation has to continue not because we want it but because Hamas asks for something we cannot give them. And the PLO is not far behind them.

      Now ponder this as well, Bob. In WW2, the number of American lives killed as compared to Japanese and German lives was much much smaller. Yet no one blamed the Americans for fighting the war. And no one demanded that they should slow down because too many of their enemies were dying. What they aimed for and got was unconditional surrender. And because of that, WW2 lasted about 5 years.

      On the other hand, the war between the Jews and the Arabs has been going on for nearly 100 years. Is it because WE want it to? NO!!! It is because neither side has achieved a decisive win. When Israel did win significant battles, the big powers told us to pull our necks in. On the other hand if we would ever lose a major battle, what do you think would happen to us? Hint, what is happening in Syria now? What happened in Lebanon during the civil war? Hundreds of thousands died and are maimed.

      Here is another thing you can ponder on Bob: since 1948, in all the wars fought between Israel and all it’s Arab neighbours, do you know how many people lost their lives, on both sides (Arabs and Jews)? No? Then I’ll tell you, not much more than 60,000 people. In Syria alone, the death toll has reached 120,000 in about 3 years and it is still rising. What have you done about that lately Bob? Have you been making snide comments on a Syrian blog?

      Now tell me what do you want Israel to do. Stop defending itself? Unilaterally withdraw? Look what happened after it withdrew from Gaza unilaterally? Rockets. And was peace the result after Israel withdrew from Lebanon? Of course not.

      And what about before 1967? Was there peace? Of course not. The Arabs were promising to destroy us. And they didn’t have the occupation as an excuse then. So what was their excuse then, Bob? I’ll tell you what. Their excuse was that we existed in the Middle East which they consider to be exclusively Arab and Muslim. You want supremacism, Bob? That is supremacism!!!

      How about starting to demand from the Palis to moderate their demands? Drop the right of return demand and consider making peace. After all, there were at least as many Jews kicked out from Arab countries as the number of Palestinians who became refugees. There was a defacto population exchange. Like there was between Pakistan and India and nobody over there has made a political mileage out of their refugees. Each side simply looked after its own refugees and today neither India nor Pakistan have a refugee issue with each other. Why couldn’t the same happen here?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Tzutzik

      “You probably agree with Rabbi Yaacov Perrin’s assessment that a million Arab lives isn’t worth one Jewish fingernail. Be honest, you do, don’t you?”

      Now tell me Bob, point at a single thing that I ever said on this site which warrants this accusation.

      Yes, I called you a Nazi but I backed up my claim by pointing to a Nazi-like post that you made. Can you do the same with me? Go on then find a single post which would back up your stupid assertion.

      Now, listen here my man. I decided to give you another chance and I posted a couple of non abusive posts to you because I noticed that I was getting under your skin. Keep this nonsense up, and I too will give you hell. And you will then have to wear it because I won’t relent again. And you know what? I am game to be expelled from this site as long as I know that you too will be expelled with me. Last warning Bob. Start posting serious posts or wear what you dish out to others.

      Reply to Comment
      • bob wisby

        You may have some influence with +972. I don’t know. You certainly behave as though you did, flouting the rules with apparent impunity.

        Reply to Comment
    6. bob wisby

      “Keep this nonsense up, and I too will give you hell.”

      I don’t think any useful purpose is served by responding to such hostile and aggressive statements. In fact, I believe the guidelines for commentators quite clearly prohibits them.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        Behold, Bob the victim.

        Poor Bob.

        Reply to Comment