Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
NYC Rally Statement
May 1, 1996
Shalom from Hebron.
First, I must thank you for coming this evening to show your
solidarity with the Jewish Community of Hebron. Hebron does not
belong to those of us who live in Hebron-Kiryat Arba. Hebron belongs
to all the Jewish People, thoughout the ages. In spite of the fact
that your are in NY and we are here in Israel, Hebron is as much a
part of you as me.
This morning at 10:00, as we were getting ready to leave for
Jerusalem, Kiryat Arba's ambulance sirens began shrieking. Within a
few minutes the reason was clear. Seventy two year old Nisim Gudaei
was stabbed in the back by an Arab terrorist in Hebron. The
butcher knife was still sticking out of his back when he was taken to
Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.
Nisim Gudaei, still fighting for his life as I write, is a
brilliant man, a first class Torah scholar, having studied at the
Ponevitch Yeshiva. He was the secretary of the Tel-Aviv Rabbinic
Court, learned and taught in Kiryat Arba's Hesder Yeshiva, speaks
many languages, including fluent Arabic, and it a frequent visitor to
the Arab shuk in Hebron. All the Arabs in the Kasba know Nisim - he
buys from them for years, speaks their language, and is simply, a
very nice person. He cannot be called an extremist, or a problematic
trouble-maker, even among the Arabs.
So why should an Arab choose to stab him in the back? Because he
is a Jew, living in Eretz Yisrael, residing in Kiryat Arba, walking
the streets of Hebron. It is, in the words of a friend of mine, just
like reliving 1929.
We left Kiryat Arba-Hebron to protest the planned
abandonment of Hebron. We then traveled to the Knesset, where a special debate took
place. Reporters asked my, "Why bother - what do you accomplish by
standing here in the hot weather, with all your families - men, women
and children?" My response is quite simple: We cannot just stand by
and watch a 3,700 year old Jewish city be abandoned. It is the
democratic right to protest. We are fulfilling that right. But it is
not only a right, it is an obligation. If someone tried to break into
your home, and then claim that it belongs not to you, but to him,
wouldn't you have an obligation, not only to yourself, but to your
family, to prove him wrong? That is our obligation. Our home is
being taken from us, and our family is the entire Jewish People. We
must not let it happen.
Later in the afternoon we went to the Kotel. where we prayed
before the Master of the Universe, at the holiest site to the Jewish
People. Unfortunately, Temple Mount and the Western Wall are also on
the terrorist's list. If we will succeed in preventing the fall of
Hebron, the chances are good that Jerusalem will remain united. If,
chalila, Hebron should fall, we all know what is next.
Later on we continued to a demonstration in the center of
Jerusalem. We spent an entire day protesting, before the people of
Israel, before the people of the world, before our L-rd in Heaven:
Hebron, the city of Abraham, the lifeblood of the Jewish People must
not be turned over to Arafat.
In 1929 the Arabs massacred us, leaving 67 dead. The British
expelled the remaining survivors. We waited almost 50 years to
return. Is is possible that a Jewish government will continue where
the British left off? No - it cannot be, and we will do all in our
power to prevent it.
Today, this morning, the attempted murder of Nisim Gudaei brought
back shadows of 1929 to haunt us - the Arabs haven't changed. They
will still take any opportunity to try to kill us. It makes no
difference if we are 'their friends' or not.
In a month the Israeli People will go to the polls to make perhaps
the most important decision since the founding of the State. We
will have to decide if we want an Israel with Judaism or without
Judaism, with Hebron or without Hebron, with Jerusalem, or without
Jerusalem. If any of you have Israeli citizenship, do your utmost to
be in Israel on election day. Every vote counts. Everyone must do
what they can - If not now - when?
It would be very easy, after today's events, after the terrorist
attack, after hearing Yossi Sarid promise to 'not only withdraw from
Hebron, but also remove all its Jewish residents', to feel total
despair. However, I conclude, not on a note of despair, but rather on a note of hope,
of optimism. The road before us will not be easy, but we have faith
that we weren't brought back to Israel, after a 2,000 year exile,
only to be exiled again. Thousands of people participated in
today's protests, and there are hundreds of thousands more, all over
Israel, who will not agree to see Hebron fall, at the hands of a
The army offered us, in Hebron, different forms of protection,
most of which resembled ghettoization. We refused. We will not,
under any circumstances, return to a ghetto. We have come back to
Israel, we have come back to Hebron, we have come home, to live as a
free people should live, in their home. Our home is not a ghetto.
Our home is the oldest Jewish city in the world, the roots of the
Jewish People, the beginnings of the Kingdom of Israel - the home of
David Melech Yisrael. The eternity of Hebron, as is the eternity of
Israel, is not a man-made gift - it is Divine. And in spite of the
seeming darkness, the seeming pit we are falling into, we will rise
up, as we have in the past. Eternity is a long time, eternity does
not lie and with the help of G-d, - we will not fail in our mission.
Your solidarity with Hebron, Hebron, coming from the word l'chaber, to join
together, unites us - we are one - going forward for one cause - and
we will succeed.
Thank you again.
I look forward to seeing all of you as our guests in the Jewish
Community of Hebron in the very near future.
With blessings from the city of the Patriarchs,