The Day After
November 13, 1996
The Israeli army has, by all accounts, almost completely
concluded its abandonment of the City of the Patriarchs.
The IDF has removed almost 100% of its outposts in and
around the city, in the areas to be transferred to
Arafat. Legally, Israel still has access to the entire
city, but patrols in nearly all the neighborhoods have
The major difference between today and post-
abandonment is the entrance of the armed, uniformed
terrorists into Hebron. Presently, Hebron's Arabs are
still wearing civilian clothing and their weapons are
still in the closets. Following official `redeployment'
that changes. As will Israeli access to about 90% of the
Barring a miracle - and miracles do happen, we know
them very well - but barring a miracle, Arafat's flag
will actually fly over the Hebron military compound in
the very near future. His soldiers will be patrolling in
the hills above the Jewish Community of Hebron, possibly
by next Sunday morning.
According to the most recent news accounts,
Netanyahu, who was supposed to leave tonight for the west
coast of the United States, canceled his trip. Early
this morning palestinian negotiators met with President
Ezer Weitzman, and as a result of this meeting, met
tonight between seven and eight, with Netanyahu. It is
possible that tonight, or early tomorrow an agreement
will be initialed by both sides. The agreement will have
to be ratified by the Israeli Cabinet and may be
implemented on Saturday night.
Israeli officers hosted palestinian `officers'
including Jabril Rajub in the city, and discussed Hebron
Earlier tonight all roads leading into Hebron were
closed off. Not even Hebron residents were allowed into
the city. The reason for the confusion: A enormous
military exercise, practicing measures to be taken
following a massive terrorist attack outside Ma'arat
Peace has arrived.
Earlier this afternoon a reporter sat questioning me
in my office . "So," he asked, "what will you do? Are
you going to try and stop it?" My response: "What can we
do? Everything we could possibly do we have done. Tens
and hundreds of thousands of Jews have come into Hebron
to show support. Meetings, rallies, both in Israel and
in the US, a legitimate attempt to influence public
opinion, and to sway the politicians. We brought about a
political revolution - leading to a change in
governments. Whatever there was to do, we did it."
"Now, we cannot force the Israeli army to patrol
where they don't want to patrol. We have no intentions
of forming our own militias - that is not our task.
Fifty four adult males will not be able to prevent armed
Arabs, called police, dressed like soldiers, from
entering the vacuum created by the abandonment of the
city by the IDF. There really isn't too much else left
for us to do. Barring a miracle."
So then the reported continued. "What will you do
the morning after, the morning after redeployment?"
"I suppose we will get up in the morning, the way we
get up every morning," I answered. "We will go to
morning prayers, eat breakfast, - the kids will go to
school and we will go to work."
"That's it!?" he queried, "life as normal?" His
voice sounded incredulous.
"Yeah, I suppose so." What else is there to do? We
aren't planning on leaving, if that's what you are
"But life as normal?" He couldn't believe it.
"Look," I answered, "our goal was, and still is, to
live as normally as possible, within the given
circumstances. True, things will change - they will
change drastically. Unbelievable amounts of soldiers and
police will wonder the streets and rooftops in the areas
still controlled by Israel. We don't really want to live
feeling like we are embedded inside a military camp - but
we don't have too much choice."
"Our security, in spite of the military presence,
will have been compromised. No amount of soldiers can
prevent sniper fire from the hills surrounding us. We
know that, and will have to find a way to live with it."
"O.K.," he said. But what's next? You've spent so
much time just fighting for survival. That was your
goal, almost since the previous government was elected
and the Oslo accords were signed. What do you do now -
where do you go from here?"
I sat and thought for a moment and then responded.
"We are going to try to do whatever we can to proceed
forward - to build wherever we can and to struggle to
build where we will be told that we cannot. We are going
to bring as many more people into Hebron as we can, both
to visit, and as permanent residents. We are going to
keep living in Hebron, and we will develop and expand
however we can."
It won't be exactly as we wanted it - but we can
only do what is in our hands, within our limits. We try,
but that is all we can be held responsible for - trying.
What we can do, we will do. What we can't do, we won't
Hebron existed before Oslo, Rabin, Peres and Netanyahu
and will continue to exist after them. Three thousand
seven hundred years of history, of heritage, of Judaism
cannot be eradicated by anyone or anything. There may be
those who believe, for one reason or other, that they are
above history. But history will prove them wrong. Just
as the Jewish people are eternal, so are our roots.
Nothing can severe those roots, because they are so deep,
that they touch the very essence of existence. That is
the status of Hebron. There may be setbacks, there may
be failures - but these are temporary. We were exiled
from Hebron from 1929 to 1967 against our wills, but we
returned home - the same as we returned to Eretz Yisrael
after a 2,000 year exile. We may again find ourselves
facing a situation whereby most of Hebron is Judenrein.
However, we will be back. Hebron-Past, Present and
Forever is not only a slogan - it is an expression of
truth - of essence. And just as it was, and is, it
always will be.