This time of the year is difficult. Last week marked the beginning of ‘the three weeks,’ a twenty-one day period of mourning, concluding with the Tisha b’Av fast, the anniversary of the destruction of the first and second Temples. During these three weeks we refrain from celebrations, such as weddings and other festivities. Generally speaking, these days are meant to be a time of deep introspection, attempting to fathom the horrors the led to, and followed the destruction of Jerusalem and eventual exile from our land.
Jewish tradition explains that the horrors of the ninth day of Av did not begin with the fall of the Temples in Jerusalem. Rather, many hundreds of years earlier, while still in the desert, following the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites, accepted the account of ten spies, who reported that: The land, through which we have passed to spy it out, is a land that eats up its inhabitants …And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night…And they said one to another: ‘Let us appoint a leader, and let us return to Egypt.
These words, forsaking Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, were uttered on Tisha b’Av, the ninth of Av. This date being the root of the calamities which befell the Jewish people on this day, including not only the destruction of the two Temples, but also the day on which Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.
Unfortunately, the Tisha b’Av fast does not designate an end to our sorrow. For exactly eight years ago, on Monday the 10th of Av, the day after the fast, Ariel Sharon’s government followed in the footsteps of Titus and Nebuchadnezzar by destroying Gush Katif in Gaza and communities in northern Samaria, leaving 10,000 homeless, and many of them jobless. And leaving parts of our land in the hands of our enemies. The cost: over 13,000 rockets shot into Israel, and two small wars. So far.
A few days ago, HaAretz newspaper reported: Likud minister: Netanyahu ready to compromise, withdraw from over 90% of West Bank if security concerns met. Minister says security remains Netanyahu’s main concern, but the PM knows that for a peace agreement, ‘he will have to evacuate more than a few settlements’.
The various and assorted media reports dealing with the US attempts to renew ‘piece talks’ between Israel and the Arabs spew forth numerous rumors such as the HaAretz story. Is it true? Who knows? But, Netanyahu has declared his intention to create a ‘palestinian state’ and has participated in chopping up Hebron. In January, 1997 he signed and implemented the Hebron Accords, thereby abandoning most of Hebron to Arafat and the PA. That being the case, the above-quoted headline could very well be true.
For the time being, Kerry left Israel without achieving his goal. The talks are still stuck. But that’s not enough. We must continue to take affirmative action – not only say no – but progress.
That ‘s what happened today. A military appeals panel ruled that Beit HaMachpela in Hebron was legally purchased and Jews should be allowed to move back in.
At the beginning of April, 2012, a group of Jewish families moved into a newly purchased building across the street from the Tomb of the Patriarchs, calling it ‘Beit HaMachpela.’ A few days later, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, together with Netanyahu, ordered the families expelled. No real reason was given. We later learned that the Attorney General told the Prime Minister that he might be accused of war crimes in Geneva for ‘appropriating Arab property in Hebron.’ Since then, the building has remained empty.
Despite Israeli insistence that the building was not legally purchased, the PA arrested an Arab named Abu Shahala and ostensibly sentenced him to death for his role in the sale.
Numerous Israeli leaders visited Beit HaMachpela, including Minister Moshe Bugi Ya’alon, who said during Succot, 2012, that the government would ‘make the right decisions’ and also declared his belief in the continued development of Hebron and all of Judea and Samaria. He said that the return to these places in 1967 was not ‘temporary’ and promised to assist in the continues growth of the community.
Presently he has a chance to fulfill his promise, as Defense Minister, buy signing the necessary permits allowing Jews to move back into Beit HaMachpela.
This is the rectification of the sins of the spies, the spies in the desert and the spies who relinquished parts of our holy land in the past 30 years. This is the answer to those who continue to preach hate against Jews in Israel in general, and specifically against Jews in Judea and Samaria, and most prominently, against Jews in Hebron.
This is the appropriate response: returning to our land, and to our homes, and in this case, to Beit HaMachpela in Hebron.