July 15, 2014
Early this afternoon an article appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward. Authored, in two parts, by the paper’s editor, Missy Jane Eisner, today’s item features yours truly and Hebron.
A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from NY, informing me that Missy Eisner would be arriving and asked if I could give her a tour. I agreed. That’s my job.
I know that The Forward is not overtly pro Judea and Samaria. I’ve had more than one run-in with them in the past. But when Missy Eisner arrived, I had hopes that maybe this time it would ‘be different.’ She’d never been in Hebron before and seemed to be looking forward to seeing the city. I asked her how much time we had, and her response was ‘unlimited.’ However, in the middle of the tour she received a call from her organizer saying that she had to rush off to Jerusalem for a long-awaited interview with Mark Regev, a spokesman in Netanyahu’s office. For that reason, we had almost no time at Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. We literally had time to ‘jump in and jump out,’ because Regev was waiting. For that reason I had no time to provide any of the captivating stories or explanations that are so-much a part of a visit to this special, unique place. And in any case, after about a minute there, she felt ‘sufficated,’ and ‘couldn’t wait to leave.’
I suggest you read her article before you finish reading mine, in order to understand what I’m referring to.
Within the time frame we had, I gave her a ‘super tour.’ To the best of my recollection we also sat in my apartment for a while, allowing me to answer her questions. Beforehand, we visited Tel Hebron – also known as Tel Rumeida. She mentions some of the archeological excavations, and how much it didn’t seem to affect her. Honestly, that certainly was not her response when we toured together. I also seem to remember her using the word, ‘fascinating,’ to describe her emotions. Her face, personality and other outer reactions reflected the normal result of almost all people who visit the site for the first time, that being total amazement.
We climbed six flights to the roof of the building atop the excavations. That is where she photographed me, that picture appearing in the article.
A word about me: it is true that I carry a pistol. I’m licensed to carry a gun for reasons of self defense. (I’ve been told that 30% of Israelis are licensed to carry weapons. That includes many Jews living outside of Judea and Samaria.) My pants are baggy. I don’t think my beard is unkempt. (Take a look at the photo – judge for yourselves.) Additionally, my shirt was not stained. I do not wear dirty shirts while publicly representing the Jewish community of Hebron, especially when speaking to ‘important’ journalists, like Missy Eisner.
But on to more essential issues. The photo was taken on the roof, but Missy Eisner refrains from discussing anything we spoke about while up there, overlooking the city of Hebron. From there we can see the few, small areas, which comprise the Jewish Community, and the overwhelmingly large area, comprising the Arab-PA controlled part of the city. She doesn’t mention the 17,000 Arab factories in Hebron, three hospitals and four universities, or five billion shekels in business Arab Hebron conducts with the state of Israel annually.
Missy Eisner did remember to quote my saying that Jews have access to 3% of the city. She forgot the rest of the sentence, that Arabs have access to 97% of the city.
She also quotes part of my reaction to her query as to why we live in Hebron. However, she mentions only a short part of my answer. Additionally, I emailed her a link to the 2nd edition of my booklet ‘Breaking the Lies’ (downloadable here), which begins with an article titled, ‘Motivation’ which answers her question in depth. Missy Eisner, it seems, missed that.
There are two fascinating aspects to Missy Eisner’s article. She begins her essay on Hebron with the words, “This is what’s so frustrating about these extreme settlers. They openly and eagerly defy the law, then react bitterly when — or more likely, if — the government actually responds. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Hebron…”
In other words, we are, a priori, “defiant of the law.” Very interesting. Except for the fact that nowhere in the article does Missy Eisner detail our ‘defiance to the law,’ our illegality. We just are. Why? Because we live in Hebron. That is, in her words, ‘unreasonable.’
The photograph of me is captioned, beginning with the word ‘agitator.’ Missy Eisner later writes, “Wilder is the unremitting agitator, whose passion I’d find almost admirable if it wasn’t so utterly unreasonable.”
I checked out the word ‘agitator.’ It has a distinctly hostile connotation, of ‘troublemaker’ or ‘rabble-rouser,’ as a friend of mine defined the term. Merriam-Webster writes: “a person who tries to get people angry or upset so that they will support an effort to change…”something.
So, there is something inherently negative about me, because I am ‘passionate’ about “Hebron’ and I have the audacity to live here. With other Jews.
Actually, the only hint of any positive reference to Hebron was just that, “whose passion I’d find almost admirable if…”. ‘Almost admirable.’ Thanks a lot.
In other words, there is absolutely nothing positive about Jewish Hebron. Not of Hebron past, present or future. It is not a place for Jews in the ‘modern era’ because it is, as she writes, in her opinion, a ‘palestinian city.’
Actually, I think it’s quite fitting that this article be printed today. For today’s Hebrew date is the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day, beginning three weeks of mourning for the destruction of Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, in Jerusalem.
Among other events that are traditionally recorded to have occurred on this sad day was Moses’ throwing down and breaking the first tablets of law, the Ten Commandments, upon seeing Jews dance around a ‘golden calf,’ which they were worshiping as a god.
Missy Eisner’s article has a distinct flavor of ‘golden calves,’ printed in a publication that should not be called ‘The Forward,’ rather, ‘the Backward.’ Because it views that which is holy and sacred as profane and immoral. Those dancing around the golden calf, 3,300 years ago, had it backwards. G-d wasn’t real, and should be replaced by a god, a golden calf. Missy Eisner, refers to Jewish presence in Hebron and throughout Judea and Samaria as, ‘Damn the consequences.’ In other words, ‘let’s dance around a golden calf of emptiness and worthlessness. That is, the god of ‘realpolitik’, forgetting about our rights as a people in our land.’ I ask, what would be the consequences should we not live here, in our homeland, in Hebron? Would again the Tablets of the Law be cast down on the ground and smashed to smithereens? Meaning, in real terms, again, Exile?! Galut?! G-d forbid!
Missy Eisner, I have but one last thought. I’ve been able to conjure up in my memory another person, who too, thought that Jews in Hebron were ‘agitators,’ simply because they lived in Hebron. His name was Haj Amin El-Husseini.
This realization brings me to understand that, in actuality, today has turned out to be a good day to fast.