Early in the morning on May 3, 2011, a group of fifty-five ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews were halted as they tried to barricade themselves in Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, a major Palestinian city. While there are regulated monthly visits to the tomb, these particular Hasidim decided they wanted to ensure a permanent Jewish settlement there. Apparently, this is similar to how the settlement in Hebron started: once Israelis are in there, the Israeli Army must protect them, thus granting a government sanction of the land grab.
The Hebron settlement is one of the most militant and anti-Arab Jewish settlements in the Palestinian lands. A huge wire fence has to cover the Hebron marketplace, and one can see the garbage and large stones that would have rained down upon the Palestinians by the Jewish settlers in the compounds that overlook the market. The city center is deserted now, all business scared off. Palestinian schoolchildren often have stones thrown at them as they walk past the settlement on their way to class (escorting these children is one of the main activities of the non-violent Christian Peacemaking Team in Hebron, cpt.org).
|The marketplace of Hebron, with the fence to catch garbage and stones thrown by Jewish settlers at the vendors below|
Obviously, not all Jewish settlements are like this. Most are just little outposts on isolated hills, built there by people who want cheap housing. But let me contrast the stories of Nablus and Hebron with a story I just found this morning about another Jew who settled in Hebron.
In Genesis 23, Abraham’s wife Sarah dies. He goes and humbly bows before the people living in Hebron and asks if he can buy a plot of land for Sarah’s burial. Three times, the people living there insist that Abraham take whatever piece of land he wants for free. And each time, Abraham declines and insists on paying the full, fair price for the land.
Thus in Genesis the Patriarch Abraham, the first Jew, was offered land in Palestine for free—that’s how much he was loved and respected by the people there. But he insisted on dealing honestly with them, refusing to take advantage of his superior position.
But nowadays, Abraham’s descendents take land in Palestine by force, usually only there backed up by the American-made M-16s of the Israeli Defense Force.
May Abraham’s descendents start behaving like he did.
[News article: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/right-wing-israelis-barricade-themselves-in-west-bank-jewish-holy-site-1.359707
Bible Passage: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+23&version=NIV ]