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Saturday, December 22, 2012
Beit Ezra in Hebron
Beit Ezra in Hebron
the Six-Day War in 1967, past residents of the Old City in Jerusalem who had
been expelled during the War of Independence in 1948askedfor, and were granted a meeting with then
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. They requested permission to return to their homes
and property in the Old City, confiscated and occupied by Jordan. Dayan
consented, and, as a result, Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter today flourishes.
past Hebron inhabitants, who had beenexpelledin 1929, and again in 1936, requested a
similar meeting with Dayan, inorderto return to their homes in the recently
liberated city of the PatriarchsandMatriarchs. Dayan refused to meet
I heard from Hebron residents, some of whom no longeralive, years ago.
story of Hebron’s Jewish property is a reason forheartacheand chagrin. Hebron Jews lost most of their
assets followingexpulsionby the British following the 1929 riots. As
I was told by a survivorofthose riots: “My father wrote to the British
High Commissioner and asked whythevictims had been punished – why the Jews
were expelled after beingslaughtered.
His answer: ‘I knew you couldn’t continue living together and beingthatthere were more Arabs than Jews it was
easier to expel the Jews.’”
untainted authenticity of Jewish land ownership is Hebron is indisputable. The
“Jewish Quarter,” presently known as the AvrahamAvinuneighborhood, was originally populated by
Karites some 1,000 years ago. Thislandwas purchased from them by Rabbi Malchiel
Ashkenazi, himself exiled to Turkey from Spain in 1492. In 1540 he bought that
area from the Karites andmoved, with a
small community, to Hebron. This neighborhood existed untilthe1929 riots, massacre and exile.
Fivedunam (5,000 sq.meters) of land adjacent to this placewaspurchased by Rabbi Chaim Bajaiyo for the
community in 1807 from the Kashkolfamilyin Hebron. This too remained under Jewish
hands until 1929. In the early 1960s this property was taken over and occupied
by Hebron merchants, who builtaretail and wholesale market at the
Receiptforwater paid by Yaakov Ezra
Ezra is a ninth generation Hebronite. He and hisfather, Ya’akov Ezra,werethe last Jews to leave Hebron, following the
Nov. 29, 1947 UN decision to partition Israel. His father, who worked closely
with Arabs, produced cheese and other milk products. He worked in Hebron during
theweekand spent Shabbat with his family in
Jerusalem. Until November, 1947, when Hebron’s Arabs told him not to return to
this holy city.
Ezra property, within the boundaries of these two areaswasstolen, according to Yossi Ezra by the Awawi
family, who had worked withhisfather. Then fifteen, Yosef Ezra still
remembers this family, who workedforhis father, grazing sheep.
Yosef Ezra outside Beit
there is no doubt whatsoever that this is Jewishland, and that there are no real,
justifiable, legal Arab claims to thisproperty. However, the State Attorney
General’s office has decided that Arabswholived on this land which they stolen from
Jews have ‘protected residentstatus’and refuse to allowHebron’s Jewish communityto utilize the
property. This, despite a ruling by an Israeli military judicial panel of three
judges whichconcludedthat there is a firm legal basis to allow
the Hebron Jewish Communitytoutilize this land.
Military panelvisiting in Hebron
the State informed the Israeli Supreme Court of theirdecisionto expel the two families living in Beit
Ezra. The expulsion is due tooccurtowards the end of April. That is, following
the elections. Bibi Netanyahu isn’t interested in photos and videos of Jews
expelled from theirhomesin Hebron before the elections. It wouldn’t
win him any mandates.
decision also expressed a possibility that the propertywillbe made available to Hebron’s Jewish
community, after the families havebeenexpelled.
Mitzpe Shalhevet -
before and after
been through this before. Back in Janurary, 2006 theIsraeli governmentmade a similar promise, whereby, following
voluntary exit ofhomesin“MitzpeShalhevet,”other families would be allowed back in,
with full permission andgovernmentpermits. This offer was made with the
knowledge and consent of thedefenseand prime ministers. After all the families
moved out, then Attorney General Manny Mazuz nixed the deal. We were left with
January, 1997, when the Hebron Accords, which split Hebron, leaving most of the
city in the hands of the Palestinian Authority,weresigned and implemented by Bibi Netanyahu,
another government decision was passed,callingfor, and promising, the continued growth
andwellbeingof Hebron’s Jewish community. It’s hard to
understand how a Prime Minister, whose actionsbroughtupon this community two and a half years of
shooting attacks, murders,andother terror acts, who promised to ensure
the expansion of Hebron’s JewishCommunity, can allowcontinued shrinkageof Hebron’s housing and
neighborhoods. Beit HaMachpela, Beit HaShalom, now Beit Ezra, not to
mentionrefusalof anypermitsto plan or build new homes, are not examples
of good will, growth, andwell-being.
To the contrary, they seem to be examples of how to bring about thedeletionof Hebron’s Jewish community from the
what is it with you, Bibi? Perhaps the time has arrivedtocome clean. Will the property really be
returned to us, or is this anotherpoliticalspin, designed to prevent more votes from
draining away from the Likud? Let the electorate know exactly where you stand
concerning Hebron,beforeJanuary 22, 2013. For a start, give us back