Return to Hebron, City of Nightmares and Hope

Gershom Gorenberg

Abd al-Karim al-Jabari sat yesterday in one of the overstuffed couches that line the sides of his living room in Hebron. He has a square face and a graying mustache, and he spoke quietly, with a hint of a smile, as if apologizing for telling guests his troubles. On the cofee table were bowls of nuts and tiny cups of spiced coffee and plates of baked holiday treats whose names I don’t know.

Jabari’s house is near Kiryat Arba, the settlement that looks down on Hebron, physically and in spirit. He’s put up a wall around his house, with barbed wire at the top. It doesn’t help a lot. Between his house and the gate to Kiryat Arba is the so-called synagogue of Hazon David, a makeshift structure, more tent than building. Hazon David is an illegal outpost, which is to say illegal even in the eyes of the Israeli government. The house of prayer was built to seize land, to extend settlements more quickly and aggressively than the government would. It’s the rare outpost that has been taken down by the army and police – 32 times, I’m told. And put back up 32 times. And still there.

“Someone who’s religious, he brings his children to the syngagoue ,” said Abd al-Karim. He corrected himself, perhaps out of respect for those of his guests wearing kipot. “It’s not a synagogue. They say it’s a synagogue… He prays inside, and he tells his children to go throw stones.”

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The Extremists of Your Own City Come First

Gershom Gorenberg

This week’s key misunderstood news story from the Looking Glass Land of the West Bank is that the Defense Ministry is about to approve settlement at a spot called Maskiot, near the Jordan River. On first glance, that’s bad because it means that the government is abandoning its freeze on new settlements. At second glance, the freeze on new settlements is a joke – but Maskiot is really bad news. It shows again that the government consistently, reflexively, obsessively gives in to the most extreme elements of the settlement movement.

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Journey to Hebron: Nightmares and Hope

Yehiel and I met Elliott at the appliance repairman’s shed on a side street in South Jerusalem.

Elliott Horowitz, a historian at Bar-Ilan University, had already paid for the almost-new washing machine, with cash that friends have pledged to repay. We wrestled the heavy white hunk of metal into the back of Yehiel’s undersized station wagon, and set off – three guys with skullcaps and graying beards driving to Hebron with a washing machine for a Palestinian stonecutter.

It was Elliott’s idea.

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