On Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu will become the first Israeli prime minister to deliver a public address in Hebron to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1929 Hebron massacre. The massacre resulted in 67 Jewish residents of Hebron being murdered in brutal Arab pogroms. Wednesday’s visit will be the third time that a sitting Israeli prime minister has arrived in the historic city, which served as the first capital of King David 3,000 years ago. He will be joined by President Reuven Rivlin and the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein.
Hebron: The King David Connection
Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum, the Director of Tourism for the Hebron Fund, noted the Biblical significance of Netanyahu’s visit.
“It is always important to see current events through the lens of the Torah,” Rabbi Hochbaum told Breaking Israel News. “Everything in the Bible is a sign of things to come. If it wasn’t going to be relevant today and for all generations, it would not have been written in the Torah.”
Rabbi Hochbaum noted that the politicians will certainly gain from their visit to the Biblical city.
“It is important at this stage that these leaders come to Hebron to commemorate what happened. Before we move forward, we need to remember the past,” Rabbi Hochbaum said. “King David understood that before he established an eternal kingdom in Jerusalem, he needed to be connected to his roots: Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Rivkah, Jacob and Leah. He established his kingdom in Hebron for seven years before going up to Jerusalem. Without roots, there can be no future. The roots of Judaism and the Jewish people are in Hebron.
Any attack on Hebron threatens the roots and the future of the Jews.”
Netanyahu is intimately familiar with Arab attacks on the Jewish presence in Hebron. Almost 21 years ago, while still a simple Member of Knesset, Netanyahu visited the house of mourning for Rabbi Shlomo Ranaan in Hebron after he was killed by an Arab terrorist who broke into his home. Rabbi Ranaan was the grandson of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel.
“On the eve of the election Netanyahu needs to be reminded of Hebron and its history, of his roots and the roots of the Jewish people in Israel,” Rabbi Hochbaum said. “As the leader of Israel, he needs to remember that we cannot have a situation where the Arabs murdered Jews and then took their land.”
Rabbi Hochbaum noted that Netanyahu’s response to recent terrorist attacks has been to authorize new building in Judea and Samaria. The properties in Hebron in which Jews reside were all Jewish owned before the pogrom of 1929, but the community is engaged in court battles to reacquire other properties for which they hold the original deeds.
“There is also a strong positive message for Netanyahu in Hebron,” Rabbi Hochbaum said.
“King David arrived in Hebron had only two tribes with him. He had what we would call today a very narrow coalition. Yet because he was connected to our deep roots in Hebron, he was able to establish his dynasty in Jerusalem. Netanyahu is faced with a narrow coalition. But if he connects to Hebron, he can do what King David did.”
The First Jewish City
Yishai Fleisher, International Spokesman for the Jewish Community in Hebron, noted the auspicious event and the auspicious location.
“This is Abraham’s first purchase, his first hold in the land of Israel,” Fleisher told Breaking Israel News. “This is something no one can deny without denying the Bible. By coming to Hebron, Netanyahu is emphasizing our ownership. We expect him to address that not only was there a crime 90 years ago but we also expect him to address the injustice by instituting policies that return normal Jewish life to our first city.”
Hebron one of the archetypal locations described in the Midrashic Biblical commentary (Beresheet Rabba 79:7) as establishing the Jews’ ownership of the land of Israel because their purchase was explicitly described in the Bible.
Said Rabbi Yuden the son of Simon: ”This is one of the three places that the nations (of the world) can never castigate the Jewish people and say “you are occupying stolen territory”. These are the three places: The Cave of the Machpela, the Holy Temple Mount Joseph’s burial site.
The Cave of the Machpela because it is said: ”And Abraham counted out to Ephron the money he had spoken of to the sons of Het — four hundred shekels of valid currency” (Genesis 23:16).
Fleisher explained that attacks on Hebron, whether they be physical or political, have a domino effect that ultimately threatens all of Israel.
“Hebron represents the core narrative of our connection to this land. If you deny the Jewish connection to Hebron, then you are essentially denying the Bible, which is denying Jewish history, which is denying Zionism.”
“Jerusalem is theological because that is where we met God,” Fleisher said. “But Hebron is genealogical since that is where we meet the founders, the actual people who began the story of the Bible.”
Fleisher noted that Hebron is the most visited site in Judea and Samaria.
It boasts a community of about 1,000 people playing host to over 700,000 visitors annually. Jews are restricted access to only 3% of the city.
“This tiny community is the portal that allows the entire Jewish people to continue our 3,800-year connection with our forefathers,” Fleisher said.
One of the obstacles they are fighting to overcome is handicapped access to the holy site.
Normally a simple matter that is mandated by law, construction of handicapped access via an elevator is being blocked by the Islamic Waqf and the PA,
“This important occasion connects the past with the future,” Fleisher said, noting the bittersweet nature of the event.
“We remember the atrocity that took place here and the ethnic cleansing of our people from our ancient city in 1929. This was a precursor to what happened just a few years later in Europe during the Holocaust. The pogroms were initiated by Hajj al Amin Husseini who founded Palestinian nationalism. He went on to be an enthusiastic ally of Hitler and an advocate of the murder of the Jews in Europe”
Arab terrorism was the subject of U.S. Ambassador David Friedman’s comment on the event.
Today Israel observes 90 yrs since Hebron Massacre-67 Jews murdered & many more wounded. This attack was long before the creation of the State of Israel & the Six Day War. Important lesson: Terrorism is always about hatred & violence; never about vindicating political grievances
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) September 4, 2019
“We also remember the great victory of the 1967 Six-Day War which miraculously returned us to the heart of our ancestral homeland. It shows our tenacious attachment to the land God gave to the forefathers who are buried here. Today is an opportunity to build the future by continuing to renew Jewish life in Hebron and normalize Jewish properties which were pillaged and stolen during the riots.”
“The Jewish community of Hebron applauds PM Netanyahu’s recent statements calling for Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and hopes that these important political statements become announced Israeli policy soon,” Fleisher said.
Not everyone was pleased with Netanyahu’s impending visit. The Turkish Anadolu Agency decried his visit as “racist and colonial.”
“Israeli plans to Judaize the old city of Hebron, including the Ibrahimi Mosque,” the agency said in a statement. Ibrahimi Mosque is what the Muslims call the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The Power of Hebron
A rabbi, who preferred to remain unnamed, noted another Biblical precedent describing the power of Hebron. The rabbi cited a verse in Numbers.
Biblical commentaries note the verse is incongruous, seeming to have little to do with the context in which it appears.
“Ham, the son of Noah, was the patriarchal forefather of Egypt,” the rabbi noted. “After Ham gazed upon Noah’s nakedness, Noah cursed his son, Canaan. Canaan’s descendants were cursed to be the slaves of the descendants of Ham; the Jews.”
“When Ham heard the curse, he first built up Hebron before establishing Egypt,” the rabbi said.
“By building up Hebron, Ham was able to delay and partially overturn the curse, making the Egyptians slave-masters over the Hebrews in direct contradiction to Noah’s curse.”
“That is the power of Hebron,” the rabbi said.
“By concentrating in Hebron, the Arabs are able to prevent the re-establishment of the kingship of David in Jerusalem. They are able to rewrite history and with the power of Hebron, the world believes them. By exercising a monopoly of prayer on the Temple Mount, they are able to influence events to a disproportionate degree.”