A secular Israeli minister toured Hebron two days ago and gave a surprisingly Biblical response to the recent UN resolution outlawing the Jewish community living in the City of the Patriarchs: Abraham bought this land and it belongs to the Jews.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) visited Hebron on Tuesday to discuss several legal dilemmas facing the Jewish community. After visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs, Shaked addressed the representatives of the community, and in no uncertain terms stated the source of Jewish ownership of the city.
“Lately, much has been said regarding our rights to this land,” Shaked said, referring to the recent UN Security Council Resolution declaring the Jewish presence in Hebron to be illegal.
“Let us teach to those who do not know: Abraham our father, bought this place paying full price and a written deed, maybe the first of its kind in the world, and therefore it is obvious the Jewish community has every right to be here, including the right of ownership.”
Yishai Fleisher, international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, told Breaking Israel News that Shaked’s statement took him by surprise.
“I almost didn’t catch what she was saying,” Fleisher said. “She said it so naturally, as if it was an obvious and a simple fact.”
Shaked self-identifies as non-religious, so her Biblical justification for Jewish Hebron was uncharacteristic. Fleisher believes this to be a sign that the political atmosphere in Israel is changing.
“I think the recent UN resolutions have forced the Israeli politicians to realize that there is no point in trying to soft-talk the issue of our right to the land. It is all out in the open,” Fleisher said.
Fleisher and the Jews of Hebron are optimistic, seeing the UN resolution as a move forward.
“The UN and the Palestinians have taken it so far that they look ridiculous,” Fleisher said. “They’ve discredited themselves. It is preposterous to come out with a resolution that there is no connection between the Jews and the land of Israel.
“The UN has declared our living here to be illegal,” he continued. “The building over the Machpela (the Cave of the Patriarchs) was built by Herod and conquered by Israel in 1967. But it is in the Waqf’s trust. Now that the UN has declared Jewish Hebron to be illegal, things are changing and they think they own it.”
Shaked addressed that issue, reassuring Hebron representatives that the Israeli government supported the Jewish community in Hebron.
“It is specifically at this time, when the UN condemns Israel’s right to build in Judea and Samaria, it is important to come here,” Shaked told the representatives. “To strengthen the Jewish community in Hebron and to proclaim that we will indeed hold the right to keep building in Judea and Samaria.”
Fleisher noted that one of the more disturbing problems facing the Jewish community is from radical left-wing non-governmental organizations (NGO).
“We are plagued by criminal activity disguised as humanitarian rights activity,” Fleisher said. One example he described was a group called Youth Against Settlements, an NGO recognized by the UN Human Rights Council and headed by Issa Amro, an Arab activist from Hebron who claims to advocate nonviolence. The Jewish residents of Hebron have witnessed something else entirely.
“He instigates violence between the Jews and Arabs, making sure the press is there to get it all on video,” said Fleisher. “Arabs have approached us, asking that we get him out of Hebron. But because he is recognized by the UN as a humanitarian activist, there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do. We asked the minister to help us with this.”
Fleisher explained that the left-wing NGOs are using Hebron as the focus for their anti-Israel narrative.
“They bring groups, including international diplomats, to Hebron and lie to them about the Jewish community,” he said. “These people are pushing for lawlessness. This is something the Justice Minister needs to address.”