A Voice from Hebron


By Gary M. Cooperberg

A day doesn't go by in this country when you don't have to pinch yourself to be certain that you are not asleep and having a fantastic nightmare.

The fact that Binyamin Netanyahu shook hands with Arafat is already an accepted reality which doesn't even cause us shock and wonder any more. We had hoped that he would not compromise on, what even he openly recognized as, the holy Jewish city of Hebron, but even here he disappointed us. Feelers have already been sent out by his office on the prospect of dealing with a Palestinian State and a retreat from all or part of the Golan Heights.

While claims can be made that all of the above may have been necessary to conclude a good and firm peace treaty with our enemies, little can be given to back up such claims. But one little item which can, in no way, be explained is how our prime minister, with an apparent clear conscience, released Arab murderers of Jews from our prisons. One absurd report claims that in exchange for our releasing convicted murderers of Jews, Arafat promised to arrest terrorists! If we release murderers how can we expect Arafat to arrest Arab heros?

All of this is just a prelude to a tragic addition to this comedy of the absurd. The only reason that Hebron was a "complicated issue" is because there is a strong, if small, Jewish community living there since 1980. This was a precedent-setting factor which was never emulated elsewhere. The only reason that a Jewish community was able to return to our holy city was, in very large part, due to the self-sacrificing efforts made by the women of Kiryat Arba, led by Rebbitzin Miriam Levinger.

The government of Israel never wanted Jews to live in the city. In 1970, they agreed to build a Jewish ghetto on a barren hill top, walking distance from the Cave of Machpelah, and that is all. All efforts by Jews to return to Jewish properties in the city, stolen by Arab murderers, were repulsed by the IDF.

It was only after Passover of 1980, when Miriam Levinger and her followers, only women and their children, clandestinely and illegally entered the Bet Hadassah building, an abandoned Jewish-owned property, by climbing a ladder and entering through a window in the unguarded back of the building in the dead of night, that this historic fact was accomplished.

The women and children endured nearly three months of living under semi-siege in filth and squalor to express their determination to return Jewish life to the City of Abraham. It was only as a result of an Arab ambush, just outside of Bet Hadassah, which took six lives, that moved the Jewish government to permit the women to officially make their homes there.

After establishing Bet Hadassah, the Levingers later led another effort which found them living in an abandoned ruin adjacent to the Avraham Avinu Synagogue. Miriam spent years of her life raising her

eleven children in the heart of Hebron. She put up with danger, squalor and discomfort so that Jews could have the right to live in the City of our Fathers.

Today, at age sixty, one would expect that her selfless hardships would have earned her the right to enjoy the fruits of her labors. Indeed, quite miraculously, the ruins of the former Jewish Quarter of Hebron have been renovated. The Levingers have, at long last, moved into a new apartment with real floors and which had never been occupied by sheep and goats. But now a new challenge confronts them.

It seems that the government would like to discourage the brave and hardy souls who have made their homes in Hebron from continuing to live there. Where, in the past, the only problem they had to face was dealing with their unruly Arab neighbors . . . a problem which they did manage to deal with quite successfully, today they have a double problem.

The first is with our own police, who have of late begun a policy of deliberately harassing the Jews in Hebron and leveling trumped up charges against them; and, secondly, they now face a renewed attitude

of smug self-confidence by our Arab enemies inspired by the IDF retreat from most of the city and the crowning of Rejub Jebril as PLO police chief there.

Our own police are heckled by Arab women and refrain from responding to "minor" Arab acts of hostility, against both Jewish soldiers and civilians in the town, for fear of endangering the "peace process".

Miriam, a grandmother several times over, has had her door battered down in the middle of the night by Jewish police who then dragged her to face trial for the charge of attacking police! She was outraged at the idea of facing such a ridiculous trial in a Jewish kangaroo court and attended under protest. Of course she was found guilty.

She was sentenced to three months in prison! The court, in a ludicrous gesture of "compassion" offered to permit her to serve her time in the form of outside work. This would mean that the Rebbitzen would have to leave her home in Hebron and work in Jerusalem for eight hours a day, six days a week. She explained to the court that, in her condition, such a schedule would be impossible. She offered to work for four hours a day. They refused.

How ironic and sickening it is to have just witnessed the release of over thirty Arab women terrorists, several of whom actually murdered Jews, apparently to make room for a sixty-year-old Jewish heroine! On March 3, 1997, Miriam Levinger is to begin to serve a three month sentence in the same prison just vacated by Arab women terrorist murderers who are currently lauded as proud examples for the PLO!

It is pathetic to even have to ask, but I am turning to anyone who reads this and calling upon you to send faxes and telegrams to anyone you can to plea for the cancellation of the prison sentence given to Rebbitzen Miriam Levinger. This sentence is fulfillment of the warning of our sages, "He who is merciful to the cruel is destined to be cruel unto the merciful."

Fax numbers in Israel:

Prime Minister Netanyahu 972-2-651-2631

President Ezer Weitzman: 972-2-561-0037

Knesset (general number, address to Member of your choice) 972-2-652-1599

Minister of Internal Security Minister: Kahalani 972-2-584-7872

Minister of Justice, Hanegbi: 972-2-670-8722

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