I walk down the main street. The sun is strong. There is no wind. Nothing is moving. Two people cross the road in front of me and maybe a hand-full of cars go bye. I keep on walking not sure of where am I to go.
I pass by the first military check-point. I tell them I am “Jeuden Zalemet” from Italy so they let me go through the Jewish Quarter.
But not a soul walks bye. I want to take some photos, but the feel is the one of wondering in a ghost town. There are not photos to be taken for now except maybe the ones of closed stores, run-down buildings on the side of the street and military platoons platooning the area.
I get back down the hill toward the Arab Quarter, I know I am not allowed in there, but I go anyways. I am not afraid, they do not know I am Jewish and if they ask I will tell them, but in any case I am not here to fight. I am here to learn. So violence should not be a problem.
I know it sounds very naive, but it’s the truth.
I am a Jew from Rome, Italy, I believe in the Israli state’s right to exist, I believe in Zyonism and its ideal, but I also do not believe in violence for the sake of violence. I believe in resistance to violence, I believe in co-existance of cultures and respect among one another. Of course, I would like peace, but I am a realist and I understand that after so many years of fighting over a Biblical territory, the hope for a comfortable agreement are scarce especially because of the fundamental differences in way of life among Arabs and Israelis.
But yet, I am in Hebron because when you are in Israel you must know the whole story. When you have lived here for over three months, you must get comfortable with “the situation” and all of its consequences. And in Hebron, the Arabs are mad at the Jews because they have military everywhere, and they constantly check on us,” told me Jamal Fakore, a ‘Palestinian’ guy who walked around with me all day. While the Jews are never to forget the 1929 Pogrom that took place here and caused the death of 64 Jews by Arabs hands.
Among the 330 Jewish families who live here in Hevron the one of Tzipi Schlissel, is a very particular one. She has 11 children an American husband and a father who was brutally assaulted by an Arab “terrorist,” who jumped through the window of his bedroom in 1997 and stabbed him to dead.
Although “living side by side with the Arabs is not as easy as it used to be before the 1929 Pogrom” Tzipi still feels an obligation to her father to live her in Hebron, especially now that her husband took a job teaching the yeshiva boys from the school names after her father.
“People talk about Hebron as a settlement,” said Tzipi. “But this place was ours before 1929, then the Israli government gave us a concession of 3% of the area after the 1967 War, now we are living in this 3% in fear and the pro-palestinian European groups come-up with any possible way to steel away more of our houses.”
Tzipi was living near the Arab market, in the Jewish neighborhood of Abraham Avinu, but, since she was living abusively in one of the building that was not donated by the government to the Jews, she was soon kicked out with her whole family to live elsewhere. So they bought a house from the Arabs, but also soon enough the Israeli government confiscated it from them for security reasons. When an Arab sells his house to an Israeli he can be killed by his people for this act and the Israeli government won’t nothing to do with it.
But Tzipi and her husband, believe in re-appropriation of the small little part of Hebron that was theirs to begin with, the same part where her father and 6 other families was living in since 1967 on before he was killed.
Likewise her, all the Jewish settlers who live in Hebron are never to leave this place, yet unfortunately the Israeli government does not allow more Jews to come live here. The 97% of the city was concess to the Arabs by Netahyau in 1997 and it has to be this way.
Yet, every time there is some violence more soldiers are sent so the town now looks like an Army outpost with check-point every 100meters.
Everywhere you go, there is this atmosphere of “uncomfortable silence” that, most often than not, pre-ceeds a disaster, but here just brought to some more silence and calmness, at least for a Thursday afternoon. There is no store open, no market *(except of the Arab one where I was not allowed) and then a couple of lawyer’s offices. People just spend time at home, or chilling in the streets “waiting.”
The people you meet give you this feel of “fake complecency” to “look good in front of the military,” but once you ask few questions on the Jews or viceversa, the truth comes out. The two people have no interest in living near one another without military occupation, unless the violence from the Arab side toward the Israeli are kept under control otherwise. But the Arabs just want the Israeli out of the Hebron completely.
When I was there last Thursday I came to interview Tzipi because I knew she had an interesting story to tell and because she is one of the most actively Zionist in the city, while walking around toward the end of the day, I ran into an Italian group of 20 ‘pro-Palestinian’ activists who were trying to enter the Jewish Quarter with their ‘Palestinian’ tour guides and were therefore stopped by border police.
Needless is to say the conversation with them took the wrong turn from the beginning when they started commenting to the Israeli Army’s treatment of the ‘Palestinian’ boys.
I tried to explain to them that the Israeli Army is not there to “kill or commit violence to any ‘Palestinian’ but just to defend the Israeli citizens living there so their friends were going to be released as soon as their documents would clear out. Their replies were mostly fiery against Israel’s right to exist. They called the state as “a big economical and diplomatic European mistake since the beginning.”
Because the Israelites stole the land to Arab people who were previously living there to create their own “Jewish State.”
I find myself alone to think quit differently to my co-nationals.
I replied this land had been lived on by Jews since 17th century B.C. and the only Arab ruling was between 636-1099 that was later followed by the Crusaders, the Mammalukians domination, the Ottoman Empire and the British mandate before the very first Ailya in 1882 and later on the beginning of the Zyoinist movement in 1897. When the UN created a Jewish State, what was going to become Israel has been populated by few Beduins and the majority of Arabs living in there came to help Jews who immigrate back to the territories as early as the first kibbutz was created in 1909 with constructions *(Haifa is a big example of a port who was entirely built side by side by Jews and Arabs at the time before the state of Israel was created). The Jews did not steel no country to nobody.
Let’s get the history facts straights!
In 1948 the UN proposed the creation of an Arab and Jewish state, the Arabs did not agree to the division of the land. The first War of Independence began soon after when Israel was invaded by five Arabs state.
Another massive immigration of Arabs and Jews from all over the world came about after the Armistice between Israelis, Jordanian, Egyptians and Syrian in 1949.
From there on forward, there has been wars of INDEPENDENCE, INTIFADAS, failed peace treaties and much more *(I am intentionally not going to list all of them), but not even once did the Arabs agree to the concessions the Israeli had given them. Not even one do they accept some compromise, their intentions are never toward peace unlike the Israelis. I am sorry this is not being pro-Israel, this is just the facts.
So, do not come to me to tell me Israel should not exists because they keep on biting away territories like Gaza or the West Bank or the Cis Giordania, because of all those were within the accords decided after the Six Days War in 1967. Later the Israeli government gave out Sinai to Egypt and implemented a Palestinian independent government in Gaza.
It is the, so called erroneously ‘Palestinian,’ who choose to not have a state, to not have a government who decides to compromise with Israel and to come to peace agreement. The funneling of hater from youth onward is disgusting and pre-meditated violence.
The group of pro-Palestinian activists leave me behind with all the Israeli soldiers who stand still and look at me in disbelief.
“What did you just do?” tell me one from Peru`. “I want you to come here everyday,” says another. “Can we become facebook friends,” tells me the last one.
I thank them and go about my way. I do not hate no Arabs, I love everyone. I even think nobody, but the people who live and breath the conflict should be allowed to speak about *(me included) because they will always miss-interpret and miss-explain something according to what they feel or believe. While facts should speak the truth, we often miss-interpret them and get lost in a turmoil of emotions when the reality of things is very easy: Peace is a nice concept, but peace is made only among people who are both interested in it, peace cannot be imposed. Peace has to come from the hearts of either side and this is the bigger problem here in the Middle East…people’s hearts are too wounded to be able to feel the naivety of Peace.