Olmert’s forces destroyed synagogue in Hebron
New York — Following yesterday’s forcible eviction by some 3,000 Israeli military personnel of two Jewish families from their homes in Hebron who had been originally promised permits by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that were later denied to them by the Attorney-General, Menachem Mazuz, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, Chairman of the Board Dr Michael Goldblatt, and Dr. Daniel Mandel, Director of the ZOA Center for Middle East Policy have issued the following statement:
“We are shocked and deeply concerned by the deployment of 3,000 Israeli armed personnel of the Jewish state of Israel to evict two Jewish families from their homes and destroy the holy place of worship, the Shalhevet Pass synagogue, named in commemoration of the ten-month-old baby murdered by a Palestinian Authority (PA) sniper in 2001. At a time when little or no action is being taken by the Olmert government against deadly Arab terrorists incessantly firing rockets into Israel (causing one half of the town of Sderot to flee for their lives) and smuggling offensive weaponry into Gaza, it is spending its finite resources and energy to evict Jews from their homes and denying permits that have been promised to them by the IDF Commander of Forces in Judea and Samaria, General Yair Golan. One must ask why the government seems intent on evicting these heroic Jewish families from their small dilapidated homes with maximum show of force. Some have suggested it is for political reasons in order to galvanize support from Israel’s left-wing, Olmert’s only remaining possible supporters.
“Worse, the Israeli government claims to be enforcing the law against residents promised permits by the IDF, a promise that was subsequently and arbitrarily breached by the government. These homes, incidentally, were built on the site of originally Jewish-owned property which was destroyed following the Hebron massacre in 1929, in which 67 Jews were murdered.
“In the meantime, against illegal Arab housing construction occurring all over Judea and Samaria and in other parts of Israel including Jerusalem, the Olmert government continues to do almost nothing and pretends the problem doesn’t exist. Much of this illegal housing is funded by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and other Arab states in an effort to move towards de-Judaizing Israel and Jerusalem.
“Why is the Olmert government only making a major issue about a handful of Jews living in allegedly unauthorized housing while ignoring thousands of Arabs living illegally in houses built without permits and frequently without even applying for permits? Why is it destroying a synagogue? Previously it was only the terror-sponsoring Palestinian Authority that destroyed synagogues. Now, tragically, the Israel Defense Forces are ordered to do so. Throughout history, only Christians and Muslims, Cossacks and Nazis have destroyed Jewish synagogues. Even during and after the forced eviction of Jews from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians destroyed the synagogues, not the Jews.
“This is part of a policy that is not only morally and strategically wrong, which encourages Arab terrorists to press on their campaign of terror and sends the message that enough terror will produce Jewish retreats; but has also been rejected by the Israeli public. A new poll shows that a clear majority of Israelis oppose any further withdrawals and handing over of territory to the PA, even if the PA signs a piece of paper supposedly ending the conflict.
“Remarkably, and even shockingly, a Haaretz poll shows that 33% of Israelis favored the non-participation of soldiers in this latest forcible eviction of Jewish families, while 54% of Likud voters favored IDF soldiers’ non-participation. These figures surely signify that acts like these are splitting the nation at a time when unity is more than ever essential.
“This eviction also sends the message that Hebron and Judea and Samaria are somehow not really part of our historic and ancient homeland and that we Jews do not feel strongly that we have a legal, religious and historic right to be there. We must remember that we are called Jews, a contraction of the term ’ Judea’, the land from which we originate. Hebron was Israel’s first capital under King David, and is one of the four holiest cities in Judaism. Evicting Jews from Hebron sends the message that Hebron is not really ours.
“It is time some questions were asked. If Mahmoud Abbas and the PA are genuine peace partners with whom a durable peace agreement is possible and who can establish a peaceful Palestinian state, why cannot Jews live within it just as over one million Arab Muslims live as citizens within Israel? Why must a Palestinian state be judenrein?
“If someone thinks that Jews living in Judea and Samaria are the problem, it is worth reminding them that 80% of the Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists in recent years lived, and were killed within, the pre-1967 borders, and that their own polls show that 60% of the Palestinian Arabs support continued terrorism, even if a Palestinian state is established in all of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem. If one argues that Jews cannot live there even in the context of a Palestinian state because it would be simply too dangerous for them to do so, then one must concede the reality that such a state, alongside Israel’s longest border would also be a threat to Israel itself. In these circumstances, the last thing Israel should be doing is creating such a state.”