Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The few hundred Jews living in Hebron have a rather well-deserved reputation for hostility towards the Arabs of Hebron. Their track record of harassing and physically abusing their neighbors goes well beyond that of any other Jewish community in the world. Much of this has been publicized, and the Hebron Jews are therefore probably the most-hated group of settlers among the Israeli left wing and international organizations.

Based on that history, what do the Arabs of Hebron think of these Jews? Surely the violence and intimidation they have suffered makes them hate and resent the Jewish presence more than Arabs anywhere else in Israel? Let us hear what they have to say.

"We don't see you as settlers but as residents", their Arab neighbors now say. "Hebron is ours just as it is yours."

Wow. When have any Arabs, anywhere, ever said that Jews in the West Bank are "residents, not settlers", that the West Bank legitimately belongs to them too? As far as I know this degree of respect for them is unprecedented. Could there be any better proof that "Arabs only understand force"?

Now, I know that an "effective" policy is not synonymous with a "moral" policy. And so I cannot support everything the Hebron settlers have done, even if it has earned them legitimacy in their neighbors' eyes. But in terms of obtaining a clearheaded perspective on the Israel/Palestinian conflict, and learning to eliminate policy options which will inevitably be counterproductive, wouldn't this story be a good place to start?

No comments: