Hebron: city of peace and war
Travel to the city of the Patriarchs
On Friday , I invite to join me on the trip to the first capital of the Jews, the only city in the current Palestinian Authority, where the border between the territories C & A takes place, in fact, on the same street; a city divided between Israeli and Palestinian authorities, the city in which there are 200,000 Arabs and 600 Jews, who, despite everything, still live there, and the Jewish presence in Hebron feels stronger than in any other city in Israel.
We will visit the famous Cave of the Patriarchs and Hazon David synagogue – the most frequently demolished synagogue in the world. We will pass the “Beit Shalom” and walk along Shuhada Street, which has become a symbol of the Jewish- Arab conflict. We will find an abandoned blacksmith of the British Mandate period, visit the pottery workshop, and learn why the water was cut off in the Sultan’s pool. We will go up to the scenic areas of Tel Rumeida, take a look at Meara from above, visit the Jewish Quarter Avraham Avinu and its famous synagogue, rebuilt on the site of the donkey stables, visit the museum of the history of the city that has survived one of the worst anti-Jewish pogroms. We will see the mikvah, in which, according to legend, Avraham Avinu could plunge, get on several roofs, go through the “graffiti street” and see many other thing. The complete list wouldn’t make sense, since Hebron is a city atmosphere that you need to feel, and no text and photos can convey the “air” of this place . This is the kind of city that either “speaks to you” or “turns away from you.” Hopefully, on Friday the 12th we will have a nice chat.
“And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a burial plot among you… and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. And the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure To Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.”
So, for 400 shekels a couple of thousand years ago, Abraham purchased the cave, for which the Jews and the Arabs are now ready to cut each other’s throats. We will come with peace, we will not cut any throats, but instead throughout the day we will enjoy the history of the past and the present, and, in my view, the most polarized and controversial, and because of that, the greatest cities of Judea.
We will devote a lot of time to the Machpelah and its position today. Of course, we can only go to the Jewish part of it. You can see the Muslim part of it, for example, here.
Hebron is divided into H1 and H2, under Palestinian and Israeli control, respectively (territories A and C). The total population of Hebron is about 170,000 Arabs (with suburbs – more than 350,000), of which approximately one sixth live in the territory of H2 (that is under Israeli control). Also the H2 area is home to about 600 Jews. We, of course, will only visit the H2 area.
History of Hebron is equally heroic and tragic. The polarity of the stories and the lives of its inhabitants leave their mark, which does not seem able to be washed away today by any government. In some places, it seems that time has stopped.
Today, “Beit HaShalom”, a.k.a. “Beit Meriva,” is boarded up and is protected by the army. A few years ago, this building was on the front page of every newspaper in Israel, and what is happening there today we will find out on Friday.
- Date: Jan 23, Friday
- Meeting point: parking in Kiryat Arba for those traveling on their cars. If anyone needs a ride, I will try to help you find one (please share the cost of gas with driver)
- Meeting time: 09:00. Completion of the program in around 15.00.
- Bring comfortable shoes (as we will have to walk a lot), sunscreen, and a hat. Please take a snack (there is almost nothing to buy anywhere), and water. Also, you will need your IDs.
- Transport: on your own cars to Kiryat Arba, and from there on foot. Kiryat Arba is on any GPS. Also, Bus 160 from Jerusalem goes to our meeting point.
- We will meet in the place indicated on the map below. This is a fairly large area with the roundabout with the buildings of Bezeq and Bank Leumi. In any case, everybody in Kiryat Arba knows where the Bank Leumi is , even small children. It’s probably best to drive there from the road 60. Those who want to drive together, can meet at a gas station in front of the entrance to Jerusalem (near McDonald’s).