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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rewarding the terrorists ... from 1929

Mofaz orders Hebron outpost evacuation

Although the legality of the Rinat Shalhevet neighborhood may be questionable under Israeli law, there are bigger issues here. This war is not only about facts but, especially on the Arab side, it is about symbolism. And the symbolism of Jews being forced out from what had been a Jewish neighborhood for hundreds of years a second time under an Israeli government is extraordinarily dangerous. (Hebron's Jews were massacred and forced out in the 1929 Arab riots.)

Hebron is the second-holiest city in Judaism. Morally, Jews should have the right to move there if they wish with no limitations. The ones that moved back to Hebron after 1967 were nothing short of heroic. There certainly has been friction between the Jews and Arabs of Hebron. Nevertheless, there is a huge symbolic importance to maintaining - and increasing - the Jewish areas of Hebron.

Even more symbolic is the fact that the neighborhood was named after Shalhevet Pas, the 10-month old girl murdered by a sniper in her baby carriage in Hebron. The single most effective response to Palestinian terror is to take back Jewish land, irrevocably, after every terror attack.

The Arabs understand the symbolism of Israel giving up on historically Jewish land. That is why they fight, beyond all logic, for the tiniest slivers of land, far beyond its useful value. That is why they never compromise on land. If there were no Jews there, they wouldn't care in the least - they do not fight because it is Arab land but because it is Jewish land.

When Israel gives away the indisputably Jewish parts of Israel, then it loses part of its character. Israel's claim to the land is not based only on logic, it is not based only on the law - it is based on emotions. When the Jewish state suppresses its emotions and its historic ties to the land in the name of an illusory "peace process" it loses far more than land. Emotions and symbols are important, and Israel is at a disadvantage because the world expects the Jews to be logical and Arabs emotional. Logical people can compromise, emotional people cannot. Hebron is not a logical issue.

Some things are worth fighting for, and Hebron is one of them.