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Friday, November 25, 2011

The moderate sheikh of Hebron

I posted about a proposed alternate to the PA that Israeli leaders are mulling if the PA continues to go down its path of intransigence and rapprochement with Hamas terrorists. This alternative is centered around moderate local leaders, particularly Sheikh Zaid al-Jabari of Hebron.

A week ago, thousands of religious Jews from all over Israel and elsewhere descended on Hebron to celebrate the Torah reading of Chayei Sarah, as is done every year.

These religious Zionists are the people the left-wing media love to portray as Islamophobic, machine-gun wielding  Jewish-supremacist fanatics who want to ethnically cleanse Hebron and all of the territories of Arabs. This hateful stereotype is also incessantly pushed by the Arab media.

Which makes this following story from last week's Hebron event all the more remarkable.

From David Wilder, leader of Hebron's Jewish community:
A number of years ago, a group of Arabs, together with Israeli leftists and anarchists, planned on burning down the Hazon David Synagogue, just outside the gates of Kiryat Arba, on the eve of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. The event was stopped at the last minute when it came to the attention of Sheikh Jabari, leader of Hebron’s largest clan. He told Hebron Arabs that he didn’t agree to destruction of a ‘holy place,’ especially on a Jewish holiday. He told them that this was a place of prayer, and prevented the destruction.

Following his intervention, a meeting was arranged between several Hebron leaders and the Sheikh, thanking him for his involvement. Since then, the Sheikh and Hebron-Kiryat Arba leaders meet relatively frequently, discussing relevant issues. He has publicly declared his opposition to unilateral declaration of a ‘palestinian state’ in the UN and also acknowledged the right of Jews to live in Hebron. Last summer he met at his Hebron home with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Pastor John Hagee.

This past Friday afternoon he met with almost 70 Americans and a few Hebron residents in a large tent, just outside Hebron. Welcoming the group, he asked those attending to be ambassadors to his message of peace ‘in the land of peace.’ He also spoke of Shabbat Chaye Sarah, Abraham and Ma’arat HaMachpela, saying that Machpela should unite all of us together, that we are one family, from one father, Abraham. He blessed the group ‘from all his heart, on this holy Shabbat.’ He thanked the group for visiting him, saying he appreciated that they came from so far away for this holy occasion.

Other members of the group addressed the Sheikh, expressing thanks for his hospitality, commenting and asking questions. The event concluded after the group was given a small cup of traditional Turkish coffee.

The significance of this meeting wasn’t so much the words spoken, rather its actual happening. A decade ago, Jews in Hebron were being shot at by Arabs from the hills surrounding the Jewish community. Years ago meetings between Jews and Arabs were common; yet following Oslo, the Hebron Accords, and the Oslo War – 2nd intifada, such meetings became a thing of history.

I don’t expect that all of us present agree on all issues. To the contrary, certainly we don’t. But the Sheikh represents an alternative to the palestinian authority, a terrorist organization overtly backing the expulsion of Jews from all Judea and Samaria, while covertly working for the liberation of all ‘palestine’ aka the State of Israel.

I found the meeting with the Sheikh to be a refreshing change from the normal animosity displayed between Jews and Arabs. I’m not living under any illusions. The gaps are very wide and Sheikh Jabari is only one person. However, there aren’t too many Arab leaders who would prevent destruction of a Jewish house of worship, who would publicly declare willingness to live with Jews in Hebron, and who would meet a large group of American Jews in his tent on a Friday.
Here's the video of the fanatic, tzitzit-wearing Jews happily chatting with the sheikh:



This is what real peace looks like.

The ironic thing is that so-called "peace activists" seethe when they see scenes like this, because it goes against everything they really want - a Judenrein "Palestine."

I don't know how anomalous Sheikh Jabari is, but this is the sort of thing that should be encouraged and pursued. I do know that other communities in Judea and Samaria have some friendly contact with their Arab neighbors, and that it was much more prevalent before the first intifada.

You can be sure that the "peace activists" do not want any such meetings between religious Zionist Jews and their Muslim neighbors - because they do not want real peace.  They prefer rock throwing and Molotov cocktails, so-called "non-violent resistance," to cooperation between proud Jews and Arabs who live side by side.  They prefer to post carefully edited videos of Israeli forces shooting tear gas at them without showing the violent attacks that immediately precede those events, and to write endless articles about how Jews are violent usurpers.

So who really wants peace?

Another recent article on Sheikh Jabari was written in Israel HaYom,

(h/t drk, Yoel)