Recently, The New Yorker printed a hit-piece against the Jews living in the heart of Judea entitled, “A Guided Tour of Hebron, from Two Sides of the Occupation.” The unintentionally ironic title “from Two Sides” is the key to understanding the article because the two sides it shows come from the hard-Left and radical Islamism, respectively.
Indeed, the article is another example of the collaboration between the hard-Left and radical Islamism, movements that have coordinated to delegitimize Israel’s right to retain land liberated in the Six Day War as a way to delegitimize Israel as a whole. Now, they have specifically set their crosshairs on Hebron in the “West Bank” because they understand the centrality of Hebron to Jewish peoplehood, to its land and history. Additionally, they see the small and isolated Jewish community within the big Arab city of Hebron and ruled by the Palestinian Authority as an easy next target.
Two years ago it was the U.N.’s turn, a division of the hard-Left, to strike at Hebron. They got their heritage and history branch, UNESCO, to declare that the Tomb of the Forefathers and Mothers in Hebron — a 2,000-year-old Jewish structure, sitting atop the 3,800-year-old tombs of the Biblical founders of Judaism — was, in fact, a Palestinian Heritage Site in need of protection from Israel.
This shocking negation of basic Jewish history by a “legitimate” U.N. body brought out the ire of Israel and much of the rest of the Jewish world as well. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who had stated that she would not tolerate U.N. anti-Semitism, led the United States’ angry departure from UNESCO, specifically in response to the anti-Hebron resolution.
But the war on Jewish Hebron’s legitimacy continued. A few months ago, Arab and far-Left Jewish members of Israel’s parliament organized a meeting called “Hebron First,” which called for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Hebron as a first step in exiling Jews from the Biblical heartland. This initiative was stopped by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Instead, Edelstein gathered almost every minister in the sitting government for an event that heaped praise on the heroic Jewish community of Hebron and gave assurances that Israeli building in Hebron will continue.
Now comes this New Yorker article — a blot even in today’s low standards for journalism — full of mistakes, lies, and obfuscations — but mostly, an effort to delegitimize the Jewish presence in Hebron by casting it in a dark light. [The Left’s most successful tactic is simply to put scary music in the background of anything they want to smear.]
Painting a morose portrait of Hebron Arabs suffering at the hands of the Israeli army, the article neglects to note that Arab Hebron is actually the “West Bank’s” richest city, with five billion Shekels in exports to Israel yearly. 80% of Hebron has no Israeli army presence, and Jews live in only 3% of the city. Out of Hebron’s 20 square kilometers, there is one short street where Arab traffic has been limited by the Israeli army as a result of recurring terror attacks on the Jewish community there. And, of course, the terror keeps coming because much of the city has, sadly, succumbed to radical Islamism, with over 80% of Arabs voting for Hamas in the recent municipal elections.
Not surprisingly, the Jewish story of Hebron is also missing in The New Yorker’s narrative. Jews have been living in Hebron for 3,200 years, almost without interruption, sometimes as an ethnic majority, and other times as an ethnic minority. That ended in a horrific act of ethnic cleansing, when an Islamist riot ripped through Hebron in 1929 murdering 67 Jewish men, women, and children, and which led to the British ousting of Hebron’s Jews. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel took control of Hebron, and Jews began to repatriate the city.
Every licensed tour guide knows these basic facts, but these were absent or obscured in the “Guided Tour of Hebron” New Yorker article.
Instead of historical facts, The New Yorker generously quoted Issa Amro, a provocateur whose daily bread is to foment friction between Jews and Arabs, and whose organization “Youth Against Settlements” calls for, you guessed it, the destruction of the small Jewish community in Hebron. Amro has pocketed untold amounts of money from his “peace” work (he recently completed building two new apartment complexes in Arab Hebron) and is also a paid employee of the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli army has indicted him on 17 counts, many in connection to acts of violence, yet the Left celebrates Amro because he carries the self-proclaimed liberal credential of “Non-Violent.”
The other voice in The New Yorker article — making up the second of the “Two Sides” of the story — is Yehuda Shaul, co-founder of Breaking the Silence, a far-Left European-funded organization in Israel dedicated to besmirching Hebron’s Jewish community and especially the Israeli soldiers who protect it. On their crafted tour of Hebron, students and diplomats are restricted to the one street with limited Arab access. But the wealthy Arab city, which is forbidden to entry by Jewish Israelis, is never seen. [The other great trick of the haters is to show a small sliver of something dark, then portray it as the whole truth.]
Breaking the Silence features prominently as a legitimate voice in this article, yet it is not seen that way in Israel. In July 2018, the Israeli government passed the “Breaking the Silence” Law, barring the organization from speaking in schools. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said. “Breaking the Silence long ago crossed the red lines beyond legitimate discourse when they started libeling Israel in the international arena.” Videos of Israelis soldiers calling Breaking the Silence liars have gone viral.
Yet only these two voices — one belonging to radical Islamists, the other to the far-Left, and both clearly agendized to destroy Jewish Hebron — are the tellers of Hebron’s tale in The New Yorker. The buzzword “occupation” abounds in the text, but the Jewish connection to Hebron, one that predates Islam by 2,200 years, is given short shrift. Jewish violence from 25 years ago is highlighted, but the daily Arab violence somehow gets a pass.
The goal of the article, as well as the hard-Left/radical-Islamist alliance which it mouths, is clear: do everything to delegitimize Israel’s presence in its ancestral homeland by labeling it “occupation” — and help create the illusion that the Islamist effort to ethnically cleanse Jews from Hebron is actually kosher freedom fighting for justice and rights.
In a tweet response to The New Yorker article, Ari Ozick, a digital entrepreneur and tech blogger wrote: “Your attempt at touring/seeing two sides of the story is sort of like going to see the USSR with an official tour group, and then, for perspective, asking the head of the East German Stasi for a private tour. I don’t mind one-sided reporting, just don’t call it reporting.”
Yishai Fleisher is the International Spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron. Follow him at @YishaiFleisher.