Hebron awaits visitor surge (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Yair Altman Published: 03.01.11, 14:44)
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Local authorities welcome gov´t initiative to send Israeli diplomats,
school kids to visit Cave of Patriarchs, say public should shed
prejudice. ´Thriving Jewish community lived here, until the Arabs
murdered, expelled us,´ right-wing activist says
The recent government ventures to send Israeli students and diplomats
to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs put Hebron back in the limelight,
and prompted establishments in the ancient city to anticipate a surge
Malachi Levinger, who heads the Kiryat Arba-Hebron Local Council told
Ynet he hopes that the Israeli public "will put politics aside and
come reconnect with the roots and the historic principles that belong
to all of us."
Levinger was the one to ignite the media storm on the matter when he
asked Education Minister Gideon Sa´ar to institutionalize school
trips to Hebron.
Noam Arnon, a spokesperson for the Jewish settlers of Hebron, has
also called on the citizens of Israel to shed the fears and
prejudices it has about Hebron, and come see the city for themselves.
"You cannot express a real opinion if you haven´t seen the place with
your own eyes," he said. "I think that the ignorance is the source of
the difference between us and certain parts of the Israeli public.
"The lack of understanding is comprised of the security image that
formed as a result of the tough security periods that we have
experienced over the years, as well as the people´s view of the place
from a political standpoint instead of a historic one, and the
constant negative media coverage that aims to delegitimize the Jewish
settlement," he explained.
Arnon recommends travelers to visit the Hebron Museum, which displays
the history of Jewish settlement through art and photography.
"The museum is an example of the entire Israeli story - an ancient
community that experienced expulsion and destruction, but eventually
managed to recover and rebuild," he said.
´Small step for education system´
Right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir welcomed Deputy Foreign Minister
Daniel Ayalon´s announcement that all Israeli ambassadors and
diplomats-in-training will be required to visit the Cave of the
Patriarchs and the Education Ministry´s class trip program, but
identified these measures as too little, too late.
"I expect school principals and the heads of the education
establishment to show us the same openness that they show towards
Arabs," Ben-Gvir said. "It´s not a secret that dozens, if not
hundreds of schools host bi-national gatherings that are held by
various leftists personalities.
"(The school trips) are some kind of an attempt at achieving a
balance, but from our standpoint it is only a small step towards a
more balanced and free education system," he added.
Ben-Gvir said he would take Israeli students to see various
structures that were either demolished or evacuated by the security
forces recently, as well as the Hebron Casbah and the tomb of Otniel
Ben-Knaz, which "unfortunately is under the rule of the Palestinian
Authority, but we can still get there."
"We have here the history of Jewish people both near and far," he
said. "Before the events of 1929, a thriving Jewish community lived
here, until the Arabs murdered and expelled us from there."
Kids visiting killer´s grave?
Sa´ar and Eylon probably will not be pleased with the detour proposed
by Bentzi Gupstein, a member of the Kiryat Arba-Hebron Local Council
and one of the leaders of the anti-assimilation group Lehava.
Gupstein told Ynet that class trips to the city should begin with a
visit to the grave of Baruch Goldstein, who shot and killed 29 Arabs
at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994.
"The grave of Baruch Goldstein is an inseparable part of the Jewish
settlement in Hebron, and our war for this region," Gupstein
explained. "Just like there are monuments for soldiers around the
country, so should we come here to study about the life and death of
Baruch Goldstein, who was a dedicated doctor and saved thousands of
Gupstein claims Goldstein was a saint, and that "all his actions
sanctify god´s name."
Council head Levinger is not enthusiastic about this proposal. "I
support seeing the lively town, not graves," he said. (Copyright 2011
© Yedioth Internet 03/01/11)
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