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August 25, 1989 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-25

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David Holzel

Shady reading in Kiryat Arba with the houses of Hebron in the background.

Next Door Neighbors

Jews of Kiryat Arba and
Hebron say they don't mind
living among Arabs — as long
as it's under Israeli rule and
the stones stop flying.



Israel Correspondent

ebron — Graffiti
is everywhere. It
is splashed over
stone fences,
daubed on the
sides of buildings and covers
the metal shuttered doors of
stores and workshops.
Painted on in one color, it is
rubbed out in another. Traces
of new slogans and messages
can be seen in a third color,
only to have been expunged
in a fourth. Passing by in a
bus, it looks like modern art.
A huge, colorful, abstract
testimonial mural to the
This is the approach to
Hebron, largest city in the
West Bank, population 50,000
Arabs and 500 Israelis.
Hebron is a city of old stone
houses, a labyrinthine out-
door market and narrow
streets that twist so cruelly
that the driver of the Egged
bus needs the skill of a
contortionist to negotiate
them. In the morning, when
the stores are open, these
streets are awash with people
competing for space with the
traffic. Children play on side



streets and watermelon
sellers do a brisk trade.
Amid the tumult, Israel
maintains a somber presence.
Groups of soldiers sit in jeeps,
armed for war. From time to
time they can be spotted on
the roofs of buildings. They
man sentry shacks in front of
Beit Hadassah and Beit
Romano, 100-year-old build-
ings around the block from
each other that were owned
by Jews before the 1929 Arab
riots drove Hebron's Jewish
community out of town. In
recent years they have been
reclaimed by Israeli families
and yeshivah students.
The Palestinians, the
settlers and the army are
perched in a delicate balance
of national consensus and
mutual suspicion. But the
Israelis of Hebron and the
neighboring Jewish suburbs
of Kiryat Arba and Ramat
Mamre — about 70 percent of
whose residents are religious
— say settlement of these
troubled territories is worth
the fuss. The land delivered to
the Jews in 1967 by a miracle
that took the form of Arab
aggression. And now the
Arabs here must learn to live
again among Jews, and
accept the Israelis as

Aharon Domb outside Beit Romano.

neighbors, as the settlers say
they accept the Arabs — as
long as it is under Israeli rule
and the stones stop flying.
Aharon, Domb's office is in
a trailer in the courtyard of
Beit Romano. He wears sever-
al caps in the community.
Domb is executive director of
the Shvei Chevron yeshivah
at Beit Romano and head of
a local information bureau

that monitors intifada related
On his desk sits a computer
printout listing Arab attacks
during June. "There are
problems," he says, then
swings around and points to
a color aerial photograph of
Hebron, Kiryat Arba and
Ramat Mamre. "But there is
also progress."
The walkie-talkie on his

desk comes alive. A civil
guard reports that two stones
have been thrown at a vehicle
some 500 feet from where
Domb sits. Five minutes later,
the police are contacting the
civil guard for details of the
incident. Soon after, the army
closes the stores in the
vicinity. "We'll keep them
closed for a day or two," a
soldier on the scene says.
"In June there were 367
incidents — and we know
about only 60 percent of the
incidents that occur," Domb
says. He runs down his list.
Twelve Jews were lightly
injured . . . eleven Molotov
cocktails were thrown .. .
His statistics do not include
the number of Arab dead and
wounded during the same
period. Domb lays blame for
all Arab casualties at the feet
of Defense Minister Yitzhak
Rabin. If Israel had cracked
down during the first days of
the intifada, arresting and
deporting perhaps 3,000
Palestinians, there would
have been only 20 Arab
fatalities instead of 500,
Domb says.
But he says he does not
blame the Arabs for the
continuing violence. "If the
defense minister is able to -say
after rocks are thrown: 'This
is not a military problem; it's
a political problem, then the
problem is not of the Arabs,
but of the Jews. If the Jews
don't know what they want,
how are the Arabs to know
what the Jews want?"
Despite the intifada, the
Jewish community in the
area continues to grow, Domb

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