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A Prayer For Hebron
o most American Jews, Hebron is
just another flashpoint for con-•
frontation. Divorced as we frequent-
ly. are from the details of our reli-
gious and political history, we mostly don't
remember that the city was David's capital
before he moved north to Jerusalem and that
it holds the Cave of Machpelah, where our
Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are tradi-
tionally thought to be buried.
In 20th-century American memory, Hebron
resonates as much for Baruch
Goldstein's heinous 1994 assault that
killed 29 Muslims and wounded 150
others praying in a mosque as it does
for the 1929 Arab massacre of 67 Jews, the
event that triggered a British decision to evacu-
ate the city's Jewish Quarter.
Remembering the city's importance is easier
after another tragedy — in this case, the Nov. 15
Shabbat eve ambush that killed 12 militiamen and
soldiers who were trying to protect a contingent of
worshippers returning to the town of Kiryat Arba
after praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The
incident has provoked some predictable reactions,
including cries of exultation by Palestinian mili-
tants and promises of retaliation by Israeli leaders.
It also should provoke serious soul-searching
about what we want to have happen on the West
Bank in the coming years. If a relative handful of
Jews — 7,000 in Kiryat Arba and 450 adjacent
to the Cave itself —are an intolerable threat to
the city's 150,000 Arabs, what chance is there
that Israel's 5 million Jews ever will be accepted
by their 250 million Arab neighbors?
If the Palestinian Authority will not live up to
its Oslo and Wye River promises to protect the
Jewish presence in Hebron, must the IDF do so
For openers, American Jews must understand
that the Israeli presence in Hebron is not nego-
tiable. As we have seen to our sorrow, backing
away from the right to worship at our religious
sites, including the Temple Mount, simply
encourages Muslim efforts to erase the Jewish
record at them. Israel's right to exist is not just
based on military strength and world guilt for the
Holocaust. It reflects 4,000 years of his-
tory in the land, and we must not allow
that to be diminished.
That does not give Israel any right to
inflame the situation, however. Any notion of
using this incident to justify an expansion of the
Jewish presence within the city by expropriating
Palestinian land would be a needless provocation.
Americans should continue to support a sta-
tus quo in the West Bank: neither expansion of
legal settlements nor abandonment of them.
They should affirm Israel's responsibility to take
down illegal settlements and its absolute right
to defend the legal ones.
Once other regional issues are addressed —
particularly the destruction of Saddam
Hussein's arsenal of weapons of mass destruc-
tion in Iraq — and a new order for the Mideast
emerges, it will be time to return to a process
that lowers Palestinian-Israeli tensions and paves
the way for longer-term stability.
In the meantime, we need to understand that
in exercising the right to pray peacefully at the
Tomb of the Patriarchs, a handful of Jews are in
fact protecting our past and our future. ❑
714G ZON 1 ST
STATE I s
IS -r0 -r-4£
Do As We Say, Not As We Do
The Voice Of Abba Eban
fter Cabinet-level discussions, the offi-
cers of a Western-style democracy
agree to empower its military and
intelligence agencies to seek out and
kill specific leaders of a terrorist group that has
murdered hundreds of its citizens.
The agencies track one of those terrorist lead-
ers and, learning that he and several of-his
henchmen are going to be in a vehicle,
arrange a missile strike that kills the
man and his associates. Within this
democracy, the action is met with
overwhelming approval, but some other nations
say the democracy is being a lawless bully.
No, it wasn't Israel assassinating a leader of ter-
rorist groups Islamic Jihad or Hamas. Two weeks
ago, the assassination was carried out in Yemen
by the United States against Qaed Salim Sinan al-
Harethi, who is a suspected leader of Al Qaida.
Afterwards, the Bush administration said it
needed to use deadly force to deter potential
terrorism even if it meant working outside of
istory should be kind to Abba
Eban, a giant of Israel's first
generation, who died Nov. 17
at age 87. He provided what
Israel so badly needs now, a voice and a
passion that turned international opin-
ion to a positive view of the Jewish state.
Israel's first ambassador to the United
Nations, Mr. Eban's
moment was his address Abba Eban
to the U.N., days after
the 1967 Six-Day War, when he persuaded the world that,
despite Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's malice, "The
Middle East, tired of wars, is ripe for a new emergence of
human vitality. Let the opportunity not fall from our hands."
In recent years, Labor Party leaders disparaged Mr. Eban's
unwillingness to take Arab promises at face value. But events
have shown that his was the clear-eyed vision of the vast differ-
ence between the ideal and the possible in that desperately
torn region. [11
tactics based on law enforcement.
As Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secre-
tary, explained, "We've just got to keep the
pressure on everywhere we are able to, and
we've got to deny the sanctuaries everywhere we
are able to, and we've got to put pressure on
every government that is giving these people
support to get out of that business."
All well and good. The terrorists have
created a new battlefield with new rules
of engagement and if they are paid
back in kind, that may be necessary.
But what we cannot fathom is why the
United States, the clay after its successful strike,
insisted that Israel must never do the same. The
"targeted killings" of Palestinian militants, the
State Department says, are unacceptable. The
circumstances, it insists, are "not comparable."
Let's see. After Cabinet-level discussions, the
officers of a Western-style democracy agree to
empower its military and intelligence agencies
to seek out and kill specific leaders ...
An obituary for Abba Eban appears on page 125.