Question Mark

This week (July 13-21, 1995) has been one of the more difficult sets of seven
days that we have experienced this summer: the murder of two 19 year old men
by “peace-loving” Hamas, who, according to some Israelis were actually
justified in what they did – Major General Ilan Biran stated that Wadi Kelt is
closed to Israeli tourists because it is ‘dangerous there’; two ‘of the best’
air force pilots killed in a training accident; the Arad music festival
tragedy in which two people were trampled to death by thousands of
‘music-lovers’ whose hearts desire was to hear ‘Mashina’; the suicide of Motta
Gur; in Hebron, children arrested, women beaten by the ‘best in blue’; and
then there is the latest item in: ‘Israeli’ Arabs living in East Jerusalem
will now be paying taxes, not to the Israeli IRS, but rather to the
‘Palestinian Authority’ IRS. In other words, East Jerusalem has been given,
defacto, to Arafat and his cronies. Jibril Ragub, a wanted terrorist, in
charge of Arab intelligence in Jericho, is ‘running’ East Jerusalem.
I’ve given this weeks’ column a strange name, ?, because that’s
exactly how I feel: Question-Mark. I am privileged to travel around Hebron
with many people, from all over the world, showing them the sites of ancient
Hebron and the renewed Jewish Community of Hebron, Jews and gentiles alike.
There are others in Kiryat Arba-Hebron who know more about this area’s history
than myself, but I have a fairly good knowledge of the places and events. But
with every group I take around, almost without fail, I have people, tourists,
many of them not native Israelis but Israelis too, who ask me questions that I
have no answers to. Like: Why are the Arabs still allowed to come over to the
“Jewish side” of Ma’arat HaMachpela when Jews aren’t allowed on the “Arab
side”?; Why don’t the Jews have total control over all of the ‘Jewish side’ of
Ma’arat HaMachpela, (such as storerooms, memorial rooms, etc.)?; Why can’t
Jews see the ‘Isaac Hall’?; How could a Jewish policeman even consider hitting
a Jewish child or woman?; How can an ISRAELI GOVERNMENT want to give a JEWISH
CITY like HEBRON to the Arabs? I get all these questions, and more. I have
only one answer. I tell them: “I don’t understand. When you do, please
explain it to me, because I really don’t understand.”
Adir Zik, a superb movie producer (he produced Hebron’s 18 minute
video-film, “Hebron-Past, Present and Forever” available for $20.), also
presents the popular radio show “Zikukim shel Adir” (The Sparks of Adir) on
Arutz 7, (OUR radio station, as opposed to State radio, Kol Yisrael) every
Friday morning. This morning he repeated a story he’s already broadcast
twice. I present it here for your perusal and consideration. (It is a true
story).
During the days of the Roman Emperor Caesar Caliguila, in 32CE, before
the destruction of the 2nd Temple, Jews lived together with Greeks in the
small city of Yavneh. The Greeks wanted to construct a large statue to be
placed in a public place and used for idol worship in honor of the Emperor.
The Jews of Yavneh strenuously objected, causing the foreigners to complain to
Caliguila, stating that the Jews didn’t accept his supreme rule. Caliguila
reacted by ordering construction of a large statue, to be stationed in the
Temple in Jerusalem. Knowing that the Jews would resist, he ordered his
general Petronus to go to Israel with half of the Roman army, to take charge
of the operation and to enforce the decree. Eight years later the statue was
ready and Petronus arrived, with his army, at Acre, in Israel.
The Israel’s, aware of the impending crisis, were upset beyond
description. A statue, for idol worship, in the holy Temple, was unthinkable.
All the people of Israel, tens of thousands of citizens, men, women,
children, and babies, arrived in Acre. They stationed themselves before
Petronus’s camp, and refused to leave. When Petronus appeared before them,
the entire crowd fell on the ground before him. He ordered them to rise, and
when they did, they covered their heads with dust from the ground, a sign of
mourning. He asked, “Do you rebel against the Emperor?” They replied that
they would not fight the Emperor’s army, but they would die before they would
allow a statue to be placed in the Temple. Petronus was overwhelmed with the
demonstration and was unable to reply. Instead, he moved his camp to the city
of Tiberia.
The Jews wouldn’t give up. They came in droves, from all over the
country. It was planting season – they should all have been in the fields.
But instead they gathered in Tiberia, thousands upon thousands. The stood by
Petronus’ camp for 40 days, without moving, paying no attention to weather,
hunger, or the economic devastation they were bringing on themselves, by not
planting in their fields. After 40 days, Petronus, overcome, asked them
again, if they were rebelling against the Emperor. They replied in the
negative, repeating that if he planned to fulfill the Emperor’s orders they
would first commit mass suicide.
Petronus, a general who had mercy on no soul, was dumbfounded. He
sent a message to Caliguila in Rome, asking him to rescind the order.
Caliguila responded by ordering Petronus to commit suicide. However, this
order was delayed in arriving because of weather conditions. In the meantime,
Caliguila was murdered in Rome and his orders were canceled.
Maybe it’s time we do the same thing.

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