New Stone Home
June 18, 2001
Let’s start tonight by playing a little game of “who said this?” Let’s
see if you can guess the identity of the person who made the following
“I find this name extremely difficult and it is even a source of
embarrassment for me. I can’t even put the movement’s sticker on my
car. “I feel that people look it and say: ‘what an idiot is driving this car.”
“I even have a problem with our one add campaign which I used to think
was the best we ever had: ‘Peace is preferable than the whole land of
Israel.’ Today it is impossible to talk about peace the same way we used
to in the past. This is very clear; to me it is very clear.”
Ok, those are the quotes. The truth is that I don’t expect you to know
his name, which is Professor Amiram Goldblum. Goldblum is one of
the leaders of the Shalom Achshav – Peace Now movement. And you
hear what he says, speaking about Oslo, “”It is very shattered; there is no
doubt about it…”
Unfortunately, not all Peace Now members think like Professor Amiram
Goldblum, who has started to wake up to the catastrophe called Oslo.
Back to them in a minute.
First, let me tell you about a special family that lives in Hebron, in a very
special place. The ben-Yitzhak’s, Rabbi Gavriel and Bracha, have live in
a caravan home in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron . A caravan
home is the Israeli terminology for what you might call a mobile home –
or a very temporary dwelling. The ben-Yitzhak’s have been living in their
temporary dwelling for the past 10 years. Others in the neighborhood
have been living in their temporary dwelling for 17 years. Rabbi Gavriel
and Bracha don’t live in their caravan home by themselves. They share it
with their 13 – yes you heard me right, 13, children.
Following the murder of their neighbor, Rabbi Shlomo Ra’anan almost
3 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority began archeological
excavations in Tel Rumeida, the site of Biblical Hebron, home to
Abraham, almost 4,000 years ago. In order to begin excavations, the ben-
Yitzhak’s caravan home had to be moved, and was placed atop another
caravan home, sort of a double-decker. Their home now overlooks all of
Hebron, and is clearly visible to Arafat’s terrorist army, a few hundred
meters away, in the Harat a’Shech hills. For the past eight months the
ben-Yitzhak’s home has been transformed into a target for Arafat’s
terrorist forces, who shoot at, and occasionally hit, Rabbi Gavriel and
Bracha’s caravan. When bullets hit the plasterboard caravan walls they
don’t bounce off, as they would hitting a stone wall. Rather, the bullets
penetrate. And when they penetrate, they don’t stop. They continue
into another room, and sometimes, even into a third room. The ben
Yitzhaks have a bullet hole in their bathroom, having passed through the
shower, and next to the sink, where their 13 children brush their teeth.
Miraculously, thank G-d, none of them have been hit or injured.
In order to ensure that the ben Yitzhaks and the other six families that
today live in Tel Rumeida no longer have to rely on such miracles,
Hebron’s Jewish community wants to build them real, stone homes,
houses that were promised to us by then Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, years ago. One would think that the current Prime Minister,
with his building record, would have immediately granted us the building
permits we need to build in Tel Rumeida. But no, not yet.
On Friday morning the Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction
stopping building in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, construction which
is the initial stage in the building of real stone houses for the Tel Rumeida
families and their children. The only thing standing in our way is a signed
building permit, which Ariel Sharon, together with his Defense Minister,
Fuad ben Eliezer, could provide in an instant.
But no – 8 months of war is not enough. The murder of Shalhavet Pass
is not enough. The murder of Rabbi Ra’anan almost 3 years ago is not
enough. Living in temporary housing for 17 years is also not enough.
Those families will just have to have more patience, rely on some more
miracles, and wait just a little longer.
Yesterday morning some of Professor Amiram Goldblum’s friends from
the Peace Now movement, bolstered by Knesset members from the
extreme left wing Meretz Party, visited Hebron. The purpose of their visit
was to ensure that the Supreme Court injunction was being enforced, that
the building really had stopped. That is why they came to Hebron.
Don’t despair. We surely are not. This morning I had the honor of
escorting a group of 25 Jews, an international delegation of Likud
leadership through Hebron. One of our stops was the Ben Yitzhak
caravan home. As she always does, Bracha ben Yitzhik welcomed the
group into her home with a friendly smile, and thanked them for coming
to visit her. People in the group looked around, stunned, as if in another
world, staring at the bullet holes in the walls of Bracha’s house. After
greeting the group, Bracha continued with the task of preparing lunch for
her many children. And the group looked on, not believing.
For the time being perhaps the hammers have stopped pounding the nails
and the cement trucks stopped pouring concrete in Tel Rumeida. But have
no doubt, the building will start again, shortly I hope. And then, when
you come to visit the ben Yitzhak family in Tel Rumeida, you’ll be able
to congratulate them on their new, permanent, stone home.