December 26, 2006
Ms. Irene Khan
1 212 463 91931 212 627 1451
Dear Ms. Khan,
Amnesty International’s declared objective is a “vision of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.”
Accordingly, we have no choice but to express our deep dismay at the fact that during your recent visit to Hebron (December 2006), you did not see fit to visit the Jewish Community of Hebron and speak with representatives of the community.
As we are sure you are aware, Hebron’s Jewish community dates to the days of antiquity, with a continuous Jewish population for thousands of years. In August of 1929, sixty-seven Jews were slaughtered and over 70 injured by their Arab neighbors. The survivors were expelled from the city. Men, women and children were butchered, raped, burned and tortured. The ancient Jewish quarter was destroyed and its holy sites desecrated.
Some 25 years ago, Hebron’s Jewish community was renewed in parts of the destroyed Jewish neighborhoods; and Jewish families returned to live in Jewish homes following transfer of ownership deeds by the property’s owners to the community.
The Hebron Jewish community has suffered tremendously as a result of constant attacks by Arab terrorists belonging to terror organizations. Unfortunately, it seems that you are unaware of this fact, as a result of your decision to see Hebron from a very prejudiced point of view, speaking with one side only; thereby, ignoring the human rights and suffering of the city’s Jewish residents.
You write: “the movements of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents depend entirely on the decision of the Israeli soldiers. Often the Palestinian residents are placed under curfew, which do not apply to the 500 Israeli settlers who live in the area.”
This is untrue. An overwhelming majority of Hebron and Hebron’s Arab residents are under rule of the Palestinian Authority. Arabs have free access to the entire city; whereas, Jews have access to only about 10% of Hebron. Also, Hebron’s Arabs have not been placed under curfew in years. Curfews are imposed only following massive terror attacks in the area. When there is no terror, there are no curfews.
You write: “Wire nets have been placed over the narrow alleys, separating Jewish settlers from Palestinian shops, to prevent the settlers hurling objects and excrement at the Palestinian and international visitors.”
Perhaps the wire nets have been placed to prevent Arabs below from hurling rocks, hand grenades and bombs into Jewish homes, or to prevent terrorists from easily climbing into the Jewish neighborhoods?
You write: “We keep our visit short because it is past sunset and it is not advisable to stay in the area after dark.”
Why is it not advisable to stay in the area after dark? Who are you afraid of? Who told you that night is dangerous in Hebron. When was the last time an Arab was shot at or attacked by Jews in Hebron, during the day or at night?
We strongly protest the description of your visit in Hebron, the conclusions you so arbitrarily reached, and the fact that you refuse to meet and discuss the issues involved with representatives of Hebron’s Jewish community. Should you decide to fulfill Amnesty’s “vision,” as quoted above, and objectively examine current issues in Hebron, we would be happy to invite you to meet with us in order to show you, first-hand, the hardships that Hebron’s Jews have to deal with on a daily basis.
It would be advisable for Amnesty International to remain a neutral, objective organization and not act so irresponsibly as to draw conclusions before carefully examining the facts and hearing all the parties involved.
Noam Arnon, David Wilder
Spokesmen for the Jewish Community of Hebron