Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hebron as the Israel/Palestine Conflict

Marc Tracy visits Hebron and the neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba. These are interesting places, because in a sense they represent a microcosm of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but with many tropes reversed.

Marc seized on a particular picture which encapsulates perhaps the center of this analogy:


The history here is more or less accurate. Hebron has had a Jewish community dating back to antiquity, but they were driven out following a 1929 pogrom. Many of the settlers there now assert the legitimacy of their claim by reference to those Jews who were forced to flee. In other words, basically a "right of return" assertion. This in spite of the fact that Hebron will assuredly be part of an eventual Palestinian state, its holy status to Judaism notwithstanding (it lies deep in the heart of the West Bank). It is also the case that the Hebron and Kiryat Arba settlers are among the most extreme in the entire West Bank, with parks and gardens dedicated to racists and terrorists.

What do we get from this? That a just resolution of the conflict means that not everybody gets to live on the precise parcel of land that they wish, even areas to which they have a valid historical claim, and that sometimes a true claim of historical dispossession can be paired with rabid, intolerable extremism today.

2 comments:

PG said...

Are the settlers there heirs to the people who held either title or possession in 1929? If not, I don't see how they can say the land should be returned to them specifically, rather than to the heirs of those who were dispossessed and murdered. Also, there's often a greater sense of one working for justice as a principle if one's claims are on behalf of another person rather than in one's personal interest.

ddd139d0-2316-11e3-9988-000bcdcb8a73 said...

I understand what you mean about a 'reversal' of the usual talk about 'return', but I don't think it reflects the actual state of discourse. For 40 years, the settler mentality has been that Judea and Samaria are Jewish ancestral lands promised in Genesis etc; granted, this claim is more chronologically proximate.
Also, I've rarely been in a conversation about I/P with another American Jew without hearing "what about the Jews expelled from the Arab states in '48" as a rebuttal to my mention of naqba; again, violence against and property deprivation of Jews is part of the conversation.
I imagine, but don't quite assume, you agree that it isn't the most pressing issue in Hebron when there are families who can't use the front doors of their home because they open on a segregated street?