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Conflict in Jerusalem

From a letter sent to Jewish-American friends while I was living in Israel:

Oct. 20, 1991:

... I purposely went to [Jerusalem] to participate in the rally against Baker across from the American Consulate (in Independence Park). We were 2,000 strong according to the Jerusalem Post.

There were many placards - in Hebrew & English. I held one that read BUSH DESTROYING ISRAEL PEACE BY PEACE. Another one read GIVE TEXAS BACK TO MEXICO. And a funny drawing of an Indian chief sitting with Shamir saying "Let me talk to you about land for peace."

The Arabs haven't shown any sign of concessions or change in heart or attitude. At least Gorbachev let Eastern Europe go, Germany reunite, cut back his defenses, etc. Concrete actions, not just puny promises or hollow offers for peace. Israel's simply getting backed into a corner where they'll be made to look like the bad guys & the Arabs lovers of peace.

So I accomplished my goal of being in the demonstration against Israel's dismemberment. My other goal was to visit and congratulate those Jewish "settlers" who recently made a daring move into Silwan (Shiloach) - the true City of David, presently occupied by hateful Palestinians.

I used to tell people I wanted to live there to restore our Jewish-Christian presence and they'd understandably laugh - because it's practically suicidal and the place is basically an ugly dump. Though I have the vision of it one day being cleaned & green & beautiful with nice Jewish homes again.

Anyway, I found Silwan closed off by a heavy presence of police, soldiers & border patrol. They wouldn't let me in. Then - by the grace of God or strange coincidence - as I was walking back up that steep street to the Dung Gate, I met one of the men who live in that now Jewish home & a Yeshiva student. They invited me to come with them when their ride showed up! Chief Inspector Terner was to visit the site so we could only stay a brief time because they said he'd be angry & make me and the Yeshiva student go.

They've placed barbed wire all around their "yard," freshly tarred their roof, have an Israeli flag flying & are still clearing out all the junk the Arabs threw in there for the past 7 years. It was exciting to drive through that Palestinian village as they looked on. Earlier, being hot as usual, I started to roll down my window when they reminded me it's better to be hot than get a stone in the face!

Instead of being angry at those Jews for living in homes they've legally bought - we should be angry & consider it provocative that those Arabs are so racist & hateful & want their neighborhood Judenrein!

I plan on visiting them again when I can stay longer - maybe even live with them as the student suggested...

Now I'll revert back to Sukkot & the Temple Mount Faithful's demonstration. I've marched with them twice to express solidarity & show support for the idea that Jews ought to be able - in a "Jewish" state - to pray on the Temple (not mosque) Mount. My perplexing question is how can we rid Israel of those Arabs who forfeit their right to live here (by their intifada actions or stabbings or murder) without hating all Arabs, lumping them all together in a prejudiced way, forgetting there must be at least a few good Arabs who could live here - under Jewish rule - in peace.

I do believe most Palestinians hate Israel and would kill every Jew. But where do we draw the line in our actions? Can we continue to not "sink to their level," but instead get sunk 6 ft. below them (as Rabbi Kahana said)? Most of them are our avowed enemies & we wouldn't be wise to show "the mercy of fools," but... I prayed about it to reconcile everything with proper understanding. So many things are such a fine line...

I also was an arms-length away from Boris Pankin when he came down the stairs from the Jewish Quarter to visit the Wall & later the Temple Mount. That was a happy surprise...

Submitted by:

David Ben-Ariel

David Ben-Ariel, an American author who has travelled widely and who has lived throughout Israel, shares a special focus on the Middle East and great interest in Jerusalem, reflected in hard-hitting articles that help others improve their understanding of that troubled region. Check out www.benariel.com.

davidbenariel@famvid.com





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