Can Peace Now handle the truth about Hebron?

Peace Now is angered about an archaeological dig in Hebron by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) aimed at uncovering remnants of King David’s Palace.

The archaeological site is located in the Jewish neighborhood at Tel Rumeida, although the Haaretz English version headlined it was “Palestinian Hebron”…Peace Now’s director Yariv Oppenheimer chimed in,

“This is settlement expansion under the guise of archaeology…enabling the settlers to expand and change the status quo in the most sensitive part of the West Bank.”


The two lots of ground where the dig is taking place are owned by Jews. It is next to a site that already has been dug and has revealed ancient artifacts, including walls from the Biblical period. Hebron Jewish community spokesman David Wilder said, given the location of Tel Rumeida, it is hoped that remnants of King David’s palace will be found. If that happens, the whole Muslim lie that the kingdoms never existed crumbles, which might be one reason why Peace Now and Haaretz are so aghast at the new dig.

Jewish Press

Peace Now, like many other radical groups, invariably rushes to denounce Israel. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, writes:

… NGO-led delegitimization campaigns, boycotts, legal processes based on false “war crimes” allegations, and “Israel apartheid” festivals are part of the Israeli reality that Peace Now prefers to erase. Beginning with the notorious NGO Forum at the 2001 Durban Conference, groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have led the strategy seeking “the complete international isolation of Israel as an apartheid state.” Exploiting the tragedy of apartheid and the language of human rights to demonize Israel, many NGOs have sought to implement this strategy, from the false “Jenin massacre” in 2002, through the discredited Goldstone Report in 2009…

Peace Now and its allies, which use the label but not the values of the “liberal progressive Left,” have long ignored this demonization and political warfare targeting Israel.

Times of Israel

Historical, archaeological and biblical evidence demonstrates that Jews have lived in Judaea and Samaria for 5,000 years, and the only Kingdom during that time has been a Jewish one. Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible. 2 Samuel 5 states:

When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.

David was thirty years old when he became king and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.

Hebron is one of the holiest places to Jews and Christians, as it is where the Patriarchs are buried. Why then the outrage in 2010 when Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu added a place of such significant Jewish heritage to the list of heritage sites?

The PA called on the international community to stop Israel from placing the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem on its list of national heritage sites.

To protest the inclusion of the West Bank sites the PA believes will one day be part of its future state, it moved its weekly cabinet meeting from Ramayana to Hebron.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that placing West Bank sites on the heritage list could lead to a religious war. Jerusalem Post

In saner times, people would decry the idea that indigenous people acknowledging their heritage in their own land could spark a religious war. But sadly, incessant propaganda has led many – including even some Israelis – to view Hebron as an Arab city. Certainly, today it is over the 1967 “Green Line” and Arabs vastly outnumber Jews, but let’s look at some facts:

  • Hebron was the first Jewish city in history, and the Jewish patriarchs lived and were buried there.
  • The Tomb of the Patriarchs was the first Jewish property purchased in the land of Israel. The building over the burial cave was constructed by the Jews during the Second Temple era, about 2,000 years ago.
  • After the Muslim Mameluks occupied the land, they forbade Jews and Christians from entering the building. This prohibition lasted for 700 years, until the State of Israel was restored.
  • King David established his kingdom in Hebron almost 3,000 years ago until he transferred it to Jerusalem. Archaeological excavations uncovered the walls of the ancient city and artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods, and an ancient Jewish cemetery was discovered.
  • The old Jewish Quarter stands on land which was purchased by Jewish exiles from Spain in the sixteenth century, and its focal point was a Synagogue named for the Patriarch Abraham. The community flourished until the 1929 riots, when residents of the Jewish Quarter were tortured and murdered by their Arab ‘neighbours’, their homes looted and pillaged.
  • After the Jordanian conquest 1948, Arabs systematically campaigned to eliminate any evidence of Jewish presence, razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built a wholesale market, trash dump and animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue. Jews were not permitted to live in the city, nor to visit or pray at the Jewish holy sites in the city.
  • When Israel liberated their land from Jordanian occupation in 1967, Hebron’s Jewish Quarter was restored. Remnants of the synagogue were uncovered, and it was rebuilt. In 1993, the buildings of the Arab wholesale market were restored to Jewish hands, and Jewish families returned to live in them.
  • Today the Jewish community lives on a tiny fraction of the Jewish property plundered in the 1929 pogrom. Of the 18 sq kms of Hebron, 15 sq kms was surrendered to the PA, and is off limits to Jews.
  • After Jordan occupied Hebron in 1948, Jewish houses, shops and lands were expropriated, and have never been returned to their rightful owners. The PA has initiated wide-scale construction and development, declaring Hebron a Development Area for the purpose of “strangling the Jewish community” by surrounding it with dense Arab building.
  • International and anti-Israel Leftist organisations have targeted Hebron for hostile activities, and disseminate propaganda in order to claim Arabs are discriminated against. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a pro-Palestinian Arab organisation, floods Hebron with international anarchists to harass security forces who protect Jews in the tiny Israeli zone, and similar organisations engage in constant provocations and incitement, encouraging terrorism and endangering the lives of soldiers and civilians. Compounding this are self-hating Israeli groups such as B’tselem, Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence and the like, who assist the work of the racist anti-Israel lobby by inciting against the Jews of Hebron.

You would think that after the Jewish community of Hebron was restored, the Israeli Government would do all it could to protect this historic city. According to Rivkah Lewin, this has not been the case:

In 1975, a physics professor, Dr. Ben-Tzion Tavger, immigrated to Israel from Russia with plans to build a physics lab. Instead, after visits to Jewish sites in Hebron, he got a job as a guard at the Jewish cemetery in Hebron. There, he discovered fragments of the tombstones of the martyrs of the 1929 Massacre strewn along the edge of the cemetery and near Arab homes.

Through a twist of distorted logic, IDF soldiers had been ordered to guard the goat shed, latrine, and garbage dump instead of the site of the ancient synagogue and cemetery. Israeli authorities repeatedly persecuted and arrested Tavger for his work to excavate the synagogue.

On Rosh Hashana, 1976, the synagogue site was cleaned up, and prayer services were held there, but right afterwards, the synagogue was declared a closed military zone. Many Jews were arrested while praying amidst the excavation.

People have a false idea that in Hebron and surrounding areas, Jews are living in homes that Arabs deserted and that the Jews “stole.” The truth of the matter is… Jews in Hebron are all living in Jewish properties from the 1800s and 1900s; some go back even earlier. These were all Jewish homes that were abandoned in 1929 after the pogrom, when the Arabs destroyed the community. Arabs then took over the Jewish properties.

Chabad Library

Despite its long Jewish history and very short Arab occupation, archaeologists are reluctant to conduct digs there. Rabbi Leibel Reznick believes there is an agenda to deny the historical and biblical Jewish presence there:

Hebron was first excavated by Philip Hammond of the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1963..His  published works told of Middle Bronze Era (Patriarchal Era, Abraham) finds in Hebron and a wealth of discoveries dating to the Iron Age, the era of King David. There was no mention of Late Bronze findings — the time that Moses’ spies were sent out to Hebron and the time of Joshua’s conquest. Archaeologists hastily concluded that Hebron was an inhabited city during the Patriarchal Era… and in the time of King David. However, there is a great deal of doubt if Hebron was inhabited during the time of Moses and his spies or during the time of Joshua’s conquest..

A number of noted historians and archaeologists jumped on the Bible-bashing bandwagon and boldly claimed that Hebron was uninhabited during the Late Bronze and Early Iron age… Is the skepticism of the academics… motivated by some hidden agenda?

We do not have to bother speculating whether or not Hebron existed in the Late Bronze-Early Iron Age. There is very conclusive evidence that it did.

. Much of Hammond’s finds were not evaluated or published. However, Jeffery R. Chadwick, a senior research fellow at Jerusalem’s William F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, carefully examined the Hebron material and followed up with on site excavation. In September 2005 the results were published, revealing that Hammond had indeed found evidence of Late Bronze occupation in six different areas of Tel Hebron!

During a new expedition in 1998, Israeli archaeologist Yuval Peleg found more than 50 burials with grave goods dating to the Late Bronze Age…and a great amount of pottery typical of the Early Iron Age has recently been found.

To say that no Late Bronze/Early Iron Age artifacts were to be found in Hebron is simply untrue. Yet, if there is so much evidence that Hebron was indeed inhabited during the era of the conquest, why do some archaeologists and historians still continue to claim there is no such evidence?

The present spokesman for the “non-inhabited Hebron” camp is Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Avi Ofer, who himself discovered pottery shards from the Late Bronze Age.

Why would an archaeologist negate his own findings? Dr. Ofer is not only an archaeologist; he is also a leader in the Peace Now movement in Israel. This left-wing political organization believes in peace at any cost, favoring to give as much land as necessary to the Palestinians in return for promises of good behavior.

Ofer has said,

“Tel Hebron [the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to all three monotheistic religions] is the second most important archeological site in Israel, second only to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. However, as unfortunate as it may be, the site belongs to the Palestinians.”

He therefore strongly opposes Jews living in Hebron, and gladly lends his academic voice to those who claim that Hebron was not among Joshua’s conquests. Put quite simply, if the historical Jewish conquest of Hebron is discounted, then the Jewish claim to the area is not valid.

So it seems that archaeology is deeply political, with Peace Now heavily implicated in historical revisionism.

Are they so scared that THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE (or rather under there!) that they would deliberately fudge historical evidence?

Sadly, the evidence seems to suggest they are.

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One comment

  1. I have photos of these sefer torah at the Avraham Avinu synagogue in Hebron.
    They are from Spain pre the Inquisition. They are silver and magnificent.

    My photos are better than these..much