You Cannot Erase History

by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
January 10, 2005
Wow aren’t you excited? Everyone seems to be jumping up and down. Some, really happy. Others – not so much.
After all, it looks like we have two innovative, democratically elected governments, new horizons, fresh out of the bag. Who could ask for more? I mean, who could be upset?
Well, why don’t you ask Yishai Maimon? Presently mayor of Tzfat in the hills of the western Galil, Maimon is not overjoyed with the newly elected Arab chieftain. Thirty years ago Abu Mazen initiated one of the deadliest massacres in Israeli history. Mazen-terrorists attacked a school in Ma’alot, in northern Israel. Sleeping in the school, at the time, were dozens of schoolchildren from Tzfat. Twenty-two children were murdered, after having been taken hostage by the blood-thirsty savages. Yishai Maimon was there, in the school, and will never forget the cries of pain and anguish. Speaking of Abu Mazen, Maimon said, “I will never forget his part in the attack. The man is a murderer with the blood of Jews on his hands disguised as a peace merchant…It is important for the People of Israel to know with whom we are seeking to make peace. He is worse than Arafat.” [http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=74895]
The facts about Abu Mazen are widely known. He is a holocaust denier. Last week he called Israel’the Zionist enemy.’ He hugged and kissed armed Hamas terrorists in front of the cameras and declared never to disarm them. Last night he announced that ‘the little Jihad has ended and the big Jihad has begun.’ The facts speak for themselves: Abu Mazen is a terrorist, was a terrorist and always will be a terrorist. He might not adorn his head with a kafiya, preferring a suit and tie. But his dress and bright-white smile shouldn’t confuse the facts.
But, unfortunately, in Israel, facts are irrelevant. It makes no difference what was. Only pertinent is what will be. Nothing can be, or is to be, learned from the past.
Every once in a while I’m asked why I keep writing. In truth, sometimes I ask myself the same question. At times, looking back at articles written weeks, months and years ago, it seems that nothing has changed and the messages remain the same. So why keep writing them, albeit using different themes and words, again and again?
For instance, I found the following in an article called ‘Question Mark’ written in July, 1995, almost ten years ago. I think it quite appropriate to reprint the story, narrated numerous times by Adir Zik on his Arutz 7 radio program, “Zikukim shel Adir” (Sparks from Adir):
During the days of the Roman Emperor Caesar Caliguila, in 32CE, before  the destruction of the 2nd Temple, Jews lived together with Greeks in the small city of Yavneh. The Greeks wanted to construct a large statue to be placed in a public place and used for idol worship in honor of the Emperor.

The Jews of Yavneh strenuously objected, causing the foreigners to complain to Caliguila, stating that the Jews didn’t accept his supreme rule. Caliguila reacted by ordering construction of a large statue, to be stationed in the Temple in Jerusalem. Knowing that the Jews would resist, he ordered his general Petronus to go to Israel with half of the Roman army, to take charge of the operation and to enforce the decree. Eight years later the statue was ready and Petronus arrived, with his army, at Acre, in Israel.

The Israel’s, aware of the impending crisis, were upset beyond description. A statue, for idol worship, in the holy Temple, was unthinkable. All the people of Israel, tens of thousands of citizens, men, women, children, and babies, arrived in Acre. They stationed themselves before Petronus’ camp, and refused to leave. When Petronus appeared before them, the entire crowd fell on the ground before him. He ordered them to rise, and when they did, they covered their heads with dust from the ground, a sign of mourning. He asked, “Do you rebel against the Emperor?” They replied that they would not fight the Emperor’s army, but they would die before they would allow a statue to be placed in the Temple. Petronus was overwhelmed with the demonstration and was unable to reply. Instead, he moved his camp to the city of Tiberia.

The Jews wouldn’t give up. They came in droves, from all over the country. It was planting season – they should all have been in the fields. But instead they gathered in Tiberia, thousands upon thousands. The stood by Petronus’ camp for 40 days, without moving, paying no attention to weather, hunger, or the economic devastation they were bringing on themselves, by not planting in their fields. After 40 days, Petronus, overcome, asked them again, if they were rebelling against the Emperor. They replied in the negative, repeating that if he planned to fulfill the Emperor’s orders they would first commit mass suicide.

Petronus, a general who had mercy on no soul, was dumbfounded. He sent a message to Caliguila in Rome, asking him to rescind the order. Caliguila responded by ordering Petronus to commit suicide. However, this order was delayed in arriving because of weather conditions. In the meantime, Caliguila was murdered in Rome and his orders were canceled.

Of course, you’re aware of the difference between then and today. Petronus and Caliguila were Romans. The Petronus and Caliguila of today are Israeli Jews. 

We might expect that Arik and Shimon would have learned, but no, the past no longer exists. Arafat is gone, and the great Arab hope has surfaced. History starts today.
So why write: Simply to make sure that people never forget, and they shouldn’t have any excuses. We have to keep saying it, time and time again, like a mantra: Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael, only to Am Yisrael!
This afternoon, as this commentary is being aired, tens of thousands of people will be lining the streets of Jerusalem, outside the Knesset, across from the Prime Minister’s office. The scene won’t differ much from the above-told story. Thousands and thousands, beseeching the L-rd our G-d to bring about an end to the nightmare plaguing His people.  
In January of 1996, on the eve of the signing of the Hebron Accords, I wrote, “Tonight not only is Hebronon the chopping  block. Tonight almost all of the land area of Judea, Samaria and Gazais up for grabs… Netanyahu is not only  beheading
The  Jewish  Community of Hebron.  He is  castrating  the Landof Israel… abandonment of land in Israelis contrary to our very  existence.  We came back to Eretz Yisrael to settle the land, to live on the land – not to divide it and hand it  over to our enemies, to terrorists. The direction  of the  present `moment of truth’ is clearly negative.   But eventually,  this will change and the crossroads  we  are turning down now will reach a dead-end, and we won’t have any  choice but to turn around, come back, and  turn  the other  way.   Whatever the cost, we must know  this,  and live accordingly.”
The same thing, then and today. You may ask, how are we ‘living accordingly?’ In a couple of the days Hebron’s Yahalom family with celebrate the Brit Milah of their fifth child. Their oldest child, a girl, is almost five years old. The Yahalom family lives in a two bedroom caravan, next to Yeshivat Shavei Hevron, where Moshe Yahalom studies. Moshe and his wife Tehilla decided that at present, ‘living accordingly’ does not mean performing the Brit ceremony at Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, as is traditional here in Hebron. Rather, they decided to conduct the ceremony elsewhere, specifically, at Netzarim, in Gush Katif.
This community, which is, according to media reports, slated to be the first to be deleted from the map, G-d forbid, was, in the past, highly praised by Ariel Sharon, being of major security importance to the state of Israel. Arik may have changed, but Netzarim hasn’t. Neither have the people of Israel, people like Moshe and Tehilla Yahalom, who understand the value of our land. Their singular act of courage should be a lesson to all those who have decided to change history, to rewrite the books, to obliterate fifteen hundred dead, to forget Ma’alot, to start from today. The Yahaloms, together with multitudes on the streets of Jerusalem, will proclaim: You cannot erase history, we will not forgive your abandonment of our land, we will not forget our land, we will not surrender our essence. Abu-Mazens, Shimons and Ariks will come and go, but Eretz Yisrael will remain ours forever.


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