BBC lacks context about Hebron

Criticizing the BBC for lack of context is as easy as the proverbial shooting fish in a barrel (which in reality would probably be not so easy and somewhat dangerous).

For example, here is a long article on the BBC website called “Mixed emotions on Hebron tour” by Heather Sharp. It describes a tour sponsored by the Hebron Jewish community of the historic city where today about 700 Jews and 150,000 Arabs live.

The tour has recently been promoted as a way to create support for the community, which has been demonized in most of the Israeli media. Note that as is common in BBC articles, Ms. Sharp includes a gratuitous remark about “international law”:

Adverts proclaiming “Judea and Samaria [the Jewish name for the West Bank] – the story of every Jew” have recently appeared on billboards, buses and the websites of Israel’s left-leaning newspapers.

Some were immediately defaced with left-wing graffiti, reflecting the strong differences among Israelis over the settlements, which are considered illegal under international law — although Israel disputes this.

And she adds that

The tour explains little of the misery caused by the Israeli restrictions, or the brutal treatment that human rights groups say Palestinians suffer at the hands of some settlers and Israeli troops.

The most important site, of course, is ma’arat hamachpela, the tomb of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are said to be buried (Rachel’s tomb is near Bethlehem). The writer seems to be put off by the sight of Jews praying, but she toughs it out in order to remind us of Baruch Goldstein:

Entering the Tomb of the Patriarchs as hundreds of religious Jews rock back and forth in prayer, too, is a mixed experience for the secular visitors.

Access to the site is controlled by the Israeli military. The complex is divided into two parts, Muslim and Jewish, with separate entrances. Jews can enter the Muslim side for 10 days a year, and vice versa.

But for the most part, the two sides have been sealed off from each other, a legacy of the massacre by a Jewish extremist [Goldstein] of 29 Palestinians there in 1994.

The overall impression one gets is that the Jews of Hebron are simply perverse, living where they are not wanted, and that they get their jollies by brutally oppressing Palestinians.

The article does not mention any of the following:

There was a thriving Jewish community in Hebron from biblical times until 1929 when local Arabs, incited by the Arab leadership including the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, mounted a pogrom against them, killing at least 65, raping and maiming many others, making Hebron 100% Jew-free. Some returned but were forced out by more Arab violence in 1936. Since Hebron was in the territory occupied — against “international law” for whatever that is worth — by Jordan in 1948, Jews were not permitted to live there until 1967.

In Hebron in 2001 a Palestinian sniper shot and killed 10-month old Shalhevet Pas in her father’s arms. The atrocity was barely noticed by the international media, unlike the non-murder of Muhammad al-Dura.


Col. Dror WeinbergNov 15, 2002 – Col. Dror Weinberg, 38, of Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, was one of 12 people killed — nine soldiers and three civilians from the Kiryat Arba emergency response team — and 15 wounded in Hebron when Palestinian terrorists opened fire and threw grenades at a group of Jewish worshipers and their guards as they were walking home from Sabbath Eve prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs…

Col. Dror Weinberg was buried in the Kfar Sava Military Cemetery. He is survived by his pregnant wife, Hadassah, and five children: a son Yoav, 14, daughter Yael, 11, and sons Eitan, eight, Yishai, five, and Uri, three. Hadassah gave birth to a baby boy in April: “This is the special gift Dror has left me,” she said. — Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A personal note — I had the honor of meeting Col. Weinberg in 1999 at a ceremony marking the completion of training for my son’s  group in the maglan [special paratroop] unit, which Weinberg commanded. He said something about my coming all the way from America to watch him stick a pin on my son’s shirt (which was not properly tucked in); it was the least I could do, I said, considering what the young men were facing.

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