Lies and Loathing in Hebron

Dec. 29 2020

“No Jews” in our times, writes Jerold Auerbach, “have been as relentlessly maligned as the Jews of Hebron.” In her recent book Settling Hebron: Jewish Fundamentalism in a Palestinian City, the Columbia University anthropologist Tamara Neuman—armed with the latest social-science jargon—joins her many predecessors in casting aspersions on the West Bank city’s small Jewish community. Auerbach writes:

Gazing at the Machpelah shrine where, according to [tradition], Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are entombed, [Neuman] nonetheless discerns its “staunch witness to the site’s Islamic character.” Muslims, however, first appeared in the 7th century CE long after the reign of King Herod, when the towering Machpelah enclosure was built.

[Elsewhere, Neuman] absurdly describes the joyous descent of Jews from [the nearby village of] Kiryat Arba to the Machpelah holy site . . . as “ongoing forays of armed ideological settlers into Palestinian space.” This, she writes, is “ethnicized space” for Jews that demonstrates “the spatial character of ethnic exclusivism.” But the reality is that Jews are prohibited by Muslim authorities from entry into the stunningly beautiful Isaac Hall except for ten days a year. It is Muslims, not Jews, who impose “ethnic exclusivism.”

Neuman seems oblivious to the demographic reality that 500 Jews living in Hebron’s Jewish quarter are outnumbered by more than 20,000 Palestinians. And should she try to enter Arab Hebron—a thriving city of nearly 200,000 residents with shopping malls, high-rise apartment buildings, and universities—she would be turned away because she is a Jew.

Read more at JNS

More about: Hebron, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, West Bank

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy