Hebron's Jews mark 1929 massacre



Some 1,000 people gathered in Hebron on Thursday afternoon at a ceremony commemorating 75 years since the 1929 Hebron massacre. Sixty-seven Jews were killed and 70 wounded in the surprise attack by Arabs.


Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin gave a moving speech in which he referred both to the victims then and to the recent victims of Arab terror in that community.


"It has been 75 years since the massacre, and yet the voices of our brothers still call out to us from the holy earth, our beloved earth of the field of Machpela, which was bought from the Hittites and paid for with silver. This is the earth that has buried Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah, and has been witness to the treachery and murder of the Ishmaelites."


Hebron housed a thriving community of 800 Jews in 1929. Although the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had been inciting to violence that August, the Jews of Hebron trusted the good relationships they had with their Arab neighbors.


When four members of the Hagana arrived in Hebron on Thursday, August 22, offering the community weapons with which to defend itself against a probable attack, the community refused, saying that this would only cause more trouble. The next day, the massacre began and carried on until the end of Shabbat.


After the massacre the survivors were kept, for three days, in the basement of the British police station, with neither food nor water, and were then expelled from the city. In 1931, Jews moved back to Hebron, only to be expelled again in 1936, when, a week after Pessah, British policemen made the rounds of the homes of the members of the community in the middle of the night and told the Jews to leave once again.


In 1967, Jews returned to Hebron. The community once more numbers some 800 today, comprising 83 families, including 300 children, and 300 yeshiva students at Yeshivat Shavei Hebron.


David Wilder, spokesman for the Hebron Jewish community, said he hopes and prays that the government will have learned the lessons of the past and apply them to the present political situation.


"It is a very important event that the fact of what happened here 75 years ago is being officially recognized by the state of Israel," said Wilder. "We cannot give the Arabs a prize for terror."


Shlomo Slonim, a member of the family in which both parents, Elazar Dan Slonim and his wife, and their five-year-old son Aharon were killed by Arabs, spoke as the representative of the families who have been the victims of terrorism in the city in recent years.


Relating the 1929 massacre to current events, Slonim said, "We must never trust the Arabs with our security."


Although the community of Hebron holds an annual memorial day for the victims of the 1929 massacre, the last official memorial ceremony by the government was held 25 years ago.


(©) The Jerusalem Post

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