November 04, 2018

Game set and match to the patriarchs!

This past Shabbat’s Torah reading was Chayei Sarah, in which Abraham comes to Hebron to buy a burial place for his wife Sarah. That burial place is the Cave of Machpela, in which the patriarchs and their wives are all buried, and is the second most sacred shrine in Judaism after the Temple Mount and its Western Wall.

As in most years, I spent this special Shabbat in Hebron with tens of thousands of my Jewish brothers and sisters to have the enormous privilege of hearing the Torah reading and story of the burial of Sarah in the exact place where it actually happened 3,800 years ago. If you’re looking for a means of really “earthing” yourself to Jewish history, this time and place never disappoints.

I returned to Jerusalem after Shabbat to hear of the crowd forming in Tel Aviv to mark the 23rd anniversary of the murder of Prime Minister Rabin z’l  in the same square as he had then held a rally in support of the Oslo peace accords.  Rather than ‘mark’ the anniversary, it seems the demonstration was held more to ‘politicise’ it. Failed prime ministerial aspirants like Avi Gabbay (Labour) Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) and Tzipi Livni (no fixed abode) jumped at the chance to make themselves relevant on the podium. No surprise that Hanegbi got booed while far left Meretz leader Tamar Sandberg got the biggest applause. This is after all Tel Aviv!

The biggest story the following morning was about someone who was not there. Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein. He reportedly declined to attend because a “settler in a kippa” would not be welcome to speak at such a gathering. The headlines made a meal of his comment that Rabin’s assassination had “no historical impact” on the peace process. That is of course true. The Oslo process didn’t die at Rabin Square, but collapsed 5 years later at Camp David. Israelis still live with its deadly legacy of thousands of Jewish lives ended or disabled, along with the empowerment of the PLO and the advent of Hamas.

I have a better reason why Speaker Edelstein was not in Tel Aviv. That’s because he was in Hebron, where I spoke to him Friday night in the Cave of Machpela. This is a place where settlers in a kippa are very welcome indeed. Their interest is in deepening their roots to the Jewish homeland and heritage, rather than negotiating it away to Arabs in hopes they will stop stabbing our people in the supermarkets and stop machine-gunning families by the roadside.

And whilst Rabin’s left-wing exploiters managed to garner just a few thousand in Tel Aviv, Abraham and Sarah pulled in 40,000 for Shabbat.
Game set and match to the patriarchs!

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