Wash. Post belittles Hebron's Jewish footprint

One of two IDF soldiers killed by Palestinian terrorists over the weekend, Sgt. Gabriel Koby, 20, was manning a military post that guards the Jewish community in Hebron.  In its account by correspondents Ruth Eglash and William Booth, the Washington Post reports that it's near "the holy site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahim Mosque."

The Post's correspondents then proceed to opine that  Hebron is among "Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are considered by Palestinians and much of the world to be illegal under international law."  In other worlds, Jews don't belong in Hebron.  Out with Jews -- they have no business settling and living in Hebron ("Troops deaths put strain on Mideast peace talks," page A7, Sept. 23).

Unfortunately, this description of the Jewish presence in Hebron leaves much to be desired.  There's far more to Hebron's history and religious importance.

So let's fill in the empty blanks left by the Post:

- Hebron is one of Judaism's four holy cities.  The other three are Jerusalem, Safed, and Tiberias.

- Hebron is also the oldest Jewish community in the world. 

- While the article acknowledges Abraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpelah, it fails to point out that this is the burial site of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah.  In contrast, Muslims can claim only a single tie to the Tomb: Abraham.  After Abraham, the generational family tree divides between the next Jewish patriarch, Isaac, and the separate forbear, Ismael, who is not Jewish and not buried in Hebron.  Jews have much greater biblical claims to Hebron than Muslims.  By a margin of 6 to 1.  Giving them equal status with Jews doesn't tally with the Book of Genesis.

- Hebron's Jewish renown also includes the crowning of King David and his seven-year reign in Hebron before moving to Jerusalem.

- Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously for a thousand years throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods.

- Only in 1929, when an Arab pogrom murdered 67 Jews, did Hebron become Judenrein, but even then for only a relatively short period.

- In 1967, Jewish life resumed in Hebron after Israel's victory in a defensive war against half a dozen Arab armies intent on annihilating the nascent Jewish state.

- While Palestinians greatly outnumber Jews today in Hebron -- the remaining effect of the 1929 pogrom -- Jewish religious and intellectual life continues apace.

The next time the Post has occasion to refer to Jews in Hebron, it would behoove its editors and reporters to give readers a fuller and fairer account than its one-sided, pro-Palestinian spin in the Sept. 23 edition.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.