Hebron's History a la the Times

Hebron has long been a powder keg, with Arabs and Jews vying for pieces of its history. But now comes the New York Times with a lengthy article about Hebron that, not surprisingly, tilts the scales in favor of Palestinians when it comes to parsing out respective equities. 

Jodi Rudoren, the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief, focuses in her piece on a slow revival of Hebron’s business section after it went dormant when an Israeli doctor, Baruch Goldstein, staged a massacre in 1994 that killed 29 Muslim worshipers. (“Years After Massacre, a West Bank ‘Ghost Town’ Stirs”  June 25, page A4)

As far as Rurdoren is concerned, Hebron’s history basically starts in 1994 with the Goldstein massacre, thus allowing her to paint Arabs as victims and Jews as guilty of mass murder.

Missing completely is any reference to the 1929 Hebron pogroms that killed 67 Jews and destroyed their homes and synagogues. The 1929 massacre left Hebron Judenrein for a subsequent 38 years.

Jews trickled back after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. But since then, according to Rudoren, there has been “a near constant standoff with Israeli settlers – clashes with settlers are common.: It’s all about the Palestinianian version of history – with Jews invariably described as “settlers.”

Rudoren writes that Goldstein went through his killing rampage at the nearby “Tomb of the Patriarchs.” which Muslims call the “Ibrahim Mosque”  But no mention that Jews for a much longer stretch of time have called it the “Cave of Machpelah.”  Muslim wording gets preference over Jewish wording

There is a briefest of mention that “Jewish history is centuries old” in Hebron, but not another word about its actual history. 

No mention,for example, that Hebron was King David’s capital. 

Or that the biblical patriarch Abraham bought the “Cave of Machpelah” from Ephron the Hittite for 400 shekels of silver (Genesis, chapter 23)  No mention that this acquisition was the first real estate transcation in the Bible. Or, as Genesis puts it, “So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave, which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, there were in all the border, thereof round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. And after this, Abraham buried Sara his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah.”

No mention by Rudoren that the “Cave of Macheplah” also became the resting place of the three biblical patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and their Matriarchs, Sara, Rebeca, and Leah.

In brief, Jews bought this burial ground fair and square.

Thus, while Rudoren engages in selective journalism to paint Hebron’s residents as Arabs inconvenienced by Jews in its modern years, she’s just as off the mark when it comes to assigning respective Hebron equities to Jews and Arabs throughout history.

But that’s history a la New York Times.

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