Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chatting with Hebron's Yehudit Katsover

If you read the previous blog, you know that I spent a fascinating day in Hebron. The primary reason for my trip there was to view the breathtaking photography exhibit by renowned photographer Gershon Ellinson about the rebuilding of the Jewish community in Hebron from 1969 to today. The exhibit is on display now in the Machpela Visitors' Center and will continue there for the next few months.
It is a must-see.
I toured the exhibit with both Gershon and Yehudit Katsover, co-owner of the Machpela Visitors' Center (previously the Settlers' Restaurant) and Zionist national activist.
Yehudit, a woman of action for the past thirty years, was one of the mothers who entered Beit Hadassah in 1979. In recent years she has been active in the struggle to redeem the abandoned Israeli Army base of Shdema; the struggle to save Netzer, the Jewish land between Alon Shvut and Elazar; and the latest struggle over the abandoned Adurayim Army Base.
Yehudit is also the co-owner of the Machpela Visitors' Center, which is hosting the Gershon Ellinson photo exhibit, Stakes in Hebron.
After our tour of Gershon's dramatic photos, we sat down in the restaurant and chatted.
"We're in a struggle for Jewish identity," Yehudit told me. "Who are we and why are we here?"
This question impacts on everything, including the struggle for Judea and Samaria.
Yehudit explained that after the Six Day War in 1967, two distinct groups were born: Gush Emunah, which sought to build Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza), and Shalom Achshav (Peace Now), which sought to stop settlement building.
Yehudit noted that lawyer and right-wing activist Eliyakim Ha'Etzni says, "It's all about who will win the game Stone/Paper/Scissors. [A stone breaks the scissors, but a paper covers the stone.] Throughout the past decades, we worked on Stone-building, but we didn't put any efforts into Paper-hasbara (public relations). The left was always busy with hasbara, and we haven't explained our case."
Yehudit continued, "I was involved in all kinds of activities, but I didn't pay attention to the media. Slowly we have come to understand how the media works."
While we were drinking our coffee, Yehudit said, "We had the zechut (merit) to make history and not witness history."
Then she thought, the garinim Torani'im (the nuclei of religious young people who move into non-religious neighborhoods) are our paper. So are Arutz 7 and Galei Yisrael.
"I am optimistic," she said.
So am I.
Photos by Israel Katz

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