The Peace Now movement protests a purchase of the new houses in Hebron by Jews. One allegation is that the Jews possibly forced the Arab seller into an unfair deal. It’s difficult to see how a few Jews could have evicted an Arab supported by thousands of his brethren, Israeli police and military administration, and Jewish human rights organizations always ready to file a suit on his behalf. The Arab who built a four-story house is obviously well connected and wealthy, and not an easy prey. The story is pretty simple: the house in question was built too large, and the owner could not realistically finish it, thus sold it for a large amount, relative to Hebron’s real estate market standards. The Jews of Hebron know that Israeli military administration scrutinizes their every real estate acquisition, and naturally took care to make the deal impeccable.

It’s a strange military occupation. Occupiers arm the occupied with the weapons that have no practical use other than attacking the occupiers, now or a bit later. The Arab population possesses massive quantities of illegal arms, including automatic weapons, and builds thousands of illegal houses while the Jews could not own defensive automatic weapons, are severely limited in the amount of ammunition, and cannot reconstruct their existing houses, let alone build new ones. A situation when the occupier is distinctly disadvantaged to the occupied is historically unusual.

If Arabs are allowed to live and work in Israel, then the Jews should logically have the same entitlements in the Palestinian-controlled territories. To demand that the Jews leave Hebron is very much like demanding that Arabs leave Tel Aviv.

The Jews don’t insist on sovereignty in Hebron, but merely on religious and administrative autonomy allowed under Muslim law to dhimmi. In the recent initiative, many Jews consider abandoning Israeli citizenship to legally stay behind the Green Line once Israel withdraws. Living at the steps by which Abraham entered Hebron is more important to some Jews than proximity to Tel Aviv striptease clubs.

Unlike the situation in the settlements, Jews of Hebron did not even take any substantial plot of public land, but consistently buy houses from Arabs. No Jewish real estate looted and appropriated by Arabs in 1929 is restored; the balance of claims is overwhelmingly on the Jewish side.

Perhaps the Jewish presence in Hebron obstructs the peace efforts? It’s hard to see what exactly is conducive to peace. Given the Lebanese war and the shower of rockets on Sderot, concessions seem to bring no peace. Hebron offers a lesson in peacekeeping: Jews there walk openly and drive with open windows, while Arabs put bars on their houses’ windows. That’s despite the fact that Arabs possess vastly more weapons that the Hebron Jews. The biggest exposition in the Hebron museum relates to the 1929 massacre: Arabs and Jews lived peacefully side by side, until one day the Arabs massacred the Jews, including the nuns of the Hadassah hospital that cared for them free of charge. Those who imagine that human mentality has changed in eighty years would do well to witness the brotherly slaughter in Iraq.

The disputed house controls a strategic location, connecting Jewish houses in Hebron proper to the last resort escape route to Kiryat Arba. It is a question of whether the Jews or the Arabs will eventually shoot from the house windows to clear the road when major clashes occur. The army won’t interfere, as it did not when Baruch Goldstein was forced to defuse the impending pogrom. Eventually, the defense would be up to the Hebron Jews themselves, and they critically need the strategic height of that house.

The Peace Now demonstrations in Hebron incite the Arabs. It didn’t occur to Arabs to sue the Jews for the houses they just sold to us – until the Jewish lawyers suggested them. It’s a no-loss for Arabs to side with some Jews against the other. The Peace Now works hard to destroy the anti-Semitic canard that Jews stand for each other.

The protests in Hebron have an odd look: Israeli left and Arab right pitted against the religious Jews. The Jews continued their business as usual amid the protesters’ screams. People who proudly live in bullet-ridden caravans near the place where all prayers flow to before ascending to heaven are not easily intimidated. The most startling thing was the faces of Jewish children dashing around the disputed house — the faces of Torah scholars, workers, and warriors, faces with no trace of fear or hatred. A long-forgotten type of Jew is being re-born in Hebron.