This news may be regarded as a postscript to Ralph Seliger’s recent post on the play, “Martyrs Street,” about Jewish and Islamic extremists in Hebron. Rabbi Moshe Levinger was a key figure in establishing the radical settler communities in Hebron and nearby Kiryat Arba. The following is from the NY Times obituary (note the tribute from Prime Minister Netanyahu, juxtaposed with the paltry sentence Levinger received for the homicide he committed in 1988):
. . . In a condolence letter to the Levinger family, a copy of which was distributed to reporters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described Rabbi Levinger as “an outstanding example of a generation that sought to realize the Zionist dream, in deed and in spirit, after the Six-Day War.”
The Israeli authorities arrested Rabbi Levinger many times. In September 1988, after Palestinians threw stones at his car in Hebron, he opened fire, shooting randomly toward shops and killing a Palestinian shopkeeper. In a plea bargain, Rabbi Levinger was convicted of death by negligence. He served three months of a five-month prison sentence.
Rabbi Levinger burst into the public eye in April 1968, when he led a group of settlers into the Park Hotel in Hebron to celebrate the Passover holiday and refused to leave. For the next three years the group lived in the Israeli military compound in Hebron, until the settlement of Kiryat Arba was established adjacent to Hebron, with Israeli government approval.
. . . But Rabbi Levinger’s personal mission was to revive a Jewish presence in Hebron. The remnants of the community left the city after 67 Jews were killed during the Arab riots of 1929, and the few who returned left after riots in 1936.
Rabbi Levinger’s wife, Miriam, was among a group of women and children who stole into Beit Hadassah, formerly a clinic run by the Hebron Jewish community, one night in 1979. A standoff with the Israeli government ensued. After a deadly Arab attack outside the building in 1980, the government relented and allowed a permanent Jewish presence in Hebron.
Today, several hundred Jews live in Hebron, home to about 170,000 Palestinians, and relations are tense. More than 650,000 Israelis live across the 1967 lines, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in settlements that most of the world considers a violation of international law. . . .