US Congress Members Inspired During Visit to Hebron

"It really took us through the ages," stated Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri.

19.2.16, 14:17
(Left to Right: Congressman Gregg Harper, trip organizer Heather Johnson (holding locally made Hebron wine), Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler and Congressman Jeff Miller)
Three members of the United States Congress visited Israel this week. Congressman Jeff Miller of Florida, Congressman Gregg Harper of Mississippi, and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri enjoyed their tour of the City of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Veteran Hebron resident and tourism director Simcha Hochbaum gave the three an overview of the city including the Tomb of Machepla, the ancient burial site of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their respective wives, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. 

They also visited the Tel Hevron / Admot Ishai neighborhood and archaeological park where stone stairs dating back 4,000 years were discovered. Other artifacts attest to a historic Jewish presence in the city. 
Over the archaeological excavation is the Beit Menachem building which features a newly installed rooftop observation point. From here the group saw a panoramic view of the entire city. This includes both H!, the section controlled by the Palestinian Authority which makes up 80% and H2, controlled by Israel which makes up 20%.  
Tour-guide Simcha Hochbaum explained that contrary to anti-Israel propaganda, H1 Hebron residents are not persecuted. H1 is the most economically advanced city in the PA, with two large multi-story shopping malls, four hospitals, three universities, an indoor 4,000-seat basketball stadium, over 17,000 factories and workshops and even a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. More than 40% of the PA economy is located in H1 Hebron with a large amount of exports being sold to Israel. 
By contrast, Israelis are banned from entering the PA's H1, while PA residents are able to enter and exit into Arab areas of Israel's H2. Although the Israeli Defense Force maintains checkpoint within H2, Israeli civilians are restricted to small portion comprising just 3% of the total city. 
Many anti-Israel activist groups focus on King David Street / Shuhada Street, a small, narrow street in the civilian area of H2, claiming its closure is unfair to PA residents. The street was closed down in 2000 by the Supreme Court after repeated terrorist attacks. Local Israeli residents explained why they feel the focus on this small street is out of proportion when compared to restrictions on their movement and terrorist attacks they have suffered over the years. 
The Congress members also visited the Museum of Hebron History at the Beit Hadassah building, which depicts Jewish community from Abraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpela, from the thriving Jewish community of the 1700s, to the tragic massacre of 1929 and the eventual dramatic return to the city in the Six Day War of 1967. They also learned about the struggle to repopulate the city, specifically the Beit Hadassah building in the 1970s. 
At the museum, the group viewed the new documentary film Touching Eternity. Commenting positively on the film, Congresswoman Hartzler stated, "it really took us through the ages." Her response was not surprising, considering she had visited Israel in 2011 on a fact-finding tour, meeting with both Israeli and PA leaders. Following that trip she stated, "it is clear that national security is Israel’s top priority and is extremely important to the United States."
The other two congress members are no strangers to Israel either, with Congressman Miller being a member of the Israel Allies Caucus and Congressman Harper having written a letter of support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress in 2015. 
All in all, despite the political tension, these representatives of the American people came away wth a strong sense of the special quality of Hebron.
To visit Hebron:
United States contact info:
1760 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230

In Israel contact the offices of the Jewish Community of Hebron at:
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