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Hebron Jew won't claim home until Palestinians return
Published Wednesday 23/06/2010 (updated) 03/07/2010 16:56
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By Muhammad Oweiweih

Hebron – Ma’an – An elderly Jewish man from Hebron has asked the city's mayor to permit his burial in a Muslim cemetery when he dies, insisting that his body not be placed in one of the sites now controlled by Israeli settlers.

Haim Bajayo, 75, visited Mayor Khalid Al-Useili at his office in the southern West Bank city and described in detail how Jews and Arabs had generally enjoyed amiable relations until the arrival of tens of thousands of foreign immigrants from the 1920s until 1948, the year Israel was established and most of Hebron's Jews fled to the new state established in their name.

Bajayo was born in Hebron in 1935 and grew up in its Daboya neighborhood with his family, which owned a home there and held official property documents until 1977. A decade after Israel seized control of the Palestinian city and began permitting its citizens to settle there, Bajayo ceremoniously ceded his home for the benefit of the Palestinian municipality. The mayor at that time was Fahd Al-Qawasmi.

"As long as [the settlers] are in Hebron, there is no chance of reaching an agreement" to end the six-decade conflict, he told the mayor. "I don't want any of my property or my house back as long as Palestinian homes and lands are not returned. The same day the Palestinians regain what was taken from them in 1948, I'll come to you and say, 'I have a house ... registered in the real estate department.'"

In footage of his recent meeting with Al-Useili, obtained by Ma'an, Bajayo recalls the history of his family, which moved from Spain to Morocco before settling in Egypt. His grandfather moved to Palestine and lived in Hebron. Bajayo's family witnessed the 1929 massacre of Hebron's Jews. “If the Abu Haykal family hadn't protected my grandfather at the time, I wouldn't have been born,” he said.

At this point in the film, the mayor interrupts Bajayo insisting that a British Mandate officer was responsible for the massacre, contrary to the Israeli narrative which tends to blame only Palestinians for the bloodshed. Bajayo affirmed the mayor’s comment, according to what he heard from his father and grandfather, who told him the Jews and Palestinians in Hebron once treated each other as neighbors.

Bajayo went on to tell the mayor that he vehemently opposed the occupation of Palestinian homes in Hebron by Israeli settlers. “Settlers are an obstacle to peace and the Palestinians must attain their rights and return to their homes and lands occupied in 1948. After the Palestinians return to Hebron, I can return to my grandfather’s home in the city,” he explained.

The meeting ended with Bajayo requesting that after death his body be buried in a Muslim cemetery in a show of respect to the history of his family which once lived in peace with its Arab neighbors in the city. "I want to be buried in Hebron. I won't go to a Jewish cemetery at any rate, because it's under the settlers' control. I'm requesting a modest burial spot in a Muslim cemetery," he explains.

For his part, the mayor welcomed Bajayo home. "Haim, you are always welcome," Al-Useili says in the video. "Not as a guest, but as an authentic Hebron citizen. This is an honor for us."
1 ) Ben / ATL,USA
23/06/2010 22:21
I went to Hebron this past summer with "Breaking the Silence" tour. It was fantastic and I am much appreciative of the opportunity. Hebron should remain a city of co-existence; it has to for the sake of us all. Humanity should take precedent over religion. I wish I could have gone to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, but hopefully next time. Kol HaKavod to this man, my "uncle."

2 ) Sherezade / UK
23/06/2010 22:51
Reading this article has brought tears to my eyes & a feeling in my heart of hope, a hope that will see the Palestinian people return to their homes & land to live once again with their neighbours like Haim Bajayo. It would be a honor to have a place for Haim in a Muslim cemetary but these places we lay only for an instance, in GODS kingdom we will all be together. May GOD bless you with a long & healthy life Haim for you are a true example of a humanitarian a true example of a Jew!

3 ) Maureen / Australia
23/06/2010 23:53
#1 Ben. "Breaking the Silence." I have learned of this very special group of people - they, Mr Bajao, Rabbis for Human Rights, Jewish peace activists and you remind me of the Jews my grandmother taught me of when I was a child. So, so different to the political Zionism I have learned of in latter life. Kind regards.

4 ) yannis marantos / cyprus
24/06/2010 00:26
may peace come to all of man kind and good humans

5 ) Reuven / Israel
24/06/2010 00:32
So much respect to this man... It gives one hope that there are still people who believe in middle ground. This man know and believes from his own life experiences that Jews and Muslims are brothers and sisters. The settlers in Hebron and all over Israel are radical terrorists and must be stopped. They must be held responsible for their bigoted, hateful and violent actions. How can we claim Israel as a democracy when such double standards exist? Sounds more like apartheid than democracy to me...

6 ) Jerrold Cohen / USA
24/06/2010 00:33
It's amazing to me. I remember stories of Jewish settlers stealing Palestinians' homes in Hebron, of their throwing garbage out their windows on Palestinians in the streets below in Hebron. It was the essence of racist disrespect. It amazes me that a Jew was born and lived in Hebron and sees things exactly as they are, and truly believes in one world.

7 ) Ann / USA
24/06/2010 01:49
Love and Truth can be found in human hearts of all different nationalities, ages, etc. As long as folks continue to yearn for true peace, peace can and will indeed come to pass. God bless this precious man and all of you who have posted such gracious replies.

8 ) Daniel Francis / USA
24/06/2010 02:09
Agreed with most of the sentiment in this. But the Mayor denying that Arabs killed 20 or more jews in the riots of 1929 is being disingenuous. It's not just propaganda. Mandate officials may have been involved but arab men with weapons killed those people.

9 ) Mary / Ireland
24/06/2010 04:06
What a lovely man - a true humanitarian and gentleman. This tape should be seen widely to inspire others like him to speak out and be true to their principles.

10 ) Palestinian / Sweden
24/06/2010 10:16
I agree with you Daniel Francit. I find it strange that the mayor denies the killing of jews in Hebron in 1929. Its in the past but it doesn?t help our cause to deny it. However, even if the 1929-killing was terrible it was a reaction to what was happening in the country. The arabs felt their national dreams slipp away. And they were right. Also remember all massacres by jewish hands.

11 ) southparkbear / usa
24/06/2010 13:07
blah blah blah. jewish property should be returned to it's rightfuly owners. or families should be compensated

12 ) Larry Snider / USA
24/06/2010 16:42
I have had the privilege of visiting Hebron in 2001 and again in 2008 as part of a Compassionate Listening delegation led by Leah Green. It presents a very tough problem that I believe requires the attention of people willing to address the distance between Palestinians and Israelis in positive ways. This great man has found his way to a place of peace. May many follow in their own ways...


13 ) Truth / USA
24/06/2010 17:18
To those of you who excuse the 1929 massacre by saying it was a "natural reaction to the immigrants" or whatever, answer this: Would you also be willing to accept a massacre of Muslim immigrants to Europe, since it would be a "natural" European reaction to the mass Muslim immigration of the last few years? And answer this: how does it make sense that the massacre was in response to immigration, when those who were massacred had lived in Hebron for centuries?

14 ) Truth / USA
24/06/2010 17:50
Moreover, this article is riddled with flaws. The Jews of Hebron did not leave to Israel in 1948. They fled in 1936 because of the Arab riots of that year. The Arabs prevented them from returning until 1967, when the Jews were finally able to take back that which had been stolen from them. And nothing was taken from the Arabs of Hebron in 1948, except perhaps by Jordan. Jordan controlled the city from 1948 until 1967.

15 ) Sherezade / UK
25/06/2010 00:05
13 ) Truth / USA This is not a report this is a personal article about a great mans personal decision. Before calling this article flawed I suggest you research your own "facts". I for one do not deny the The 1929 riots in which 67 Jews were killed but the instigation of the riot was started by false rumours by Zionists that Jews were killing Arabs & taking over Muslim sites. All this incitement for the eventual establishement of the state of Israel. (Continued)

16 ) Sherezade / UK
25/06/2010 00:08
Part 2: Why do you fail to let the viewing public know that Nineteen local Arab families saved 435 Jews by hiding them in their houses even under their own life risk? This article is proof that Jews and Muslims can live togther in peace. If you call yourself Truth cite it and maybe we could all heal and look to the future!

17 ) Truth / USA
25/06/2010 02:46
Sherezade: It doesn't matter whether this is a report or an article about one man's opinion - it is written in a way that leads readers to believe certain statements are true although they are not (e.g., that the Jews left Hebron in 1948).
I applaud your recognition of facts, but you are mistaken: the rumors were not started by Zionists; they were started by the Arabs in response to Jewish prayer at the Western Wall, the last remaining wall of the ancient Jewish Holy Temple.

18 ) Sherezade / UK
25/06/2010 14:06
It's a shame that you Truth have no recognition of the facts neither are you able to appreciate that Arabs saved many Jews at the risk of losing their own lives and some did. As I reiterated your refusal to acknowledge the part Zionists played in the instigation of the riots renders you with a jaded view of what you think happened rather than what really occured.

19 ) Truth / USA
25/06/2010 17:30
I don't know why Maan hasn't posted my other comments, but I'll try to reconstruct them:
I did not mention those heroic Arab families because I was correcting specific details, not describing the massacre. That said, yes, there were a few Arabs who risked their lives to save their neighbors, and who were attacked by fellow Arabs for doing so. They are to be admired and emulated. That doesn't change the fact that many, many other Arabs from Hebron took part in the slaughter, rape, and pillage.

20 ) Truth / USA
25/06/2010 17:35
As for your last comment, while I do believe that Jews and Muslims can live together in peace, this article does not prove that at all. This article only shows that some Muslims would only live in peace with a Jew who is willing to accept a false version of history. I trust you are not among that group.

21 ) Sherezade / UK
25/06/2010 22:16
False version of history Truth? the very Zionists whose part in events you choose ignore are well versed in the art of rewriting history. You forget the massacre of Deir Yasin where the Zionists heinously butchered & killed men, women even those pregnant and tiny children.The holocaust saw the part played by Zionists leaders that sent thousands of Jews to death for the theft of Palestine. If i could have saved them i would not have had to think twice, Zionists did not even give them a thought!

22 ) Arnold / Canada
26/06/2010 23:36
The 1929 killing of Jews was one of contempt perpatrated by the Arabs for no other reason than they were Jews having the nerve to live in Hebron. The Deir Yassin killings were part of the struggle against the masses of Arab armies on the attack of Israel. The Deir Yassin deaths were wrong and the Israeli government issued an apology...an apology rebuked by the Palestinians and their bretheran. Nobody ever apologized for the 1929 murders of the Hebron Jews.

23 ) Sherezade / UK
27/06/2010 02:56
The 1929 riots were instigated by Zionists to bring about division between Palestinians & Jews the very same Zionists played a part in the holocaust & carried out the heinous attack of Deir Yasin that butchered & killed an unarmed civilian people not Arab armies as you would like to think Arnold. Many of the Zionist murderers went on to be Zionist leaders of Israel. Educate yourself ! http://www.countercurrents.org/alhelsi100410.htm http://www.jewsnotzionists.org/holocaust-zionism.htm

24 ) Intezaar Hussain / Singapore
27/06/2010 15:25
I salute to Mr. Haim Bajayo and all the good people Jews and Muslim. In fact we are all God's creation so we are indeed brothers and sisters in creation.
Zionist is evil but there are many good peace loving Jews. History shows that both Muslim and Jews have live peacefully for many many years.

25 ) Truth / USA
27/06/2010 20:04
Sherezade, your imagination is truly remarkable. But let's be logical: the rumor was that the Jews were taking over Muslim sites. The rumor was bound to agitate the Arabs. You're saying the Jews started the rumor because... they wanted to be murdered? Please clarify.
Also, I find it hard to believe that those Arabs were peace-loving one minute and hacking people apart the next. The rumors did not create animosity; they simply gave people filled with hatred an excuse to act on it.

26 ) Truth / USA
28/06/2010 05:58
II: As for Deir Yassin – it is well known that everyone involved exaggerated that event. Some Jewish leaders exaggerated the numbers because (as Arnold pointed out) the Jews were up against a much larger enemy, so they tried to seem fiercer than they actually were. The Arabs, too, have admitted to exaggerating and even inventing much of the so-called “atrocities” for their own purposes, as can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkhSHiwzaIY

27 ) Truth / USA
28/06/2010 06:02
III: Also, I wouldn’t worry so much about intra-Jewish affairs if I were you. I would be much more concerned with the Muslim oppression of millions of fellow Muslims today: the hateful treatment of women, the lynching of alleged "collaborators," the Iranian repression of peaceful protestors, Hamas’ maiming and murder of its own people, honor killings, slavery, and the Taliban’s hanging of children, to mention just a few. If I had room, the list would go on and on.

28 ) Sherezade / UK
29/06/2010 05:51
I suggest you add MIS in front of your name Truth. The fact that you avoid a realistic debate but base one on nothing more than hate filled opinion rather than facts is so disappointing.Intra- Jewish affairs? No what you don't like is the exposure of the Zionist agenda.The fact that you call the slaughter of Deir Yasin exaggerated is despicable, but you can't get away from the obvious that the riots of 1929 were instigated to set the ball in motion for the bigger picture the ultimate (Continued)

29 ) Sherezade / UK
29/06/2010 05:52

Part 2:
theft of Palestine.The same policies were applied in the Holocaust, 1948 and 1967 wars. I won't ask you to educate your ignorance i don't think it would make a difference to your brainwashed mind. For the benefit of the public links of the 1947 partition facts and original letter of plea by Rabbi Weissmandl ignored by Zionist leaders sending thosands of Jews to their deaths !



30 ) Colin Wright / USA
29/06/2010 20:41
re #13 'To those of you who excuse the 1929 massacre by saying it was a "natural reaction to the immigrants" or whatever, answer this: Would you also be willing to accept a massacre of Muslim immigrants to Europe, since it would be a "natural" European reaction to the mass Muslim immigration of the last few years?' You have a point, but Europeans have control of their own governments. The Palestinians were a colonized people, and had no legitimate means of controlling British policy.

31 ) Truth / USA
30/06/2010 05:55
Sherezade - I: I’m avoiding a realistic debate? You can’t even respond to a video showing Arabs OPENLY admitting that Deir Yassin was VASTLY exaggerated. You haven’t brought a shred of proof for your laughable claim regarding the 1929 riots, nor even provided a believable motive. You ludicrously – and quite horrifically – suggest that the Holocaust was part of a “Zionist plan.”

32 ) Truth / USA
30/06/2010 05:57
II: As evidence you provide only fringe group and conspiracist websites that attempt to JUSTIFY the September 11 mass murder of thousands of innocent civilians.
With regard to the Zionists and the Holocaust – Zionists saved hundred of thousands of European Jews, often at risk to their own lives. Disagreements and misunderstandings arose among Jews as they do in every nation, but Jewish survival was always and continues to be a top priority.

33 ) Truth / USA
30/06/2010 06:00
III: Moreover, Zionists today are responsible for saving hundreds of non-Jewish lives in disaster-hit areas, including Asia, Africa, and Haiti.
You gloss over the Muslim-on-Muslim violence I listed, yet you are the one who wished to examine leaders for murderous backgrounds - why not look at your own leaders, who currently threaten and torture their own people on a DAILY basis?
And "theft" of Palestine? Please. You could come up with more intelligent arguments than that.

34 ) Truth / USA
30/06/2010 06:02
#30 Colin Wright: I'm not sure what you mean - the Arabs had the right to slaughter innocent people because they couldn't control British policy?

35 ) Sherezade / UK
30/06/2010 13:20
MISTruth the fact that you find the Jewish links of thousands of Jews sent to their deaths by Zionists not even worth acknowledging sums your sinister agenda.I urge the public to follow his 1.46 second video see it for what it is yet he chooses to ignore the factual link provided.Here is a nearly 20 min video of a eye witness that lost many members of her family murdered by the Zionists in cold blood. Please follow the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prLPvqttW9c&feature=youtube_gdata

36 ) Sherezade / UK
01/07/2010 01:11
Part 2:
Once again I'll ask what your trying so hard to avoid rather than just give me a running commentry of your brain washed opinion why don't you provide factual links as I have to engage. 9/11 was a dark day in Western history and there is still so much evidence that is surpressed. The families of those perished push for answers in the hope of closure, one day the truth will out. Their many Zionists that help in humanitarian conflicts as do Muslims, Christians & athiests.(Continued)

37 ) Truth / USA
01/07/2010 06:18
I: Ha! Do you really expect anybody to believe a single word of your propaganda after the Arabs openly admitted to spreading lies about Deir Yassin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkhSHiwzaIY) and have been caught in other lies (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3geiT77mlY4 ; http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=3&x_outlet=167&x_article=1878) that have been used to justify attacks on thousands of innocent people?

38 ) Sherezade / UK
01/07/2010 20:24
Part 3: they not doing a favour on the world it' s called humanity. Yes the truth about the theft of Palestine is hard for you to swollow. Leaders with murderous backgrounds? The forefathers of terrorism Israeli leaders like David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir & Ariel Sharon were all terrorists. Israel was founded and built on terrorism. Once again educate yourself and your ignorance if at all possible! http://www.rense.com/general81/tedp.htm

39 ) Marsha / USA
06/07/2010 03:08
As a Jew well into my 60's, I avoided really thinking about Israel. But that was until 1967 when the Zionist plan to colonize as much land as they can and the all out drive push the Palestinians out with guns, refusal of permits to build, and denial of water really made me look at why I opposed the Viet Nam war. Up to that point given Israel a pass. No more. BTW, just recently learned that Eichmann met with Zionist leadership in 1938 in Palestine! I stand with Haim Bajayo.

40 ) Sherezade supporter / Palestine
06/07/2010 10:02

Palestinians owe u all their respect. May truth prevail!

41 ) jennie / nz
10/07/2010 20:25
What a wonderful man , The Israelis should thank god for this man becasue he reminds us that however much we may despise the zionists we must never allow ourselves to forget about all the good decent Jewish people around the world. Please stand up all the other Jewish people who are disgusted with the Israeli regime.

42 ) Bar / Israel
01/10/2010 03:43
Never happened in the history that Jewish would want to be buried in Muslim cemeteries, so it is a fake, tendentious and not authentic. We can not in essence, common sense and morality, to be occupying in our country. Such as Hebron, Beit El and Bethlehem - where the Jewish nation was born, where they formed and shaped the culture and the Jewish nationality. Hebron has always belonged to the Jewish people, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are buried there, what the Muslim hav
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