...the city of Abraham and David
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Click Here to watch a short video with Hebron spokesman David Wilder. In this clip he talks about The Roots of Hebron.

by David Willner
for Foundation Stone

It's percolating there, just below the surface. Hebron. The Masters of Political Correctness have succeeded in conveying the sense that Hebron is an Arab town deep in the West Bank. Hard to tell the truth - to separate out the facts from the "spin." Until the Arab riots and massacre of 1929, Hebron was perhaps the longest settled city of Jews in the world. They worked in business, trade, prayed, shopped, celebrated, and mourned much as Jewish communities everywhere did. They by and large got along with their Arab neighbours - with the intermittent attacks being the exception rather than the rule. Yes, even in the 1920's and '30s - long before the establishment of the modern State of Israel, Arabs attacked - and killed Jews.

For the British it was easier to banish the Jews from the city - there were fewer Jews than Arabs after all. So instead of trying to civilise the Arab masses, they forced transfer on the victims. Jewish homes and businesses, Jewish banks and hospitals - hospitals that then - and today - treat both Arabs and Jews were shuttered and closed. Soon Arab squatters would take over these empty testaments to a once thriving community. And with nary a smidgen of embarrassment would claim them as their own.

If one has their ear close to the ground, if one can break through the cacophony of noise that surrounds anything related to the State of Israel, if one choses to look, it is still possible to see through haze and to gaze at reality. The Jewish people live today in Hebron. They work, they pray, they serve in the Israeli army. Their numbers are not large - about 300 brave souls. But they have returned to their patrimony. They live in buildings and apartments that were once bustling with life. Beit Romano, Beit Hadassah - every building and apartment that can be demonstrated once belonged to a Jewish owner is being reclaimed - one at a time, with patience and perseverance. The challenges are inevitable - often by left wing Jewish organisations more eager to side with the squatters than with the legal owners or their descendants.

If one continues down the road from the Cave of the Patriarchs (and Matriarchs) - Ma'arat HaMachpela - one comes to a short turn in the road and a steep incline. This is Tel Rumeida - Tel Hebron - the most ancient part of the city of Hebron. Near the top, an excavation is currently under way, to try and understand the archaeology of this ancient city. In the last few weeks I've visited twice. When I visited yesterday (Sunday February 9, 2014), the archaeologist in charge showed us a find he had dug up that day. I don't have his permission yet to publicise the find, but it is a First Temple period artefact from the time of the Kings of Judah. I get chills just typing those words.

Maybe I'm naive but I believe that it is still possible to right a terrible wrong. The roots of the Jewish people are long and deep. Longer and deeper than any others. We need to reclaim our own narrative - for not all narratives are equal and we must work to discover and to reveal the truth. To find just solutions and to respectfully disagree with those that would deny our connection to the Land of Israel is our responsibility. It's definitely easier to look the other way - to chose a path of no resistance. We've tried that - and it doesn't work. Every inch of this land that we chose to ignore or pretend is not our responsibility becomes a club wielded against us with terrifying ferocity. A club that would either evict us from everything or would destroy us.

So start your journey here... Follow the links and meet the spokesman - David Wilder - of Hebron. And then start sharing what you've learned with others. And slowly, we can let a little truth, a little dose of reality, inform our understanding.
David Wider is the official spokesperson for the Jewish community in Hebron. You'll find him a knowledgable and articulate representative of one of Israel's oldest and most important cities. Click the player above and you can blow some dust off of the history of the city of Abraham, David, and so many others. For more pictures and articles about Hebron, please follow the links below:


NOVEMBER 17-24 2014

Torah & Archaeology week coming to San Diego in November '14.
Drone Adventures in Archaeology
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    AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition

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    Elah Valley Looking East

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    Socho Gate - Left Side

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Drone Tales Part II
(January 13, 2014)
by David Willner

My hosts in Philly had graciously invited me out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant in Lower Merion. The meal was all too brief as they were off to the theatre, and I had a plane to catch.

Returning the rent-a-car at Philly Int'l Airport, I had managed to navigate my way through check-in and security and still had about 20mins before my flight started boarding. My headphones hadn't been working well, so as I said in the Part I, I headed over to the Brookstone Store just past the security area. The store was relatively empty, so I started checking out headphones - and price stickers.

A sales girl came over and offered to help. I looked up - and noticed over her shoulder a large box that said "AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition," just as she finished saying "can I help you?" Without missing a beat I said "YES! I'll take one of those!" "What about the headphones?" she asked. "The drone will be sufficient," I answered. She rang up the sale, put the box in a large Brookstone bag, which worried me that it would not fit in the overhead compartment. She assured me that it would likely just fit, and not to worry. I didn't want it being put down with the luggage.

I called Barnea to tell him the good news - that Foundation Stone was now the proud owner of a genuine AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition with two 18 minute batteries. He was quick to remind me to make sure I declared it at customs when arriving in Israel.

With one hand rolling my carry-on, another holding my Brookstone bag with the AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition, and my shoulder slinking my laptop I headed toward the gate. Still 10 minutes before boarding.

Flights to Israel are somewhat different than flights to pretty much anywhere else on the planet. Airport security is for everyone else. Flights to Israel have an additional layer of security, and there was a nice line formed waiting to get into the boarding area. I took my place in line, already strategising my coming assault on the overhead bins.

Once through security I entered the closed off waiting area. It was packed. At least 3 tour groups on the flight. Red shirts, yellow shirts and blue shirts - all eagerly awaiting their imminent arrival in the Holy Land. For me, it was starting to look like space in an overhead compartment was highly unlikely. To make matters worse, and i'd been assigned to Zone 5 boarding - which meant I'd be boarding last.

So I did something I rarely ever do. I went over to the counter where the good folks from US Air were busy being busy, and asked if I could use my mileage and get bumped up to business class. "We're very sorry," she answered brightly and with a modicum of feigned sincerity, "there simply are no empty seats - not in business class or any other class."

Disappointed I sat back down, as they started calling the privileged class for Zone 1 boarding. Like a bolt of lightning I was graced with inspiration. I'm a member of the Star Alliance, Premier Silver - that's gotta be good for something. I grabbed my gear and readied myself with passport, boarding pass, and my very plastic Mileage Plus Star Alliance Premier Silver membership card prominently displayed on top. As they called the Zone 2 people I was ready - and the steward was only to happy to allow me to board along with the rest of the Zone 2 privileged class. First mission accomplished.

I now had the back of the plane almost entirely to myself - at least until they started boarding the Zone 5 red, yellow and blue shirted pilgrims. I put the time to good use. I arranged my various bags and parcels as conveniently and as handily as I could. The overhead compartment was barely able to fit the Brookstone Bag with the AR Drone 2.0 Power Edition - and I settled myself into my seat in the back of the US Air direct flight to Tel Aviv. The plane quickly filled up, and I started to hibernate - happily amused as we took off that the only empty seat anywhere to be seen, was right next to me.

End of Part II - Stay tuned for Part III.
Drone Tales Part I
(January 6, 2014)
by David Willner

Not too long ago, Foundation Stone received a grant to buy equipment. A month or so earlier we had heard about a start-up company on Kickstarter that was offering to sell drones equipped with high-res video and still capabilities. "Wouldn't it be great to be able to photograph and shoot video from the air," said I to Barnea.

The price was right as advertised on Kickstarter, but by the time our grant came along it had increased in price by a $100 - and wouldn't be available until later December '13. I was also a little nervous about plunking down cold hard cash on a start-up. So, despite my compulsion for some cool gear - I balked.

Fast forward a few weeks and I'm winding up an emergency visit to the US to line up all the ducks for our upcoming program in Baltimore. I'm heading down 5th Avenue towards the Apple Store at Grand Central and a Verizon Store catches my eye. Foundation Stone has a small box called MiFi that gives us an internet signal while we travel in the US. It's a little buggy so I figure I've got a few minutes, let's see if Verizon can help out with one of their devices.

The store is empty - except for the sales staff standing around bored. I walk over to the counter and explain my issue, and the helpful guy says - no problem - we can fix that.

He takes the WiFi and disappears to the back, and I notice on the counter a box that says, "AR Drone." I ask one of the other Verizon dudes to come over and tell me what the deal is on the drone. $299 he tells me, and brings over a tablet and starts showing me video clips of the drone in action. I'm hooked. Only one snafu - 12 minutes flying time. Not very much. Time to call Barnea in Israel. One ringy dingy later and he's on the phone with me like he's there in Manhattan.

Barnea does some quick research on line (as only he an do) and says, "...get the Power Edition. It's got 36 minutes of flying time." Sounds good to me. Short story - Verizon doesn't carry it. They tell me that I should try the Apple Store at GCS a few blocks away. Just came from there, and did not like the experience. Crowded, noisy - not conducive to making a deliberate and informed decision. Time in NYC is tight and I'm leaving the next night back to Israel. I have to catch my flight on US Air from Philly so I figure I'll hit the Apple Store in Lower Merion where things are little more civilized. I grab my now working MiFi from the ever-so-helpful Verizon dudes and head for the door.

The next morning I jump in the car and head back to Philly. My flight home is that evening and I'm more than ready to abandon the Diaspora and get back to Efrat. I get to Philly two hours later and head for the Apple Store. "Whoa - we don't carry that here. You need a "big" Apple Store like they have in NYC. Disappointed, I figure the drone story will have to wait until my next visit to the US. Taking advantage of the free minutes available, I start checking out headphones. I can't believe how incredible some of them sound. My cans are on the fritz but parting with $400 bucks for the Bose noise cancelling headphones that wowed me is outside my meagre budget. I head out the door not knowing that Drone Tales were just getting started.

End of Part I