Jewish settlement of Hebron: The place and the other

Michael Feige

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Kiryat-Arba and Jewish Hebron are communities planted in the most heated front of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This paper examines how the Hebron Jewish settlers' collective memory interprets the 'truth' of Hebron as a typical Israeli Place that reveals Zionism in its purest form. Today the populations of Kiryat-Arba and of the Hebron Jewish enclaves number about 5,000 and 500, respectively. Kiryat-Arba functions as an economic and educational centre for the nearby Jewish settlements in the region. Rejecting the segregative concept of a separate Jewish settlement overlooking Hebron, the settlers treat Kiryat-Arba as part of Hebron. Some 70,000 Palestinians live in Hebron, many more residing in neighbouring towns and villages, cutting Hebron - Kiryat-Arba off from the nearest Jewish urban centres of Jerusalem and Beer-Sheva. The settlers initiated the narrative of 'Return' to the city after the massacre of Jews in 1929 in the city, as the key symbol Symbolically, the first place Hebron Jews reidentified with was its ancient Jewish graveyard. Today, IDF soldiers protect settlers and their visitors who want to tour Hebron. The huge gulf between 'metaphorical Hebron' as a symbolic centre and 'actual Hebron' as a poor development town creates tensions fuelling violent events. The Jews in Hebron take the Israeli logic of 'Place' making to its extreme, thus testing concepts of Israeli territoriality. If Israeli society rejects Hebron as a 'Place' constructed from intense memories and violent national encounters, it would leave the Hebron Jews out of the so-called Israeli normalcy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-333
Number of pages11
JournalGeo Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2001


  • Actual and metaphorical hebron
  • Place making
  • Planted communities
  • Political-ritualistic enclave
  • Ritual space
  • Sacred for Jews and Muslims

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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