The Rebbe has repeatedly stated that it is a sacred obligation to broaden the Jewish settlement in the Old City of Jerusalem. Thereafter, the Rebbe spoke at great length and in fine detail that great efforts should be expended to settle not just the Jewish Quarter, but also houses in the Moslem Quarter and nearby buildings.
“In my view”, said the Rebbe, “this is not just a Mitzva of inhabiting the Land of Israel, but also an urgent mission which every single person is obligated to offer assistance. We must prove our rightful ownership of Eretz Israel.” The Rebbe said with great pain: “G-d has wrought for us miracles. It is inexplicable that the Government of Israel does not fulfill its obligation”.
The Rebbe explained: “Upon the freeing of Jerusalem and Hebron I turned to high ranking officials and repeated my request several times regarding the houses outside of the Jewish Quarter within the walls of the Old City. I requested that they inhabit the many houses and areas in Hebron.” “They are telling me”, the Rebbe continued, “that this runs contrary to the policy of the government. They do not want to anger the Arabs. They offer the same response regarding Jerusalem!” The Government of Israel made a serious mistake in that immediately upon the liberation [of Jerusalem] they did not take possession of all these houses and inhabit them with Jewish People.
This is inexplicable!” “I believe”, the Rebbe continued, “that it is not yet too late.” “However, it is not possible to do today what could have been done immediately after the Six Day War. If today it cannot be carried out with strength, it can be achieved with money. Action must be taken. Purchase the houses and populate them with Jewish People so that Jews will live not just in the New City but also within the walls, where I have heard that there live no more than 400 families. This is insufficient!” The Rebbe requested that I (Mr. Stern) meet with Minister Burg, and that he be given our view of the policy and actions of the government. When I replied that I am insufficiently versed in politics, the Rebbe responded: “I see that you are avoiding talking to me about politics”.
The Rebbe continued talking about the political situation in Israel and how there are some Jews who are causing harm to the Jewish People, such as the group ‘Peace Now’ and also Knesset members who battle with Torah Jews. The Rebbe asked: “What is your opinion?” I responded that this is one of the shocking things that have befallen the Jewish People, and it is painful that there also are a number of religious Jews who follow them.
The Rebbe said that this is not all; these are men with exile in their spirit and hearts. Freedom of the body is not sufficient. The main thing is to expel the exile from within the heart. These men have not succeeded in freeing themselves. It is still lodged in their hearts. He repeated the expression “exile within the heart” many times arguing that this is holding back the redemption, and expressed himself in this way: “One has to take action to extricate the exile from the hearts of Jews in the Land of Israel. They are not free men as long as the exile remains in their hearts.” The expression “to expel the exile from the heart” was known to us from the Rebbe previously when he spoke of his objection to the Camp David agreements. I told the Rebbe that this idea had made a great impression on the people when he first spoke of this, and that we had repeated this expression many times to the inhabitants of the Old City, also I personally in the course of my work. When I said this satisfaction was visible on the Rebbe’s face.
I added that it seems that the sole unifying factor of the Prime Minister and Knesset members is to retain their seats as ministers. The Rebbe sighed deeply and asked: “Where are the voices of the religious Members?” I replied that their voice is ineffective, their representation has been cut by one third and that many regard the religious parties in the Knesset as blackmailers.
Interview Mr. Moshe Stern 7th Iyar 1982