Denying the “Jewishness” of the Holy Land

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Even more disturbing now are the attempts to deny any Jewish historical claim to the land by Palestinian officials. It is not by mere coincidence that the holiest sites to the Jewish people, such the Tomb of Rachel, the Western Wall and the Caves of the Patriarchs in Hebron, have all been recently attributed as holy sites exclusive to Muslims. The Palestinian Authority published an official report on its website in November asserting that the Western Wall is Islamic property and not a holy site for Jews.  The report was taken down after condemnation from the US and Israel, who cited  the report as “incorrect and provocative.” The author of the report, Al-Mutawakil Taha, a civil servant in the PA Information Ministry still stands by his study despite the fact that the Western Wall has been the holiest site for prayer for the Jewish people for centuries as it was the outer wall of the biblical Temples.

But the international community in general is showing more and more support for the Islamic narrative of events.  The Paris-based United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared at the end of October that the Tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, was not a Jewish holy site, but the Mosque Bilel Ibn-Rabach. UNESCO, made up of 193 member states, also demanded that Israel remove from its list of Jewish heritage sites the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where in Jewish tradition the biblical Patriarchs were buried 4,000 years ago

UNESCO states that its main mission is “to build peace in the minds of men and women” and “encourage international peace and universal respect.”  It is difficult to understand exactly how this UN organization aims to fulfill that lofty goal here in the Middle East if it aims to deny the traditions of one people in favor of another. By rewriting thousands of years of age-old biblical tradition and catering only to one narrative, the UN concept of “universal respect” is merely fancy rhetoric in print.

A “just and durable peace in the Middle East” will only happen when there is international and local respect and acknowledgment for the roles that all three major religions have played in the region and this includes the role of Judaism.

As I walk on the street known as Kaf-Tet B’November in Jerusalem this Chanukah and see the flickering candles in the windows of Jewish homes, I think back to a time 2,000 years ago, when my ancestors here were denied their rights to follow Jewish tradition by the Syrian-Greeks who then occupied the land.  In the state of Israel today, however, freedom of religion exists for every person of faith.  It is the one spot in the Middle East where Muslims, Christians, and Jews are democratically guaranteed freedom of religion, a fact that many in the international community would do well to remember.

Anav Silverman is the international correspondent at Sderot Media Center: and an educator at Hebrew University’s Secondary School of Education.

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  • Guest

    Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
    The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his annointed, saying,
    Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
    He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
    Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
    Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
    I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me,

  • Guest

    Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
    Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,and the uttermost
    parts of the earth for thy possession.
    Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces
    like a potter's vessel.
    Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
    Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
    Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled
    but a little.
    Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
    Psalm 2

  • BUTSeriously

    Is Israel's return, as prophesized, the greatest miracle the world has witnessed – or an affront to two religions? How sad that two of the biggest religions have reduced their belief in the creator subject to Jews being the bad guys! How un-Abrahamic they behave, for Abraham challenegd the holy one when told of destruction, for he was tested, and he prevailed and was blessed:

    "Will the judge of all judge the innocent with the guilty – this evil be far away from you"

    Europe and the Arabs were tested – both failed this one.