Israel’s Latest Sin—Honoring Its Heritage

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. 


When the Israeli cabinet announced the other day that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, would be included in a list of Israeli “heritage” sites, it touched off a wave of Palestinian violence and threats—along with diplomatic protests that were all too concordant with the Palestinian bullying.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has launched the “heritage” program as a way of strengthening Israelis’ connection with their Jewish and Zionist roots, initially left the two West Bank sites (though other West Bank sites were included) off the list, apparently fearing various kinds of fallout. Netanyahu was only persuaded to include them at the last minute by Shas, a religious party that is part of his coalition.

Sure enough, the West Bank heated up with an increase in rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli vehicles, and, particularly, daily disturbances in Hebron, where crowds of Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks and bottles at Israeli soldiers. By Sunday the disturbances had spread to Jerusalem.

On the verbal plane a spokesman for the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad terror organization declared that “If the Israelis continue to damage our mosques and holy places, we will respond [i.e., mount terror attacks] within the Zionist territory”—alluding to the fact that the Cave of the Patriarchs is a compound with a mosque as well as a synagogue, while Rachel’s Tomb has recently been claimed to be a mosque as well.

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas prime minister in Gaza, piped up with “Jerusalem is ours, the land is ours, and God is with us. We will not accept these decisions….” And Mahmoud Abbas, president of the official, West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and considered secular and a moderate, was hardly more moderate in his reaction, calling the decision to add the two sites to the heritage list “a serious provocation which may lead to a religious war.”

The U.S., too, voiced its objection as “State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the administration viewed the move as ‘provocative’ and unhelpful to the goal of getting the two sides back to the table,” and that “U.S. displeasure with the designations of the Cave of the Patriarchs in the flashpoint town of Hebron and the traditional tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem had been conveyed to senior Israeli officials by American diplomats.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also complained, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said “the European Union calls on Israel to refrain from provocative acts.”

On the Israeli side, a particularly indignant rejoinder came from Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who called Abbas’s statement:

“insolent and outrageous and another attempt to rewrite history. The Cave of the Patriarchs, like Rachel’s Tomb, are Jewish heritage sites pointing to the deep 3,700-year affiliation of the people of Israel to their land.

“The people of Israel’s affiliation to the land did not begin—as the Palestinians are trying to claim—in the past 100 years, but when the Cave of the Patriarchs was bought by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite for 400 silver shekels and Rachel’s Tomb was purchased for a full price in the Binyamin region.

“They are both still mentioned in the Torah in the Book of Genesis, and no one can take that away from the people of Israel. The wild Palestinian attack is aimed at…rewriting history. This is a continuation of their ideological objection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.”

Netanyahu, for his part, was more conciliatory, stressing Israel’s commitment to religious freedom and that “this policy is implemented in the Cave of the Patriarchs as well, where the State is working constantly to guarantee appropriate prayer conditions for [both] Jews and Muslims.”

A few observations are in order. First, Israel did not announce that it was annexing the two sites, only that they had been added to a list designated for renovations and for encouraging visits by Israelis. Treating these two sites as major foci of the Jewish heritage is not a political statement; it is simply, as Shalom emphasized, a recognition of reality. But whoever envisions the purported “two-state solution” as one in which even minimal Jewish rights would be upheld within the Palestinian state should take note of the contempt toward Jewish history and values that was, once again, displayed by Palestinians this week.

Second, as alluded to by Netanyahu, Israel’s record in terms of honoring non-Jewish religious rights in the West Bank and Jerusalem is indeed exemplary—or even goes too far. On the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel grants administrative control to the Muslim Waqf, which allows non-Muslims to visit there only at restricted hours. In Hebron and elsewhere, Muslims have had full freedom of worship; while other Jewish sites in Nablus and Jericho have been damaged and desecrated. That the Palestinian behavior this week stems from an Islamic supremacism that Israel, with its democratic norms, is unable to appease—is a bit more reality than Israel’s diplomatic critics want to contemplate.

And so, while the U.S., UN, and EU rebukes come as no great surprise, they are of a piece with a long-held axiom that when such “Israeli-Palestinian tensions” emerge, the side that bullies and threatens war gets the nod while the side capable of upholding pluralism gets censured.

  • Joy

    The Palestinians will NEVER accept the Jews' historical and very real ties to the land that is now the modern State of Israel. This latest bellyaching is so typical of these misfits in the region. I say "misfits," because they were prevented by their own Arab advisors (at the time of the founding of Israel and until 1967) from returning to israel. Their own Arab brethren (the Jordanians) kept them politically and psychologically imprisoned in refugee camps – now unto the third generation since 1948. When, if ever, will the two sides come to an agreement? Right now, they're protecting every inch of turf for their respective sides. Yes Gamal Nassar and that rotten little pimple, Arafat, managed to screw the Arabs living in the land of "Palestine" during British rule and unto countless future generations.

  • hkhm 87

    the muslims refuse any jewish state in the islamic world , why then the non muslims accept islamic states like bosnia , albania & kosovo in the heart of the free world .

  • Norman G.

    Ask any Palestinian spokes-person the following: "OK, if the Cave of the Patriarchs is not a Jewish holy site and Rachel's Tomb is not a Jewish holy site and the Temple Mount and Joseph's Tomb are not Jewish holy sites, name just one site accepted by Moslems as a Jewish holy site!

  • Tom

    Aside from the very real issues of Palestinian hatred of Israel that are mentioned by posters above, the Israeli move seems both justified and clumsy. One question I have is, are these the first such sites outside of Israel? If so, perhaps the solution is to drastically expand the list, starting with Mount Sinai and even including a few historic temples in the U.S. If the list is already so inclusive, the reaction would be another proof of Palestinian perfidy.

    • Tom

      Oops, just saw the line about Netanhayu's earlier list. Still, why not expand the list as an act of friendship to all concerned?

  • BS1977

    Just like a fiction, "Palestine" to usurp Judea and Samaria and call it "Arab land". The left wing bigots just eat it up…..and spew more anti Israeli propaganda….24/7 Nothing new here.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/pbeaird pbeaird

    There is no country called Palestine. There are no Palestinians. There are Moslem Arabs who hate people who are not like them. This hatred cannot be allowed an audience, nor should its acts of violence be tolerated. All such hatred for Jews and unbelievers is rooted in the blasphemous statements of Mohammed that God told him to tell his followers to kill all infidels. A religion of hatred cannot be permitted to exist.

  • Barbi Rose

    I am Catholic and am interested in learning about the area and just picked up a copy of the Torah. I've only just read the first few chapters and read about Abraham. It was only while checking about what the fuss was over the Cave of the Patriarchs that I realized it was what I had just read about!! I didn't know it still existed or was ever found! Clearly this is a Jewish/Christian holy site. Now it seems that Muslims consider Abraham a prophet so it's a holy site to them also (trying to sort that out yet). However Preserving and restoring such an incredible place only benefits both religions and Christianity (we share the same god of the bible). The Wafq (The Muslims who manage Muslim holy sites) are worked with closely on such renovations and restorations and this is to their advantage also. I haven't yet seen anything where they are against this. They should speak out to calm the people and explain the good this will do.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

      "(we share the same god of the bible)."
      You need to do some further reading.
      When one considers all of allah's actions and doctrines as laid out by his murderous, terrorizing, pedophile of a profit mohammed, he most reflects the image of Satan as described in the Bible.

  • USMCSniper

    In The Dhimmi Bat Ye’or writes (page 45):

    The jihad is a global conception that divides the peoples of the world into two irreconcilable camps: that of the dar al-Harb, the “Territory of War,” which covers those regions controlled by the infidels; and the dar al-Islam, “the Territory of Islam,” the Muslim homeland where Islamic law reigns. The jihad is the normal and permanent state of war between the Muslims and the dar al-Harb, a war that can only end with the final domination over unbelievers and the absolute supremacy of Islam throughout the world.

    Once the forces of Islam conquer a land or territory, it is to remain under Islamic dominion forever (‘for generations’), and it is a mortal affront to the supremacy of Islam when such territories would ever be lost to the dominion of Islam and revert to previous – infidel – ownership as was the case in what was Judea and is now Israel. It was a Muslim controlled territory (under the Muslim Turks and later the Muslim Arabs) and reverted by the decree of the U.N. resolution back to its previous owners: the Jews

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

      It is a monument to the failure of our media, political and educational systems that so many people are ignorant of this absolutely true and basic fact.

    • BS1977

      Excellent post. The jihadists employ lying (taquiya) to fog the minds of gullible or naive people about the true nature of their aims…which is world domination, conquest, enslavement, conversion or death of all infidels. It is obvious our immigration and naturalization bureaucracies have no idea what any of this is about.,

    • Joy

      Great point to underline and remember in this never-ending debate about Israel's history, moral and religious connection to the land of its origin as an ancient – and now modern – state. Another example of land once in the hands of the Muslims (the Turks) is/was Spain – or, at least, the Moorish lands in the South. Maybe the train bombings were part of Islam's vengeful plans for reclaiming that part of Spain? Anyway, until we find a way to obliterate this cancer on the world, we will be fighting them for both civilization and survival.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

    Everyone must remember that any attempt by infidels to repair or construct anything of a religious nature is clearly prohibited by Sharia law. In the eyes of the fiendish Mohammedan barbarians this is a direct slap in the face.

    Now before any smart alec points out that this has 'nothing to do with religion' you're a stupid smuck because everything has everything to do with religion in the eyes of the followers of the pedophile profit

  • Abe

    Once again the "Palestinians" believe that the tomb of the Patriachs has a historical connection to Arabs. The only connection to Arabs is Abraham. The sites are Jewish sites and the US government believes that the move to register the sites are ‘provocative’ and unhelpful. The US government has now moved into a situation where they too are disconnecting Israel's historical claim to their past. Perhaps it is the US government that is being unhelpful in issusing a statement about these sites.
    If anything they are feeding into the public world view that Israel has no historical claim to religious sites or to the land at all.

  • Shalom Freedman

    This incident like so many others confirms the very simple truth that the Palestinian Arabs are incapable of recognizing the truth about the other side. They cannot admit that there is a Jewish history in the Holy Land preceding theirs. The fact that the State Dept. piped up against Israel is further proof of its half- hearted support of its own real allies.

  • LINDA JO

    IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, I THINK YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THE US REACTION TO THIS. BUT BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THE WHITE HOUSE NO LONGER REPRESENTS THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS, WHO DO STAND WITH GOD'S PEOPLE (THE JEWS), AND WHO RECOGNIZE THE JEWISH PEOPLES CLAIM TO THEIR HOMELAND AND THE LAND PROMISED TO THEM BY GOD. MAY GOD BLESS ISRAEL.

    • Eyes wide open

      Yea Linda Joe , may God Bless Israel , and also may He give you enough intelliogence to reecognize your enemy ..pssst , maybe you oughta read the Presidents Cairo speech …yea he said some dumb things , but he did say some extraordinary things in the veritable lions den of anti-Israel/anti-semitic mentality – Cairo Egypt .
      He described holocaust denial as [his words ] "Baseless , ignorant and hatefull " right to the faces of the people who put the Protocols in their national Museum and Libraries not to mention their Universities , that it is a bestseller amongst the population that can read .
      In Addition , regarding the relationship between the US and Israel he declared that bond as "unbreakable " .
      Yes the Pres . DOES represent the majority of the people , for that majority elected him . You may not like him but there is no sense in lying about him as far as his position on Israel /Try to remember , being religiously inclined , the commandment about Bearing False Witness .

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

      Exactly correct Linda Jo. What would anyone expect from a Man-Child wicked enough to raise his daughters in Rev. Wrights church? He is going to be a one term precedent which hopefully won't be repeated, but considering the dumbed down ignorance of our electorate, I fear more evil men of his caliber are to come.

  • Dan

    I am an Israeli living in the US, I love that country, and all my family live there. Up till the day I left Israel, about 30 years ago, Israel was a country looking for peace with all it's neighbors. It looks like that has changed these days, due to the fact that the one of the big parties in the Kneset (house of representatives) is the ultra orthodox party, and they are bent on living the story of the bible. It's a story people, you can not base your life on what was 2000 years ago, we are at a different times, things have changed. As long as this party continues to be part of the Israeli government, there WILL BE NO PEACE. but every election they get in because they get a lot of seats, and if they get their way, they support the new Priminister.
    If they were not in the Kneset, Israel would have not build in the west bank, nor in east Jerusalem, nor will they have claimed these two places in Hebron and Beit-Lehem.

    This will be the party that will bring Israel to it's demise, these are the people that in 1967 said we won the war because they prayed, while the rest of us buried fathers, sons, and friends who fought so these idiots can keep sitting and praying.

    Israel is changing from a democratic free country, to a religious country where everyone will not be allowed to drive on Saturday, airport will be shut down, and who knows what else. Israeli FM is part of this party, and acts like a jerk, so Israel is loosing all credibility in the worlds nations who did support Israel once.

    I wish the good people like Ben Gurion, Golda Meyr, and Itzhak Rabin come back to rebuild, they are probably turning in their graves.

    Farewell my beloved country, your children are destroying you.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

      You're a blind knucklehead. If any of Israel's neighbors truly wanted peace they would get it.

      • Dan

        If you would have said this before Rabin was assassinated, I might have agreed with you, but at this time ( and I do not blame anyone other then the religious orthodox people) as I said in my comment above, these guys are the reason we all have to suffer wars, while they sit in the Synagogues and pray – they don't get killed, they are safe, while others get killed keeping them safe, can you tell me WHY ? You are right that our neighbors don't want peace, but Israel is not doing much to try and help achieve peace because of that party in the Knesset.
        I love my country, I just don't agree with the way they do things today, and no – I am not a leftie.
        Are you from Israel? have you served in the IDF?

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

          Do you know anything about the history of modern Israel and it's dealings with it's Mohammedan neighbors? Obviously not.
          Did you know that nothing between them has genuinely changed since 1967? Obviously not.
          Do you know anything about Mohammedan Scripture and thought? Obviously not.
          Do you know anything about Mohammedan history? Obviously not.
          Don't you understand that the tenets of Mohammedanism demand that Israel be eliminated as a Jewish state regardless of ANYTHING the Jews might do? Obviously not.
          Did you know that according to the Mohammedan Scripture, the last day (allah's judgment) will not arrive until all the Jews are slain by the Mohammedans? Obviously not.
          Can you think rationally? Obviously not if you think that ANY of this is Israel's fault.

  • Trumpeldor

    @Dan,

    Fortunately for Israel,all his citizens are not like you.
    You may think whatever you want but let us do a bet together ?
    Which children and granchildren of ours will remain Jewish ?
    I know the answer and I am pretty sure you do not give a damn about it ….

    • Dan

      You are right, I don't give two shits about it, but for haha, I am still celebrating the Jewish holidays, my wife and kid are Jewish, and that will never change – just lets leave religion out of politics, and our beloved country can have peace and quite like it was pre 1967.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

        Good call Trumpeldor.
        Half-wits like Dan influence the rest of us to believe exactly what they seek to disprove.

        • Dan

          CJK:

          First let me tell you : Kiss my ass
          Second: You and Trumpeldor probably support the party I was talking about, you are also most probably orthodox, and deny the fact that you do not go to the army for that reason. I have been in the IDF, been in the 73 war, seen friends get killed, which you know nothing about. So stop with the half-wits and the name calling and read the next message by Joy.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

            Great you served, but what is that supposed to mean? There's a lot of guys who served that agree with me and think you a schmuck also big boy.

          • Dan

            Yes, I served… did you? do you know how it feels when a good friend get killed? you like war? why don't you join the Hamas, they also love it, you can go around killing people and be happy, hopefully you get shot too.
            Look who is talking about a Schmuck, I want peace for Israel, and all you want is to take more land, have more wars, have more Israeli people killed, but you will have the tomb of Rachel, and all of the west bank, you are a hasidic , and all you know is what you read in the Bible, so go back to your bible schmucko, and just keep reading, Israel don't need idiots like you. One more thing… I don't give a rats ass what you and your friends think, if your friends are like you, I feel sorry for them.

          • http://intensedebate.com/people/cjk cjk

            For a guy who supposedly hates war you sure don't mind setting Israel up for further wars knucklehead.
            Now you've confirmed to me that you're nothing but a leftie schmuck, no one is in a position to criticize anything unless they 'served' regardless of any circumstance moronic view.
            Good for Israel that you no longer live there. dumbshit

      • Joy

        I have a close leftist friend who has visited Israel a couple times and is very keen on the country and its history (although she does not fully understand – nor would accept as true – the death threat under which Israel has existed since 1948). She, too, expressed similar sentiments based on her exhilarating trip there pre-1967, when, as she claims, "there was so much promise!" Then she revisited the country again in the late 1990s (or early 2000s?) – and she "felt" the difference then. She stayed in a small hotel in East Jerusalem owned by a Palestinian family and came away with more negative impressions – mainly about those same Orthodox types who dominate certain neighborhoods. I agree that it should be obilgatory that ALL orthodox men & women must be subject to the IDF draft – and the sooner the people make that a mandatory plebiscite, the better for the whole country. Dan is right : Those swaying/praying types need to pull their load as well as everyone else – NO exceptions!! They must all be made to serve in the IDF. Actually, I think that many Orthodox already do.

        • Dan

          Joy,

          Thank you, you understand what I was saying.
          It is the orthodox people who sway the goverment to build in the west bank, and in east Jerusalem, places that by the Bible belong to the Jews, but in reality these days they do not. If it was not for all the new buildings being built in these places, we just might have had a chance to get to talk peace. Now they also want to annex the tomb of Rachel and the tomb of our fathers in Hebron, For what?
          By the way, the orthodox (some of) do serve and now are getting to tell commanders how to deal with their people , is this an army or a synagogue ??

          Thanks again

      • xman

        The pre-1967 era wasn't an era of peace and quiet. That was the build-up time to the Six Day War, when Israel's enemies were gathering their forces and making their plans to destroy Israel, just as they did prior to 1948. Israel will never have peace until it destroys its enemies. Remember, peace is the brief interlude between your enemies last war against you and the next war, and it is merely the time used by your enemies to lick their wounds and replenish their losses for the next round. Of course, if all Israelis were like you, Israel would have been conquered in 1948, 1967 or 1973.

        • Joy

          Xman, you are spot-on – and I agree 100 percent with your very realistic – HONEST & TRUE – assessment of the state of affairs in the Middle East: Namely, the enemies of Israel are on a never-ending jihad to destroy & obliterate Israel. The result, of course, will be yet another anti-democratic, tyrannical regime, where women and non-muslims will be second-class citizens and the economy will be in the toilet (like everything else about such regimes). Israel, OTOH, will always be on defense to protect its very existence – and God will somehow watch over His “chosen people,” as promised in Scripture. It is sad to accept such a terrible state of affairs, but this is the real world – and we have every right & every expectation to our existential existence – and our right to exercise every method available to maintain that perilous situation. “Never give up – and never give in!!”

        • Dan

          xman,
          You will agree with me that between 1956 (the Sinai war) and 1967 (the six day war), were better then today (that is if you grew up in Israel), there was not too much trouble, and you lived with out the worry of buses exploding, and bombs in garbage cans. Yes Israel always did and will be on the guard from it's neighbors, that has been like that since 1948. But today living in Israel, my younger brothers were given by my father DOG-TAGS, so that if they get blown, my parents would know it was them.

  • http://Hollywoodremoteleash.com A Bit Profound

    Unbelievable — Muslims are such hateful scum. The palestinians could have had it better than they have ever thought possible sharing in the prosperity the Jews brought to that land. The Qur'an F**ked their heads up but good. Let 'um Fester in their Hatred on the other side of that wall they DEMANDED be built, without being able to do anything about it. Check out this Palestinean boys "Islamic barmitzvah" You Know he was told: "Today you become a man" http://www.truthtube.tv/play.php?vid=2008

  • terrorist

    Let's nuke Iran, Iraq, Aphgahnistool and that messed up cuntry Bush's oil company defected to,, halibarfin in duh United Arab Emirates . That'll fix everything. Maybe accidentally drop a nuke on Italy and possibly accidentally set one off a little early in New Yuck where the UN is located. :P

  • Dan

    Looks like some of the readers here (mainly CJK & Trumpeldor) are war happy, the way they look at it is, Israel should build more in East Jerusalem, and the west bank, and if there is no peace as a result, so what ? there will be another war? they are not worried, they never seen any one blown to pieces by a grenade, or burnt beyond recognition after a rocket hit a tank, they never had to, they either were born in the US and have quite nice life, or they are in Israel praying, while others get killed. I appreciate your Jewish Harritage, but up to a point, NOT when I have to bury friends and relatives, which is what war does.

  • youareallbozos

    Jews have historical sites in a lot of places in Europe…maybe they should be annexed to the State of Terrorism…i mean Israel…why can't you people understand that the problem is NOT on who considers this holy or not…the problem is that these sites are NOT in Israel, and doing so violates international law…americans are so manipulated by Israel its humiliating. Jews were tortured by Germans, maybe they should establish Israel in germany instead. wake up people…this is violation of international law and international borders…so much for supporting democracy, you are allowing a full fledged state to take over another at will…

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