A good move, may it yield results: Thirty-five members of the Knesset have signed a letter, addressed to IDF Central Command Officer Major General Yair Naveh, asking that Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (called Nablus by the Arabs) be opened again to visits by Jews, with steps taken as necessary to provide security. The letter was initiated by Uri Ariel (National Union/NRP) and was signed by all of the MKs of National Union/NRP as well as a number from United Torah Judaism, Shas, Likud (including presidential candidate Reuven Rivlin), Kadima, Pensioners and Yisrael Beiteinu.
The background of what happened to the Tomb in recent years has been particularly galling to anyone concerned with Jewish heritage, Jewish pride, and Jewish rights in the land.
The history of this site is clear:
The Book of Joshua (24:32) states: "The bones of Joseph which the Children of Israel brought up from Egypt were buried in Shechem in the portion of the field that had been purchased by Jacob."
And Dr. Zvi Ilan, who was one of Israel’s most prominent archeologists, referred in his writings to Joseph’s Tomb as: "… one of the tombs whose location is known with the utmost degree of certainty and is based on continuous documentation since biblical times. "
The Tomb was traditionally a place of Jewish pilgrimage, a place where Jews visited and prayed. With the Oslo agreements it was turned over to the PA, but agreements "guaranteed" that Jews were to have freedom of access and freedom of worship at this site, which was acknowledged as having Jewish sanctity.
In 2000, early in the Al Aksa Intifada, Palestinian militia attacked at the site and Ehud Barak, who was then prime minister, ordered IDF forces stationed there to retreat. Presumably Barak did this to lower tensions in the area and was counting on PA police to honor their commitment to safeguard this place. Presumably.
But the PA police stood by as Palestinians swarmed the tomb, destroying everything in sight — such as prayer books — and moving to turn it into a Muslim site complete with a green painted roof. This was months before my aliyah, but I was here and I saw this on Israeli TV — I saw the Palestinians climbing over the Tomb, I saw the fires. It is telling how viscerally I react to this memory even now: the retreat was a grave error and a moment of ignominy and shame for IDF forces.
In 2002, with operation Defensive Shield, the IDF moved back into Shechem and to the Tomb; monthly visits by Jews were arranged. But three years ago, the IDF commander at the site suspended visits because of the threat of terrorist attacks. The letter was drafted now because there is to be a change of command, with someone new in charge at the site.
How bitter is this memory, in the face of the fallacious and deliberately inflammatory Islamic claims that we are threatening their holy sites on the Temple Mount. The lessons are all there for us to see, but I am not sure we learn them. Foolishly, we turn ourselves inside-out to be conciliatory with regard to what the Muslims claim as their holy sites and yet receive nothing but antagonism and hostility and violence in return. For our sites, there is total disregard and worse.
A shameful decision by Olmert two weeks ago that has received insufficient attention (including by me) has apparently granted Jordanian king Abdullah permission to construct a new minaret on the Temple Mount. A minaret is a tower, normally attached to a mosque, that is used for call to prayer. There are already four minarets on the Mount; this will be the largest yet and the first one built in 600 years. It will be adjacent to the Al-Marwani Mosque, at the very site MK Aryeh Eldad last year proposed a synagogue be built.
A top official of the Islamic Wakf has said that Olmert’s readiness to allow a minaret where there had been talk of placing a synagogue, "confirms 100-percent the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) belongs to Muslims…This…solidifies our presence here."
This information was released by Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily. The prime minister’s office has not yet officially announced this; as an aide to Olmert told Klein, they were waiting for an "opportune time." This means there is fear of backlash from within the Jewish community, and if the announcement is made, we must hope — and work to ensure — that indeed there will be enormous backlash.
With this we have a perfect example of how conciliation does not work. For King Abdullah, having received permission for a minaret, still felt perfectly free just weeks later to make inciteful statements regarding what Israel was doing with the Mughrabi gate.
Uzi Landau, former MK and minister of internal security, and now a fellow at the International Counter-Terrorism Policy Institute, has written a good piece, "Same Old Story in Jerusalem," which recounts the ways in which we always get in trouble when we capitulate. Says Landau:
"The Israel government in its entirety must stop apologizing and ensure that both the letter and spirit of the law are being followed, and never ever capitulate in the face of threats backed by the culture of terror. Only one possibility is worse than violence – capitulation in the face of violence."
Read his entire piece at:
PM Olmert is in Turkey, a Muslim nation, with the hope of strengthening strategic ties (he is seeking Turkish pressure on Iran, in particular). But what greeted him at the airport? An anti-Israel demonstration with signs that referred to him as a "murderer." Today he met with Prime Minister Erdogan who voiced criticism of the work at the Mughrabi gate — "Israel should respect the holy places rather than increase tensions" –and scolded Olmert about it. Olmert, anticipating this, had brought pictures of the construction site so that Erdogan could see for himself that the Al Aksa Mosque was not threatened; Erdogan was not convinced. Olmert has now agreed to having a Turkish team inspect the site.
Then there’s Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement, who was indicted last week for inciting violence near the Temple Mount and attacking police. Jerusalem Police were seeking to ban him from the Old City for a period of time, and he was brought into Municipal court yesterday, where a restraining order preventing him from entering the city was extended for 60 days.
Said he: "Israel should be put on trial for the Temple Mount works…Israel is not…given legitimacy by the occupation. As this court is a component of the Israeli establishment…any decision made by it regarding my case is invalid."
Not enormously surprising to hear him talk this way, and to deny legitimacy of an Israeli court, except for one thing: Ra’ed Salah is an Israeli citizen. His behavior spotlights some very serious issues.
Abbas has asked Israel to release 80 prisoners who are not in good health as a "good will gesture" before the summit meeting of Abbas, Olmert, and Rice next week. Good will? Abbas has just signed on to an agreement that doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist or renounce terrorism. We need to give him a good will offering? It never ends. The Palestinians have the most unmitigated gall. Unfortunately, I’m not at all certain that Olmert won’t agree to do this. So it becomes a colossal joke. Palestinian "sources" explain
ed that this would "establish trust between Israel and the Palestinians," but they have that wrong. The only trust would be on the Palestinian side — trust that they can get us to give more and more. It would also, they say, increase support for Abbas in the street. But Abbas, by virtue of his performance in Mecca, has already shown himself to be powerless.
Note that this has nothing to do with release of Shalit.
Our new Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi (may the Almighty give him strength) has written a letter to the IDF. In part it says:
"It is with a sense of duty and responsibility, accompanied by a complete belief in the righteousness of our path as a people and as a state, and by my belief in all of you, that I assume the position of Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces.
"Unfortunately, despite our yearning for peace as we reach out to our neighbors, the time has not yet come to sheath our sword. It must remain sharpened and honed, prepared to face any enemy.
"The State of Israel needs a professional, strong, deterrent, state-of-the-art army. An army of the people, made up of our finest young men and women – those who are willing to invest themselves in the mission of defending our country.
"We will be prepared for the challenges posed to us by the terror organizations and by others who have not yet come to terms with the existence of the State of Israel in the Middle East. We will fight those who wish to harm us, we will become stronger in order to deter them, and if need be – we will be prepared to overcome them."
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/2/15/posted-february-15-2007.html