Friday, February 26, 2010

Jewish Heritage Sites

Following Jeffery Goldberg's discussion of UNESCO's statement on preservation of Palestinian "cultural heritage sites", I thought I would point out something which should be obvious: Jewish "cultural heritage sites" have received no protection, much less preservation from UNESCO, or the relevant Palestinian authorities, for that matter. Palestinians dig anywhere they please, ripping up the Temple Mount with excavators to install electricity cables while the Israeli Antiquities Authority looks on in horror at overturned mounds of artifacts and pleads for them to stop.
Take Joseph's Tomb (Kever Yosef) as an example, the burial site of the Jewish patriarch. Despite traditional Arab respect for the tomb, in recent times, Kever Yosef has been savagely defiled by Palestinians. Spitting at three thousand years of tradition by all Middle Eastern peoples, in a political quest to erase Jewish connection to the Land, the Palestinians invented a new history, claiming that a Muslim sheikh is burried at the tomb. They then shattered the grave with hammers, broke a hole in the tomb's protective cover, cut down the tree at the entrance, defecated in and on the structure, burned tires to scorch the walls and murdered several lone Jewish pilgrims to the site. Lest you think this is ancient history, the latest attack, another burning of tires, was in 2008. Rachel's Tomb itself became a warzone during the Second Intifada, when regular PA and Fatah police forces riddled the compound with bullets.

This is publicly available information. Imagine Jews urinating on the Kaaba and beating it with hammers! Has UNESCO ever issued a condemnation of Palestinian violations of Jewish cultural heritage sites? Must a people burn down embassies to be taken seriously in this world?

Jefferey claims there is an unspoken rule that Jews have access to these sites, but that has not been the case since the Second Intifada. The IDF itself denies Jews access to many of these sites, and as for others, such as Kever Yosef, monthly armored convoys have to be arranged and executed in the middle of the night to avoid Palestinian violence.

Traditional Palestinian respect for the land and its treasures, once real and profound, has been supplanted with fanatical nationalism and Islamist radicalism that rejects the notion of Jewish peoplehood itself, and seeks to eradicate Jewish history with total disregard, indeed contempt (!) for the sacred.

Today, there is simply no indication that the Palestinians have any intention of honoring Jewish access to religious sites in a future Palestinian state; nor, does it seem, will anyone hold them to whatever empty promises they now make.

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