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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Israel must control the Mount of Olives

In the summer of 2000, a meeting took place at the home of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef in the Har Nof section of Jerusalem. Those who attended the meeting were other Haredi Rabbis who opposed Ehud Barak's plan to go to Camp David and offer the 'Palestinians' everything they wanted. The leader of those Rabbis was Rabbi Levi I. Horowitz, the Bostonner Rebbe, someone my family has known for many years (as far as I am aware, he is currently quite ill - HaRav Levi Yitzchak ben Sarah Sasha for those who wish to say a prayer). The delegation succeeded in convincing Rabbi Yosef to pull his Shas party out of Barak's government.

The way Rabbi Horowitz and his cohorts convinced Rabbi Yosef to oppose Barak's trip to Camp David was to show him how turning over the Arab villages around the Mount of Olives (Har HaZeitim) cemetery to the 'Palestinians' would endanger Jewish burials in one of the most important Jewish cemeteries (possibly the most important) in the world. Nadav Shragai explains why Israel must continue to control the Mount of Olives cemetery.

* The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, that the Palestinians demand to transfer to their control, is the most important Jewish cemetery in the world. The area has constituted a religious and national pantheon for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, containing the tombs of the illustrious dead of the nation over the course of 3,000 years and serving as a site for Jewish gathering and prayer at the time of the ancient Temple and even prior to it.

* Under Jordanian rule, Jewish access and the continued burial of Jews on the mount was prohibited, despite Jordan's explicit commitment in the Israeli-Jordanian Armistice Agreement of 1949. During the period of Jordanian rule, the cemetery was destroyed and desecrated, and 38,000 of its tombstones and graves were smashed to smithereens. [Many of its gravestones were used to construct a walkway to the Intercontinental Hotel which sits atop the Mount, and which was built under the Jordanians' rule. CiJ].

* Since Jerusalem's reunification, burial ceremonies were renewed at the site and large sections of the cemetery were rehabilitated. Nevertheless, attempts by Palestinians to damage the cemetery have never totally abated, and there have been periodic attacks on Jewish mourners escorting their dead for burial.

* Previous Israeli governments that consented to discuss arrangements in Jerusalem with the Palestinians rejected their demand to transfer the Mount of Olives to PA sovereignty and control. Nevertheless, those governments were prepared to give their assent to the transfer of neighborhoods that control the access routes to the mount. Should any such agreement be implemented in the future, it could endanger freedom of access to the site and continued Jewish burial there.

* In any future arrangements, in order to allow continued Jewish burial on the mount, Israel must guarantee freedom of access to the site by controlling the arteries leading to it, as well as the areas adjacent to it. On the previous occasions that Israel transferred areas that included Jewish holy sites to Palestinian control, the Palestinians severely encumbered or refused to allow Jewish access to these places. Sometimes these sites were even severely damaged.
When the Oslo War started in 2000, it became a regular occurrence for Jewish vehicles headed to the Mount of Olives for funeral services to be stoned. We know the family of a prominent rabbi from the US whose funeral convoy was stoned. On the Eve of Rosh haShanna (the Jewish New Year) in 2000, when the Oslo War had just started, the Chevra Kadisha (burial society) insisted on taking a body to the Mount of Olives for burial by itself, unaccompanied by the family. They knew they would be stoned on the way there and back, but they took the body for burial anyway.

Israel would be crazy to give the 'Palestinians' control over the cemetery. Look what the 'Palestinians' have done to, for example, Joseph's tomb.

Read the whole thing.


At 12:17 AM, Blogger Chrysler 300M said...

I donĀ“t understand why this is even a point of discussion in Israel

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

why does the Intercontinental Hotel still exist?

At 6:07 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Why would Israel even contemplate turning it over to the Palestinians? Under no circumstances should the Mount Of Olives be handed over to any foreign power. End of discussion.

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Instead of remembering the pity Ovadya Yosef had for the dead on one specific hilltop in 2000, why don't you remind the folks of the "Da'at Torah" he authorized to give half the land of the living away back in Yitzchak Rabin's government, itself having led to over a 1000 deaths, thousand's more physically and mentally maimed, widows, orphans and 1000s expelled from their land, their homes and livelihoods destroyed.

Yes, the same Ovadya Yosef.

At 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a discussion? the last time arabs had control of the area...they desecrated the grave sites and used the tomb stones to pave their roads

enough of this

give the arabs nothing

its time for them to all return to their real homes in syria, jordan and egypt


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