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Friday, January 22, 2010

If there is a 'Palestinian state,' how will we preserve our heritage?

Nearly three weeks ago, I noted an attempt by the Jordanian government to claim ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of which are currently on display at an exhibit in Canada. Previously, the 'Palestinians' have also attempted to claim ownership of the scrolls. Writing in the Forward, David Hazony points out the implications that the creation of a 'Palestinian state' would have on preserving the Jewish heritage, which is largely based in Judea and Samaria.
Wherever the borders may be drawn, what is clear is that underneath the Palestinians’ future homeland lie the ruins of ancient Israel — ruins that archaeologists from all over the world have labored hard to begin uncovering over the last 40 years. From Shiloh to Hebron, from the mountains above Nablus to the City of David in eastern Jerusalem, a great many of the most important insights about life in ancient Israel have come from archaeological expeditions carried out in lands captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Why is this issue serious enough to be considered in peace negotiations? After all, aren’t the safety and security of Israelis, and the rights of Palestinians, much more important?

For Jews, embracing, remembering and preserving our past is an existential need. We can argue about how much land to give up, and whether to dismantle settlements. We can disagree over so many things that define our Judaism — the meaning of Halacha, the role of women in rituals, homosexuality, the authorship of the Bible. But there is one thing on which all movements of Judaism have always agreed: the importance of the past in defining who we are.

For thousands of years, Jews have clung feverishly to their past in facing every trial, and celebrated their history at every opportunity. Every Jewish holiday is a commemoration of our ancient heritage; every prayer a recollection of our patriarchs; every greeting to fellow Jews from around the world spoken in a language redolent with biblical idiom; every social movement an effort to recapture the dreams of the prophets.

It is our past, in other words, that makes us Jews.
Read the whole thing.

Given the way that the 'Palestinians' have treated Jewish holy sites in the past, the prospect of the Jewish heritage being preserved should Judea and Samaria fall under 'Palestinian' rule - God forbid - are not good. David notes the destruction of artifacts on the Temple Mount. To that I can add the destruction of Joseph's tomb in Shchem (Nablus), the destruction of the Shalom al-Yisrael synagogue in Jericho, the destruction of Ezekial's tomb in Iraq (currently ongoing), the destruction of the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives between 1948-67, and numerous other instances in which the 'Palestinians' have treated artifacts of the Jewish heritage with contempt.

What could go wrong?


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