In traditional Islamic thought, the pre-Islamic era in world history is known as jahiliyyah, an age of barbarism and ignorance. Essentially, all that precedes Islam is worthless. In this spirit of chauvinism and imperialism, Muslims have carelessly destroyed the holy places of the faiths which they have conquered. Around the world, from the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan to Hindu temples in Kashmir and India and churches in the Middle-East, the hole places of non-Muslims have been desecrated, humiliated and often stolen and islamicized.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan recently began and as usual was accompanied by an upsurge of violent attacks, unrest, terrorism and intolerance. The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Israel, is "shared" by Muslims and Jews with each group having 10 holy days in which they have unrestricted access to the site (at least in theory). The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the burial place of the Forefathers of the Jewish people, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as the Matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. It is considered the second holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount. Hebron has an unbroken chain of Jewish habitation since the First Temple period until 1929 when Arab pogroms forced the Jews out of their homes, ending the community. Hebron served as the original capital of King David's kingdom before he moved it to Jerusalem. The Tomb of the Patriarchs, which the Torah records as having been purchased by Abraham for a tomb for his wife for the exorbitant price of 400 silver shekels, has often been forbidden to Jews. Under Ottoman rule, Jews were prohibited from entering the site and were restricted to the 7th step of the Tomb.
Friday, as Muslims converged on the Tomb for Ramadan prayers, they urinated on a Torah scroll and left behind Hamas flags. In the past, mezuzot have been ripped off the doors and holy books vandalized. For all those who claim that Islam is one of three Abrahamitic religions, this dispels such a myth. Islam does not consider itself one of three Abrahamitic religions but rather the sole Abrahamitic religion, as proven by the desecrating of a Torah scroll. Noam Arnon, spokesman for the Jewish community in Hevron, said there is always some sort of damage discovered upon their return every time Jews are prohibited from entering the holy site. It boggles the mind to think that in the sovereign state of Israel, Jewish holy places are being vandalized and destroyed by Muslims and the authorities are doing nothing. In fact, there are plans on the table to expel the Jews of Hebron, along with those in the rest of Judea and Samaria, and give them control over Jewish holy places. Condoleeza Rice and the Bush administration are pressuring Israel to give the Arabs control over half of Jerusalem. How can anyone trust these barbarians to safekeep the synagogues, yeshivot and Tombs of Tzaddikim that exist in Jerusalem? It is a well-known fact that the Islamic wakf in charge of the Temple Mount is guilty of destroying Jewish archaeological records and dumping them in the Kidron valley.
This path has been taken before. In October 2000, as Shechem (Nablus) was transfered to PA control, a mob of Arabs desecrated the tomb of the Biblical figure Joseph. They burnt Torah scrolls, destroyed the yeshiva and razed the structure. There are currently plans to rebuild the tomb, which is now being used by the Arabs as a garbage dump.
Ephraim Bluth, a leading figure in the region, wrote the following after his night visit to the destroyed tomb of Joseph:
I recently had an opportunity to visit the Tomb of the biblical Joseph - Yosef Hatzadik - in Shechem. Given the location, in a viper's den of terrorism, such visits need be organized with the active cooperation of the IDF, which provides worshippers with several layers of security.
A disparate group of adults and teenagers, bonded by a mutual desire to pray at the tomb gathered at an army base situated near the Hawara Junction, just south of Shechem. Shortly after 1 a.m., we traveled to one of the entrances controlled by the IDF and entered Shechem from the east. A few minutes later, we disembarked the bus and streamed into the remains of what had been (until October 2000) the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, encompassing Joseph's tomb.
The visit was a difficult venture, from an emotional point of view. On the one hand, I felt a sense of privilege to be present at the burial site of one of our foremost religious and historical figures.
On the other hand, I felt a sense of sadness and betrayal that my own government has been, and continues to be, unable and unwilling to prevent the defiling of a site that is so precious and so holy to Jews.
From the torched and scarred ruins of Joseph's tomb, amidst the rubble left behind by a local Arab mob, I was able to gaze up at the growing Jewish community of Elon Moreh and at the expanding yeshiva there which is at its core.
I drew a lesson from this experience: these visits to Joseph's tomb must continue.
More than anything else, they demonstrate to our enemies that our connection to the Land of Israel, both past and present, will never be severed. Though our own national government has failed to establish and maintain the deterrence needed to insure that Jews can travel freely anywhere in Israel, we must continue to show through determined action, that we remain true to our past leadership and the legacy they left in our hands.
Cross-posted from For Zion's Sake