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Israel or Palestine, Our Land or Theirs?
By Ariel Natan Pasko
I read in the news recently something that caught my eye. A headline,
"Breslov Hassidim Arrested On the Way to Joseph's Tomb." I know I can't
praise them for 'breaking the law'. Officially, they are violating a military order
barring Israeli citizens from entering PA autonomous areas. But I just
can't help myself from thinking, congratulations, for keeping the issue in
the news. Since Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002, groups of
Breslover Hassidim have regularly tried to get to Joseph's Tomb in Shechem
(Nablus) to pray.
Why have they had to try and out fox the Israeli Army, to sneak into
Shechem? Why does the Israeli government have to protect its citizens from
themselves, when they want to pray at a Jewish holy site?
The answer is that Joseph's Tomb was supposed to be under Israeli control
according to the Oslo Agreement. Jew's were supposed to be free to go
learn Torah and pray there. The Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva - Joseph Lives
Rabbinical Seminary - was there. But on October 7th, 2000, three days
after Israel Television Channel Two reported that then Chief of Staff
Shaul Mofaz said that he would pull the Israeli forces from Joseph's Tomb
if the situation worsens, PA mobs overran the site, killed a soldier, and
stole our heritage again.
The 'Palestinians' quickly ransacked the place, burning Jewish prayer
books, and repainting the white dome roof, Muslim Green, transforming the
Biblical Joseph's resting place into a Muslim holy site. The Israeli
government then under mis-leadership of Ehud Barak, didn't think it was
worth fighting over to hold onto. Jewish holy sites, our connection to our
past, and to our Land, didn't matter. And that gets to the heart of the
problem. Whose land is it? Whose Holy Sites are they? Who cares more?
In an interview published in Ma'ariv (Feb. 16, 2001), then IDF Deputy
Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon regretted the decision to abandon
Joseph's Tomb in Shechem. Gen. Yaalon said that the pullback "fired up
the fighting spirit of the Palestinians"; It will be a grave error if
Israel continues to pull out of other areas or settlements under fire."
But our present Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon missed the point. Beyond the
operational need to be seen as strong against 'Palestinian' violence,
Israel has to be strong in its belief in the rightness of its cause. Jews
have to feel connected, as the Holy Breslovers do, to Jewish tradition,
the Jewish past, and the Jewish future. That's the only way to overcome
these spiritual imperialists.
What did the Arab hordes do when they captured Joseph's Tomb & Yeshiva?
They Islamicised them. Recently it's been discovered that they destroyed
the tombstone. They stole our history for themselves again, as they have
for over 1400 years. Islam you see is a successionistic religion. That is,
they want to succeed Judaism. They steal our Patriarchs & Matriarchs.
Notice their claims to the Ma'arat HaMachpela (Tomb of the Patriarchs) in
Hevron, where Abraham & Sara, Isaac & Rebecca, and Jacob & Leah are
buried. They also claim Kever Rachel (Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem) as
theirs. Our prophets and leaders, Moses & Aaron, King David & King
Solomon, all are Muslims according to this Arab imperialist movement.
Whereas early Christianity settled with having stolen our spiritual
heritage and claimed to succeed us; Islam, the Islamic world, the Arabs of
Eretz Yisrael, and the so-called Palestinians, go further. Not only do
they claim ownership to our history and spiritual tradition, but they also
claim ownership to our Homeland.
When 'Palestinians' speak about the 'right of return' they don't just
refer to the 'West Bank' and Gaza, they include, Acre and Jaffa and Haifa
and Safed and Jerusalem. All of 'Falistin' is holy to them, because it is
Holy to us. Palestinian nationalists and Islamic fanatics speak with
burning enthusiasm about 'Falistin-Palestine'. It's a pity so few Jews
speak with equal fervor about our HOLY PROMISED LAND and HOLY SITES.
That's why seeing the Breslovers trekking out to Shechem, brightens the
heart. The Breslovers you see aren't 'settlers', they aren't interested in
politics; they're just simple Jews who still feel the need to connect to
Jewish history & tradition. Their sustained effort for over a year now, to
get to Joseph's Tomb to pray, has more than anything else, kept the issue
percolating just below the surface.
With all the effort made by the United States to end the violence,
formulating the Mitchell and Tenet Plans, and now the Quartet's (US, EU,
UN, Russia) 'Road Map', no one has explicitly stated that Joseph's Tomb
will return to Israeli control. A tentative draft of the 'Amended Road
Map' published in Al Ayyam newspaper (Nov. 20, 2002) stated, "The Israeli
army will undertake an advanced withdrawal from the territories occupied
after September 28, 2000; both parties will return to the situation that
prevailed before September 28, 2000; the Palestinian security troops will
be deployed in the regions that will be evacuated by the Israeli army."
The Jerusalem Post (Dec. 29, 2002) published an official summary of the
Quartet's 'Revised Road Map,' (released by a highly placed diplomatic
source privy to Quartet discussions), which simply states, "Return to
September 28, 2002, positions."
Where is Joseph's Tomb? I don't expect the US, EU, UN or Russia to care
about our ancestors. I know the Arab-Muslim world wants to steal our
history. But, where is the Israeli government? Where is Chief of Staff
Ya'alon? Where are the Jews of Israel?
And that's why it's so heartening to see the Breslovers, simple believing
Jews, not 'settlers' - as if that would some how lessen the value - not
'nationalists', but simple believing Jews, who still are burning with
enthusiasm for OUR HOMELAND, OUR HISTORY, OUR TRADITIONS, and yes OUR
ANCESTORS. Their actions prove that JOSEPH'S TOMB - and all of our
Homeland - isn't just for military purposes, isn't just for 'settlers',
but for simple believing Jews too!
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a
Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His
articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites,
in newspapers, and can be read at:www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko
© 2003/5763 Pasko
from the May 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine