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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A senseless and irresponsible provocation

According to Biblical tradition (Joshua 24:30), the Israelite leader Joshua (who took over for Moses and led my ancestors into the land where I now live), is buried at Month-heres, commonly associated with the modern-day Arab village of Kifl Hares in Northern Samaria.

Here's what his tomb looks like today:

Joshuas tomb

As you can see, the tomb itself is covered with Arabic graffiti; an indication of the respect given Jewish holy places by the very people who lose their collective minds if a Jew dares defile the sanctity of a Muslim holy place with his presence and/or payers.  Imagine, if you will, the outcry and violence that would erupt if a Jew ever spray painted graffiti on the Dome of the Rock.

Because of the tomb's proximity to our partners in peace, visits to Joshua's resting place are normally coordinated with the army to ensure 'proper security arrangements'.  In the cynical euphemisms of our region, this basically means that for a Jew to visit one of our own holy places, we need to have an armed escort to ensure that the local Muslims don't take offense and express their legitimate indignation by murdering us. 

To illustrate this point, last night four Israeli Jews were on their way home from a wedding when they decided on the spur of the moment to stop off and pay a late night visit to the tomb of Joshua.   As they were leaving the tomb, their car was beset by Arab villagers throwing stones and shouting 'kill the Jews' in Arabic. 

The driver was hit in the head and lost control of the vehicle... ultimately crashing into a stone wall.  The four Jews in the car fled on foot in different directions, two of them dragging the most seriously injured member of their group with them (he was ultimately airlifted to the hospital and listed in serious condition).  The rest escaped with relatively minor injuries, and after a brief scare, when they couldn't locate the fourth man, they were treated at the scene and released.

Now here's the kicker:  Rather than spurring a public outcry, the only reaction to this attack seems to have been from the local army commander who was livid that these foolhardy individuals had dared to pray at a Jewish Holy site without coordinating their visit with his forces.  It should be noted that such requests are routinely denied by the army... again, for 'security reasons'.

Anywhere else in the world such a late night religious visit - however spontaneous -  would be perfectly acceptable.  If anyone molested a Christian who went to pay a late-night visit to a church to give confession, say a rosary, offer a prayer... or attacked a Buddhist wanting to visit a temple to make a late night offering for the continued health and prosperity of his family, it would be international news, and world leaders and human rights organizations would be lining up at press conferences to offer condemnations.

By contrast, when the Muslims destroyed/burned the tomb of Joseph, mortally wounding a soldier in the process and preventing rescue forces from reaching him before he bled to death, the world paid little notice... except to wonder what the Jews had done this time to provoke the Arabs so.

Sadly, a Jew - even in his own country - is expected to tread lightly (if at all) when visiting sites of religious and historical significance.  It is as though we have accepted this diaspora notion that our very presence is a senseless provocation, and that the guarantee of freedom of religious practice (enshrined in Israeli law and the laws of no other country in the region) applies to everyone in our liberal democracy, except the people whose religion has the most irrefutable and ancient regional provenance!

Let Ariel Sharon dare ascend to the Temple mount - the single holiest place in Judaism - and it is used by the offended Muslims as an excuse to launch a multi-year orgy of murder and mayhem. But let armed Muslim terrorists take hostages within the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (arguably one of the holiest sites in Christianity), and it is seen by the world as a legitimate expression of Palestinian self-determination.  And in a laughable turnabout the presence, outsidethe Church, of Israeli security forces attempting to capture the terrorists was called an unwarranted desecration of the site.

It is illegal to practice any religion but Islam in many of our neighboring countries.  But even in places where other religions are allowed to practice openly... it is permission of a very limited nature; a barely tolerate second-class status called Dhimmi. 

Don't believe me?  Go ask a Coptic Christian about his perilous existence and bloodstained history in Egypt... or ask a Lebanese Christian (if you can find one willing to even go on record) what it's like living like a hated (and hunted) stranger in his/her own land.

The Universal Declaration of human Rights, which is so often quoted by the Palestinians and their supporters, states; "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country".  It is inconvenient for some that there isn't an ounce of evidence in the historical / archaeological record to support the presence here of any identifiable 'Palestinian People'.  But what is truly amazing is that those who so often trot out the Declaration of Human rights to bolster the Palestinian case never realize the irony of denying Jews at least equal right of return to a country that was irrefutably ours.

The only reason the State of Israel was established here rather than in Africa or any of a half dozen other suggestions given to Theodore Herzl, is that we were from here... this is the crucible of our very identity as a people... and we have never stopped praying for a return to this place.  Turn over any stone and you will find archaeological evidence of our ancient and unbroken presence here. 

When the 1948 cease fire was signed (creating arbitrary borders that many now want Israel to respect and return to, despite winning two subsequent wars not of our making), it was agreed that everyonewould have access to their religious holy sites, regardless in whose hands they were held. 

We all saw how well that worked out.  From 1948 - 1967 the Jordanians systematically went about destroying Jewish synagogues and holy sites... forcing the Jews to look longingly at the ruins of our holy places through binoculars. 

What is ironic is that many who think Israel is being needlessly argumentative in requiring formal recognition of our national/religious status as a precondition to any peace agreement, fail to recognize that incidents like last nights could not possibly have happened in a region where Israel was universally recognized by our 'peace partners' as the Jewish State.

Since 1967, every religion with even a token representation in Israel has had unfettered access to their holy sites.  Every religion, that is, except Judaism. Here, our very presence is still viewed by the world (and even by many of our own leaders), as negotiable and temporary.  And sadly, the simple act of praying at one of our holy places is still seen as a senseless and irresponsible provocation.

Update: Not surprisingly, Haaretz is now claiming that the crash and injuries sustained by the men were not caused by Palestinian stone throwers (although the article fails to offer an alternative theory).  It does, however, go to great lengths to point out that the men were hassidim (never going to get sympathy from the typical Haaretz reader) and that "Israel Defense Forces stressed that the Israelis entered the Palestinian area without a permit and without prior coordination, and put themselves at great personal risk. Israelis are barred from entering the Palestinian-controlled zone without an army escort". 

Remind me again why Jews making an impromptu visit to a Jewish holy site that happens to be in close proximity to our peace partners is "liable to put themselves at great personal risk?"  Anyone? 

Posted by David Bogner on July 14, 2009 | Permalink


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Hi, my friend. I am reading your excellent post on the terrible desecration of stone and flesh at Kever Yehoshua... and wanted to bring a logical problem to your attention. ("Train wrecks in the brain" of this reader cause me to utterly derail.) Here's the passage:

"The four Jews in the car fled on foot in different directions, two of them dragging the most seriously injured member of their group with them..."

I just hate to see what that poor devil looked like, when the three of them reassembled at the hospital.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 14, 2009 1:40:17 PM

there are [at least] 2 issues here. the first is the issue of rights. in this, i am with you 100%. the second is the issue of common sense, how people ought to behave. now, these 4 had every legal right to stop off and pray. but it is a rash thing to do. remember the central park jogger? a woman went jogging in ny's cenral park at midnight, and terrible things happened to her. she of course had every right to jog there, but it is foolhardy. you have every legal right to stroll through a bad neighborhood at 2 am, but it would be a foolish thing to do.

Posted by: fred | Jul 14, 2009 1:42:06 PM

Brilliant post. I wish I could knock some people over the head with this writing and make them see sense.

Posted by: the apple | Jul 14, 2009 2:10:03 PM

rutimizrachi... Thanks for that. I needed a smile today. Yes, I should have constructed that sentence more carefully... but it would have required too much of an effort. Next time...

Fred... I wrote a post that dealt with exactly the argument you are making a couple of years ago. It was called 'Fuzzy Moral Accounting'. Go read it and let me know if you still feel the same way about placing even a small amount of the blame on the victims here. IMHO, The skirt is never so short as to allow any of the blame to be placed on a rape victim, and if you believe that a neighborhood is so dangerous that the blame for a mugging is somehow shared between the mugger and the muggee... then you have surrendered to anarchy, or at least acknowledged two parallel sets of rules; one for those who follow the law and one for those who don't. I refuse to think that way. It is why I carry a gun with me during every waking moment, but pray it will never be used in anger.

The Apple... using my posts to carry out acts of violence (no matter how potentially educational) is strictly prohibited! :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 14, 2009 2:13:15 PM


I wish God bless your week! Jesus will return very soon! Read the Holy Bible! Jesus Christ is the One Mediator between us, human, and God! Ask Jesus to come into your heart, repent of your sins and experience the true peace in your life! The peace that no one can steal! Only Jesus can save your soul! Jesus loves you!

Visit my blog http://bloodofsultimos.blogspot.com

Posted by: Claudia Sunshine | Jul 14, 2009 3:39:24 PM

i agree with fred above.
this has nothing to do with "blaming" the victims.
the perpetrators (and their enablers) must be held fully accountable and punished accordingly, and the holy site opened up to all visitors.
but the victims understood the risks and nonetheless took a gamble.

Posted by: Lion of Zion | Jul 14, 2009 4:25:37 PM

Claudia Sunshine ... You have to be kidding me. trying to convert me AND pimping your blog? Oh well, my soul is safe, but the same can't be said for your URL [edit]. :-)

Lion of Zion ... Sorry. But IMHO, the moment you said 'but', all those nice words that came before the 'but' got cancelled out and you looked the rape victim in the eye and told her it was her own damned fault for slutting herself up.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 14, 2009 4:34:09 PM

Lion of Zion: I can't adequately express how much your comment breaks my heart. This is exactly the kind of thinking that thugs count on when they prey upon others.

Posted by: zahava | Jul 14, 2009 5:29:30 PM

Since you mention the UNDHR, it is important to note that a second document exists only for Muslims: Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam,


Article 18 of the UNDHR [link in your article] says this: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Article 18 of the CDHRI says only this: "(a) Everyone shall have the right to live in security for himself, his religion, his dependents, his honour and his property."

Nothing there about the freedom to change religions because under Islamic law, changing one's religion is punishable by death.

So when Palestinians and all their supporters speak about the Declaration of Human Rights, ask them which document they are quoting from.



Posted by: peacemaker18 | Jul 14, 2009 5:34:51 PM

I'm very surprised that they didn't get lost - I was there during an officially sanctioned visit, and if not for the soldiers directing us and the temporary signs erected along the way, someone could have easily gotten lost and wandered into one of the darker parts of the village.

David - I don't know when you were last in Washington Heights, but when most of the Jewish residents there do not venture outside after midnight due to fear of their safety...

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jul 14, 2009 6:17:37 PM

David: Don't forget the other irresponsible and senseless provocation in 1929 which led to Arab led massacres around Eretz Yisrael.

From Wikipedia: On 15 August 1929, several hundred members of Joseph Klausner's Committee for the Western Wall, among them members of Vladimir Jabotinsky's Revisionist Zionism movement Betar youth organisation, under the leadership of Jeremiah Halpern, assembled at the Western Wall in Jerusalem shouting "the Wall is ours".[5] They raised the Jewish national flag and sang the ballad of yearning for freedom and self-determination, "Hatikvah" ("The Hope"), which is the Israeli national anthem.

The rest is all history.

Posted by: Jameel | Jul 14, 2009 6:22:13 PM

My name is Claude Sunshine and I am very angry. My beloved wife came here for the sole purpose of helping you and the many other fine commenters, including the Muslim named Jameel. Instead of saying thank you for your kindness you change our address and continue to discuss a different topic.

I am very offended and upset by this, especially since she made it clear that you gained this treppenwitz name by ethnically cleansing our people from treppenwitz.com. Everyone knows that treppenwitz means sunshine. We demand recompense for this foul deed!

You must turn over the Muslim Jameel to us so that we may save him. You must provide us with the right of return to our sacred treppenwitz homeland. Failure to do so will result in swift and severe consequences, including the destruction of all pedometers.

You have been warned.

Posted by: Claude Sunshine | Jul 14, 2009 7:23:55 PM

Kleenex alert :(

Posted by: SaraK | Jul 14, 2009 7:49:11 PM

The Arabs need to be put down - to the point where any Jew can visit any holy site in peace..Respect is earned and right now the Arabs have failed to earn it.

Posted by: Robert | Jul 14, 2009 7:58:12 PM

If for no other reason that the difference in the way other religions' holy sites are treated by the Jews versus the way they are treated by the Muslims, it would be insane to return one square centimeter of any land taken in 1967 to Arab control. (Oops - too late for Gaza...)

This post needs to be on the front page of every newspaper that claims to report on the "Middle East situation."

Posted by: Elisson | Jul 14, 2009 9:47:33 PM

You reminded me of Krauthammer column.

Posted by: soccer dad | Jul 14, 2009 11:35:48 PM

Preach it, brother. Keep asking the questions, over and over.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jul 15, 2009 12:21:36 AM

#sarcasm ON
David, I don't know if you've heard, but Israel is special, very special. You see, of all the nations in the world, Israel is the only one that is only permitted to fight back against existential threats, but not against normal kinds of threats, like angry mobs killing its citizens.
#sarcasm OFF

Posted by: Mark | Jul 15, 2009 7:50:19 AM

Horrible.. and so disturbing that though I read numerous international newspapers almost every day I hadn't heard about the attack.

Posted by: zemirah | Jul 15, 2009 2:09:16 PM

"Jesus loves you!"

Jesus is dead, silly.

Posted by: a. | Jul 16, 2009 3:16:14 PM

Put them burkas on ladies lest you provoke rape. It would be your fault, not the rapist's. It never ceases to amaze how we squirm, prevaricate and delude ourselves to believe what we want to be true is, in fact, true. It used to be that the preponderance of sympathy (poor little Israel was the phrase if I remember correctly) was with Israel. Now we sympathize with a group of people whose avowed goal is to destroy Israel and drive every Jew into the sea. I don't see any Jews in any muslim parliament but there are arab muslims in the Knesset. Don't deface the koran or an islamic holy site but defacing or destroying any other religion's holy sites and is fine. I just don't get it.

Posted by: pacific_waters | Jul 19, 2009 3:42:32 PM

"It is inconvenient for some that there isn't an ounce of evidence in the historical / archaeological record to support the presence here of any identifiable 'Palestinian People'."

Nor is there any ounce of evidence in the historical/archaeological record to support the exodus story. Do you believe that?

Posted by: yeah | Feb 28, 2010 4:39:19 AM


Actually there is some evidence, in Egypt, Sinai, Jordan and Israel to support the biblical account of things.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Feb 28, 2010 7:44:32 AM

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