When Cultural Appropriation and Historical Revisionism Are Acts of War

Two weeks in the past, a bus crammed with veteran Israeli generals from the Bithonistim, a grassroots nationwide safety group, slowly made its approach up the slopes of Mt. Ebal in Northern Samaria to go to a biblical-era web site that was severely broken by a Palestinian Authority contractor in late January.

They got here to attract the general public’s consideration to the strategic implications of the conflict the Palestinians are waging towards Jewish historical past.

The web site was excavated between 1980 and 1989 by the late Professor Adam Zertal, who recognized it as Joshua’s Altar as described within the Books of Deuteronomy, (27; 1-9) and Joshua (8; 30-35). The animal stays on the web site contained hundreds of burnt bones of year-old male, completely kosher, animals. They had been burned in an open flame 3,250 years in the past—the time typically recognized because the interval of historic Jewish settlement of the Land of Israel beneath Joshua. Other stays discovered on the web site included earrings and scarabs made in Egypt on the time of Ramses II, the Egyptian pharaoh typically related to the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

As Zertal defined in a lecture in 2013, the altar was buried beneath a layer of rocks, consistent with Jewish prescriptions for stopping the desecration of deserted holy websites. In conserving with the biblical narrative, the altar is made of unhewn stones; as an alternative of steps, there are two ramps for the clergymen to alight to the platform—blocks of plaster had been discovered close by. The altar at Mt. Ebal additionally matches a Talmudic description of an altar from the Second Temple interval, round 900 years later, indicating a continuity of Jewish practices all through the biblical interval.

Although initially controversial, Zertal’s common discovering that the positioning is round 3,300 years outdated and is a Jewish historic web site, the place sacrifices had been carried out consistent with biblical pointers, has grow to be broadly accepted—though many proceed to dispute the particular identification with Joshua.

In late January, the Palestinian Authority (PA) posted a video on its web site of 60 meters of the traditional wall surrounding the altar being destroyed to pave a highway connecting the Palestinian village of Asira ash-Shamaliya to Nablus. Nablus, constructed on the ruins of the biblical metropolis of Shechem, is positioned in northern Samaria between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim.

Zertal was a fiercely secular son of hardcore socialists. Yet, he defined in a 2013 lecture, his scientific work compelled him to simply accept that the biblical narrative “from Deuteronomy through the Books of Kings was historically accurate.”

“There are people who refuse to acknowledge that the damage done here was deliberate,” Major General Gershon Hacohen defined to Newsweek. “That since it was the surrounding wall—rather than the altar itself—that was destroyed, the altar wasn’t harmed. That’s like saying that if someone destroys the steps to the Acropolis, they aren’t harming the Acropolis. It’s the same complex.”

“They also say the Palestinians weren’t trying to damage the site—they just needed stones for their road. But look at this place,” he mentioned and waved his hand throughout the panorama.

The slopes of Mt. Ebal are strewn with free rocks.

“If they needed rocks for the road, all the Palestinians had to do was bring up a truck and take as many as they needed. Instead, they brought a bulldozer all the way up here and deliberately destroyed 60 meters of a 3,250-year-old wall.”

As if to show Hacohen’s level, this week, a bunch of Palestinians was filmed barbecuing on the altar itself.

The Palestinian effort to destroy the positioning is of a bit with the PA’s long-standing efforts to destroy the bodily document of millennia-old Jewish settlement within the Land of Israel. That effort is now centered on destroying and appropriating the artifacts of Jewish historical past in Samaria.

Just throughout the valley from Mt. Ebal is Tel Samaria, which incorporates the stays of the town of Samaria—the capital constructed by King Omri of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the place each Omri and King Ahab dominated.

During the Roman interval, Herod constructed the town of Sebastia at Tel Samaria and turned it into one of crucial cities in historic Israel.

In November 2020, the PA held a ceremony at Sebastia wherein Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh proclaimed it a “Palestinian heritage site” and foisted an enormous Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flag up a 15-meter flagpole.

The Palestinians declare Herod, often known as “the King of the Jews”—the ruler who expanded the Jewish Second Temple advanced in Jerusalem within the first century B.C.E.—was really “the King of Palestine.”

Old City Jerusalem in December 2020
Old City Jerusalem in December 2020
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP through Getty Images

The PA can also be destroying the close by archaeological web site of Tel Aroma, a middle of Jewish settlement for greater than a millennium.

Since the PLO based the PA in 1994 within the framework of its peace course of with Israel, destroying and appropriating Jewish historic websites—with the enthusiastic help of worldwide organizations like UNESCO—has been a relentless effort.

Immediately after Israel transferred management over the town of Jericho to the PA in 1994, then-PLO chief Yasser Arafat directed the destruction of the traditional Shalom al Yisrael synagogue in Jericho.

But the central focus of its harmful actions has been the Temple Mount.

In 1999, the PA carried out an enormous renovation venture to rework historic underground Temple Mount chambers into a brand new mosque, eradicating 9,000 tons of antiquities and particles from the advanced and dumping them round Jerusalem. Alarmed archaeologists collected the particles and transferred it to Mt. Scopus, the place the Temple Mount Sifting Project was inaugurated. Over the subsequent 20 years, hundreds of artifacts had been found by volunteers who sifted by way of the rubbish to salvage them.

Last yr, the PA plundered Hasmonean graves on the Hasmonean palace exterior Jericho and scattered 2,000-year-old bones.

UNESCO, the UN company charged with preserving worldwide heritage websites, has supported the Palestinian efforts, denied the Jewish ties to the Temple Mount—Judaism’s most sacred web site—and declared the Cave of Machpela in Hebron—the place the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs are buried—an Islamic heritage web site, together with Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.

The PLO and the PA have by no means agreed to acknowledge that Israel is the Jewish state. Since the PLO revealed its constitution in 1964, the constant Palestinian place has been to disclaim that the Jews have any historical past in any respect within the Land of Israel. An inner memo from the PLO’s negotiations help unit defined why. Published in 2011 by The Guardian and Al Jazeera, it warned, “Recognition of the Jewish people and their right to self-determination may lend credence to the Jewish people’s claim to all of Historic Palestine.”

In different phrases, the obliteration of the historic document is a basic characteristic of the Palestinian conflict to destroy Israel. Any acknowledgement of Jewish historical past within the Land of Israel dangers revealing the otherwise-undeniable fact that the Jewish persons are indigenous to the Land of Israel.

Arafat’s successor, PLO and PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, in addition to all of his colleagues, reside by these lies. Abbas has rewritten hundreds of years of historical past to say a 5,000-year historical past within the Land of Israel for the Palestinians. He alternates between claiming lineage from the Jebusites and Canaanites, whereas denying that there was ever a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

Benny Katzover, who served as Samaria Regional Council chairman throughout Zertal’s excavation, turned shut associates with Zertal throughout his lengthy years of work. Speaking to the generals, Katzover mentioned, “No nation would allow anyone to destroy its roots in this fashion. We, the Jewish people, have the deepest, most significant roots in our land of all of humanity. It isn’t a surprise that the entire world is trying to deny these ties, by turning a blind eye to the destruction and claiming that the Cave of Machpela is a Palestinian heritage site.”

Hacohen responded by recalling an interview from 2009 with Abbas Zaki, the PLO’s ambassador to Lebanon, wherein Zaki revealed the PLO’s true objective when it requires a so-called “two-state solution” that will require Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria and northern, jap and southern Jerusalem, together with the Temple Mount.

“With the two-state solution,” Zaki mentioned, “Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made—just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.”

In different phrases, the aim of the Palestinian conflict towards, and appropriation of, Jewish historical past within the Land of Israel is to set the situations for Israel’s final bodily destruction. Where higher to strike than the positioning the place, in Moses’s phrases, the Jews turned “the nation of the Lord your God?”

Caroline B. Glick is a senior columnist at Israel Hayom and the writer of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, (Crown Forum, 2014). From 1994 to 1996, she served as a core member of Israel’s negotiating group with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The views expressed on this article are the author’s personal.

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