Israeli Journalists Denounce Recent Netanyahu Initiatives as ‘Insane’
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) says it is “a matter of serious concern” that the Obama Administration rebuked the recent announcement of settlement expansion as “a deeply negative signal.” AIPAC is calling “on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State,” after an ill-timed announcement made by the Israeli government during the height of US Vice President Joe Biden’s Middle East tour that settlements in East Jerusalem would increase by 1600 persons.
But perhaps more troubling is a lesser known declaration made by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu that the Tomb of the Patriarchs is being made into a national heritage site by his administration, according to Aletho News and agencies. There is a fear that the rehabilitation project scheduled for the mosque of the father of three religions may become reserved for one religion only.
The site, also known as the Ibrahimi Mosque, is believed to contain the grave of the Holy Messenger Abraham -who is the father of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Located in Hebron, the Ibrahimi Mosque also lies within Palestinian territory, in the midst of uncontested land.
The Holy Messenger Joseph, or Yusuf, in Arabic, is also believed to be buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The Biblical and Qur’anic patriarchs after which the tomb is named, however, are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as three matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah.
These holy sites -and others such as the resting places of the Holy Messenger Job, or Ayyoub, and the Holy Messenger ‘Imran, the father of Mary, mother of the Holy Messenger Jesus (peace be upon them all), in Oman; the Holy Messengers Jonah, or Yunus, and his father Amittai, whose name is Matta in Arabic, as well as the Holy Messenger Lot -also in the Hebron area; Ezekiel or Zul Kifl in Iraq; Aaron, or Harun, in Jordon; the Holy Messenger Seth, or Sheeth, in Lebanon; and the father of mankind, the Holy Messenger Adam and his wife, our mother, Eve are said to be buried in Saudi Arabia – have all been maintained for almost 1000 years, with respect and love, by Muslims.
The Ibrahimi Mosque has been in existence since 1206. In the 12th century, after capturing almost every other Crusader city, the world renowned Muslim general, Salahhuddin Ayyoubi, advanced on Jerusalem. The city surrendered, Salahhuddin, whose name is commonly spelled Saladin, invited the Jewish people to return to the city. In Hebron, Christians were also allowed to worship freely at the Ibrahimi Mosque.
But in the modern age, Israeli forces began restricting Palestinian visits to the Mosque as far back as May of last year, as reported by Ma’an News.
Dr Elias Akleh, a Palestinian author living in the United States, considers the announcement of Mr Netanyahu’s decision regarding the Tomb of the Patriarchs -like the declaration regarding more settlements during Vice President Biden’s visit- untimely. The decision to make the Ibrahimi Mosque an Israeli national heritage site “coincided with the sixteenth anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre perpetrated by the Zionist Israeli terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who murdered in cold blood 29 Moslems while kneeling in prayer at the Ibrahimi Mosque,” writes Dr Akleh in his article, “Netanyahu Re-igniting Religious War in the Holy Land.” Dr Akleh continues: “After the six-days-war in 1967 the Israeli government took control of the Ibrahimi Mosque, and provided protected and free entry to extremist Zionist Jews to pray while limiting access to Moslems’ prayers, who have to go through electronic gates and body search[s] before entering.”
Israeli journalist, Avi Shavit, condemns recent acts of Prime Minister Netanyahu not only as ill-timed, but “insane” in Haaretz: “Our need for the United States is unprecedented at this critical juncture; any national interest should be subservient to the supreme interest of strengthening this alliance. But now of all times, at the most sensitive moment, Israel chooses to act insanely… The continuation of the occupation makes Israel disfigure itself and its image; with its own hands it undermines the legitimacy of Zionism.”
In the wake of more uncertainty surrounding the not quite fledgling peace process, it was not Muslims or Jews, but Christians, who convened from all over the world in Bethlehem to discuss a way forward during a seminar entitled “Christ at the Checkpoint,” at Bethlehem Bible College on March 12-17. The point of the week long meeting was not only stated as gaining understanding of “Holy Scripture as related to the Palestinian context, but “to discuss the theological importance of Peace and Justice.”