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Jüdische Weisheit

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Translation of an article to be published
in Ma'ariv on May 19, 2000

Uri Avnery

Times of the Messiah
Deep in the Earth

by Uri Avnery

It seems that the times of the Messiah have arrived. Amos Oz, the guru of Meretz, is embracing Ariel Sharon, the Count of Sabra and Shatila. MK Ya'el Dayan, from the left, is cooperating with MK Benni Elon, the serial hooligan of the extreme right. Tommy Lapid, sworn enemy of the orthodox, pairs with Rabbi Abraham Ravitz of the Flag of the Torah. Daliah Rabin-Filosof, daughter of, dances with Shaul Yahalom, darling of the settlers. 
Some dozens of other MKs, professors and archeologists take part in the festival. Isaiah's vision come true: the wolf dwelleth with the lamb, and a little child leads them: Ehud Olmert, the politician literally ready to walk on corpses (see: tunnel incident) on his way to the Prime Minister's office.

What has created this miracle? It's the archeology, stupid. National unity deep in the earth.

In a big ad, all these demand that the Prime Minister prevent "the continuation of the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem." After describing the terrible act of vandalism committed there by the Muslims in the course of the renovation of a mosque, the personalities from left and right call upon the government of Israel "to act urgently to ensure the meticulous implementation of the Antiquities Law on the Temple Mount and to make any digging and building activity in the compound conditional on strict archeological oversight by the (Israeli) antiquities authority…as demanded at any other site in the State of Israel".

When such a demand comes from Uzi Landau, the extreme right-wing politician, and Moshe Shamir, the extreme right-wing writer, that's natural. When the list of signatures is headed by Teddy Kollek, the arch-settler who has put more Jews on Arab land than Gush Emunim while posing as a peacenik, that's even more natural. But when good people like the writer A.B.Yehoshua, educator Lova Eliav and professor Yirmiyahu Yovel habe added their signatures, it makes one wonder. Have they been trapped, not understanding the intentions of the trappers?

By itself, the demand for professional archeological oversight of digging activities at such a sensitive site is reasonable and justified. (Indeed, 30 years ago I demanded just that when Moshe Dayan was robbing archeological sites and causing irreversible damage. At the time, not one of the older signatories of this ad supported my demand then. No Mk, no professor, no archeologist.)

But this ad is a political act, a weapon in the struggle against compromise in Jerusalem. It is based on the assumption that the compound of the mosques is like "any other site in the State of Israel." It demands that the government of Israel impose the Israeli law "as at any other site in the State of Israel". And there's the rub.

Let's go back in time: In the year 638 the Caliph 'Ummar conquered Jerusalem from the Christians and immediately went to the temple mount, which had been turned by the Christians into the municipal rubbish dump. He ordered to clean it and since then (except during the Crusaders' time) the Muslims have guarded the mount, which they call Haram al-Sharif. During 1362 years this has been a Muslim site, and even the Israeli occupier has wisely accepted this situation. Any violent confrontation with the Muslims at this place can have unforeseeable consequences. There is no doubt whatsoever that under any peace agreement this site will pass into the hands of the State of Palestine. Even the adherents of the mantra "Eternal-Capital-of-Israel" agree that the Palestinian flag will wave over the mosques there.

The peaceniks who fell into this paper-trap did not have time, so it seems, to think. In a moment of excitement, exploited by right-wing political manipulators, they signed a document that calls, in effect, for unconditional annexation. They demand that the Israeli government implement the Israeli law in this holy Muslim compound in a unilateral and Draconian way.

If they had taken time out to think twice, they would have come to the conclusion that it would have been better not to act in a way reminiscent of the means and terminology of a military governor. They could have, for example, called for cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli archeologists. They could have addressed their concern to the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. They could even have called for the intervention of UNESCO, the world-wide authority in charge of humanity's cultural heritage.

This manifesto betrays a abysmal contempt for the Palestinians and Muslims. The Muslim wakf (religious authority) is depicted as a monster, the Palestinians are completely ignored.

By the way, one of the right-wing propagandists wrote that the wakf prevents scientific digging on the Temple Mount out of fear that they would disprove several Muslim religious texts. This warning could also apply to the Jewish faith. If the digging had taken place, it would undoubtedly have confirmed the consensus of nearly all serious archeologists throughout the world: That there never was a Kind David or a King Salomon, that Jerusalem was at that time a tiny, insignificant hamlet, that it became important only after the destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians. By preventing scientific digging, the Muslims are unwittingly defending the Jewish religion, too.

What is buried under the ground is very important. But it is much more important to achieve peace and mutual understanding on the ground.

Get this article in Hebrew

Gush Shalom


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