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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 24, 2003

Israel or Palestine, our land or theirs?
I read in the news recently something that caught my eye. A headline - "Breslov Hassidim arrested on the way to Joseph's Tomb." I can't praise them for 'breaking the law.' They violated a military order barring Israeli citizens from entering PA autonomous areas. But I just can't help myself from thinking Kol HaKavod (congratulations) for keeping the issue in the news. Since Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002, groups of Breslov Hassidim have repeatedly tried to get to Joseph's Tomb in Nablus to pray.

Why have they had to try and out fox the Israeli Army, to sneak into Nablus? 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. Jews were supposed to be free to study Torah and pray there. The Od Yosef Chai (Joseph Lives) Yeshiva was there. But on October 7th, 2000, three days after Channel Two television reported Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz saying 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 Torah books, and repainting the white dome roof Muslim Green, transforming the Biblical Joseph's resting place into a Muslim holy site. The Israeli government, under the leadership of Ehud Barak, didn't think the tomb was worth fighting over. 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?