The recent Palestinian Authority report stating that the Western Wall has no
religious or historical significance to the Jewish people is sadly yet another
attempt at political historical revisionism. Under normal circumstances, we
could dismiss this as a pathetic and infantile attempt to erase the history and
peoplehood of another people. Unfortunately, as the recent UNESCO report on
Jewish sites in Judea and Samaria exposed, the Palestinian rejectionist
narrative is foisted on the international agenda and is supported by an
automatic majority in multilateral forums.
The recent “study” prepared by
Al- Mutawakel Taha, a senior official in the PA’s Ministry of Information,
attempting to “refute” the Jewish claim to the Western Wall is merely the latest
in a series of efforts, stretching back more than 100 years, to deny the Jewish
people’s connection with its homeland.
However, like all Palestinian lies
and distortions, it was plucked from thin air. The PA Ministry of Information
claims on its website that “according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, published in
1917, the Western Wall became part of the Jewish religious tradition around the
year 1520 AD, as a result of Jewish immigration from Spain, after the Ottoman
conquest the year 1517.”
In an age of Internet it is very simple to check
this outrageous assertion and expose it for the fraudulence that it is. In fact,
the entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1917 provides historic references to the
Western Wall from antiquity and certainly before the Arab invasion, conquest and
occupation of the Middle East.
The recent UNESCO report that Rachel’s
Tomb near Jerusalem is the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque is an even greater scandal.
Bizarrely this claim not only flies in the face of Jewish tradition, it also
disposes of hundreds of years of Muslim tradition. Muslims throughout history
revered the site as that of Rachel’s Tomb and would regularly visit to
According to an Ottoman document found by the Jerusalem Center for
Public Affairs, in 1830 the Turks issued a firman (royal decree) that gave legal
force to Rachel’s Tomb being recognized as a Jewish holy site. The governor of
Damascus sent a written order to the mufti of Jerusalem to fulfill the sultan’s
order: “The tomb of esteemed Rachel, the mother of our Lord Joseph... they [the
Jews] are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to
prevent them or oppose them [from doing] this.”
THIS HISTORIC denial has
political ramifications. In 2000, talks between former prime minister Ehud Barak
and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at Camp David in the presence of former US
president Bill Clinton broke down over similar historical revisionism. After
Barak had made an overly generous offer about splitting sovereignty of the
Temple Mount, Arafat claimed that he could not concede an inch of this “Islamic
territory” because the Jewish Temple never existed. This “Temple denial” wasn’t
just distorting Jewish history and tradition but also Christian. Arafat was
attacking the belief of more than a billion Christians worldwide.
approach Christmas, another form of historical revisionism emerges.
myth that Jesus was a Palestinian is told to anyone who arrives on a pilgrimage
to Bethlehem or other Christian holy sites under the Palestinian
However, the facts once again don’t add up. The Jewish
province of Judea was destroyed by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135 C.E. when the
Romans quashed the Bar Khochba-led Jewish revolt. To sever the Jewish connection
with the Land of Israel, the Roman emperor changed its name to Syria Palaestina,
eventually becoming known in English as Palestine.
According to Christian
scholars, Jesus was crucified somewhere between 26 and 36, a full hundred years
before the term Palestine had even been coined.
The world at that time
did not have a single mosque and Islam and the Arab conquest of this land was
still six centuries away.
It is perhaps understandable that those who
came late to a region would need to supplant a history by appropriating and
denying that of its earlier inhabitants. While the Palestinians claim to be the
original residents of our land, history and fact stand in their
While the majority of the Jewish people had to endure a two
millennia exile from our land, the stones of our Temple, the burial sites of our
forefathers, our ritual baths, ancient cisterns and synagogues remained.
Palestinians will attempt to destroy historical memory just as surely as they
destroyed actual Jewish holy and historical sites like Joseph’s Tomb in
However, 2,000 years of foreign occupation and attempted negation
of Jewish history could not prevent the return of the aboriginal people to our
AS A result of the rejectionism and negationism in its media and
education, the PA has become so brazen that it is now selling its lies to the
world. The international community needs to utterly reject this anti-Jewish
Recent polls among the Palestinians have shown that almost
two-thirds would accept a two-state solution only as a first step to an eventual
unitary Palestinian state, supplanting Israel.
This once again proves
that the real obstacle to peace is Palestinian rejection of Israel and the
self-determination of the Jewish people.
The PA brainwashes its people to
disallow Israel’s legitimacy and falsifies history, Jewish, Christian and Muslim
in the process. The international community needs to focus on this issue and
completely reject and condemn the Palestinian Authority for its actions. This
rejectionism has been at the heart of every failed peace effort for more than 70
years. Palestinian hate and intolerance, more than all the other issues
combined, will doom the region to many more years of conflict.
only arrive after acceptance of the other, not just a laying down of arms and
weapons. It needs to be enforced by mutual recognition. The current Palestinian
revisionism doesn’t just distort history and deny our connection with our
ancestral home; it denies the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the
conflict and a better future for the people of the region.
The writer is
deputy foreign minister.
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