Haredim at Kotel 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Last week, the Palestinian Authority came out with an official declaration claiming the Western Wall is not a holy site for Jews. This is not the first time Arab elements have attempted to undermine the connection between the Jewish nation and the Western Wall – the most sacred site for the Jewish people since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Since the beginning of the Jewish- Arab national struggle, various bodies have tried to also drag the sacred sites of the Land of Israel into it and turn them into the root of the dispute and the stumbling block to peace.
Jews and Muslims have one God and one father. Each acts according to their traditions and according to their own faith. This common basis can and should be the bedding upon which peace will sprout between the two nations. But to my regret and the regret of many others, for over a century, people who do not have the belief of God in their hearts undermine the Jewish nation’s affinity for its sacred sites – the Western Wall, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Rachel’s Tomb, and others.
HISTORY DOES not need me to describe the deep and inextricable tie between the Jewish people and the Western Wall. It is proven through thousands of letters sent by Jewish pilgrims who took their lives in their hands and came to the Land of Israel via tortuous routes during our 2,000-year exile from our land. It is proven by illustrations, etches, and drawings of the Western Wall created by Jews from all corners of the globe. It is proven by the millions of Jews annually who cling to the ancient stones; that contain within them the memory of the ancient Jewish Temple that stood on the Temple Mount, and the treasures of ancient Jerusalem.
The foolish attempt to present an “alternative historical narrative” for Israel’s sacred sites harms not only the credibility of the speakers and the honor of history, but also – and perhaps mostly – the real efforts being made at reconciliation between the two sons of Abraham.
Belief in God uplifts but does not denigrate, adds love but not hate. He who thinks that by abolishing the faith and identity of the other, strengthens his own belief and identity – errs. Believers of Islam – if you are indeed seekers of peace, do not be tempted by the slippery and destructive slope of denouncing the Jewish faith and our heritage in the land of our fathers. We share one father and one land on which we must live in peace and brotherhood before God.
We will proclaim our resolve on this issue by deepening education on the
importance of the places holy to us. We will act so that every child
from Israel and the world will visit them at least once in his life, and
Thus, our children will grow up proud of their heritage and their past,
and we will proclaim together in a loud and clear voice that we have
returned to our holy sites in order to never leave them and we will not
allow others to rewrite our past and harm the sacred sites of the Jewish
nation.The writer is the rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.