The crowd at the Western Wall..
(photo credit: WESTERN WALL HERITAGE FOUNDATION)
"We were accused of Judaizing the city,” US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt said Monday at the Christians United For Israel (CUFI) convention, referring to Jerusalem. “We will not tolerate that kind of language. I know that’s been tolerated before, but under President Trump, we will push back… No matter the criticism leveled against us, we will push back on it time and time again. You cannot possibly build peace without a foundation of truth. And for somebody to suggest that this tunnel is not truth, they need to be corrected.”
Greenblatt was pushing back against the Palestinian Authority for slamming his attendance, along with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and other officials, at the festive unveiling of the “Pilgrimage Road” organized by the City of David Foundation. The road once served as the main thoroughfare between the Second Temple and the Shiloah Pool, where pilgrims would ritually purify themselves.
Saeb Erekat, the lead Palestinian negotiator for the last two decades, took exception on June 30 via Twitter to Greenblatt and Friedman’s participation: “I hope all The world, including Americans can see this. That is not a US Ambassador that is an extremist Israeli settler, with Greenblatt, also there, digging underneath Silwan a Palestinian town.”
The immediate political issue centers around Pilgrimage Road, which lies in a tunnel underneath homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
Residents of those homes have complained about the underground dig, and might have been inconvenienced by the construction. In truth, however, the PA’s real reservation is not over the presence of a US ambassador at the inauguration of a biblical archaeological site, but rather that archeologists uncovered history undermining the false Palestinian narrative that Jews are foreign colonists.
“It has nothing to do with religion, it is fake,” Erekat told journalists at his office in Ramallah. “It’s a settlement project. It’s based on a lie that has nothing to do with history.”
We beg to differ. It has everything to do with history: Jewish history. Clear evidence – which no archaeologist denies – that this road was used by hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims ascending to the Second Temple three times a year.
It was found by happenstance when a pipe burst, to everyone’s good fortune, for it is a visual manifestation of Jewish practice 2,000 years ago. To continue to deny that Jews were here, that Jews started here – and that Jews are deeply connected to the land beginning with Jerusalem – is to declare perpetual war between Jews and Arabs, between Israelis and Palestinians.
“The region is not interested in leaving the Palestinians behind,” Greenblatt told CUFI, “but I think the region is also tired of the Palestinian leadership preventing progress in the region.”
The Pilgrimage Road is part of Jewish history, and as Friedman said, Israel is as likely to give up that heritage site as the United States would surrender the Statue of Liberty. Soon it will be open to all, allowing visitors to walk in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims along a 350-meter stretch of the main thoroughfare that ran uphill to the Jewish temple.
What Pilgrimage Road does is uncover truth. Without an acknowledgment by Palestinians and the Arab world of the veracity of Jewish history – which is starting to happen – there can be no peace agreement that will include the “end of conflict” clause – which means no peace agreement.
We applaud Greenblatt’s statement – “You cannot possibly build peace without a foundation of truth” – because it confirms the absurdity of continuous Palestinian denial of Jewish history. One cannot “Judaize” Jerusalem.
“Stand up to this garbage, this nonsense,” Greenblatt told Evangelical Christians. “Let’s push back – and no longer should we tolerate their myths and their falsification of history.”
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