This week the following report was received from IMRA, by Dr. Aaron Lerner:
“Marwan Kanafani serves as Yasser Arafat's advisor and spokesman within the President's Office. In an exclusive telephone interview from Gaza, Kanafani explained the Palestinian Authority's (PA) position with regards to Jewish worship in holy places. ‘The Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem and the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, if they are religious sites, will be under the auspices of the Ministry of Religious Affairs with cooperation and coordination with security forces so that there are no problems. Let it be clear that we are not interested in just getting responsibility for the religious sites - we plan to take over and bear all responsibility for the entire area.’”
"As for the Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron [known as "The Cave of the Patriarchs" by the Jews - IMRA], this issue will be dealt within political negotiations with much importance and dedication and concentration to make everyone happy. We are not trying to manipulate everything for our own benefit... I don't want any problems for us or anyone else. The settlers are there for political reasons and not religious reasons - everyone knows that. If it is a religious place, it is a mosque - for Moslems to worship. If there is a claim about worshipping for Jews there, then we will examine it. We will take a position once we take control of Hebron and I promise you that it will be rational and responsible."
I spend a great deal of time inside the Caves of Patriarchs, giving free tours to people from all over the world, Jews and Gentiles alike. Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Caves of the Patriarchs, is divided between Jews and Arabs - Ohel Avraham and Ohel Ya’akov, the memorial rooms commemorating Abraham and Sarah, and Jacob and Lea, are on the “Jewish side.” The largest room in the building, called “Ohel Yizhak” commemorating Isaac and Rebecca, is on the “Arab side.” The Jews have no access to this hall; the Arab members of the Waqf, the political-religious Muslim leadership, are allowed to be present in the “Jewish side.”
Almost daily, at least one tourist asks me, “Why should the Isaac Hall be closed to the Jews? What do the Arabs care about Isaac and Rebecca? If anything, you would think that they would demand the Abraham Hall- but why Isaac?”
There is, of course, only one answer to this question. The Arabs have no affiliation to Isaac or Rebecca. In all actuality, they have absolutely no affiliation to the entire site. The 2,000 year old structure, built by Herod over the tombs of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, was conquered by the Arabs after the Crusades, and was CLOSED TO THE JEWS FOR 700 YEARS. (We will take a position once we take control of Hebron and I promise you that it will be rational and responsible.") JEWISH WORSHIPPERS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE BUILDING TO PRAY FROM 1267 UNTIL OUR VICTORY IN THE SIX-DAY WAR IN 1967. BUT THE ESSENCE OF THE BUILDING, AND ITS ORIGIN, ARE ROOTED IN THE DAYS OF THE PATRIARCHS AND MATRIARCHS - THOUSANDS OF YEARS BEFORE MUHAMMAD WALKED THE FACE OF THE EARTH.
Arabs have, without fail, built Mosques at all sites important to Jews - they did the same thing at Temple Mount, Joseph’s Tomb, and Rachel’s Tomb, among others. Would somebody please explain to me the importance of Rachel’s Tomb to Islam? Or even better, the Arabs claim that Joseph is buried in, none other than, MA’ARAT HAMACHPELA IN HEBRON! So what do they want from Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem? The only reason these places have any importance to the Arabs, and the sole reason they have built Mosques at these sites is because they know how important they are to the Jewish People. And unfortunately, they seem to know what many Jews have forgotten.
That brings me to the second subject that must be touched on. Several days ago fifteen major Israeli Rabbis issued a ruling forbidding soldiers to obey military orders commanding them to evict Jews or Jewish settlements, or military bases anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, including all Yehuda and Shomron. This ruling has blossomed into a full-fledged national crisis. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Police Minister Moshe Shachal, Minister Yossi Sarid and Minister Shulamit Aloni (to name a few) were outraged by the ruling. The Prime Minister stated "this will lead to total anarchy and a state that will be a banana republic.” He described the Rabbis as “little Ayatollahs.”
At the time of this writing, the Attorney General’s decision not to bring the Rabbis to trial is being challenged by a Tel-Aviv lawyer who is appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court, demanding that they be indicted for Incitement to Rebel against the Israeli government.
There are a number of fundamental questions raised by the ruling, but perhaps the major issue to be dealt with is, as I wrote last week, the evolving character of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. I see no reason to repeat that which I have already written, but in short: What kind of Jewish People are going to mold and develop Judaism in Eretz Yisrael. Are we Jews who happen to live in the Middle Eastern country called Israel, who want to live as do the Swiss, or are we Jews who live in the Land of Israel because this is our G-d - given Homeland, which we returned to after a 2,000-year-old exile, to live as Jews, not as Americans, Russians, Swiss, or anyone else.
We are actually involved in a war - an ideological war - on the future of the Jewish People. Any war has declared generals - officers who give the commands. The representatives-commanders of a “Swiss Israel” - Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Yossi Sarid, Shulamit Aloni, are attempting to totally devastate the “other side” - those of us who believe in Am Yisrael with a Jewish character, a Jewish culture, a Jewish way of life. They are using “democracy” the same way that Adolph Hitler used German democracy sixty years ago to lead the German People into World War Two. Their declaration concerning what is permissible and what is forbidden have only one aim: to destroy a “Jewish” Israel. The first step in this direction is the dismantling of Yesha - the dismemberment of ideological values that endangers the existence of a “Jewish Israel.” The ensuing debate about obedience of military commands boils down to three words: Obedience or Acquiescence or Capitulation. Our true leadership, the “generals” of true Israel, realizes that Rabin’s definition of obedience is not obedience - it is acquiescence to a Swiss Israel, it is capitulation to our mortal enemies - terrorists who have murdered and maimed Jewish men, women and children and who are now being rewarded for their efforts.
Reporters keep asking: “are we heading toward a Civil War?” But the question is always asked in the sense that it is we, the “right” the “extremists” who are starting - firing the symbolic “first shot.” It is finally time to come to the realization that the “first shot” has already been fired - and not by the extreme right. Rabin and Peres fired the first shot when they shook hands with the terrorist Arafat on the White House Lawn in front of the entire world. Those of us who disagree have been holding back, restraining ourselves, doing everything possible to prevent the processes begun by Rabin and Peres. However, we have reached the point of no return. Rabin and Peres don’t care if we live or die. (Several minutes ago Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshivat Ma’ale Adumim, said in an interview on Kol Yisrael: “An American reporter told me that several days ago he heard Foreign Minister Shimon Peres say: ‘I have no problem with what will happen in Yesha. We will withdraw the army and then let’s see what happens. They (the Jews) will either run away immediately, or the Arabs will massacre some, and then we’ll see what happens.”)
My friends, the first shot has already been fired. The question is how we, those being fired on, will respond. The answer is starting to emerge. We will not capitulate - we will not acquiesce - we will obey - we will obey the orders given to us at Sinai. HaShem Yerachem - May G-d have mercy on us.