In 1821, a German Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine said the following,
“Where they burn books, at the end they will also burn people”
And so it proved true, because in 1933, in the middle of Berlin, his books, along with many others, were burnt by the Nazis. And it was not much longer after that when people soon followed.
This is relevant to our world today, because just yesterday, in Israel, in an event covered by no international media, books were again being burnt. And this time it was by Arab arsonists who set fire to Jewish prayer books at a synagogue in the town of Givat Sorek, which lies in Gush Etzion. And yet, as shocking as this event is, it is not a surprise, because the precedent for this had already been set.
In October last year, Palestinian rioters set fire to the Jewish holy site of Joseph’s Tomb.
In July 2013, it was discovered that holy Jewish artefacts had been destroyed by Arabs at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Another Jewish holy site, Rachel’s tomb was attacked by Arabs over 200 times in 2013, including over 100 explosive devices being hurled at Jewish worshipers.
Under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Islamic Waqf, who were given control by Moshe Dayan after the Six Day War, have continued to destroy Jewish Antiquities in illegal excavation work.
But even that is not new, because after the 1948 War of Independence, Jordan (the Arab state known as ‘moderate’ and with which Israel has a peace treaty), destroyed fifty eight synagogues, looted their contents and desecrated them. They turned Jewish religious sites into chicken coops and animal stalls. They ransacked the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been buried for thousands of years, desecrating the graves and smashing their tombstones and using them as building material. They turned this holy Jewish site into a slum.
Above is just a sample of some of the terrible crimes that have been committed against the Jewish people in the land of Israel – crimes that are by no means consigned to the past, but continue to this day.
And yet whenever these crimes occur, as they do with such frequency and such ferocity, the world remains silent – complicit in these deplorable acts. Ban Ki-Moon does not address the world media with passion in his eyes and compassion in his heart for the destruction unleashed on our holy Jewish places. John Kerry does not hold the Palestinians to any kind of account for these actions, demanding a thorough investigation by them. The European Union, who think because they are famous for waffles, hold some kind of higher threshold than the rest of us, say nothing, but instead choose to label Israeli tomatoes instead.
The Jewish Holy sites are not just stones and rubble and soil and dust. They are a part of what being Jewish is all about. They go back to the origins of the Jewish people itself. In the sand and the broken stones lie the history of our people, our triumphs, our defeats, our victories and our sorrows. The ground beneath them is soaked with our tears of joy and our tears of despair. And for those who think that it only affects religious people and not secular, nothing can be further from the truth, because we are all part of the same thread. Before there was even a Jewish religion, there was a Jewish people.
Somehow whenever the so-called “peace negotiations” come up, as they have just recently with apparently another attempt by John Kerry on the horizon, these attacks by the Palestinians never seem to get the emphasis they deserve. If, by some fantasy, a Palestinian state is created, does any reasonable person of sound mind and sound logic, believe that a Palestinian state, one that encourages 13 year olds to go out and murder, will protect Jewish Holy sites? They won’t – and neither would any international force assigned, who would likely run away at the first signs of trouble.
These attacks by the Arabs on Jewish prayer books, and tombs, and Holy sites, are not about a ‘downtrodden’ people fighting back and never have been. These attacks on Israelis with knives and guns are not about the colour of an imaginary line in the sand, whether it’s green or not. And most importantly, these attacks are not about a fictitious “occupation” that the world has swallowed naively.
These attacks are about one thing and one thing only – the complete annihilation of any trace of Jewish history in the Land of Israel. Israel is involved in a war against history itself and is fighting against those who would wipe us out and destroy us, as easily as they did to those Holy Jewish prayer books.
So Israel is in a battle alright, but it is not a battle for the State of Israel or even simply the land itself – it’s a battle for everything and all we hold dear, for our souls, for our past and for our future.
It is a battle for the People of Israel itself.