Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rebuilding Hurva Shul Scares the Arab World

The history of the Hurva shul in Jerusalem's Old City provides a deep insight into the history of the Jewish people. It was originally built in the 1700s and destroyed a few decades later by the local Arab population. In the 19th century the shul was once again rebuilt. It was a major centre in the Jewish Quarter.

In 1948 during the War of Independence a couple of tactical mistakes lead to the Old City's capture by the Jordanian Army. At the beginning of the battle the Jews captured the most important strategic building as it was the high ground in the area. The building was a church so they withdrew in order to keep the UN happy. The Jordanian's had no problem with using the building. Badly needed Jewish reinforcements did not remain to hold the positions they captured because they were tired from battle and did not have orders to stay. When the local Jews surendered they were given a short window of time to evacuate. As soon as the Jews were gone, the Jordanian blew up the Hurva Shul.

The 8 year project to rebuild the shul is complete and the dedication ceremony was today. Palestinian and Arab world have been outraged by the move. Security has been stepped up throughout the country out of fear of Arab rioting. There were a wide range of excuses for the harsh objection. 1. It is trying to destroy the "Muslim/Christian" nature of the city 2. (Due it's location on a hill) The building is higher then the Dome of the Rock and Al Asqa Mosque. 3. The Jews are going to destroy Al Asqa Mosque. 4. It is built on Occupied Territory, that is to be the capital of the Palestinian State.

The story line fits in perfectly for most people who's knowledge of Israeli history spans no more than 3 days. Israel captured the West Bank through war and all else is irrelevant. The fact that Israel request Jordan to remain out of the 6 day war in 1967 or how and where people lived when there was no artificial borders in the area.

It makes it easy to condemn construction in areas like Hevron or Gush where it's habitant were expelled in 1929 and 1948 respectively. It allows for the telling of the story where Kever Rachel in Bethlehem, for centuries the undisputed sight holy only to Jews has in the past decade become the sight of an ancient mosque. An Arab MK was even willing to overturn his own belief system as decendants of Abraham by declaring that Palestinians are decendants of the original owners of Marat HaMachpela which sold the land to Abraham. The fact that a valid sale would negate the Palestinian claim to the end doesn't even come into play.

Israel continues to deal with the consequences of a political science experiment gone wrong. Every step results in another political crisis. Early this year PA President Abbas tried to gain leverage by threatening to not run in upcoming elections. While milking a crisis for the West he was cancelling elections and strengthening his position in different levels of the Palestinian political structure. The rebuilding of the Hurva shul symbolizes that the Jews will continue to bounce back and lay claim what is rightfully theirs. The only hope for peace is to accept reality that the Jewish people are not going to go away and are not out to destroy the Arab population.

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