How an Israeli Professor Accuses Israel of Judaizing Israel
I think some people are quite thrilled that there are Jewish vandals who can be trotted out for display when they want to demonize the Jews. How else to explain the fact that, in a paper arguing that Israel was busy “Judaizing” Muslim holy places in 1948-1967, the very first sentence is about the 2013 destruction of Ottoman wall tiles in what is purported to be David’s Tomb? The author argues that:
This event is part of a broader process — which began in 1948 and received institutional support from the Israeli state — of expropriating Muslim holy places and turning them into active sites of Jewish prayer. [page 68]
Could it have been an editorial error that he omitted the word, back: i.e., turning them “back” into active sites of Jewish prayer?
Furthermore, we can find nothing in his paper about the broader process — which began whenever Muslim conquerors would land in a new place and that continues to this day — of expropriating holy places of every other people and turning them into active sites of Muslim prayer. Or just engaging in wanton destruction of said sites. An example of the former could be the transformation of the Hagia Sophia Church to a mosque in Turkey; and an example of the latter the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan. In Israel, of course, we can point to building of the mosque on top of the the Temple ruins, or the destruction of synagogues and the Jewish cemetery during the 19 years of Jordanian occupation of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Let me be clear about this: I hate it when Jews desecrate property of other religions. I feel shame, but I expect intellectual honesty from academics. I know, I should be inured by now, after having reviewed a number of academic papers from various disciplines in which I found glaring errors.
Just Who Is This Academic Complaining About Israel Judaizing Israel?
It is one thing to see Israel maligned in professional journals when authors are clearly antisemitic (based on other things I discover about them on the internet) or do not live here and therefore are not fully immersed in the context of the Middle East (weak excuse, I know, but I am feeling generous at the moment). But when an Israeli, born and bred in Jerusalem, working in an Israeli research institute does this, I sincerely do not understand it.
Meet Professor Doron Bar, Historical Geographer:
And the paper from which the above quote came is called: Between Muslim and Jewish sanctity: Judaizing Muslim holy places in
the State of Israel, 1948-1967. It was published this year in the Journal of Historical Geography.
He is aware of the fact that between 48 and 67 Jordan kept us from our holy sites in Judea & Samaria. Instead of acknowledging that that was downright unneighbourly, he claims that this is the excuse Israel used to turn Muslim sites into Jewish sites on our side of the armistice line. Remarkably, he even claims that the ethnic cleansing we apparently conducted meant that (I better quote him because otherwise you will not believe he actually wrote this) Israel:
…created a situation in which many Muslim holy places were left without an Islamic community to visit them. This made it very easy to institute Jewish ritual practices in some of them. [page 69]
With almost 20% of our population being Muslim, I am curious how he can claim that the “Muslim holy places were left without an Islamic community to visit them”.
Professor Bar suggests that Director-General of the Ministry of Religions Shmuel Zangwill Kahana “renewed and invented [?] many Jewish traditions.” And he even claims that Kahana changed geographic place names from Arabic to Hebrew. Again, the editor inadvertently left out the word, back, as in changed the place names from Arabic BACK to Hebrew. So sloppy!
We learn that before 1948 Elijah’s cave in Haifa was owned by Muslims who allowed Christian and Jewish pilgrims to pray there. Well, that is considerate of them, more so than the Jewish professor seems to think we Jews deserve. After 1948, of course, when most of the Arabs of Haifa had fled the country, this
resulted in the Judaization of the cave and its emergence as a Jewish pilgrimage site. [page 74]
Is this Elijah guy not the same one we open the door for at Passover singing “Eliyahu Hanevi”? I think that means that he was a Jewish prophet before the Christians and Muslims decided to add him to their lists of honourables.
I do not want to bore you by copying here all the parts of the paper with which I take issue, but I just could not NOT copy-paste this doozy:
The process of Judaizing the grave of Judah, another son of Jacob, occurred later. The gravesite is located within the bounds of the current town of Yehud. It seems that the first Jews who came to live in the abandoned Arab village of Al-Yahudiya … [page 75]
UPDATE WITH RESPONSE FROM THE EDITOR OF THE JOURNAL: I addressed my concerns about this paper to the editor of the journal and received the response that the paper underwent a thorough review before publication. The editor understands that article deals with a contentious issue that will not meet the approval of all readers. I never expect all readers to agree with an article, but I expect the article to be reasonable and I leave it to my readers here to decide whether or not you find this paper merely contentious or unreasonable.