Do Not Let Jewish History Be Erased
by Ruth Matar

[Ruth Matar is co-chairwoman of the grass-roots activist organization Women for Israel?s Tomorrow (Women in Green).]

The other day I turned on the radio and I heard Ariel Sharon say in his heavily accented English, "The Disengagement Plan is the most important item on our agenda, and with G-d's help we shall succeed."

What incredible chutzpah! Sharon well knows that the Almighty promised His Holy Land to the Jewish People. This Promise certainly includes Judea, Samaria and Gaza! He can't really seriously be calling for G-d's help. Does he not realize that G-d does not change his Word? Sharon might be justified in calling on his newly found godless cronies - Shimon Peres, Yossi Sarid, Tommy Lapid, et al - to come and help him. As it is, Sharon's statement is the height of attempted obfuscation, bordering on blasphemy.

Okay, let's again make this clear once and for all - Gaza is Jewish land promised by Hashem in the Bible as an everlasting inheritance; it was, in fact, apportioned to the Tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47 and Judges 1:18) as part of Israel's eternal patrimony.

A few examples of evidence of a Jewish presence in Gaza since Biblical times:

* A beautiful remnant of the mosaic floor, dated 508/509 CE, of a Gaza synagogue. It pictured King David playing the harp. King David's name was rendered in Hebrew letters.

* One of the big mosques in Gaza has a pillar that had the name Chananya Bar-Yaakov (an important figure from the days of the Hasmoneans) engraved on it. Above his name was a picture of a Menorah with a Shofar on one side, and an etrog on the other.

* There is an old neighborhood in Gaza that is called by the Arabs, to this day, Harat Al-Yahud - "neighborhood of the Jews".

* Israel Ben Moses Najara (1555-1625) was a prominent rabbi in Gaza. Throughout the years after his death, many Jews came to pray at his grave.

Most physical evidence of the Jewish presence in Gaza since Biblical times has been deliberately erased by the Arabs, especially at the time of the first Intifada (1987-1993). The Arabs feel that if they erase such physical evidence, they will be able to convince the world of their Big Lie, that they are the original inhabitants of the Holy Land.

Rabbi Najara was not only the rabbi of Gaza, but he was also a famous poet. The following is a translation of one of his most well-known poems "Yoh Ribbon Olam ve-Allemayya", a poem that appears in the Jewish prayer book, to be sung every Sabbath:

"Lord of all worlds! All Your creatures praise You. Even if we lived a thousand years, we could not recount the extent of Your greatness. God, save Your people from their exile and rebuild the Temple, and there, in Jerusalem, we will really be able to sing to You!"

The poetry of Rabbi Najara is beautiful, inspiring and a tribute to Hashem. But poetry can also be vile, inciting and a call to terror and violence. One of the most famous Arab poets today is Mahmoud Darwish, whose poems deal with the Arab-Jewish conflict. (By the way, Yossi Sarid, who was Minister of Education under Prime Minister Ehud Barak, made the incredible demand that the poetry of Darwish become part of the curriculum for Jewish children.)

The following is from one of Darwish's most popular poems: "Dig up your dead! / Take their bones with you / and leave our land."

Desecration of Jewish graves occurred already while Ehud Barak was Prime Minister. Barak allowed the burning and vandalizing of graves such as the tombs of Joseph and Joshua in Samaria, and Jewish graves in Hebron.

Now, shamefully, Prime Minister Sharon is planning to make Mahmoud Darwish's poem even more of a reality. Shame on you, Ariel Sharon! Would you even contemplate digging up the bones of your beloved wife Lilly? Or of your son who died at a young age?

The widely accepted and most important code of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch, states as follows (Yoreh De'ah, 363:1):

"You are not allowed to remove the dead and the bones, not from a respectful grave to a respectful grave, not from a disrespectful grave to a disrespectful grave, and not from a disrespectful grave to a respectful one. (It goes without saying that it is not allowed to remove from a respectful grave to a disrespectful one.) The only cases where transfer of the dead would be allowed are if it was the will of the deceased, or if the remains are being transferred to Israel."

Member of Knesset Gila Finkelstein of the National Religious Party delivered a speech in the Knesset on July 7, 2004, which dealt with the human suffering of Sharon's Disengagement Plan:
"Who will lift up the three Cohen family children - those heroic youngsters from Kfar Darom who lost legs [in a murderous Palestinian terror attack on a school bus - ed.] - and take them out of their house, the house to which they returned after the attack when they made a courageous decision to show that terrorism had not won?

"Who will knock on the door of Chana Bart - that gentle but determined woman who defeated terrorism, who managed to give birth even after she was so seriously wounded - and ask her to wheel herself over in her wheelchair to the special bus waiting for her outside?

"Who will help David Hatuel [whose pregnant wife and four children were murdered by Arab terrorists] to fold up all his memories into his suitcases? And who will pile on to the evacuation trucks all those men, women and children, our brothers and sisters, the flesh of our flesh? This will be an impossible psychological burden, one that is liable, Heaven forbid, to be the lot of both the evacuees and the evacuators!

"I shake as I imagine the unit that will come to remove the dead from their graves, including the victims of murderous Arab terrorism. On whom is it possible to place such a terrible mission, accompanied by its psychological tensions and eternal scars?"

The Jews of Gaza have been targeted by more than 4,200 Palestinian rockets and mortar shells in the past four years. They have been demonized and delegitimized by the media, disparaged by the Left, and threatened with expulsion by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Despite the threat of withdrawal hanging over their heads, it turns out that in the first six months of 2004, the number of Jews living in Gaza actually soared, growing at a rate three times faster than last year. (By the way, Sharon has made it clear that anybody who moves to Gaza now, will not be compensated.)

I firmly believe that, as long as we remain confident in Hashem and in the justness of our cause, no power in the world can dislodge us from our Land, our Biblical patrimony.

As Menachem Begin noted in his book The Revolt, "Faith is perhaps stronger than reality, for faith itself creates reality

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