Monday, 10 February 2014

Jewish Presence in Israel

Every so often one stumbles across something unexpected and interesting on the blogosphere. One such is a blog I found yesterday which had a fascinating article about a necropolis in the Jezreel valley which was the burial place of the wealthy and famous families of Jews following the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Bet She'arim was developed as a burial place following the Roman ban on the continuance of Jewish worship and burial in Jerusalem. It continued in use under the Byzantine regime which continued the ban on Jews in Jerusalem and only gradually fell into disuse after the Muslim conquest of the area.

In the last couple of centuries, the site was seriously damaged by grave robbers, but the Israeli government has placed it under strict control. Today archaeologists are able to examine each of the several huge man-made caves and their associated tunnels and burial chambers properly. One does have to wonder why it is not listed under the UNs Heritage protection programmes - but then none of the important Jewish shrines, tombs and archaeological sites are. There is a great fuss over Jews attempting to visit those still under Muslim control. There is also rampant vandalism of those and some major Christian sites by Muslim vandals, but not a word of criticism from the UN about that. There is considerable evidence to suggest that there has been a very concerted effort in East Jerusalem, during the time it was under Muslim control, to erase all trace of Jewish history, and that is ongoing as the Waqf that controls (by international and Israeli agreement) the Al Aqsa Mosque and the platform surmounting the Temple Mount has 'enlarged' a number of underground structures and, contrary to the same international agreements, carried out a systematic programme of destroying anything and everything that might be Jewish or Christian in origin in the areas they control.

Bet Sha'arim is important, since it demonstrates the continuous presence of Jewish leaders, thinkers and merchants - plus, of course, the ordinary folk who worked for and supported them - in Israel from at least the time of the Roman occupation. Bet Sha'arim, the town, was the seat of the 'exiled' Sanhedrin, and the seat of the School of scholars that shaped and formed the post Temple form of Judaism. Why, therefore, do we hear nothing whatsoever about it in our media? Or, for that matter, in our histories of the area?

Probably because it would show that the arguments that Israel is an 'illegitimate' Nation are false. That would, presumably, not suit the narrative of the history of the region our current crop of so-called leaders wish to present.

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