The Lessons of Joseph’s Tomb

By Arlene Kushner

A good move, may it yield results: Thirty-five members of the Knesset have signed a letter to IDF Central Command, asking that Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (called Nablus by the Arabs) be opened again to visits by Jews, with steps taken to provide security. The letter was initiated by Uri Ariel (National Union/NRP) and was signed by all of the MKs of National Union/NRP as well as a number from United Torah Judaism, Shas, Likud, Kadima, Pensioners and Yisrael Beiteinu.

What happened to the Tomb in recent years has been particularly galling to anyone concerned with Jewish heritage, Jewish pride, and Jewish rights in the land.

The history of this site is clear:

The Book of Joshua (24:32) states: “The bones of Joseph which the Children of Israel brought up from Egypt were buried in Shechem in the portion of the field that had been purchased by Jacob.”

Dr. Zvi Ilan, who was one of Israel’s most prominent archeologists, referred to Joseph’s Tomb as: “… one of the tombs whose location is known with the utmost degree of certainty and is based on continuous documentation since biblical times. ”

The Tomb was traditionally a place where Jews visited and prayed. With the Oslo agreements it was turned over to the PA, but with “guarantees” that Jews were to have freedom of access and freedom of worship at this site, acknowledged as having Jewish sanctity.

In 2000, early in the Al Aksa Intifada, Palestinian militia attacked at the site and Ehud Barak, then prime minister, ordered IDF forces stationed there to retreat. Presumably he did this to lower tensions in the area and was counting on PA police to honor their commitment to safeguard this place.

But PA police stood by as Palestinians swarmed the tomb, destroying everything in sight – such as prayer books – and moving to turn it into a Muslim site complete with a green painted roof. This was months before my aliyah, but I was in Israel and I saw this on TV: I saw the Palestinians climbing over the Tomb and the fires. It is telling how viscerally I react to this memory even now: the retreat was a grave error and a moment of ignominy and shame for IDF forces.

In 2002, with operation Defensive Shield, the IDF moved back into Shechem and to the Tomb. Monthly visits by Jews were arranged, but three years ago, the IDF commander at the site suspended them because of the threat of terrorist attacks. The letter was drafted now because there is to be a change of command, with someone new in charge at the site.

The memory of what was done to Joseph’s tomb is especially bitter in the face of current fallacious and deliberately inflammatory Islamic claims that we are threatening their holy sites by re-building a bridge to the Mughrabi Gate on the Mount. While all work is being done outside of the Mount, their inciteful cry is that Israeli efforts threaten the Al-Aksa Mosque.

The Muslims have day-to-day control of the Mount, even though we re-took it in 1967, because Moshe Dayan gave them this courtesy in a foolish attempt to be conciliatory. On the Mount in recent years they have constructed a new mosque, in the process excavating and destroying ancient Jewish archeological ruins. Yet now word is that Prime Minister Olmert has granted Jordan permission to build a new minaret on the Mount – the first new one in 600 years.

The lessons are all there for us to see, but I am not sure we learn them. Foolishly, we turn ourselves inside-out to appease with regard to what the Muslims claim as their holy sites and yet receive nothing but antagonism and hostility and violence in return. For our sites, there is total disregard and worse.

Arlene Kushner, an investigative journalist and author located in Jerusalem, writes extensively on Israeli security issues. Her work has appeared in such venues as The Jerusalem Post, Azure Magazine, National Review Online, and Front Page Magazine. Her writings can be found on her website at

February 18, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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  1. Joseph’s Tomb and our Muslim Enemy:
    It is politically incorrect to say that Muslims are our enemies. The liberals insist that anyone who still believes in God is a relic of the unenlightened days of human superstition.
    But this can be forgiven in the case of Muslims, because they are simple unenlightened children who don’t know any better.
    The real enemy though, that must be fought mercilessly, is Jews and evangelical Christians, because they should know better, but nonetheless deliberately reject the liberal faith.
    Liberals thus dismiss Muslim beliefs as irrelevant, and so never get into them.
    What does a believing Muslim believe when he straps on a suicide vest and goes to kill and maim as many Jewish women and children as possible?
    Let’s look at Joseph’s tomb. Muslims believe that all the early Jews through king Solomon were actually Muslims who followed the Koran, and not Jews who followed the Torah. The Jews eventually became corrupt, falsified the Koran turning it into the Torah, and were ultimately rejected by Allah. Allah tried sending a few more Muslim prophets to the wayward Jews, most notably Jesus, but his Christian followers underwent the same process of corruption as the Jews.
    Poor Allah only got it right when he finally turned to Ishmael’s descendants the Arabs, when he sent them Muhammad, who is the last prophet man will ever need, since he was a perfect human being and his revelation is perfect. Allah and Muhammad ordered the Muslims to keep Jews in a state of perpetual humilition in order to demonstrate the truth of Islam.
    When Muhammad’s Arabian army reached Nablus, where Joseph’s tomb is, there were obviously no Muslims there. The people were largely Orthodox Christians with some remaining Samaritans. The original Jewish town of Shechem had been destroyed and rebuilt many times over. In its last incarnation, the Greek pagans renamed the place as New Town (Neapolis), which became Nablus in the Arabic pronunciation. So the “Arabs” living in Nablus, who now hate Jews so fervently, are actually the descendants of Orthodox Christians and Samaritans who abandoned their faith in response to unremitting pressure from the Moslems. They live in a town that went from Canaanite to Jewish to Samaritan to pagan to Christian to Muslim, and still retains its Greek pagan name.
    But the fanatic Muslims have rewritten history, and will slaughter anyone who denies their “truth.”
    A believing militant Muslim is not just an innocent child who doesn’t know any better. He is a primitive savage fanatic no different from a Nazi or a mad dog. You may feel sorry for a mad dog because it isn’t really his fault, but if you don’t kill a mad dog first, then he will kill you.

  2. Joseph’s Tomb and Jewish Survival
    Joseph’s tomb passed out of Jewish history early on. King David’s united kingdom of Judea and Israel only lasted until the death of his son Solomon. The united kingdom then split in two, and the capital of Israel was Shechem, where Joseph’s tomb is located, and where his tribal descendants were dominant. The Israelites were nontheless considered Torah-true Jews, since the split into two kingdoms was considered more political than religious. The dispersal of the the ten tribes of Israel became the first Jewish holocaust that we survived, when the kingdom of Assyria (in northern Iraq) conquered and dispersed them.
    The Assyrians let some Israelities remain, but also brought in many pagan Semites from the surrounding regions to repopulate the area. Their capital was the rebuilt Shechem which they renamed Shomron (Samaria). They said they continued to practice Torah-true Judaism, but the Judeans had mixed feelings about them, and eventually declared their brand of Judaism to be false. (Jesus, in order to irritate his fellow Judean Jews, declared that a good Samaritan is better than a bad Jew).
    The Samaritans were the first group of Jewish “heretics”, and the longest-lasting. But they are now down to their last few hundred members and are on the verge of extinction.
    I write this as a proud descendant of the Torah-true Jews. We have survived every holocaust that the goyim threw at us (Babyonia, Greece, Rome, the Catholic Crusades, the Cossack massacres, World War Two) and we’re still standing and rebuilding our numbers once again.
    I hold that this demonstrates the Hand of God in history. Every sect that abandons Torah-true Judaism withers away, as we see today with the Conservative and Reform movements in America, and the post-Zionists in Israel.
    Torah-true Jews know that Our God is the God of Life, Judaism is the religion of life, and our Torah is the Tree of Life. Torah-true Jews are happy to have many children so they can bring more Jewish souls down into the world, even if it dents their standard of living a bit. And their children, and their children’s children, remain Torah-true.
    The Jews re-established the State of Israel after 1800 years of living in exile among the goyim under frequently horrifying conditions. But they came back to Israel at the first moment in history in 1800 years when it became possible to do so.
    Think about it.

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