Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PA says Israel building a "Talmudic garden" in Silwan

The official Palestinian Authority Wafa news agency says:

The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem Thursday seized a piece of land belonging to a Palestinian Orthodox Monastery in the neighborhood of Al-Thawri, west of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to a press release by the committee for the defense of Silwan.

The release said the Israeli municipality seized the 850 square meter piece of land in order to turn it into a Talmudic garden and a parking lot.

The committee expressed fear that the land would be turned into a Talmudic garden under the control of the Israeli nature and parks authority, surrounding the areas of Wadi Hilweh and Al-Bustan in Silwan.
I have no idea what they think a "Talmudic garden" is. Perhaps it looks like this:

The Arabic press often uses the word "Talmudic" to add an extra degree of vitriol to anything that Israeli Jews decide to do.

It is most often used in articles about Jews going to the Temple Mount where they are accused of "performing Talmudic rituals" - by which they mean, prayer.

Their use of the word shows that the real fear the Arabs have is not of "Zionism" but of Judaism. Zionism is regarded as a modern construct whose expected lifespan would not be any greater than that of Communism, but Judaism is far more ancient and lasting than Islam - and that is their real fear.

That's why their cartoons and caricatures always depict Jews as hook-nosed, black-hat wearing religious Jews rather than, say, stereotypical Sabras. They project their fears into illustrations and articles like this because they know that Islam will outlast the political flavor of the decade or century - but it will never outlast the religion from which it was derived.

Interestingly, the phrase "Talmudic garden" was used by rabidly anti-semitic Christian leaders who were behind some of the censorship of the Talmud. One wanted every reference to non-Jews in the Talmud to be excised, saying he wanted "the total uprooting of all such weeds from 'the talmudic garden of Satan, the paradise of Hebrews, revered by them as the gospels of the talmudic Antichrist.' " Modern Islamic use of the term mirrors the use from medieval Christianity.

Ironically, much of the Quran comes from Talmudic stories that are not mentioned explicitly in the Torah.

Finally, a "Talmudic garden" actually was dedicated last month in Bet El, in the courtyard of a school where students would be encouraged to study Talmud outside.

It is also worth reviewing out my previous article on Kfar HaShiloach - what is now called Silwan - showing the Yemenite Jewish village on an otherwise empty hillside in 1891 and how the Jewish community grew until they were ethnically cleansed and turned into refugees by the Arab riots in 1921 and 1929.

The photograph I obtained of the area in 1891, thanks to Robert Avrech of Seraphic Secret, is now featured in the Wikipedia entry on "Silwan," showing a small  victory of truth making it into the mainstream.

It looks like a good place for a Talmudic garden.