Tuesday, May 04, 2021

  • Tuesday, May 04, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon



Al Monitor reports that Palestinians are upset that Jews are visiting - and praying in - an ancient synagogue.

Israeli settlers have been increasing their visits to the ruins of the ancient Naaran and Shahwan synagogues in the Jericho area in the West Bank and also performing rituals in them, sparking Palestinian fears about Israeli intentions for the region.

Iyad Hamdan, the director of the Department of Tourism and Archaeology in the city of Jericho, told Al-Monitor, “The Shahwan and Al-Dyouk [Naaran] synagogues are two archaeological sites located within the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ sites in the Jericho area and the Jordan Valley."

He added, “The archaeological sites are not a place for worship, but the settlers treat them as such and insist on performing Talmudic rituals in the synagogues. More than 50 settlers visit the two synagogues on a weekly basis.”

Mohammad Jaradat, the director of tourism and antiquities for Jericho governorate, said that although the Shahwan synagogue in the city of Jericho is in Area A of the West Bank, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, the visits from Israeli settlers and tourists "stem from the terms of the Oslo Accords, which allowed in its additional annexes the Jews to visit the synagogue which is known [to them] as Shalom Al Yisrael Synagogue." Shalom Al Yisrael means “Peace Unto Israel.”

He told Al-Monitor, “Israeli army forces accompany the settlers when visiting many archaeological sites in Jericho governorate to protect them. These include the archaeological Tal al-Sultan site.”

He said the "settlers’ visits are intended to entrench settlement, as they consider the site part of the Jewish religious heritage.” He added, “The visits to the archaeological and historical sites are a Zionist attempt to Judaize the Jericho area and the Jordan Valley to implement part of the Zionist annexation plan."

He added, “The two synagogues are part of Palestinian history that dates back to thousands of years."
As usual, the Palestinian officials are not telling the truth.

1. It isn't only "settlers" visiting the Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue - Jews worldwide visit it.

2. The 1995 Oslo Accords Interim Agreement doesn't call it an archaeological site - it calls it a Jewish holy site. It "ensure[s] free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy site," refers to its "Jewish religious nature" and says "existing religious practices shall be preserved."

3. There is nothing new with Jews visiting the site to pray. Jews resumed praying with a quorum after the second intifada regularly since 2007, and every Friday several years afterwards.

4. Note that Jaradat admits that the IDF needs to accompany the Jews visiting the site to protect them. It is obvious that their lives are in danger otherwise and that Palestinian police cannot be trusted to protect Jews wanting to pray in their own holy site. This article itself is proof of that - it is a new initiative to give the impression that Jews have no religious rights in Jericho.

5. Part of Palestinian history that dates back thousands of years? Please.

Incidentally, the mosaic floor there includes many depictions of heart shapes. 



While the Jewish Jericho site claims that these hearts - half green and half red - symbolize the emotional and logical parts of the heart, that shape was not associated with the human heart (as far as I can tell) until the Middle Ages. In Greece, the decorative shape was more often associated with leaves. 

If anyone has any idea of what heart shapes would have meant to 3rd century CE Jews , I'd love to know! This book thinks they are some sort of directional arrows. 








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