Monday, February 1, 2010

Ezekiel's Tomb Defaced in Iraq

The tomb of the biblical prophet Ezekiel is located in al Kifl, in modern day Iraq. In the centuries since his burial in Iraq, outside the Holy Land, the tomb has been venerated as a site of pilgrimage by Jews and later by Christians and Muslims as their respective faiths came into existence in the centuries following Ezekiel's death.

The architecture of the tomb has always incorporated Hebrew inscriptions, which were preserved and protected along with everything else at the site even under the regime of Sadaam Hussein.

Now all that is set to change. Renovations are underway in which the site will be turned into a mosque. Part of the "renovations" involve plastering over the Hebrew inscriptions. Haaretz, a secular Israeli newspaper reports as follows on the planned desecration.

"Professor Shmuel Morre of Hebrew University, who was born in Baghdad, says the historical damage is irreversible. "There are Muslim elements that are attempting to erase the Jewish character of the tomb," Army Radio quoted Morre as saying.

Iraq maintains that the damage was done unintentionally by untrained workers. Professor Morre, however, is skeptical. "I urge UNESCO to supervise the renovations and to have them carried out by professionals and not simple workers," Morre told Army Radio.

The tomb has for centuries been a sacred site of pilgrimage for Iraqi Jews who visited the site on Passover every year. An account of a recent Jewish pilgrimage is recounted on the site "Point of No Return".

Archaological evidence and the presence of living faith communities side by side had made religious tolerance somewhat of a logistical necessity for centuries. An account of world or biblical history from which Jews are expunged will be by definition a falsified history.

Unfortunately, the Islam that for centuries conceded Christians and Jews to be "Peoples of the Book" is now morphing into a mutated faith of virulent intolerance in which all non Muslims are villified as heretics. When Jews and later Christians are ethnically cleansed from Iraq, Syria and other Muslim countries, only the Hebrew inscriptions and artifacts remain as mute testimony to a common history to which non Muslims made significant contributions. Evidently, even the presence of Hebrew inscriptions in a city that is "Judenrein" is too much for Muslim extremists.

Westerners who look at so called Muslim fundamentalists in antiquated looking garb think that they are looking at guardians of traditional Islam. In reality, there has been a swing back and forth between tolerance and intolerance. It is very easy to don robes and a skullcap. It is far harder to study the history of Islam in past centuries, examining benevolent and tyranical phases of Islamic societies. An example of the murderous turn taken by some of these so called fundamentalists is the decision by one group of "religious men" that falafel is anti Islamic. In their small Iraqi enclave, they imposed a ban on falafel, killing two men who violated it The Telegraph reported as follows.

In a bizarre example of Iraq’s creeping "Talibanisation", militants visited falafel vendors a fortnight ago, telling them to pack up their stalls by today or be killed.

The ultimatum seemed so odd that, at first, most laughed it off – until two of them were shot dead as they plied their trade.

"They came telling us, ‘You have 14 days to end this job’ and I asked them what was the problem," said Abu Zeinab, 32, who was packing up his stall for good yesterday in the suburb of al Dora, a hardline Sunni neighbourhood.

"I said I was just feeding the people, but they said there were no falafels in Mohammed the prophet’s time, so we shouldn’t have them either.

"I felt like telling them there were no Kalashnikovs in Mohammed’s time either, but I wanted to keep my life."

Why Baghdad’s falafel vendors should be blacklisted while their colleagues are allowed to continue selling kebabs or Western-style pizzas and burgers remains a mystery.

Some suspect it is because a taste for falafels is one of the few things that unites Jewish and Arab communities in Israel.

Those who seek to obliterate the past will end up murdering human beings. It happened in the past, as seen in the case of the murdered Iraqi falafel vendors. And it will happen in the future.

The walls of Ezekiel's tomb are plastered over to cover the Hebrew inscriptions, and the people are cowed into silence. Violence done to a nation's past reaches into a nation's present and future. Those who perpetrate these crimes show the weakness of their own faith. Christians, Jews and all decent Muslims should protest this desecration and falsification of history. Let us move forward with a history that is honestly written. Sphere: Related Content


Rivka Freeman said...

Well if the Iraqui's are turning this Jewish holy site into a mosque, then the Israeli's should be turning the mosque on the Temple Mount into the Holy Bais HaMikdash, so the Jewish people can restore the services and do all the mitzvos that are supposed to be done in Israel.

Magdeburger Joe said...

Seems fair enough. By the way, you had posted a message to me through I attempted to reply to you through the message system on that site. It was pertaining to another article on which you had commented. If you repost the letter to [email protected], I will be able to reply to you