Friday, February 19, 2010

PM's List of Heritage Sites Does Not Include Cave of Machpelah

Gil Ronen
A7 News

The Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (the Yesha Council), Danny Dayan, asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday to make a last minute change in the list of heritage sites that the government intends to promote and enhance, and add to it the Cave of Machpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hevron and Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem.In recent days Netanyahu has been proudly touting a new initiative for preserving heritage sites throughout Israel. However, many who read the list of sites promulgated by the Prime Minister's Office were disappointed to find no mention of the two important sites where the nation's forefathers and fore-mothers are buried, and which are specifically mentioned in the Bible.

"No one knows better than you that our continued presence on the land depends more than anything on the deep consciousness that this is the land of our forefathers,” Dayan wrote Netanyahu. “What better than these two sites for passing on this consciousness to the public. The Cave of Machpelah and the Tomb of Rachel are the 'rock of our existence.'”

"A list of heritage sites that does not include the Cave of Machpelah and the Tomb of Rachel completely misses its purpose,” Dayan explained. “It blurs the link of the nation of Israel to its land instead of bringing it into focus; it causes one to forget, G-d forbid, rather than to remember; in disconnects instead of connecting.”

Christian sites included

The list of heritage sites does include numerous locations of importance for Christians that will be restored and receive an annual maintenance budget. These include the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Last Supper Room, the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey, the Church of the Gospel, a baptism site on the River Jordan, three churches in Capernaum, and many more.

Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service reported that in recent days, ministers and Knesset members asked the Prime Minister's Office to add the Tomb of Rachel and the Cave of Machpelah to the list of heritage sites but received a flat 'no' in response.

The Jewish sages teach that the Cave of Machpelah is one of “three places about which the nations of the world cannot deceive Israel and say 'you stole them'” (from Beresheet Rabah). The reason for this is that the Bible records the act of purchase of the cave by Abraham.

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