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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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Who Firebombs a Grave?

The area around Rachel's Tomb has been fortified, cement barriers erected to protect those wishing to pray beside her grave.

It’s an amazing concept. Why would someone firebomb a grave…and an ancient one at that?

I just read a news article that Arabs have thrown 290 firebombs (and or planted explosive devices) at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem in the last six months alone (that doesn’t count hundreds, perhaps thousands, before that).

I actually know the answer as to why – it comes back to that concept of hating all that is different from them and worse, an attempt to erase any one else’s past. Okay, I got that…sick…but I got it.

But seeing that headlines also reminded me of an article I wrote a decade ago. Only, it wasn’t about Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, but her son, Joseph’s tomb in Nablus (Shechem).

In February, 2003, Arabs rioted and burned the grave/tomb of Joseph, son of our patriarch, Jacob and his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph was buried in Shechem after his bones were exhumed by the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt – a promise fulfilled not to leave his bones in a foreign land. His bones were carried through the desert, until they were brought home to rest in the land of his fathers. Only today, his tomb is found inside a Palestinian city. To get there is nearly impossible and only accomplished with an army escort, under strict protection.

Rachel was buried, according to tradition handed down over the centuries, in Bethlehem. You can get to her grave site, but you need to leave your car in Jerusalem and take armored buses – silly…it’s only a few hundred yards. The area around the tomb has been fortified, cement barriers erected to protect those wishing to pray beside her grave.

Back then – in 2003, I wrote an article, “Rachel is Crying.” I thought of that article as I read the news about the firebombs. Then it was Ariel Sharon as prime minister when they attacked and burned Joseph’s tomb and now, as they attack Rachel’s tomb it is Bibi Netanyahu.

Writing in 2003, I asked that Sharon either defend the tomb of Joseph, or go in and remove the body and rebury him near his mother’s grave in Bethlehem. Nothing was done to defend the tomb, to bring his body to Bethlehem. Jews sneak in to visit Joseph’s tomb under heavy guard, usually at night. It’s ironic that some 10 years later, it is Rachel’s grave that has come under attack.

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About the Author: Visit Paula Stern's blog, A Soldier's Mother.

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