web analytics
May 6, 2015 / 17 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Fear and Loathing on the Mount of Olives


Mount of Olives

On Friday, February 24, I had the honor of guiding a distinguished group on a tour of the Mount of Olives cemetery in eastern Jerusalem. The group included two U.S. congressmen – Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Rabbis Abraham and Menachem Lubinsky, who have spearheaded the International Committee for the Preservation of the Mount of Olives.

I live near the cemetery in a Jewish enclave on the Mount of Olives in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Ras El Amud, across the valley from the Old City.

As we toured the ancient graveyard, I pointed out the layers of Jewish history before us. The Mount of Olives is the oldest existing Jewish cemetery, with 150,000 graves spanning 3,000 years. The biblical prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi lie alongside modern day heroes like Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who resurrected the modern Hebrew language, and Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief rabbi of the IDF during the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron in the Six-Day War.

There are also signs of great pain. We saw the mass grave of forty-eight fighters who died trying to defend the Old City, which eventually fell to Jordan in the War of Independence. Those brave warriors’ bodies remained in the Jordanian-occupied Old City until 1967, when Rabbi Goren properly interred them in the cemetery. We also saw the remnants of the forty-thousand graves destroyed or vandalized in the 19 years of Jordanian occupation. In those years many Jewish headstones were used as Jordanian paving and building material.

Today, grave desecration is recurring at the Mount of Olives cemetery and the group saw firsthand the continuing travesty in the form of freshly smashed tombs and broken headstones.

But all is not dark. I told the group about the attempts at co-existence in our area. I showed the visitors Arab schools built by the Jerusalem municipality. I talked about shopping in Arab stores, being treated by Arab doctors, and talking Koran or Torah over coffee with my Arab neighbors.

I described my attempts to be neighborly and how I search for Arabs who want to live with us in decency and mutual respect. I reminded my audience that polls show that given the choice, some 70 percent of Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem would prefer living under Israeli sovereignty than under another flag.

As we came down the mountain, we entered my neighborhood’s traffic circle and stood in front of the mosque that has been cited for zoning violations as part of a large unauthorized expansion. I explained that I walk in this traffic circle daily and that while things seem calm right now, a Jihadist influence has radicalized some of the population and that violence can erupt at any moment.

Suddenly, as if on cue, rocks began to fly. The nature of these quick and life-threatening moments is that different participants can have disparate recollections of the details. I saw two projectiles for certain: one cement block hit a security vehicle and a stone flew in our direction, narrowly missing the group and the congressmen. Security personnel reacted quickly, drawing their weapons, but they were not as quick as the culprits, who escaped down into the Silwan neighborhood.

The group took the attack in stride, and the congressmen did not budge. I explained to them that while there is danger here, it should not translate automatically into fear. There are toxic elements that want to instill fear in our nation and in our neighborhoods so that we Jews will back off our 3,000-year-old claim to Jerusalem. They want us to be afraid to stand on this street corner but we won’t let those elements bully us like they do their own people, forcing our Arab neighbors to get in line and brainwash their children with hate.

As bad as the violent incident was, the distortion on the part of some commentators later showed how pernicious the hate is. One Jewish anti-Israel blogger basically called me a racist – and a provocateur for walking the streets of municipal Jerusalem. This blogger ironically accused me of planning to Judaize the Mount of Olives through ethnic cleansing while at the same time justifying the rock throwing and violence that is precisely aimed at driving Jews from the area.

His rhetoric mirrored the ugly words of the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who stated at the International Conference for Defense of Jerusalem in Doha: “We must act quickly to stop the Judaization of Jerusalem.”

He is right. We must act quickly. But we must act quickly to stop the toxic, peace-hating terrorists so that normal life for Jews and Arabs can become a reality. If the Doha-sponsored Jihad-friendly outlook wins the day, Jews would once again be evicted from the Mount of Olives, graves would once again be desecrated, and the Arabs living in those areas would be subjected to yet another repressive Middle Eastern regime.

We Jews have every right to walk in the free city of Jerusalem in our ancestral homeland, just as Arabs have every right to a life of decency. Yet some people want to perpetuate the lies that Jews don’t belong, Jews are violent, Jews are the source of all Middle East problems.

Returning Jewish life to Jerusalem is normal. Jews and Arabs living together is normal. Grave desecration is not normal and throwing rocks at tour groups is not normal. But that desecration and those rocks are futile because they will neither scare the Jewish people from reclaiming our rights in eastern Jerusalem nor deter us from continuing to build a democractic Jewish state that is good for all its citizens.

About the Author: Yishai Fleisher is the Contributing Editor and PR manager at the JewishPress.com, and Israel's only English language broadcast radio show host (Galey Yisrael 106.5FM). Yishai is an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, they have two children, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Fear and Loathing on the Mount of Olives”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Hillary Clinton and PA acting president Mahmoud Abbas. Nov. 21, 2012
Clinton Said She Will Speak on Benghazi but Only Once
Latest Indepth Stories
Lewis-050115-Police-Training-at-Aleh

Although it’s emotionally difficult to see the suffering, helping out makes me happy.

I decided to really understand what Jewish people go through by becoming a Jew.

March for Armenian Genocide

Why does Obama and other democratic world leaders resist branding the Armenian killings as genocide?

Rioters smash window of police car in Baltimore.

I stated with clarity in simple terms, “Jews don’t have gangs.”

FBI’s undercover agents contacted ORA (Org. for the Resolution of Agunot) pretending to be an agunah

Israel promotes coexistence and peace, providing freedom for all religions on the Temple Mount.

The Jewish vote won’t impact polls as much as it will the coffers of candidates and their Super PACs

Iran stands unopposed by the “international community” and is racing to assert regional dominance.

If some Israeli cops got a Jewish education & learned to love Jews, Israel would be a better place

No where in the world is there the level of intervention by foreign countries as exists in Israel.

The Ravens’ Ray Lewis screamed that violence is never the answer.” Unfortunately, he is wrong.

Obama is the latest incarnation of our ancient enemies who arise every generation with a new face

Why do Jews, then, sometimes feel more intensely about Polish anti-Semitism than they do about German anti-Semitism?

The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.

More Articles from Yishai Fleisher
Temple Mount Gray

The Arabic saying is that “whoever controls the Dome of the Rock, controls the world” – and they are afraid of losing their control and power. They see Jewish Jerusalem being built, and they see their own states falling apart, and they are scared.

Tour guide Yehuda Glick (right) leading a group on Temple Mount.

Highlight: Exclusive Interview with Rabbi Yehuda Glick at the Foot of the Temple Mount.

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO))) Yishai talks with Tommy Waller, Director of HaYovel, an organization that brings Christians to the mountains of Samaria for Israel’s annual grape harvest under the supervision of Rabbi Eliezer Melamed. Waller joins Yishai in-studio to share his beliefs on how the group takes part in the prophecy of Israel’s redemption. […]

Swatistikas were painted on the sides of the road leading up to the Mount of Olives.  

Yishai and Malkah kick off this week’s show giving honor to the memory to Sheli Dadon, a young Jewish woman who was murdered by terrorists in Israel before Memorial Day. They move on to talk about former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s upcoming trip to prison and end with a discussion about how criticism of Jewish allegiance towards Israel can be seen as antisemitism.

It is easy to spot Haman in today’s world, but who is this year’s Esther?

Ambassador Dermer’s thoughts on what is ahead in the coming years between Israel and the USA.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/fear-and-loathing-on-the-mount-of-olives/2012/02/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: