Photo Credit: Hoshvilim / Wikipedia
Joshua's Altar on Mount Ebal

There is a well-known saying: “Truth is the first casualty in war.”

Ever since the Arabs of the region first attacked the idea of a return to Jewish sovereignty, the truth of Jewish rights and history in its ancestral and indigenous homeland have been at stake.

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While at the turn of the last century, most Arabs knew the strong Jewish connection to the land, there was a strong undercurrent to try and change the narrative.

Ever since the first international recognition of the establishment of a “Jewish home”, the Arab leadership decided to embark on the denial of history as a tactic of war.

The Nebi Musa Riots of 1920 were just the first of many murderous attacks on Jews. They began with religious speeches and sermons entreating the people to attack Jews, and ended with frenzied bloody attacks with “Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs!” chanted throughout many major cities.

Many of the subsequent attacks on Jews were under the pretext of “Judaization”, sometimes merely for undertaking minor temporary steps to ease prayer at the Western Wall. The Palestinians could not countenance that one inch of the Land of Israel had any Jewish connection.

Whether in the educational or religious system or the tightly controlled media, Palestinian leaders continue to virulently deny Jewish history and will abuse any discipline for this nefarious end.

One such example is when Abir Zayyad, an archaeologist and member of Fatah’s Jerusalem branch, said in 2019 in a program called The Scent of History: “We have no archaeological evidence of the presence of the children of Israel in Palestine in this historical period 3,000 years ago, neither in Jerusalem, nor in all of Palestine.”

This Jewish history denial has become the foundation on which Palestinian violent rejectionism has been built for over 100 years, and it remains to this day.

This is the context we can place the recent damage by Palestinian Authority workers to Joshua’s Altar on Mount Ebal in Judea and Samaria. These acts of vandalism and cultural terrorism have risen in recent years. The Palestinian Authority has intentionally targeted heritage sites, including robbery and acts of demolishing.

We dare not accept these things.

This is our history, the history of the Jewish People. It is our patronage and serves as a witness to our permanent attachment to the land through our unbroken history within it.

Zionism only makes sense in this context so the Palestinians, as part of their holistic efforts to delegitimize Zionism and Jewish sovereignty are trying to disconnect the people from its land and history.

This isn’t some fringe phenomena; it comes from the very top.

In 2017, at a Organization of Islamic Cooperation at a summit in Turkey, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: “I don’t want to discuss religion or history because they (the Jews) are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion…. they are really masters in this and it is mentioned in the holy Qur’an they fabricate truth and they try to do that and they believe in that but we have been there in this location for thousands of years.”

The question thus, as in all similar issues, is less about what the Palestinians do, but what Israel should be doing in response.

So far, our response has been tepid and to ignore it, regardless of whether Palestinian excavations are attacking the integrity of the Temple Mount or they threaten to riot because of the intention to build wheelchair accessibility to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Our passiveness sends a strong message that we don’t care and this plays into the Palestinian narrative. Surely, a nation so sure of itself and its historic connection to the land would be more assertive.

However, we must send a clear message to the Palestinian Authority that these types of events can not continue, we will fight for our national and historical rights and patrimony.

We need to destroy Palestinian hopes of continuing this war on history.

For the Palestinians, this war is perhaps the most important of all battles with the Jewish State, because for them it is the very essence of the conflict, so their will to continue must be broken in this matter.

We must take back and assert our authority over all areas where Israel is sovereign, like the Temple Mount, the Holy Basin and the Cave of the Patriarchs. If the PA wish to use their powers in Area A or B to erase Jewish history then they must be relieved of the ability to do so.

In Article 32 of The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, otherwise known as the “Oslo Accords”, the Palestinians legally agree to respect and protect holy sites, specifically stating “The Palestinian side shall ensure free access to, respect the ways of worship in and not make any changes to, the Jewish Holy Sites.”

If they abrogate the agreement in a particular area then that area must return to its pre-Oslo status, in other words, under full Israeli jurisdiction and control.

These and other assertive steps will send the message that the erasure of Jewish history will no longer be tolerated. We dare not shy away from this anymore.

Israel must be victorious in this battle because truth and history must no longer be a Jewish casualty in the Palestinian war of violent rejectionism. Our very foundational existence as a sovereign nation depends on it.

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The writer is an IDF Military Commander (Res) and CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former senior IDF Officers.
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