Everyone was appalled in recent days by the intentional devastation at the archaeological site of Avdat. The front pages told the bitter stories of vandalism in the Negev, with various media outlets competing for harsher superlatives to describe what had transpired. One respected media outlet referred to the devastation as “desecration,” whereas the secretary general of UNESCO’s Israel committee was quoted prominently as he concluded that this was a crime against human culture. The authorities acted decisively, and not 24 hours passed between the discovery of the wreckage and the arrest of the suspects.
The public and police response was justified, of course. However, anyone comparing this decisive response with the apathy shown towards the devastation that wrecks havoc on the most important antiquity sites – in Jerusalem – would be amazed. For years, wide-scale systematic devastation and destruction have been taking place on the Temple Mount and in other sites. All this is taking place illegally and with the clear intention of wiping out any memory of cultures that are not Muslim.
And here, contrary to the assertiveness in Avdat – the Antiquities Authority, the police, and the government remain nearly silent, the High Court of Justice stutters, and the press is silent.
And so there appears a mysterious disparity in our attitude towards the devastation in Avdat and that on the Temple Mount. In Avdat remnants of the Nabatean culture were found, while in Jerusalem there reside all the symbols of all cultures that formed here as well as the remnants of the most sacred Jewish religious practice. And in response to the ruin brought on the Nabatean remnants, we rise to action, but toward the systematic destruction of the cradle of Judaism – we remain silent. Only in July did the High Court of Justice conclude, after four years of deliberation, its lax hearing on a petition filed by the Committee for the Prevention of Antiquity Destruction on the Temple Mount against the systematic destruction by the Muslims next to the southern wall. The Wakf has insisted on turning the outskirts of the wall into a Muslim cemetery, so to prevent access to the glory of the past, a past that is of no interest to Muslims. And the State of Israel, and its many authorities, have insisted on doing nothing, due to fear of Arab violence.
Arab rampaging is a phenomenon of many years, fed by Israeli impotence. It has gotten worse since the mid 1970s and the Oslo Accords, with the Muslims making every effort to sever any connection between us and this land. On the one hand, they are trying to invent a Palestinian history and archaeology out of thin air, and as a complementary act, they are trying to uproot the remnants of our roots, even from the belly of the earth. That’s why hundreds of trucks filled with archaeological remnants, whose value is hundreds of times more valuable than any Nabatean city, were removed from below the Temple Mount. That’s why two underground, spacious mosques were built at the Hulda Gates and Solomon’s Stables. The destruction of antiquities is accompanied by incitement and violence, just as took place recently at the instigation of the PA and the Islamic Movement. And, of course, the response of our law enforcement agencies was limp and wretched. What is taken for granted when it comes to vandalism in the Negev, becomes irrelevant when it comes to the holy of holies on the Temple Mount. The amazing paradox of the state of the Jews.