Tormenting the dead
|Tuesday, March 2,2010 12:36|
As if all the persecution and brutalization meted out to the Palestinians were not enough, Israeli authorities are finalizing preparations for the construction of a museum on top of an ancient Muslim cemetery in West Jerusalem
The cemetery, known as Maamanullah (Sanctuary of God), contains the remains of over 70,000 Muslims
Some archaeologists believe the cemetery may even date to the time of the Prophet Mohamed
In the early 1960s, the Israeli government which then, as now, was trying incessantly to obliterate the historical Arab identity of the land built a parking lot on a part of the cemetery, in disregard of Arab and international protests
Now, on 10 February, the Israeli Court of Justice gave final clearance to the city of Jerusalem and the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre to build a complex with the name of the Centre for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance. Palestinians and Muslims in general are not impressed
Hier, along with other Israeli apologists, has been searching for a Muslim religious edict that would allow authorities to obliterate Muslim graveyards after 40-50 years. However, while some edicts allow the relocation of the remains of the dead for necessity sake, no edict has ever been made allowing the construction of buildings on top of cemeteries. One Muslim scholar scoffed at Hier's quest, arguing: "If we are to take Hier seriously, then according to him, it is permissible to destroy the graves of prophets and saints who have been dead for thousands of years.
Rashid Khalidi, a prominent Palestinian scholar based in the United States, describes Hier's allegations as "misleading and mendacious". "This is a cemetery where people have been buried since the 12th century. People who fought with Saladin in the Crusades are buried there.
We and other families are taking action as a group to try to stop this after other families failed in the Israeli Supreme CourtKhalidi dismissed Hier's claims that no protests were made in the early 1960s when the parking lot was built on top of the cemetery. However, many protests were made.
Diana Butto, a lawyer representing several families and relatives of people buried in the cemetery, lamented the brazen disregard of Israel for the "very essence of human dignity". Butto revealed that Palestinian families didn't know what was being done with the human remains uncovered by heavy machinery
Dalia Husseini Dajani, a middle-aged East Jerusalem woman, says many of her relatives were buried in the cemetery. "This is my history, my family, everything.
Michael Ratner, president of the US- based Centre for Constitutional Rights, which is assisting the legal case of families against Israel's actions and plans relayed the following after visiting the site: "I was really shocked by what I saw. I went into West Jerusalem, and I see a wall that's probably 25 feet high, surrounded by surveillance cameras, which is where they're building this so-called 'Museum of Tolerance'. Right up to the edge of it, you see Muslim graves, Palestinian graves, all around it
One archaeologist called this an archaeological crime
The archaeologist said there are at least 2,000 graves under this site. So to hear the rabbi from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre talk about 'there's no bones, there's no bodies under here' is just - it is just a lie.
Both Simon Wiesenthal and the centre named after him have been accused of flagrant lying, exaggeration and half-truths. One researcher contended that Wiesenthal's confabulations were never discussed among scholars, but "he would rarely let the facts get in the way of a good story
In June 2009, British author Guy Walters published a book entitled Hunting Evil in which he characterized Wiesenthal as "a liar - and a bad one at that". "He would concoct outrageous stories about his war years and make false claims about his academic careers