Monday, March 01, 2010
UNESCO's Director-General, Irina Bokova, has 'expressed concern' at the Israeli government's plan to include in its renovation programme the biblical heritage sites of the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's tomb in Hebron. We've yet to hear any expression of concern from Mrs Bokova at Iraq's planned islamicisation of Ezekiel's tomb, or indeed news that control of renovation works has passed to UNESCO, as promised by the Iraqi authorities. This lucid article in The American Thinker reminds us that Ezekiel's tomb, like the Prophet Ezekiel in his own lifetime, is in the forefront of a cultural war:
A short fifteen-minute drive outside Kerbala, Iraq, one can witness the frontlines of the clash between East and West, Islamism and progress. There, in the small town of Al-Kifl, lies -- at least at the time of this writing -- the 2,500-year-old Tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel. But for the first time in recorded history, the Tomb is threatened not by the collateral damage of war, nor the ignominies of thieves and bandits, but by a planned, government-authorized, and taxpayer-funded demolition.
The Jerusalem Post and various watchdog groups have reported that the Iraqi Cultural and Antiquities Authority are implementing plans to erect a mosque on top of Ezekiel's Tomb. Last month, the process began as the ancient Hebrew inscriptions adorning the inside of the Tomb were defaced, perhaps irrevocably, and covered over by plaster.
With the not-so-distant memory of the Taliban's destruction of Buddhist statuary in Afghanistan still in mind, the impending Islamification of the Jewish shrine of the Tomb might seem like the product of a uniquely modern cultural phenomenon. But in reality, the history of Ezekiel's Tomb reflects the millennial ebb and flow of Islamic power.
It was only once the Ottoman period ended that the tomb was wrested from Islamic control and returned to Jewish custodianship; and, strangely, it was under the Ba'athist Saddam Hussein that the site was restored and actually protected from destruction. But today, as Islamist power congeals across the globe, the Tomb faces perhaps its greatest and most imminent threat.
This current threat mirrors Ezekiel's own prophetic life -- and in this way, it is a continuance of his prophecy. Ezekiel prophesied in a turbulent and uncertain time in Jewish history, leading a defeated people from the destruction of Jerusalem to the rivers of Babylon. He was on the forefront of a cultural war, where his vision of a new Jewish reality-in-exile could confront those who wished to forget the tragedies of their past, wipe away their identity, and disappear.
Read article in full