Thursday, June 28, 2012

Egypt blocks pilgrims from visiting rabbi's tomb

The pilgrimage to the tomb of rabbi Yaakov Abuhatseira will be a thing of the past

Whatever other values the new Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Muhammed Morsi, might stand for, freedom of worship for Jews is not among them. Egypt puts the final nail in the coffin of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty by blocking Jewish pilgrims from visiting the tomb of a famous 19th century rabbi, Israel National News reports. (With thanks: Jeremy)

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had told Israel that it would not be “appropriate” for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta.

Egypt notified Israel two months ago that it would be “impossible to hold the annual ceremony because of the political and security situation in the country,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Wednesday's announcement came as Muslim Brotherhood activists mobilized to block the pilgrimage route.

Ceremonies at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuchatzeira have triggered yearly political sparring in Egypt throughout most of the last decade.

An Islamist politician involved in organizing protests against the march meanwhile said that visiting the gravesite in the village of Daymouta, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo would be a “suicide mission” for Israelis.

“Normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of the people and despite popular rejection,” said Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s daily Al-Ahram newspaper reported Tuesday that 31 parties and groups had joined this year’s campaign to block Israeli pilgrims from reaching the site.

A son to a chief rabbi of Morocco, Yaakov Abuchatzeira was revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The elderly rabbi was making his way from his native Morocco to the Holy Land in 1879, when he fell ill and died in the Egyptian city of Damanhour near Alexandria.

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