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Palestinian leaders and their western supporters on the political Left are now re-interpreting biblical history amid a wider expansion of woke activism in the Middle East, critics say. The Palestinian Authority (PA), emboldened by some in Europe and United Nations bodies, are looking to dismantle Judeo-Christian ties to the Holy Land as they seek to invent a new narrative favoring their claims on the region, opponents of the campaign argue.

“The PA’s erasure of Jewish history combined with the inventing of a Palestinian history is used by the PA to define Israelis as ‘Zionist thieves,’ ‘usurpers,’ ‘foreigners,’ ‘invaders,’ ‘colonialists,’ in short people with no connection to the land who therefore must be defeated and expelled,” Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli-based organization researching Palestinian society, told Fox News.

Marcus points to the many historically inaccurate statements made by senior PA officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas, who in a 2016 claimed during a televised speech on Palestinian TV that, “our narrative says that we were in this land since before Abraham. I am not saying it. The Bible says it. The Bible says, in these words, that the Palestinians existed before Abraham. So why don’t you recognize my right?”

Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Palestinian Authority Supreme Shari’ah Judge and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah Justice denied the claims in a statement to Fox News. “We are not trying to rewrite history, but we have the right to write our history according to our narrative in which we believe, just like the Israelis who write their history according to their narrative in which they believe. We have our own Religious and Historical narrative, and the Jews have their own Religious and Historical narrative,” he said.

Al-Habbash concluded, “The Israelis do not believe in our narrative, and we do not believe in their narrative, but this is not the problem, The problem in essence is political and lies In the Israeli occupation of our country. Our Conflict is not religious or about history, it is a political conflict embedded in the Occupation, when the occupation ends, there will be no conflict between us, nor religious or historical.”

Jerusalem has and continues to be the main flashpoint in the fight to erase history. Senior Palestinian leaders summarily dismiss Judaism’s holiest site, The Temple Mount, as an “alleged Temple.” Ze’ev Orenstein, director of International Affairs for the City of David, an archeological site for ancient Jerusalem, told Fox News, “There is no place in the world which holds more significance for more people than Jerusalem. Yet, today, both the U.N. and Palestinian leadership are seeking to erase the Jewish and Christian heritage of Jerusalem.” 

“Every single day, archaeological excavations in the City of David – the place where Jerusalem began…are affirming not simply as a matter of faith, but as a matter of fact, the millennia-old connection of Jews and Christians to Jerusalem,” Orenstein added. “This includes the discovery of millennia-old inscriptions affirming biblical events; ancient seals with the names – in Hebrew – of figures straight out of the pages of the Bible, including that of the biblical King Hezekiah – direct descendant of King David from 2,700 years ago.” 

Orenstein says that by visiting the City of David, people can witness this history “with their own eyes, touch with their own hands, and walk upon with their own feet.”

Yet, while the erasure campaign is especially charged around Jerusalem, Regavim, an Israeli nongovernmental organization, warns that the cradle of Jewish history has been under constant attack for years.

“The Palestinian Authority has undertaken a very carefully and purposefully orchestrated program of historical revisionism, in an attempt to blur and eventually erase the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel,” Naomi Kahn, Regavim’s international spokesperson, told Fox News. “Because Judea and Samaria are the cradle of Jewish history, these areas are quite naturally the focal points of this insidious campaign.”

She said, “The Palestinian Authority and its supporters have proven willing, even eager, to destroy the physical remains of thousands of years of Judeo-Christian culture in an attempt to make way for a fictitious quasi-historical narrative that supports their political agenda.”

Kahn said the Oslo Accord made it clear that the Palestinian Authority had to protect sites of Judeo-Christian significance and that the PA “was required to protect and enable free access – for worship, study, tourism and scientific exploration.” The “PA has completely disregarded these requirements,” she said.

Kahn gave these examples:

Sebastia is the name the Romans gave to Samaria and the capital city of the Northern Israelite Kingdom founded in the 9th century B.C. It is now an official Palestinian tourism site, but Regavim claims that visitors will hear no mention of its Jewish connection, including its being an independent Jewish kingdom of which Samaria was the seat of government.

In the same area, Regavim said there once stood a Byzantine structure purporting to be the burial place of St. John the Baptist’s head, but added that the structure has been destroyed and defaced. It now lies in ruins. Regavim says other cathedrals that were turned into mosques in Sebastia have been reinterpreted in PA tourism guides. Regavim said it had identified over 300 such sites “that have been looted, damaged or totally decimated or are in the process of being wiped out.”

Kahn concluded with a warning, “Like the massive destruction wreaked on cultural artifacts by ISIS, the destruction of sites throughout Judea and Samaria is a tragedy for the shared cultural and historical legacy of humankind, and civilized nations should not be complicit in this barbarism.”

A leading Christian scholar says the attack on Jewish history has consequences for Christians. Rev. Dr. Petra Heldt, director of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel, told Fox News that “re-writing biblical history with an anti-Israel attempt ventures to set a potentially fatal blow to the Christian faith.”

Heldt, who is also a professor of history of the Churches in the Middle East at Jerusalem University College and works on mutual understanding between Christians and Jews in Israel, noted that Christian society today is “often on the brink of forgetting the Bible and the Christian tradition.” She added that “re-writing Biblical history (in particular by eliminating Israel), therefore, will lure nominal Christians into the realm of the deceiver affiliated with agendas of anti-Semitism, secularism, or other religions.”

The PA-controlled historic city of Hebron is another flashpoint. Yishai Fleisher, the international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron, said the city has served as an example of how the rewriting of the historical record has changed the historical narrative to favor the Palestinians. He noted that in 2017 UNESCO voted to put the Tomb of the Patriarchs as a Palestinian world heritage site that it said was under threat from the Israelis. That vote led the Trump administration to quit the U.N. body.

A spokesman from The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) told Fox News, “All decisions at the executive board, general conference and World Heritage committee are adopted by member states, not by UNESCO itself,” when referring to votes on Hebron and Jerusalem. The spokesman continued that, “UNESCO will keep on opposing any attempts of revision of history: heritage in its historic complexity should unite people, rather than divide them. This is UNESCO’s core objective.” The spokesman concluded, “Any accusation or comment about UNESCO being ‘anti-Israel’ is clearly inaccurate.”

Fleisher, speaking on Fox News’ chief religion correspondent Lauren Green’s “Lighthouse Faith” podcast, discussed the significance of Hebron to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Fleisher explained that Israel’s first capital was Hebron, and that Genesis describes Abraham making a land purchase to bury his beloved wife Sarah 3,800 years ago in Hebron.  

He said Abraham was also laid to rest in the tomb with Sarah and following their passing so were his son, Isaac, and grandson, Jacob, and their wives Rebecca and Leah. They were all buried inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriachs in Hebron, making it one of the holiest sites in Judaism. King Herod built a structure 2,000 years ago to mark the tombs and made it a mausoleum. Subsequently, the al-Haram al-Ibrahimi Mosque was built within the structure, and it still functions as an active mosque for Hebron’s majority Muslim community.

Fleisher sounded a warning on the consequences. “In lieu of defeating Israel on the battlefield, the jihad has initiated a war of delegitimization intended on erasing international support for Israel,” he said. “In essence it’s a massive smear campaign in which Israel’s ancient history in this land is systematically erased and replaced with an invented Palestinian narrative. The main target of this campaign are young westerners who are simply too ignorant to fight back with facts.”

Fleisher said he will continue to defend history from what he called “the jihadist replacement narrative. We will do everything to fight it and assert our historic rights in Judea and fight historical erasure.”

Following a petition we filed to the High Court of Justice against the Civil Administration, an illegal structure at an archaeological site in Samaria was removed. The CA was also charged with the expenses of the legal process.

A few months ago, we noticed an Arab invasion of Israeli state land at Khirbet Khurkosh, an archaeological site near the city of Ariel in Samaria.

Regavim alerted the authorities six (!) times to enforce the law, but work continued at the site – as part of the #BattleforAreaC. We petitioned the High Court to instruct the authorities to implement legislation from 2018 regarding the demolition of new structures.

During the court hearing, the Civil Administration told the judges that the structure’s owner, Falastin Musa Ahmad Abu Eid, received an interim order from the High Court that froze the enforcement process. However, the CA officials promised that once the interim order would expire, the new legislation would be applied in this case.

Despite this, and despite the Court fining the CA (essentially blaming them for the situation), the construction criminals continued to build at the site.

So we pressured the CA (again) to enforce the law, and finally, yesterday morning, forces came to tear down the structure.

We congratulate the CA for doing its job properly, but we are troubled by the fact that the authorities woke up only after Regavim’s petition and after the Court fined the CA. The whole point of the 2018 legislation is to facilitate and shorten the enforcement process, allowing for the demolition of new structures within days rather than months!

The Civil Administration doesn’t like public criticism and scrutiny, but in this case, their failure to act swiftly must be noted. It’s no wonder that the CA has proven incapable in the face of the strategic, systematic takeover of Area C and the open spaces in Judea & Samaria.
On our part, we’ll continue to monitor matters on the ground, throughout the Land of Israel, and to protect Israel’s resources and preserve its sovereignty. If you would like to support our activities, make an online, tax-deductible donation here.

The State of Israel enacted an effective enforcement order to fight the Palestinian takeover of Judea and Samaria, but the Civil Administration has refrained from using it – despite the approval of the High Court of Justice. Now, the Regavim Movement and the Samaria Regional Council have submitted a High Court petition demanding that the legislation be applied against Palestinian invasion of an archaeological site in Samaria.

Over the past several months, Regavim has documented a persistent stream of incursion and annexation, as residents of Burkin, a village located in the area under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, have taken over a significant parcel of land in the Ariel Commercial Zone – located in Area C, under full Israeli jurisdiction.

The area that is being quietly annexed is adjacent to an archaeological site known as Khirbet Khurkosh, where a magnificent Hellenistic Era mausoleum was discovered, along with other remains dating from the Iron Age through the Middle Ages.

This gradual annexation began with road work, which was soon followed by land clearing and preparation for agricultural work. Mature olive trees were quickly planted, in an attempt to make the newly-cleared area look “old” – and now, a large structure, already connected to electricity infrastructure despite its considerable distance from the village, is nearing completion. This entire project is unfolding on “survey land,” Israeli state land for which full registration has not been completed.

The recently-filed High Court petition emphasizes that six different requests for enforcement were submitted to the relevant authorities at each of the stages of the annexation process, but the work continued, unhindered, and no discernable enforcement has been carried out.

For years, the Palestinian Authority and its partners in the European Union have exploited the Israeli bureaucratic and legal systems, successfully preventing law enforcement against illegal Palestinian annexation.

In 2018, the “Order for the Removal of New Illegal Structures” was enacted by the defense establishment and the State Attorney’s Office as part of the “Battle for Area C.” This legislation allows the demolition of new structures built without a permit within six months of construction. The order may be implemented within 96 hours of issuance of an eviction order.

The “Removal of New Structures” order is an effective enforcement tool that makes it possible to streamline the law enforcement process and make it more difficult for offenders to establish facts on the ground by abusing the judicial process.

After the “Removal of New Structures” order was enacted, left-wing organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice to strike it down, but their petition was rejected and the High Court approved the order’s use. Nonetheless, to this day the state has made minimal use of this order, despite the fact that it has proven to be the most efficient and effective tool in the fight against illegal construction.

In the petition filed by Regavim Movement and the Samaria Regional Council, attorneys Avi Segal and Yael Cinnamon requested that the High Court order the authorities to apply the “Order for Removal of New Structures” against the ongoing invasion of Khirbet Khurkosh.

Samaria Council Chairman Yossi Dagan said: “The Security Cabinet announced its intention to battle the PA’s annexation of Area C, and the time has come for the enforcement authorities to act accordingly – to approach the problem in a systematic fashion and to act systematically. We must stop the Palestinian Authority’s rampage, and tell them, loudly and clearly, who’s the boss.”

The joint petition stresses that “this case illustrates the PA’s systematic, well-financed and carefully-planned takeover of Area C, which seeks to shift the focal point of Palestinian development from Area B to Area C. The Palestinian Authority is establishing facts on the ground in order to tie Israel’s hands – both in terms of current security considerations and in terms of political leverage in strategic points in Area C. These one-sided facts on the ground will impact the opening positions for future negotiations, and the State of Israel must address them right now.”

An illegal structure built on Israeli state lands at the archaeological site of Khirbet Khurkosh