Once, in Royal David’s City …

Shortly before Christmas, Jews and Israel-supporters world-wide were shocked and disgusted by the disgraceful anti-Israel antics of St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, London. Much has been written about St. James’s “Bethlehem Unwrapped” Christmas festival. For those who may have missed it, I shall merely explain that the church (designed by the great Restoration architect Sir Christopher Wren) has erected in its courtyard, an 8-metre-high wall which purports to be “a replica of the Separation Wall surrounding Bethlehem today”. Personally, I would have thought that  there would be laws prohibiting the defacement of such an iconic London landmark. Surely 330 year-old Wren churches are protected buildings?

Quite apart from the lie that Bethlehem is “surrounded” by the Separation Wall, the organisers of this malicious antisemitic  exhibition masquerading as a protest against “Palestinian suffering” fail to make any mention of the reason for the existence of the Security Barrier, namely, to prevent the infiltration of “Palestinian” suicide bombers  into Israel. It is a fact that the Security Barrier has been largely successful in this aim. Furthermore, the organisers of this abominable  charade have taken pains to give the false impression that Israel has enclosed “Palestine” in a huge, ghetto-like WALL, when in fact, only about 10% of the Barrier is actually a wall, the remaining 90% being comprised of a chain-link fence, with various other security measures, such as trenches, watch towers or double fences, like the one seen below. Thus, they are able to compare it to the infamous Berlin Wall, when nothing, in fact, could be less comparable.

For one thing, the Berlin Wall was designed to keep  citizens of the German “Democratic” Republic prisoners  in the Communist paradise. Israel’s Security Barrier, on the other hand, is designed to keep out genocidal Islamic terrorists. Furthermore, in those places where it is actually a wall, it exists in that form in order to prevent sniper attacks on Israeli citizens. This is the case in some parts of Jerusalem, where Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods lie adjacent to one another – and also at the site of Rachel’s Tomb, just outside (but not “surrounding”) Bethlehem.

Bethlehem and its holy places are a prime example of the Muslim Arab practice of usurping the holy places and historical figures of other religions. Just as they did with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where they deny that there ever was a Jewish Temple on the site, (and, indeed, are actively engaged in erasing every archaeological proof of that Temple which they can find) – claiming that their so-called prophet Muhammed ascended to heaven from that spot and that it was never a Jewish holy place (going even so far as to claim that the Western Wall is actually the site where Muhammed tethered his horse) –  they are now claiming that Jesus was a “Palestinian”.

Ignoring the indignities and persecution suffered by Christians throughout the Muslim world (up to and including the death penalty for converting to Christianity), St. James’s Church has lent its support to a LIE, according to which, if Jesus were to attempt to enter Bethlehem today, he would – as a “Palestinian” – be subjected to Pass laws reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, and humiliating searches of his person and property by Israeli soldiers.

In point of fact, Jesus, who was born, lived and died as a JEW, would not be allowed into Bethlehem today, because Israeli Jews are not allowed into “Palestinian Authority” territory (which includes the city of Bethlehem).  The only part of Bethlehem over which Israel retains security control is Rachel’s Tomb.

Rachel’s Tomb – venerated by Jews since time immemorial as the burial place of Jacob’s favourite wife, who died giving birth to their youngest son, Benjamin – is another one of those holy sites which the Muslims have attempted to usurp, with some measure of success since, in 2010, the “Palestinians” managed to convince UNESCO that the tomb is, in fact, a Muslim holy place, being the grave of Bilal Ibn Rabah (560-640 C.E.) .  According to Islamic tradition, Bilal –  a former slave – was the first muezzin, chosen for the task by Muhammed himself.

The Bible tells us (Genesis 35:19-20): “And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem, And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”

The veneration of Rachel’s Tomb, just outside Bethlehem,  predates Bilal – and Muhammed – by centuries and is attested to in Christian and Muslim, as well as Jewish, sources. For example, St. Jerome (347 – 420 C.E.)  in his Letter to Eustochium, where he consoles her for the death of her mother, St. Paula (347 – 404 C.E.), describes the female saint’s travels in the Holy Land and tells us (Epistolae 108:10): “Then, having distributed from her small means to the poor and fellow servants [Christians], she reached Bethlehem and stood with the tomb of Rachel on her right, in which she brought forth not, as his mother called him dying, Ben-Oni, son of my grief, but as his father prophesied in the spirit, son of my right hand, Ben-Yamin.”

Even earlier, the anonymous Pilgrim of Bordeaux, who travelled to the Holy Land in 333 C.E., mentions the Tomb of Rachel on the right side of the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, about two miles from Bethlehem. (It must be remembered that Bethlehem has grown considerably in the 17 centuries since then then, and those two miles have since become part of Bethlehem’s “urban sprawl”.)

The Muslim geographer and cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi (1099 – 1165) wrote, in 1154: “Half-way down the road [between Bethlehem and Jerusalem] is the tomb of Rachel (Rahil), the mother of Joseph and of Benjamin, the two sons of Jacob peace upon them all!”

Even the Ottoman authorities recognised the site as the Tomb of the mother of Joseph as can be clearly seen from a firman (edict) issued in 1830 by the Turkish Sultan.

Rachel’s Tomb is one place where the Security Barrier actually is a wall. Sniper attacks on Jews visiting the site – the third holiest in the world to Jews, after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the Tombs of the Patriarchs in Hebron – as well as attacks with Molotov cocktails and rocks, made it necessary to construct a corridor protected by high concrete walls, in order that Jews, who have prayed there for centuries, may continue to do so safely.

In Jewish tradition, there has always been a connection between the ill-fated matriarch, Rachel, and the loss of the Jewish homeland. This dates back to the time of the prophet Jeremiah and the Babylonian exile. The captives from Jerusalem were assembled at Ramah, before being taken to Babylon. Thus the prophesy of Jeremiah (Chap. 31:15) was fulfilled: “Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted because they were no more.”

But the prophecy continues in verses 16-17: “…Refrain thy voice from weeping …they shall come again from the land of the enemy…thy children shall come again to their own border.”

During the nineteen years (1948 – 1967) that Bethlehem, together with the rest of Judaea and Samaria (aka “the West Bank”) was illegally occupied by Jordan, Jews were prevented from praying at the tomb of our mother Rachel. Rachel – our mother – came to symbolise the Motherland. No wonder then, that when Bethlehem was liberated by Israeli forces during the Six Day War, poets and songwriters should have envisaged the return to the Motherland as the return to the loving arms of a grieving mother as in this song performed by the Israel Navy entertainment troupe and soloist Rivka Zohar (lyrics by Shmuel Rosen and music by Effi Netzer):

“Refrain your voice, Rachel, refrain your voice from weeping. We are all here, Rachel, our kit-bags on our shoulders. We’ll no more leave, Rachel, nor shall you depart, We shall not leave again, Rachel, The vineyards of Bethlehem.
See, Rachel, see! See, Lord of the Universe! See, Rachel, see. They have come again to their own border.”

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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23 Responses to Once, in Royal David’s City …

  1. Abba says:

    This is perhaps the best blog you have ever written. i marvel at your extensive knowledge; your erudition and your style in the presentation of historical facts. Anyone looking for truth and justice must surely applaud your pursuit of truth. Yes, the lies are horrendous – St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, London should be shunned by any decent Christian; (has any senior churchman in Britain or elsewhere remarked on this, I wonder) I wonder if the church’s representatives could be prosecuted for incitement and/or malicious slander? (I suppose anti-semitism is not considered a crime in “the mother of democracies”)

    • Thank you! You are very kind. I do my best, as do we all, to present the truth to a world which is, more often than not, indifferent (at best) or even hostile.
      I am not aware of any senior churchman in the Church of England condemning this.

  2. David says:

    This is an excellent and very informative blog. I think it is fair to say that the motive of this piece of Goebbels-style propaganda is to promote antisemitism.

    • Thank you.
      I take it “Goebbels-style propaganda” refers to the fake wall, not to my blog. 😉

      • David says:

        Yes of course. I mean not only the fake Wall but the whole mythology surrounding the real one and the very idea that a wall that stops people crossing in unauthorized places is oppressive. It’s like saying that Britain is oppressive for insisting that cargo boats dock at recognized ports – rather than allowing people to land boats laden with “brandy for the parson and baccy for the clerk” on the Cornish coast! Except that brandy and baccy are not quite as lethal as explosive belts on a bus or in a cafe.

  3. Ian G says:

    Fascinating post this one. I am particularly interested because I included photographs of Rachel’s tomb and of the other patriarchal tombs in the material I created for my recent finished Bible Study on Genesis. I thought my study group should see the reality of the tombs both as historical and archaeological realities and as a lesson in what has been done to them by the Arab religion.

    As you may know, I have commented in four posts on my blog recently on the St. James situation. For your readers, as for Daphne Anson’s, I would like to stress that most evangelical Christians, and some Catholic ones as well, have viewed St. James with extreme distaste and embarrassment for many years. The reasons for this distance are not just due to its antisemitism. Theologically, it has been suspect for a long time. Unsurprisingly, dubious theology has led to dubious behaviour.

    I am amazed that anyone ever believes that Jesus was a Palestinian, but it has gained traction and I have examined the demise of Religious Education in the UK that has led to this not being challenged.

    My apologies for a little bit of self-promotion but I hope that you and your readers will find what i have written to be of interest.

    As for official condemnation of the St James affair, Hell may freeze over first. The best you are likely to get is over at Cranmer’s blog but it is heavily ironic and can be misunderstood.

    • Hallo again, Ian. Yes, I read your posts with interest. I also followed the link to Cranmer’s blog, which was very interesting. I would be happy to develop the discussion on “dubious theology” here as well – I am sure my readers would find it of interest, even though it is somewhat off topic – if one topic leads to another, that’s fine with me 🙂

  4. Carolyn says:

    I agree, this is probably the best post you have written! As a Brit and a Christian I am ashamed of the lily-livered so-called clerics in this country who do not seek out the truth and proclaim it from the roof tops! Those of us who are “nobodies” do our best and I do know that there are some who are fighting for the truth to be heard, but it is like walking through treacle up a mountain in the prevailing climate!

    • Hi, Carolyn!

      “it is like walking through treacle up a mountain in the prevailing climate!” – It’s a pity the current heavy rainstorms can’t blow St. James’ away (figuratively speaking, of course)!
      Are the so-called clerics merely “lily-livered”, or is there something more sinister at work here?

      Thank you for your support – and I hope you are safe and warm and not being buffeted too much by the winds and floods.

      • Carolyn says:

        We are ok here, thanks, so far 🙂

        I do think there is an agenda, but I am convinced that most people who are on this particular bandwagon have no idea what it is! It seems to have something to do with the predominance of left wing radical liberalism (is that not an oxymoron?) propounded by the too powerful BBC and newspapers read by the BBC like the Guardian! If you can get hold of Melanie Phillips’s memoir “Guardian Angel”, she takes the readers through her time working at the Guardian and how she eventually “saw the light”.

        As to the influence on the mindset of these people, I think the discussion possibly veers more towards the theological than political or social But that is just my opinion! x

      • Would you say, then, that supersessionism and “replacement theology” is at play here?

      • Carolyn says:

        Without a doubt, in the broadest sense! Even if it is not understood specifically by those participating, the influence is there in the large “Christian” institutions like the RC and Anglican church in Britain and also those churches that are Calvinist. I was brought up in a non-conformist tradition that strongly supported Israel and her right to exist and for the Jewish right of return. So I have always been a supporter even before I understood a little bit more about eschatology. For me as a Christian the New Testament book of Romans chs 9-11 are to be taken literally. I don’t know how people can purport to be Christian if they don’t have a basic understanding of what their New Testament says, especially about something so important! Again its my opinion. I am not an expert on any of this!

  5. Ian G says:

    It’s late on Sunday evening, a busy day for a Churchwarden and Christian Preacher, so I’ll be very brief. Supersessionism/Replacement Theology (same thing) is one of the factors. Neo-pagan/ new age/liberal-radical theologies (almost the same things) are also a major factor. So is sheer ignorance, see my own posts at http://thealmondrod.blogspot.co.uk/. However, not all Supersessionists are anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist. This may come as a surprise, but it is true. I think I will have to examine this on my own blog and let you know when I do.

    As for lily-livered clerics, it’s partly that and partly a desire not to split the Church/denomination – so yes, mostly lily-livered..

    I’d like to see the winds blow the ‘Wall’ down; as Dagon had to bow before the Ark of the Covenant.

  6. TBM says:

    Wow. I feel like an idiot since I didn’t hear about this. I avoided the news and such for the past few weeks since I’ve been so busy. Thanks for the informative post. I’m shaking my head.

    • Actually, there’s a silver lining there – because it means that the organisers of this anti-Israel hate-fest didn’t attract nearly as much attention as they wished. It clearly wasn’t exactly front page news for the average Brit.

  7. Chrissie says:

    I absolutely agree with your suggestion, Shimona, that supersessionism and Replacement Theology are definitely in play! Although raised largely Episcopalian, I left that theology behind decades ago and have long believed that Israel is the apple of God’s eye. We touch her at our peril. I also believe that Israel has an absolute right to the Land and to extended boundaries we only dream of presently.

    • The thing is, though, that while supersessionism and replacement theology can explain, in part, the church’s attitude to the Jewish state, I can’t find any logical explanation for the way they have turned their back on their fellow-Christians and ignored the plight of Christians throughout the Muslim world! Unless their hatred for Jews is so all-consuming that they’re ready to throw their own brethren to the wolves for the sake of trashing Israel…

      • Carolyn says:

        I think it is complicated theologically speaking! I could be making a wrong assessment, but the monolith that is perceived as “The Church” is just the institution. The real “Church” is made up of individuals that believe the New Testament Gospel message. These I would call the inspirational church. The institutional church has become very political and will have vested interests that might be compromised by speaking out for those who are being persecuted, especially those in Muslim countries.

        These are just my own observations and I am very good at making sweeping generalisations 😉

      • Surely “the institutional church” has always been very political.
        It’s hard to see what “vested interests” could be more important than the safety of its members.

  8. UPDATE: This very evening, Monday January 6th, 2014, a pipe bomb was thrown by “Palestinians” at Rachel’s Tomb, wounding a young man who had to be evacuated by paramedics. This comes after, earlier in the day, a grenade was thrown at an IDF base near the town.


  9. Mary says:

    I don’t presume to comment on your broadranging post.But the wall being compared to the Berlin wall reminded me of a common logical error
    A has an X
    B has an X
    Therefore A is B.
    I believe that this type of error is made by some people with schizophrenia or in normal people [?]
    sometimes like when we see someone wearing a hat like our mother wore and begin to treat her as if she were our mother.l
    I think it also inks to the apartheid comparison so if I build a wall to stop my neighbours thrwoing trash into my garden I am behaving like South Africa did.Clearly there is an error here.
    I think it’s because we learn about things by comparisons but these comparisons may be flawed.
    And here we are so worried about the recession etc that people are not interested.It is hard to get the information.ied
    I must say some places where the wall has divided a family from their garden or field where they grow food have been reported and I found them distressing but the only Jewish people I know are descended from Jews who came from Russia circa 1900 so they do not know m uch

  10. Pingback: Yidl Mitn Fidl | THE VIEW FROM THE PALACE

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