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.”