Caving to Arab pressure, Israel to dismantle public menorah

Menorah placed on tomb of Jewish prophet “infringes upon the sanctity of the site,” local Arabs complain.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s Civil Administration ordered the Nature and Parks Authority to dismantle a large menorah installed atop the tomb of the prophet Samuel because local Arabs complained, Arutz Sheva reported on Thursday.

The tomb is located in the northern outskirts of Jerusalem, within a national park administered by Israeli authorities, near the Arab neighborhood Bayt Iksa.

Yesterday, a Facebook page covering events at the tomb featured an image of the menorah lit up at night, during a pre-Hanukkah test run.

The picture’s caption said the menorah will “illuminate all the way to Jerusalem and the surrounding area,” and noted the historical importance of the sacred object “in the place where the Maccabees went to fight the Greeks.”

However, the image sparked outrage on Arabic language social media.

Palestinian news site WAFA incorrectly described the tomb of the Jewish prophet as “the village mosque” and said that “Jewish settlers” had erected the menorah in order to “erode the site of its Islamic features.”

Hussam Abu al-Rub, of the Palestinian Authority’s Religious Affairs Ministry, said the menorah was an “infringement upon the sanctity” of the site.

The backlash was apparently enough to cause Israel’s Civil Administration to order the menorah to be dismantled, just days before the start of the Hanukkah holiday.

A number of right wing Israeli NGOs decried the capitulation.

In a joint statement, Maor Tzemach of Your Jerusalem and Matan Peleg of Im Tirtzu said “the Civil Administration has forgotten its mission.”

“It is not possible for the administration’s staff to act as a hostile and anti-Jewish factor and issue instructions on what is happening in a national park,” the statement continued.

“We call for the menorah to be returned immediately to Samuel’s tomb.”

“This is an outrageous and hallucinatory act,” Shai Glick of the B’tselmo NGO told Arutz Sheva.

“There is no dispute about the sanctity of the prophet Samuel and [his] belonging to the Jewish people. As with the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Civil Administration forgets that these heritage sites are Jewish heritage sites and have nothing to do with ‘Palestinian heritage’.”