Breker, great thread. Thanks for starting this. I hope that it can be kept up to date, and developed as a resource. It's getting a permanent bookmark from me.
We've had some prime sources posted already. I just want to add a handful more.
(1), "Desecration of Graves in Eretz Israel"
by Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz. The article is choked with all kinds of pharisaic Hebrew mumbo jumbo, and it's not a fun read, but a bunch of important things stand out. First and most importantly, the plain fact that emerges, for all that Breitowitz may not be happy about it, that Jewish graves are regularly
disturbed in Israel for all kinds of reasons, including everything from high-minded archaeological research to such low-brow, mundane projects as building a new underground parking garage:
And yet as is so often the case, we the Jewish people are our worst enemy. The very activity which, if undertaken by others would elicit the sharpest of protest, is taking place on our land by our people. The relatively few who actively try to stop this desecration are derided as fanatics and extremists who glorify the dead over the "needs" of the living though those "needs" may be no more significant than the construction of an underground parking garage.
Indeed, if there is any chance at all to induce the Israeli government to impose stricter controls or restrictions on what is presently a virtual carte blanche to indiscriminately excavate any ancient sites for any purpose, it is essential that it perceive the issue as being more than a problem that bothers only a small segment of the ultra Orthodox.
At least until the Peres announcement, however, it had been the Israeli government's position that the Antiquities Authority was authorized to grant such permission through its licensing procedure. In effect, this created a Catch-22; any excavation which had been duly licensed under the Antiquities Act - and such permits have never been hard to obtain - was by definition done "with permission" and could not be attacked through the Penal Code.
It should also be noted that the issue is not merely the excavation and relocation of bones to alternative burial sites; it has been reported that in a number of cases, bones have simply been scattered or dumped, an unpardonable desecration of kavod hamet which cannot be allowed to occur under any circumstances.
As the references to Peres and Rabin (PMs of Israel in the mid-90s) indicate, the article itself is some fifteen years old. So who knows? Maybe Rabbi Breitowitz and Friends have made some headway since then. But note that, at the time anyway, "The relatively few who actively try to stop this desecration [i.e., the disturbance of Jewish graves]" apparently were regularly "derided as fanatics and extremists" by mainstream Israeli society. Breitowitz whines that "it is essential that it [the government] perceive the issue as being more than a problem that bothers only a small segment of the ultra Orthodox"-- which is another way of saying that most Jews just don't give a damn, no? Are attitudes likely to have changed all that much since then? And finally, if "in a number of cases, bones have simply been scattered or dumped"--in Israel!!! by Jews!!!--and if this really is "an unpardonable desecration of kavod hamet [dignity of the dead] which cannot be allowed to occur under any circumstances," what possible rationale can there be for not
recovering the bones that those evil Nazis just "scattered or dumped," and bringing them to Israel for a proper Jewish burial?
Whatever the reason for the prohibition, the exceptions to it are few. . . . Disinterment is also permitted in order to bring a met [deceased] to Eretz Yisrael or to kever avot (burial plot of his ancestors).
True enough, there does seem to be a "prohibition" in Jewish law--or at least in the minds of a certain subset of Orthodox rabbis--against disturbing Jewish graves. But apparently it doesn't get much respect even in Eretz Yisrael itself. Maybe they don't want to move the Jewish dead from Treblinka, etc., for reburial in the Homeland because they're worried some real estate developer in Haifa will want to build a parking lot over them someday? What else could it be? What are they waiting for?
(2) More mind-boggling hypocrisy: The Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance
. You couldn't make this stuff up:
A Frank Gehry-designed museum can rise in Jerusalem on a site that was once a Muslim cemetery, Israel's Supreme Court ruled today, clearing the way for L.A.'s Simon Wiesenthal Center to build a Holy Land counterpart to its Museum of Tolerance on Pico Boulevard.
The $250-million project had been delayed since early 2006, when builders unearthed bones. Arab leaders in Israel sued to stop the project and were supported, in an unusual alliance, by some ultra-Orthodox Jews with firm beliefs against disturbing graves.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement Wednesday that "moderation and tolerance have prevailed." But Zahi Nujidat, a spokesman for the Israeli Islamic movement, decried the ruling as "clear religious and ethnic oppression," according to the Associated Press.
The Supreme Court's ruling requires museum builders to consult with Israel's Antiquities Authority on how to rebury any remains unearthed during construction and on creating a barrier between graves and the building's foundation. The court found that the cemetary dates back 300 to 400 years but fell into disuse after Israel gained statehood in 1948. The court said that since there had been no objections in 1960, when the city built a parking lot over part of the cemetery, it would not block construction of the museum on the same property.
So a "Museum of Tolerance" can be built over Muslim graves to celebrate perpetual Jewish victimhood courtesy of the Wiesenthal Center, but Jewish graves can't be disturbed under any circumstances--even to prove the existence of the graves in the first place (e.g., as at Treblinka)? Apparently so: the Israeli Supreme Court has spoken. It seems like Rabbi Breitowitz and his ultra-Orthodox friends haven't made much headway after all--"moderation and tolerance have prevailed," as the triumphant Rabbi Hier puts it on the other side. (I guess that would make the "ultra-Orthodox" and their "firm belief against disturbing graves" immoderate
, wouldn't it.)
And some people just don't get the message. They were still whining about it in 2010 (A Museum of Tolerance we don't need
) in fact, but our Rabbi had the answer:
And with reference to Palestinians who have filed legal actions and persisted in expressing anxiety over their families' remains, Hier had this message just last month: "The case is over; get used to it."
Now there's a man revisionists could learn from. Chutzpah! We only need to change one word, then take it to the world: "The hoax is over; get used to it."
(3) Oh, wait a minute, apparently you can
dig up mass graves after all! Poles to Exhume Mass Grave of Jews Killed in Massacre
WARSAW — With the main rabbi of the Polish capital watching, workers removed soil Thursday from a mass grave of Jews in preparation for an exhumation to determine how many people died.
Poland's Jewish community reluctantly accepted the government's decision to exhume the bodies of Jews massacred nearly 60 years ago in the northeastern town of Jedwabne as part of an inquiry that also will examine whether anyone should be criminally charged.
Jewish law allows exhumation only in very rare, extreme cases and under strict conditions.
The massacre was long remembered with a memorial that falsely blamed the Nazis for killing about 1,600 Jews in the village. A book published last year disclosed that the slayings were carried out by the victims' Polish neighbors.
Ah, you see, now that changes everything. We can't falsely blame the Nazis for killing 1,600 Jews when there's the possibility that "the slayings were carried out by the victims' Polish neighbors" instead. And why would that be important? (To expand the reach of the reparations-collective guilt machine to the Poles, perhaps?) Whatever the reason, apparently it is ok to exhume Jewish mass graves after all.
If it's acceptable to dig at Jedwabne in order "to determine how many people died" there, then it has to be acceptable, for the same reason, to dig at Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek and Birkenau.
There's no excuse.
But then of course they're afraid of what will--or rather won't
--be found, aren't they.