Monday, January 15

Death of Death

There are thousands of graves in the old Muslim graveyard, located on the border between Jaffa and Kiryat Shalom neighborhood.
They are all, but for one, nameless.

Some of the graves go back a hundred years, others date back to the 1970-ies.

The destruction is stupifying, as if an earthquake toppled the large majority of the graves and threw the gravestones in disarray.
Jaffa has several Muslim graveyards, some of them located in Jaffa, others, the later ones, outside of what were at the time the city limits.

People, even the poor, were always burried in a careful manner, the graves topped by large gravestones, some made of expensive, beautifully carved and decorated marble (for the rich, or perhaps for the beloved) and others of simple stone structures for the less well off. Each grave carried a marble plate with the name and a quotation from the Kur'an.

No longer so. Someone, or, more likely a lot of someones, came and systematically destroyed every single grave. All nameplates have been removed. Some of the grave cellars are open, filled up with building rubble and rubbish.

The graveyards are under the care of the Muslim "waqf". But that waqf is unable to take care of vandalism of this magnitude.
Many of the graves belong to Palestinians, whose families were forced to leave the area in 1948.
Others still have their relatives in Jaffa, who come to visit the graveyard a few times a year, the graveyard, not the graves. They have become unrecognizable. The names have been systematically removed. This is not the work of a few bored youngsters. Whole slabs of marble have been carried off. Stonehewed names whittled off.

For this you need heavy duty tools, a lot of time, intent and it makes a lot of noise as well.

The Kiryat Shalom graveyard is located right in the middle of a neighborhood. A Jewish neighborhood. It has a fence, but there is no enterance gate.

The Jaffa graveyards are not in a great condition, as the graves are being eroded by the salty wind and the sandrocks slowly crumbling into the sea. There is very little devastation (if at all) carried out by man. All graves have names. They may be eroded a little, but there are few questions as to the reason behind the erosion: nature
There are no such questions when relating to the vandalism in the Kiryat Shalom graveyard. there is not one single undamaged grave. This is not nature, but hate.

Last year a Muslim NGO from Jaffa cleaned the graveyard and restored one of the buildings, so visitors would have a roof over their heads, some shadow, a place to drink some water.
The buiding was fenced off. The fences and had locked iron entrance doors which have disappeared. Inside the building is black, due to fires.

I found bones, dried out, white, ancient looking, in some spots. An arm, some vertebrae. I buried them, not really knowing what else i could have done. I'm not a religious person, but i said "Kaddish", not knowing what else to say. Really speechless, ashamed.

Obviously i do not blame the inhabitants of the nearby neighborhood, i have no idea who did this, or rather, i do not know specific details. However, what i DO know, is that this person (or rather, persons) are evil hateful people.


J.P. said...

How afraid they must be of the others
that they only do have enough courage
to disturb the rest of the dead!

yudit said...

Perhaps, but greedhave may played a role as well: The texts have been removed and broken, but bits & pieces can still be found around the graves and like a bitter puzzle of remembrance, the names could be reconstructed like a puzzle.
As there is no registry, it would be difficult to attach them to a specifi grave, unless the family still knows and is able to visit.

The large slabs of marble have been removed, often smaller pieces are still in place on the edges, where they were broken off. But the slabs themselves are gone, except in the occasional case where apperntly they were to heavy tp carry and got left behind at strange angles a short way away from the grave. Or perhaps the thieves were caught in the act. I wonder how much of this marble has been "recycled" and is to be found on kitchen counter tops, floors and perhaps other graves.

Anopther point is ofcourse the sheer vandalism of the last year. A Muslim NGO restored the centralbuilding (seen in the photograph and cleaned the graveyard about a year ago.
Much damage has been done to the building and to the graves which at that time were stil more or less in tact.
The rubbish dumped into the caved in gravecellars is beyond comparison.

richards1052 said...

This story grieves me so. I simply can't believe it's possible for human beings (I assume Jews) to do such things. What am I saying? Of course, this is the ME. Such things appear to happen on a daily basis there (but not just there of course).

Too bad Israel doesn't have hate crimes legislation--or does it? This seems tailor made for a hate crimes prosecution. Though of course the Israeli authorities would find this "crime" a real snooze & investigate w. all the intensity of Inspector Clouseau.

Anonymous said...

Yes,disgraceful what's happening in graveyards in Jaffa under the care of the Muslim "waqf".

That's for sharing

One remembers when the Arab Legion captured in 1948 the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem - the destruction, desecration and systematic looting of Jewish sites began and continued. 57 ancient synagogues (the oldest dated to the 13th century), libraries and centers of religious study were ransacked and 12 were totally and deliberately destroyed. Those that remained standing were defaced, used for housing of both people and animals. The city's foremost Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum. Appeals were made to the United Nations and in the international community to declare the Old City to be an 'open city' and stop this destruction, but there was no response. This condition continued until Jordan lost control of Jerusalem in June 1967.

On the Mount of Olives, the Jordanian Arabs removed 38,000 tombstones from the ancient cemetery and used them as paving stones for roads and as construction material in Jordanian Army camps, including use as latrines. When the area was recaptured by Israel in 1967, graves were found open with the bones scattered. Parts of the cemetery were converted into parking lots, a filling station, and an asphalt road was built to cut through it. The Intercontinental Hotel was built at the top of the cemetery. Sadar Khalil, appointed by the Jordanian government as the official caretaker of the cemetery, built his home on the grounds using the stones robbed from graves. In 1967, the press published extensive photos documenting that Jewish gravestones were found in Jordanian Army camps, such as El Azariya, as well as in Palestinian walkways, steps, bathrooms, and pavement.

The Hurva Synagogue, attributed to Rabbi Moses Ben Nahman (Ramban), was the main synagogue in Jerusalem in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (and possibly much earlier), until the Ottomans closed it in 1589 because of Muslim incitement. It was burned by Arabs in 1721 (Hurva = destruction in Hebrew), but again rebuilt by Zionists in the 19th century, becoming the most prominent synagogue on the Jerusalem skyline. For that reason, when it was captured by the Arab Legion during the battle for Old Jerusalem in 1948, they dynamited it to show that they controlled the Jewish Quarter. When the Jews in New Jerusalem saw the Hurva burning, they knew that Jewish life in the Quarter had ended (again).

yudit said...

I was expecting anonymous' response. So typical. SOOO predicatble.

Yes i AM aware of the horrible things done to Jewish graveyards and synagogues in the past and today.

Does it make the destruction of the Muslim graveyard any better? Do you feel good because there are bastardson both sides? Does that justify something?

I guess the point is, that here we, that is the Israeli authorities are responsible. They could and should do something about it. And they don't.
Much destruction was carried out over the last year. There is only one grave that escaped this destruction.
It's sytematic and massive.
These are not a few hatefull people coming with a hammer in the night.
It's well organised. they must bring heavy, noise making tools, and a truck to transport the stolen marbles, iron gates etc.

This graveyard is right in the middle of a Jewish neighborhood, so people MUST have seen something, heard something, but no one interfered. Or perhaps they tried toand the police didn't interfere. I don't know.
The scale of the destruction is so massive, it is shameful.
That doesn't justify destruction of Jewish holy places and graveyards.
It sick both ways.
Only, let's not stick to the myth that "Jews don't do such things....

Anonymous said...

Yes,whoever it is stealing from the Muslim graveyard in Jaffa,then they deserve to be punished,whether the criminals are Arab Muslims or not.

Let the police investigate and bring charges angainst the criminals.Thank goodness that Israel is a democracy.

Some farmers in Negev have the same problem with their agricultural equipment being stolen and the animals being poisoned by Arabs

Poverty is not an excuse for crime

yudit said...

Anonymous, i truly don't get your point. Jaffa Muslim graves have been damaged, many of them beyond repair.

Some of them very recently.

There is NOTHING that justifies that.
I don't see the connection to "Some farmers in Negev have the same problem with their agricultural equipment being stolen and the animals being poisoned by Arabs".

Why do you feel this is connected? Is there a symmetry?

Or do you simply feel that one should not mention Jews guilty of hatecrime, and therefore must "by force" find another crime (committed elsewhere in the country or some 70 years ago) just to show there are also Arab criminals? What's the point?

J.P. said...

Once upon a time there was a .......
who had a vision, get rich with minmal investment.
You see, there is so much more between heaven and earth, allthough you are near a possible clue for the missing marble there too is some recycling among the dead.

Fifteen years ago my father died, for a tombstone we went to a kind of stone engraver, there was a showroom with with all possible model graves.
How tasteless a lot of people are, my relatives went to have a discussion with the salesperson about the letters on the stone, just plain date of birth and death and the name, what is the use of a text, one has to do his thing alife.
Being curious about how things work I went for a stroll, at the depot there were "used" stones, asking one of the workers what the use of these was he did tell me, they did remove for example a centimetre and sold them again to a customer.
The used stones come from graves which inhabitants do not have family or for example children who do have an argument about the costs.
When young and before the industrial revolution in the tombstone business, these stones were sold to for example farmers who used them (of course with the writing towards the soil) to stall the empty milk cans.
Too unlike what they tell us because of the extravagant prices
there is no by hand engraving anymore.
In a country like yours where the majority of the employers does not feel the responsibility towards his workers to pay minimum wages there of course is no need to invest in equipment.
Just hire a fresh victim and find an excuse to get rid of the old one.
They take a sheet of rubber and by computer write a text, if one wants to have a ship or whatever there is no problem, letters and print are cut out and than the fun starts.
They place it on for example a slab of marble, and by a machine which like a paintbrush instead of paint uses sand or another harder material you get the most fantastic
inscripture within minimal time.

Like most people who do not care if the agrical equipment which is offered at bargain prices could have been stolen from a fellow
farmer, others do not care where the items for a grave come from.
Too it is not logical to poison the animals, you catch them for food, skin the thing and spread the items being of no use.

Let's blame it on the wolf.

yudit said...

Both in Judaism and Islam, graves are not disturbed. thus, when a grave is made, also when no one pays for its continued upkeep, the grave will be left as it is.
Remvoing a tombstone fomr the grave is considered a wrongful act in an extremely high degree. Stealing obviously makes it far worse
At the same time using a stolen tombstone for another new grave is considered a sacrilege.
Something unforgivable. The scope of the damage in this graveyard (thousands of graves, almost totally destroyed, only one still in tact) is so extensive, it goes beyond sacrilege.
there is intrinsic evil here, somehow toally uncomparable to, let's say, the theft of some goats form a farmer in the Negev. Which i do not condone ofcourse.
This is killing the death a second time. Killing their memory, as if they were never there.

Lirun said...

and yet when we left gaza we peeled every single dead jewish body that had laid to rest out of the earth.. because apparently sanctity of soveriegnty in some cases prevails over religion.. but not in all..

J.P. said...

Like you wrote before it is impossible to work/destroy unnoticed.
Too there must be a truck outside the gate to load the slabs, to incidental bystanders it must be a strange experience to see people dismantle a grave in broad dayligh.

لبّيكَ يا رسول الله said...

Salam Yudit, thanks for this post. I know many Palestinians from Yafa, who were dispossessed from their land and properties and driven out of Palestine.

In Lebanon we have 2 main Jewish cemetaries, one in Saida (Sidon) and the other in Beirut, and they have been left intact. This shows the intolerance that is preached and tolerated in your country, and how the reality is the exact opposite of the image of us as murderous, Jew-hating Muslims your country and zionist lobby have spread and continue to spread, with the hope of justifying their hatred and terrorism practiced against us.

The Raccoon said...

Missing metal plaques are not especially surprising. I am sure you have heard of the recent plague of metal thieves.

Missing marble is more surprising, but not too much - there're buyers for good marble slabs.

Hate crimes?

Thank you for inspiring terrorists, Yudit. I trust you'll be satisfied when yet another Jewish and her baby will be shot point blank in the head... by a poor, oppressed, disposessed "Palestinian freedom fighter". Or "activist". Or whatever the euphemism for monsters is nowadays.

Oh... and I'll remember that whomever stole the metal door from a bombshelter nearby was surely motivated by a desire to make me unsafe.

yudit said...

Raccoon, all, but one, of thousands of graves have been destroyed. Some for their metal, some for their marble, perhaps.
In most cases the name plaque was NOT made out of metal, but out of stone, the crumbled peices still laying around the graves.
Yet ALL graves have been defaced or destroyed. Many were made out of simple concrete.
Thus your "theft" theory crushes in front of the evidence.
Yet, there are thousands of destroyed graves.
And as to the marble "theft": the broken marble was found on the side in many cases, so obviusly not stolen. Obviously not for the marble.
But then maybe systematically destroying ALL graves is someones passtime. Or maybe it is art? No, no hate involved here, you say.

And by writing about that, simply by telling the truth, my mighty pen is killing Jewish babies???
I never realized my pen was THAT mighty. I suggest you go to the nearest police station and file a complaint against me, a vile murderer by your reckoning.
Or should i just abide by the thoughtpolice and write only about nice things?

Which reminds me of something else. Next time a Jewish graveyard in Europe or the US is defaced, ofcourse you should inform the thoughtpoice about the articles about it; they should not be published (by your line of reasoning). We should stick to the nice news only.

Ofcourse it is not nice to read about bad things some people do in this country. Should we not write about it, so you do not have to feel ashamed?

The Raccoon said...

Yudit -

Going to the police is about as useful as praying.

And the vandalism could have had other motives beside greed... but hate-crime vandals usually have something to say, don't they? Swastikas on Jewish graves, stuff like this. Knowing Israel, it's difficult to imagine someone going to such great effort and not leaving an opinion or two behind. But then again, it could also be a hate crime. I do not rush into judgement.

Which was my point - judgement and rushing into it. Our enemies are paranoid, schizophrenic and generally insane on a cultural and communal level. Just look at الله أكبر 's reaction. It's unusually mild and sane by comparison to the norm.

Write what you will. The drops of oil you can add to the Eternal Inferno of Muslim Rage (tm) will probably have little effect.

But consider the consequences. It might be you who'll die in the next suicide bombing. Or your loved ones.


We Jews are like any other nation. We have our assholes; I do not hold us to some impossible moral standard. So even if some Jews did desecrate a Muslim graveyard out of hate, the shame is not mine - they're assholes. Assholes happen.

I feel more shame due to kapos like Chomsky... they seem to be uncannily common among Jews.


Thought police? In a state where members of the Knesset openly support terrorists and strive to destroy Israel? Do come on.

yudit said...

Jaffa has three Muslim cemetaries. One of them, is in a Jewish area.
It is the only one that has been, massively, desecrated. As i said, there is not one grave in tact. And you seem to agree with me, assholes indeed.
In today's Ha'aretz (print) there is an article about the desecration of the BirAm cemetary, carried out , so it seems , last thursday. Much damage was do to the graves, with broken gravestones over the place. Not stolen marble, broken marble.
Again horrid.
Do you think we should NOT write about this?
The public should not know?
Should we only publish "nice" news?
That fits in within a given ideologicaly driven PR scheme?
Are we that childish? That we should only be provided politically fitting information that will not upset our "thoughts"?
I truly believe free press and freedom of information are a partof democracy.
Some people may use that information or twist it, to justify acts of violence. And that is awful.
However, i can still not see that as a justification not to publish criticism on what happens here in Israel. Especially because i care, very much.
I do not believe in violence, on any side.
I do not believe my virtual pen to be that mighty, so i object to your implied connection between what i write and suicide bombers or acts of terror.
I would not dare to use the word "kapo" on anyone, but, although this was, i suppose, not your intent, you have flattered me with your comparison to Chomsky :).
Chomsky, although i do not agree to all he writes (or rather, all that i have read of his writing, which is extensive as well as profound), i think he's original, daring, not afraid of the thought police, intelligent and not afraid to take unpopular stand, and honest.
So yes, i fell flattered.
I am happy when my site is read by our neighbors. I believe writing, discourse and talking are preferable to fighting.
I accept the fact that i will hear things i may not like and do not agree with.
I do not believe in silencing.
Nor in accusations. As long as we talk, there's hope.
When terrible things happen in Jaffa, i'll write about them.

The Raccoon said...

Heh. You were not compared to Chomsky. That man needs to be stripped naked, have an Israeli flag painted on him and be dropped in the middle of Gaza. The man's defense of Pol Pot alone warrants such punishment. The rest of his rantings are just as reprehensible. But it is his rabid assaults on the Jewish people and on the Jewish state that make him a kapo.

Goodonya for writing about the wrongs of Jaffa. But do not underestimate the power of words on lunatics. Again, you have an example right here, in comments on your words. We are, as I hope you know, at war. With people who openly state, again and again, that they want to genocide us and destroy everything we have built in our homeland.

Knowing this, write what you will. But remember that you're as likely to have a number tattooed on your arm as me or any one of us. And remember that anything you say that fuels the madmen is bringing that needle that much closer to your skin. It might be a little bit closer... but it has an effect. The choice is yours, sis.

And yes, talking is generally more pleasant than fighting. But it's less likely to save your life when a monster in human skin aims a gun at you and screams "allahu akbar!"

yudit said...

I find it insulting, (and i am NOT a reiligious person) when people use the name of God in a manner irrespective of the feelings of religious people, of whatever religion.

Although i'll be the first to admit i have not read all materials written by Chomsky, but i doubt very much if you have read anything, in the original that is. It appears you have read quoted (out of context) materials, rather than the full text.
You may not agree (i myself do not agree with some of Chomsky's words i've read), but at least READ, then react, carefully, and reason. So far, from your writing, it's you who's doing the ranting here.

I don't care much about flags, rather see them in terms of Prof Leibovitz (of blessed memory). I see them as symbols of nationalism.

I do not belive in stripping people, even those wth whom i disagree. Sexual violence is rather primitive.

References to the holocaust are a trick favorite amongst our politicians. A cheap trick at that.
It's often used to jusitify wrongs. Only i do not buy it, never ever. A crime is a crime is a crime.
And poverty is a crime of society against its poor.

I agree with you there are madmen, and some are easily manipulated into committing horrid acts.
Dire poverty and oppression, ongoing exposure to violence are a "good" basis for anger, alienation and the need for something strong and quick to solve the pain.
What Israel has been doing for so many years in the occupied territories is criminal. Short sighted as well.
In many ways, we ourselves are to blame. You cannot oppress another people and rob their land for an extended period of time, without expecting they will get angry at you.

The question is how to solve this very comples problem peacefully.
Not solving it by creating anothe rproblem, but rather, relating to its many facets and come about with a compromise that gives the most possible to the largest amount of people, without causing too much damage to anyone else.
Not at all simple.

But one thing is certain, violence can only lead to more violence. And we are VERY violent.

And this brings me back to the original subject; poverty. Poverty is a form of violence, against the poor.