“Aboud is one
of the prettiest Palestinian villages, strongly reminiscent of Tuscany.
Its time-mellowed stone houses grow on the gentle hills. Vine climbs up
their balconies, leafy fig trees provide shadow to its streets. The
prosperity of this well-established village is seen in the spaciousness
of the mansions, in the meticulously clean roads. The old men sit in a
small and shady, walled enclosure, on the stone benches, like the
aldermen of Ithaca gathered by young Telemachus. That is the biblical
‘gate of the city’, or a diwan. Kids bring them coffee and fresh
fruits. Local people are not the refugees of Gaza and Deheishe; here, as
in a time warp, one can see the Holy Land as it should and could be.
old Aboud received the faith of Christ from Christ himself, says the
local tradition, and there is the church ready to prove it, one of the
oldest on earth, built in the days of Constantine in the 4th
century, or maybe even older, as some archaeologists claim. The church
is a dainty thing, carefully restored and well taken care of. The
Byzantine capitals of its columns bear the image of cross and palm
branches. They recently discovered a plaque in old Aramaic script
immured in the southern wall of the church.
Aboud has more
than one church: there is a Catholic, a Greek Orthodox and an
American-built Church of God. There is also a new mosque, as Christians
and Muslims of the Holy Land live together in great harmony. On December
17th all of them, the Muslims and the Christians, go to
venerate the village patron saint, St Barbara. She was a local girl who
fell in love with a young Christian and was baptized. It happened in the
rough days of Roman emperor Diocletian, and she was martyred in the
persecutions. The ruins of the oldest Byzantine church of St Barbara are
still seen on a hill a mile away from the village. At the foothill,
there is her burial cave, and there the peasants lit their candles and
ask their wishes to be fulfilled”.
I wrote these
lines above almost a year ago, when the Israeli army began its campaign
of devastation in the hills of Western Samaria. Now, on 31 of May, they
dynamited St Barbara, a rare relic of Christian past of the Holy Land.
It was one of these bittersweet ruins of churches that still attract
worshippers, together with St Anne of Safurie and Emmaus of Latrun. I do
not know whether the sappers were the same soldiers who for proverbial
forty days and forty nights, from Catholic to Orthodox Easter besieged
the Nativity and whether they said the prescribed by Shulkhan Aruch
blessing, Blessed you are, God of Israel, the Prince of the World, Who
destroys the temples of Goyyim. I have no doubt this destruction is
connected with Bethlehem siege: it passed so quietly, with so little
attention, that it would be strange not to continue.
My friend Miriam Reik from New York, a
wonderful person and a friend of Palestine, wrote to me, “I intuit that you are
writing a piece about this example of replacing the Judaic paradigm of revenge
for the Christian one of sacrifice and redemption… but don't. That's not what
it's about - it's about destroying everything meaningful”.
For a change, I
am going to agree with Miriam. It is true, the Jews can’t stop trying to
undo Christianity. Our worst enemy is the Church, wrote Freud, and Gretz
the historian seconded, Christianity must be destroyed. It is better to
serve Hitler than Christ, concluded the most prominent modern Jewish
Israeli theologian. One can quote hundreds of such one-liners, but
Miriam is still right: they indeed destroy everything meaningful.
churches. In nearby Nablus, they destroyed the Green Mosque, the oldest
extant building, build above the cave where Jacob lamented his lost son
Joseph. One of the great shrines of Palestine, contemporary with St
Barbara, it was a Byzantine church, and later served as a Samaritan
synagogue, the centre of worship for local Israelites-not-Jews.
Samaritan priests pointed it out to me. A holy place is always attended
in the Holy Land, and it again was converted to a church and beautified
by Queen Melisende, the pious flirt and the builder of the Holy
Sepulchre. It reverted to a mosque eight hundred years ago, when the
cathedrals of Chartres and Köln were erected. The mosque celebrated its
fifteen hundred years anniversary, when an Israeli tank ravaged it. Just
to show their impartiality, they also bombed St Philip Episcopal church
in Nablus and put under curfew St Luke Hospital.
traditional old-fashioned anti-Semite would see it as a sign of hatred
to Gentiles in toto. But Miriam is right. They destroy everything. In
Jerusalem there was a great spring, the biggest spring of Highlands. It
gave birth to Jerusalem, and it is the reason for the city’s existence.
It has a plethora of names: Gihon (in the Bible), Ein Sittna Miriam,
after the Virgin, Ein Silwan, as the nearby village.
Many events are
connected with this living spring. King David’s soldiers climbed up its
pier, Jesus healed blind men at its pool, King Hezekiah bored a half-kilometre
long tunnel to keep its waters within the walls, away from the reach of
Assyrian army. It is forever venerated, and an old mosque stands at its
lower exit. Many times in the hot days of July I waded breast-deep the
tunnel’s cool length, drinking its sweet water and biding time to emerge
at the fig tree above broken Roman columns of the pool.
Then, over a
year ago, Ehud Olmert, self-styled ‘Mayor’ of Jerusalem, the great
destroyer of Palestinian homes, seized the spring. He locked the
entrance, put a Russian guard, a few soldiers, and transferred it lock,
stock and barrel to settlers. The Palestinians were not allowed to
approach it anymore. Nowadays, the Gihon spring is dead. Instead of pure
water, sewage of the city flows by its tall tunnel. It joined many other
springs of Palestine. Some were fenced, others covered with concrete,
some eliminated by pumping stations, and others poisoned by sewage, all
killed by the Jews.
I hear voice,
Oh no, say: Zionists! I would, but it seems unfair to the Jewish people
abroad. They work so hard, they demonstrate in support of Israel
everywhere from Brussels to San Francisco, they collect funds for
Israeli soldiers, they sue everybody who supports Palestine, they keep
news about blown up Byzantine churches out of your newspapers – don’t
you think they deserve to be considered as full-blown partners in the
“They make life
so miserable that the Palestinians will leave”, wrote ever-so rational
Miriam. Here I tend to disagree. A year ago, I saw just outside the
village of Aboud two giant American-built Caterpillar bulldozers slowly
devouring the olive trees. “They were huge, covered from every side by
armour plates. They appeared impregnable, like moving fortresses. They
towered above the landscape as the mechanical monsters of Evil Empire
attacking Ewocks”. That is their purpose: to destroy. Not just churches,
not only mosques, but everything alive, from olive to spring, as their
service to the Faceless Destroyer. Expulsion of Palestinians is a part
of the task, as Palestine can not survive without Palestinians. It will
wither, as sure as the spring of Gihon did. Forget the line, ‘Palestine
next to the Jewish state’; it is ‘the Jewish state or Palestine, for
native and adopted Palestinians’.
A few days ago,
the lady wife and guiding light of Conrad Black, Barbara Amiel, whined,
“the Jews and Israel are increasingly presented as Evil Empire”. Well,
dear Ms Amiel, Israel and the Jews are not the Evil Empire, but they
will do, until real Evil Empire will show up.
P.S. / Note:
As an anticlimax, I propose to my
readers to calculate the ratio of Jewish influence in their
newspaper, as follows: divide the coverage of a synagogue wall being
dirtied with graffiti (in square inches) by the coverage of the
venerable Byzantine church of St Barbara destruction (in square
inches). Just to remind you: a ratio with denominator zero equals