Monday, January 07, 2013

Jerusalem, The Tomb of King David was attacked with a hammer

Fragments of ceramic on the floor of the Tomb of King David (M.A. Beaulieu/Cts photoalbum) from Terrasanta.netFor the second time in the space of just a few days people armed with hammer and chisel have attacked the Ottoman era tiles at the entrance of the Tomb of Kind David on Mount Zion, right below the area where Christian tradition places the Cenacle.

The news has been re-launched by the website, which is linked to the Custodian of the Holy Land. The very strange circumstances of the occurrence are particularly shocking as they seem to suggest that this may not simply be an act of vandalism.

 The first attack took place on the 20th of December 2012, when police discovered in full daylight, in a place where a lot of Jewish people congregate, an ultra-Orthodox young man hacking at the tiles dating back to the XVII century, which were discovered during some restoration works in 2010. 

The man excused himself by saying that he was there to recite a prayer for the Shidduch, a Jewish tradition for finding a husband or wife, but had been told that the tiles would prevent his prayer from reaching God.

The bizarre excuse provoked general mirth across Israel, but perhaps this meant that the matter was not fully dealt with. 

Thus, in the night between Wednesday and Thursday someone was able to go back and almost finish what the young man had begun; only a 50 square centimetres area of blue and white tiles, typical of the Ottoman era, is now left intact.

The idea that the tiles would hinder prayer because they would cover a sacred wall is beyond any form of logic. The tiles are in the vestibule at the entrance of the Cenotaph that is revered (despite serious archaeological doubts) as the Tomb of King David. One needs only cross the threshold to find the wall now completely bare. The truth is probably that whoever removed the tiles did so because he/she thought that a figurative element belonging to the Islamic tradition was utterly unacceptable in that place. Whoever did this, probably did not act alone.
What gives an even sourer taste to the occurrence is the fact that David’s tomb is a place in Jerusalem where one could actually really see with the naked eye the monotheistic religions intertwining. 

The Jewish Christian communities were in fact the first to worship the tomb. 

Thanks to the tie between Old and New Testament they were able to remember King David in the same spot where they worshiped the Cenacle. 
When the Franciscans were expelled from the area in 1552, the Muslims turned the place into a mosque still dedicated to David who was worshiped as a prophet in the Koran too. 

This explains the presence of the Ottoman era ornaments, legacy of a complex and varied history, which fanatics of the Jewish religious right wing, who have also been busy soiling the walls of some churches with blasphemous slogans, would like to hack away with hammer and chisel. 

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