Thursday, September 16, 2010

Muslims Building Wall above Garden Tomb

Most visitors to the Garden Tomb do not realize that a Muslim cemetery sits on the hilltop above.  But it is construction work in one cemetery that is recently alleged to threaten the safety of those in another.  The original story in Ma’ariv is summarized in the Caspari Media Review:

According to this report, the Wakf - the Islamic trust most well-known for controlling and managing the Islamic edifices on the Temple Mount - is currently building a wall above the Garden Tomb, "an historic site important to Christianity," which is "threatening to undermine relations between the three faiths in the city." The work is part of the maintenance and expansion of the Muslim cemetery located above the Garden Tomb. "Thus far, high wooden foundations of a height of two meters have been laid at the site, and the work is due to be completed by the addition of concrete on top of the wooden beams."

The managers of the Garden Tomb have protested, fearing that the wall might fall on tourists coming to visit the site. "'They didn't show us any plans or ask for our agreement regarding the building work,' says Steve Bridge, the deputy manager. 'More than a quarter of a million pilgrims visit the site, and a disaster may occur if something is not done properly. Three or four hundred worshippers stand right under the wall every day. Were it to fall while there are visitors here, there might well be a catastrophe the like of which we've never seen.'"

The managers of the Garden Tomb are also worried that the incident might lead to "irreversible damage" to the tomb itself - which in turn would spark a serious crisis in Jewish-Muslim relations in Jerusalem and internationally. "'It's a scandal,' added Bridge. 'We've turned to them with a list of questions, and I hope that we will receive satisfactory answers.'" According to the municipality, the building was begun without permission and in contravention of the customary procedures. The Wakf announced that they intend to sort out the problems with both the municipality and the Garden Tomb.

Gordon's Calvary escarpment from Old City, tb123199207The Muslim cemetery sits atop the hill of the “skull” (center) and the tomb (off the edge to the left).

Tom Powers recently wrote about D. L. Moody’s troubles when preaching in this cemetery.

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4 Comments:

  • The Ma'ariv article (as reproduced by Caspari) contains some misinformation. An unattributed quote says: "Thus far, high wooden foundations of a height of two meters have been laid at the site, and the work is due to be completed by the addition of concrete on top of the wooden beams."

    Look, this thing is practically right outside my window and I am watching it go up -- and, frankly, have wondered about it too. But the wooden parts that are described are not "foundations" -- who would make a wall with wooden foundations!? It's wooden framing, within which concrete will be poured, then the frame is removed. And, the Garden Tomb people can see perfectly well that sticking up above the framing is re-bar, the standard steel reinforcing rods that will be embedded within the concrete. Despite the fearmongers and naysayers, the wall is NOT going to fall on anyone (unless we get the "big one", the Richter 7+ 'quake that's now 700 years overdue, in which case they'll have a few other things to worry about)!!

    The purpose of the wall, I take it, is to contain a section of the cemetery being newly-developed, which neccessarily involves some cutting, filling and terracing, as it's on the slope of a rocky hill. Actually, if the Garden Tomb people could see the large pile of rocks and earth already accumulating behind the wall, they would be very pleased to have this added protection! And, again, understand: the cemetery property itself is NOT expanding.

    I admit, viewed from below in the Garden Tomb compound, the wall would seem unusually tall. However, I hardly think the situation constitutes a "scandal". Once again, it's much ado about nothing -- I mean, is there nothing else to get excited about here in Jerusalem!?

    And, anyone with any sense knows how things are done over here: Don't ask anyone, don't tell anyone -- Just DO it. It's called "facts on the ground"...

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

    By Anonymous Tom Powers, at Thu Sep 16, 06:19:00 PM  

  • OK, I see now -- Caspari is summarizing, and at times quoting, Ma'ariv.

    By Anonymous Tom Powers, at Thu Sep 16, 06:40:00 PM  

  • Tom - thanks for the first-hand report. With regard to "facts on the ground," we know it well. But you missed part of the process: raise a fuss, demand UN investigations, and sometimes start riots and kill people. Fortunately, this time the offended only called the newspaper.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Thu Sep 16, 06:57:00 PM  

  • They are spreading misinformation and fear over nothing. But, yes, thank goodness Protestants-Evangelicals don't riot over some perceived threat to their holy place! By the way, thanks for the nod to my post on the cemetery's other connections.

    By Anonymous Tom Powers, at Fri Sep 17, 04:58:00 AM  

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