What’s the big deal?
So said Israeli Interior Ministry spokesperson Wiral Gads to the negative reaction generated by the announcement that an Israeli military academy would be built on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. Many Christians object to such use of the place where Jesus spent the last moments before his arrest and crucifixion, and where several Christian churches and shrines are built.
Gads was unapologetic. “We would have preferred to use the place where Jesus spent his first days on earth, but UNESCO spoiled it for us by designating the Church of the Nativity a World Heritage Site. What could we do?”
Asked if those were the only choices, Gads explained, “Many factors went into this decision. First, we selected a Palestinian area because, in effect, the land is free. We can seize it by military order, which costs us nothing, and the American taxpayer even subsidizes this use of the military.
“Second, we chose a Christian area because the Christian population is diminishing, except for the Russian Jews that are filling the Russian Orthodox churches, and they don’t object to having Israeli military installations near them.
“Third, despite our best efforts, the Muslim population is not yet diminishing. We therefore felt we couldn’t use the al-Aqsa mosque or the Dome of the Rock for this purpose. At least not yet.”
“Have you considered using land that is in a Jewish area?” asked one reporter.
“Are you crazy?” replied Gads. “That would be sacrilege!”