The government is planning to build a new and needed emergency operating room at the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon. This emergency room will be underground and protected from missile attacks. Like in most places in Israel, when you dig for construction, you find archaeological sites or graves.
At this site they found some ancient graves. It is not clear if the graves belong to Jews or Romans (it probably is clear, but each side has a need to take a predeclared position).
There are two options at this point. Respectfully move the graves to a new burial site, or build the emergency room at a new location, at the additional cost of some 100 million shekels and further delay.
Of all the things currently happening in Israel, the Chareidi party UTJ is threatening to leave the coalition and bring activists to the streets if the government goes ahead with this act of relocating the graves to build the emergency operating room.
I can only wonder why is it the UTJ didn’t threaten to bring activists to the streets or leave the coalition when the dead Jews of Gush Katif were dug up and reburied. They were sitting in Sharon’s disengagement coalition. In fact they joined Sharon’s coalition on March 30, 2005 – just before the expulsions, and the uprooting of 48 Jews (including 6 terror victims). I only recall… silence.
It certainly doesn’t seem to interest the UTJ that their fellow living Jews are unable to build or expand their homes - or get kicked out of their homes. It certainly doesn’t even seem to interest them that even their fellow Chareidi Jews in Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem may not be able to build new homes or expansions for their living families.
I’ve heard no threats of leaving the coalitions or of taking the battle to the streets.
Could there be something hypocritical going on here?
I would like to offer a solution that could resolve this easily.
Since the UTJ considers not moving the graves of some Roman soldiers to be of the utmost importance, to the point where they are threatening riots and bringing down the government – something they haven’t recently threatened on any other issue, then a compromise solution in clearly needed.
My compromise is that the extra 100 million shekels come, not from yours and my tax money, but from UTJ’s earmarked government funding for their programs and organizations.
As this is clearly a red line for them, I wouldn’t want them to cross it, but they can certainly help contribute financially to finding an alternative solution that won’t offend their sensibilities, while sharing in the extra financial burden they would otherwise be causing the rest of us.
Personally, I’m not comfortable with the concept of digging up graves for construction. There’s a thin line between moving a few Roman graves that are in the way of a major public project, and then digging up Jewish graves in the way of a highway and tunnel, until eventually other countries dig up entire Jewish graveyards to build apartment complexes after noting our precedents in Israel.
But Halacha recognizes the possibility of reinterment under certain condition, but clearly it needs to be done carefully while considering the consequences.
My only point here (for those that didn’t catch it) is the utter hypocrisy and lack of Torah values of the UTJ party in terms of what they are willing to go to war over.
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