In the Name of HASHEM, G-d Eternal
In the Name of HASHEM, G-d Eternal

Open Letter to National Geographic: Whose Past is Being Stolen?

In the Name of HASHEM G-d Eternal

Dear National Geographic,

After years of ignoring your not-so-subtle anti-Israel bend, after your December 2008 issue, I can hold my tongue no longer.  Your map, “Crucible of History” calls modern Israel “the dream of European Zionists”—end of phrase.   Wait:  Since when did “a Jewish home in the land of the ancient Israelites” stop being the eternal dream of the Jewish People, but merely the dream of one secular ideological group from Europe?  What about my own ancestors from Morocco who helped reestablished the Jewish community in Jaffa, some 50 years before the first wave of immigration from Europe?  What about the other Jewish communities of the Middle East: Iraqi Jews, Yemenite Jews, Egyptian Jews, Syrian Jews, and others?  They chose to leave behind all their assets (whose collective value cannot be estimated) to return to the eternal Jewish home as soon as the state was established.  Did they thrust themselves into an unknown future because of “European Zionism”?  To escape persecution, they could have left for other lands.   On the contrary, like our Ashkenazi brethren (Jews of the European diaspora), they took the opportunity to fulfill our national dream: The return to Zion was and continues to be the fulfillment of the ancient dream of the entire Israelite / Hebrew / Jewish nation.  For over 2,500 years we have expressed that dream in the `amidah prayer daily—a prayer that unites all observant Jews of all ethnic backgrounds throughout our diaspora.   Nothing you write and no words you leave out can take that away from us.

That leaves me with a question:  Does National Geo write maps to portray the world’s geography according to historical truth, or to re-design its geography according to a new political vision?  

In your article “The Stolen Past” regarding Arab looting in Judea and Samaria, Karen Lange writes: “critics say the Palestinian Authority could do more to educate its people about the value of their archaeological heritage.”  You quote an Arab archaeologist who laments, “They are destroying a cultural heritage that belongs to every Palestinian…”  Can you tell us just what archaeological heritage in the “West Bank” is Palestinian?  Are they the “returning remnant” of indigenous natives who walked the land in antiquity?   Whoever visits the ruins of the Tabernacle of Shiloh, having studied the Mishnah (ZevaHim 14, from “ba’u la-Shiloh”), recognizes the innumerable pottery shards along the surrounding hilltops as remnants from the Israelite pilgrimages to the site for the three annual festivals 2800 years ago—which we Jews still celebrate today.   Is that part of this Palestinian heritage you refer to?  Are the pottery, the Bar Kokhba, Roman and Greek-era coins and ancient oil-lamps they steal from the world of their ancestors?  

Judea—the very source of the word “Jew”—is the ancient ancestral heritage of us, direct descendants and heirs of her original natives.  Unknown to most, Jewish families exist that never went into exile, but remained in the land since the Roman period.  Yet, with your generous PR help, this heartland of a very small country that cannot be divided is being crudely and artificially cut apart from the rest through cruel politics, and renamed “West Bank.”  As an aside, you casually inform your readers that “Judea and Samaria are Israel’s terms for the West Bank.”  Wait—Israel’s term?  Nothing more?  How old is the term “West Bank”—what is its origin?!  Judea and Samaria were Hebrew kingdoms from antiquity.  Ancient writings prove that those regions continued to be known and called by those terms by every nation in the region, long after the actual kingdoms fell.  Reading National Geo all my life, I know this is not the way you treat other indigenous tribes from around the world whose rights you choose to champion…

What is your motive in rewriting history, and erasing us from it?  Many peoples have lived in Israel through the ages, but the “Stolen Past” you might write about is the one the international community is attempting to steal from the people of Israel.

Along your theme of King Herod, and in the spirit of this month of Hannukah, I’ll conclude with a quote from the Hasmonean hero, Judah the Maccabee: “We did not seize a foreign land, nor did we take control of the property of strangers; but rather the heritage of our ancestors that was unjustly conquered at one time.  So when it became possible for us, we took it back.”  (Book of Maccabees I, 15:33-34)  


Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron,  Beith Shemesh, Israel  

2 Responses to “Open Letter to National Geographic: Whose Past is Being Stolen?”

  1. Deborah Says:

    Excellent article! Jewish identitiy has been targeted for 2,000 years,borne in ignorance of the nature of truth and misleading rabbis.In Judaism Absolute truth emanates exclusively from the LAW-Giver, they ignore the message of its availability and focus on trivialities.

  2. Aaron Says:

    Excellent letter!

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