Occupied Jerusalem- Since their occupation of Palestine, the Israeli authorities have adapted the Jewish religious narrative to serve their colonial goals, and religion has always been its trump card to attract settlers and link them to a certain spot.
This policy is evident in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied Jerusalem, in which the occupation hammered the “nail of Juha” through the tomb of “Shimon al-Seddik”, which is the basic nucleus of settlement expansion east of the neighborhood.
Below the level of the main street on the land of Karam al-Jaouni, east of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, there is a cave carved into the rock, which is sealed and guarded, surrounded by parked vehicles, filled with Hebrew signs, and non-settlers are prohibited from entering it. Al-Jazeera Net tried to approach to survey the site, but the guard of the place prevented it, amid the settlers’ screams and threats.
The reality of the cave
Since the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, settlers have taken over the cave and used it as a synagogue, and filled it with their travels, and engraved in Hebrew on most of its walls after providing them with electricity and water.
Pictures published by Hebrew websites show the cave crowded with men and women, as well as video clips of prayers, dancing and playing, and the “Chalaka” ceremony, during which the Jewish child’s hair is cut when he reaches three years old.
Who is Shimon Siddik?
The Jewish narrative claims that the tomb belongs to Simon the just, the righteous, or Simeon the Righteous, and in English it is pronounced “Simon the Just”, who says he was the high priest during the era of the “Second Temple” and the time of Alexander the Great (313 BC), and it praises his morals and his famous proverbs. contained in the Oral Torah (Mishnah), and considers him a Jewish figure with piety and miracles.
But it is remarkable that the cave was never mentioned in the books of early Muslim travelers or historians in the name of Shimon al-Siddiq, and that it was mentioned in modern Arab references very little, because Arab archaeologists were prevented from studying it. While it was mentioned in the books of orientalists and European archaeologists during and before the British occupation, without any scientific research interest before that period.
The researcher in the history of Jerusalem, Ihab Al-Jallad, says to Al-Jazeera Net that the orientalists at that time worked hard to search for traces that prove the Old Testament, noting that the members of the “Protestant” sect from England and America were more interested in archeology than Catholics and Orthodox, in order to prove that Palestine is the land of the Torah and the Gospel.
Al Jazeera Net contacted several Palestinian historians, who in turn denied having accurate information about the cave, and the university lecturer in history and archeology Marwan Abu Khalaf justified that the interest in the past focused on the antiquities inside the Jerusalem wall more than outside it.
Variation of narratives
Abu Khalaf refutes the Israeli narrative, saying that the Jews attribute the tomb to Simeon the Siddiq, who lived in the time of Alexander the Great 2,400 years ago, but it is proven that all Greek antiquities and belongings in Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans, and were demolished several times afterwards, the last of which was during the reign of Hadrian in 137 AD.
Israeli archaeologists have frequented the title “Simon the Friend” describing several Jewish personalities, and there is no firm consensus about which of them belongs to the High Priest, and there are contradictory accounts regarding the place and date of burial of that character. The Jewish traveler Benjamin Tudela wrote in the 12th century that Simeon’s tomb is located between Tiberias and Safed in northern Palestine.
And researcher Abu Khalaf adds to Al-Jazeera Net, “As an archeology student, I have no remains or archaeological documents. Zionism belies the lie and believes it, because religious exploitation is stronger than political. Why in the Al-Buraq Revolution when the British Committee came, did the Jews not claim ownership of this tomb? Is it not their high priest in the Reign of Alexander the Great?
The role of Romanian Dahd
The greatest refutation of the Jewish narrative was the attribution of some archaeologists’ date of the tomb to the Roman period, centuries after the alleged character of Simeon the Siddiq was mentioned. French orientalist and archaeologist Charles Simon Clermont Jeanneau recounts in his book “Archaeological Research in Palestine” published in 1899, that he discovered in the cave in 1871 a Roman inscription carved in the form of a rectangle with triangular ends, engraved on the back wall of one of the cave rooms above the low door at a height of about two meters above the room floor.
Clermont Jano says that the inscription is badly damaged, and his presence was not noticed or mentioned by the archaeologists who preceded him, and confirms that he was able to clearly read the name of “Julia Sabina” on the inscription, explaining that she was the wife or daughter of “Julius Sabina”, one of the most prominent leaders of the Roman imperial legion.
Based on that inscription, several historians and archaeologists agreed that the intended tomb could not be the tomb of Simeon al-Siddiq, most notably British Archbishop Murphy O’Connor in his book “The Holy Land: Oxford Archaeological Guide” in 2008, and Israeli archaeologist Dan Pahat in his book “Atlas” The Photographed Jerusalem” in 1990, and British writer and historian Simon Montefiore in his book “Jerusalem: The Autobiography” in 2011.
Among the folds of the 2002 book “Caves of Simon the Just” by Israeli archaeologists Amos Kloner and Boaz Zissou, we read a prediction that questions the Jewish narrative, and says that the cave contains a system of rock-cut burials that were used to store the remains of people buried elsewhere. Because of the Jewish prohibition of burial inside the Jerusalem wall, the bones of the dead were removed after the third construction and expansion of the Jerusalem wall.
The two scholars believe that some of the bones that were “discovered in the Middle Ages” and transported to the rock burials, had the common name Shimon at the time.
Despite these archaeological evidence, the Jews established the nucleus of a settlement outpost around the cave in 1890, which they called “Nahalat Shimon” (i.e., Shimon’s legacy). Their homes are in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
After the establishment of the outpost, the Jews began during the British Mandate (before the Israeli occupation) to visit the cave and live their religious ceremonies there, specifically the Torch Festival, which begins 33 days after the Jewish Passover.
Seddik al-Saadi’s Cave
Before the writings of the orientalists and the Jews’ adoption of the narration of the tomb of Simeon Al-Siddiq, a document was issued in the Shari’a Court in Jerusalem in 1733, proving that Sheikh Al-Siddiq bin Obaid bin Salama Al-Saadi purchased the land that includes the cave from Abdullah Bashsha Ghobari, to be taken by him later as a retreat for him, and where his followers gather to study his Sufi way, Then it was known as the Cave of Sheikh Siddiq Al-Saadi, and Al Jazeera Net was unable to verify the authenticity of the Sheikh’s burial inside the cave.
We have seen this document, the Jerusalemite Darwish Suleiman Hijazi Al-Saadi, who keeps in his home many records of the Sharia court and the documents he inherited from his father, who owned large areas of Sheikh Jarrah’s land, including the cave land, before the settlers occupied it.
Darwish Suleiman tells Al-Jazeera Net that he descends from Sheikh Siddiq Al-Saadi, and that his family came with the leader Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi during his conquest of Jerusalem, and owned most of the “surgical lands” or what is known today in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, including the cave land, before he bought it in the 1930s. Bashkatib” lands British Mandate Hanna Bandak, and then bought by his father, Suleiman Hijazi Al-Saadi.
The Jordanian government, during its rule in East Jerusalem, annexed the land of the cave, and then it turned into the “custodian of absentee property” department after the Israeli occupation, eventually reaching the hands of the settlers who occupied it immediately after the 1967 occupation.
Darwish Hijazi concludes by saying, “My father fought the Israeli courts for 15 years to defend his stolen lands in Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem. He used to say: a blatant lie, overpowering the truth of the blunder, a metaphor for the occupation’s dedication to supporting its lie, in exchange for the scattering and dispersal of the Palestinian historical documentation and narrative.”