By Gal Sitty
One of my favorite things to do on a quiet Sunday morning is brewing up a hot cup of coffee and sitting down with the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. You can imagine then my disappointment when I happened upon a clue this Sunday that not only brought controversial politics into my beloved pastime, but was downright offensive to Jews everywhere.
Clue 93 across in the Merl Reagle crossword puzzle titled “Get Over It!” read: City of ancient Palestine. Immediately I was stumped as I had no idea what city he could be referring to. This was all the more confusing given my deep familiarity with the land of Israel, having travelled up and down the country perhaps more times than anyone else who was working on that puzzle yesterday. But upon filling in the answers to the other clues the answer slowly began to form- the answer Reagle was looking for was “Samaria”.
At least now I understood why I was stumped. Samaria was established as the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Israel after the Jewish kingdom split into two. Jerusalem was the capital of the southern Kingdom of Judea. The city is mentioned in the Bible and existed for at least one thousand years before the Romans termed the area Palestinia, now known as Palestine. Currently, the ruins of this ancient city lie in the heart of what is commonly known as the West Bank, but is also referred to as Judea and Samaria.
It follows then that a more appropriate clue would have read: City of ancient Israel. Shouldn’t the capital of an ancient Jewish kingdom called Israel be considered ancient Israel and not ancient Palestine? I think this is especially true when we are talking about a historic period where the word “Israel” was commonplace but “Palestine” was yet to enter the vocabulary.
Merl Reagle may have meant no harm in constructing his puzzle, he may have just been unaware of the true history of Samaria (although a simple Google search would have produced easily obtainable useful information). However, whether intentional or not it is telling that this would occur at a time when throughout the Arab and Muslim world, and even among the Palestinian Authority itself, there is a concerted effort to try to erase the past and deny the historic and biblical connection of the Jewish people to the entirety of the Land of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority refuses to recognize sites holy to Jews, such as the Temple Mount and Rachel’s Tomb, as Jewish holy sites. The PA recognizes Muslim and Christian holy sites. Ironically, they peddle this bigotry at a time when they are trying to prove themselves worthy of an independent state. The truth is that the PA and others refuse to recognize the facts because they do not want to concede what they know is right- that Jews have a historic and real connection to the land and have the right to live freely in their historic homeland.
This tactic of lying and deceit is not limited to rewriting history either. This week the French Supreme Court proved once again that the story of Muhammed Al-Dura, the Palestinian boy who many believed was killed by IDF troops and became the poster child of the Intifada, was a complete fabrication. This hoax was used to stoke the flames of violence of the second Intifada and unduly make Israel look bad.
So here is my question to anyone who supports or believes these anti-Israel and indeed anti-Semitic elements that peddle myths to demonize Israel and deny Jewish history: How can you support those who must resort to lies, deception and trickery to gain favor for their cause?
Holding two Master's degrees, from Tel Aviv University and the University of Chicago, Gal has focused his career in the public sector working in education reform before joining Act For Israel. Born in Israel but raised in the United States Gal knows firsthand how often Israel is misrepresented abroad. Understanding that Israel's interests must be heard beyond the established pro-Israel community Gal recently led an effort to raise billboards calling for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The billboards were seen by over two million people, received news coverage in the US and overseas and garnered Congressional recognition.