08 November '10
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose government has been described as “neo- Ottoman” in outlook, told the Saudi paper Al-Watan in March that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb “were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites.”
But Erdogan’s statement contradicts firmans (imperial decrees) issued by the Ottoman authorities in Turkey recognizing Jewish rights at Rachel’s Tomb, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has pointed out in a new research paper.
In 1830, the Turks issued the firman that gave legal force to Rachel’s Tomb being recognized as a Jewish holy site. Additionally, notes the JCPA’s Nadav Shragai, the governor of Damascus sent a written order to the mufti of Jerusalem to fulfill the sultan’s order:
“This is our order to you: [The following matter] was submitted to us by the subject of our order, the sage representative of honored Jerusalem’s Jewry and his translator that the tomb of esteemed Rachel, the mother of our Lord Joseph... They [the Jews] are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them [from doing] this... It turned out that at this holy site, theyhave been visiting since ancient times, without any person preventing them or trespassing on their property and they [have it] as was their custom. In accordance with the respected judgment, I order that our commandment be issued to you so you will treat them accordingly without addition or without subtraction, without hindrance and without opposition to them by anyone in any way whatsoever – written August 10, 1830.”
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