Burin (Yitzhar), Maqam Abu Isma'il

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Fathiya A. (Checkpoints reports), Irit S. (Maqams reports), Nurit P. (photographs).; Translator: Hanna K.

Burin, The Abu Isma’il Maqam


The route has been changed owing to a delay on the part of the driver and the fact that a vehicle had to be changed because of some hitch.  Instead of passing by way of the Habla CP as we had planned, we drove by way of Za’atara.

14:30 – Ariel Intersection – all the stations are manned by soldiers.

Zeita-Jama’in – the gate of the entrance to both villages is shut.

Za’atara intersection – the CP is manned, there is a jeep there and a few soldiers are standing at the bus station opposite the CP.

15:00 – Burin – a meeting with a family at the village. It is now the olive picking season and at their home there are volunteer women from Europe who help this family and other families in the village to harvest the olives. We were told that at the end of the week they were planning to pick olives in plots adjacent to the Yitzhar Settlement. Despite a coordination with the DCO, they fear harassment from the Settlers, and require help with the harvesting in these areas.

17:00 – Drive to Jabel Abu Isma’il and a visit to the Maqam which is located on top of the hill.

Near the exit from Burin, on the road, within the zone of the built up area of the village, soldiers were standing, and a military tender was parked at the side of the road. Soldiers stopped and checked Palestinian vehicles which left the village. We descended from the car and approached the soldiers. To our question why there was a CP within the village zone, they answered that checkpoints had always been there and would always be there. That’s to say that it is absolutely natural from their point of view that there should be a checkpoint inside the village. Thus they protect us, the inhabitants of Tel Aviv.


The checking of a vehicle at the exit from Burin
The checking of a vehicle at the exit from Burin




We arrived at Burin also in order to continue investigating the matter of the three Maqams (Maqam is a holy place, either a grave of a Sheikh or a memorial for an otherwise revered personality) which are to be found around Burin and which served, before they were blocked, as a place for community gatherings, either cultural or religious.  This is a subject which was reported on lastly on the Web on the 16 of August 16. It is still very far from the awareness of the Israeli public. But, not for long, so we hope.


This time we focused on two Maqams and performed video interviews regarding Sheih Renam, who is interned at the archeological site on the mount of Grizim north of Beraha and Abu Isma’il, south of Beraha, to which we arrived this time with one of the land owners at Jabl Abu Isma’il.  This lady has not been to this place since 25 years and hasn’t seen the Maqam – for fear of the Settlers.

In the interview with her and her husband we were surprised to discover that the name on the the maps the authenticity of which we never doubted: Nebi Isma’il – is an entirely Jewish invention. The Palestinian name is Abu Isma’il. That’s to say, our common forefather Abraham. So that is the twist in the story. In our former report we divided the Maqams into their various sorts and pointed out the Jewish eagerness to proselytize the Maqams which bear the names of heroes from the old testament: Rahel, Joseph, etc. and to ask what connection there is between the Palestinians and a Maqam bearing an old testament name? So to what should Abu Isma’il be now connected?

The Maqams for the most part are not very old – at a most about 200 years. That’s to so that whoever built them, protected them and held his ceremonies near them, considered the old testament heroes to be his own heroes too.

We also held a joint interview with the couple, who together remembered instances of their pilgrimages to Abu Isma’il and Sheih Renam and how, on their way, they stopped at the abundant “Eyn Mahane” springs. These springs have now become “splashing ponds” of the Settlers, now called Eyn Imshi. There is also an improvised building which has become a men’s ritual baths, on which the inscriptions “nach.nach.nachman” appear, and which the Palestinians do not dare approach.

According to the “Amud Anan” maps two more Maqams appear in the village itself. We shall collect our courage and shall examine that. No, there is no intention of encouraging proselytazon (in answer to whomever may ask). One must only hope that not the military authorities and the fear from the Settlers and the army shall prevent the Palestinian person’s human rights – the freedom of religion and ritual in locations he has built for himself. The Maqams are a kind of cultural centers in rustic communities, and not only religious ones in the narrow sense of the word. The activity at the Maqams in the A and B zones some of which we visited, serves as a proof of this.


At the entrance of the Abu Isma’il Maqam
At the entrance of the Abu Isma’il Maqam



Malicious graffiti on a building adjacent to the Abu Isma’il Maqam
Malicious graffiti on a building adjacent to the Abu Isma’il Maqam