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The Dothan Valley, then and now

עמק דותן, השבוע. צילום: מיכאל חדד ישעיהו

Eitan Omer, a geographer and tour guide, shared a fascinating historical detail with me this week:

"Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit and sold him to a passing caravan in the Dothan Valley. The brothers' feelings had grown into hatred of Joseph which led to his abandonment and nearly brought about his death. Our commentators explain that this is the most heinous crime between man and man that appears in the Torah. It is a crime that affects us until today, as evidenced by the rifts between various sectors of our people.

It so happened that during the Second World War, another tragedy was supposed to take place in this same location. As is known, the Nazi armies eventually reached Egypt and fought the British there. In the Jewish Yishuv, there was considerable concern and justifiably so. The Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was recognized as the leader of the Muslims living here at the time, met with Hitler in Berlin. The two of them planned to exterminate the Jews in this part of the world too. Journalist Haviv Canaan, in his book '200 Days of Dread', writes about the Mufti's plan to set up a large death camp here, using the model of those set up in Europe. Where was the proposed site of the camp? The Dothan Valley. The crematoria to be constructed would be the destination of the Jews living here, as well as all the Jews living in Muslim countries, from Iraq to Egypt. But those who planned on the extermination of Jews in the Middle East lost. No death camp was set up here, but a Jewish State.

Tourists who pass through the Dothan Valley are told this story. They are also told about the cry shouted by Joseph, a cry that has echoed down through history: 'I am looking for my brothers.'"


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