Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation


The World Press devoted dozens or articles and photographs to the so called Hebron massacre last February. This was followed by an orgy of attacks on the Jewish "settlers" there. These attacks were topped by a ferocious OpEd page piece by Michael Lerner, the "guru" of the Americans for Peace Now. Without waiting for the result of the investigation ordered by the Rabin Government, these attacks unleashed a torrent of calls for the disarming of all 140,000 Jews living in the heartland of Israel, in Judeah and Samaria which would have exposed them to continuous terror acts.

Those voices, including Goldstein's own widow, who described the events preceding the killings in the Cave of the Patriarchs, as a preemptive strike, were totally ignored. Their explanations were simply not "politically correct".

Now, however, we have the benefit of the findings of the Shamgar commission, consisting of highly respected senior officials as judges, which have been released by the Israeli Government. This factual report contains the following conclusion as quoted in the prestigious Jerusalem Post: "Those in charge of security at the Cave were given no intelligence reports that an attack by a Jew against Moslem worshippers could be expected, particularly since intelligence reports warned of the opposite, an attack by Hamas. It has been verified that Goldstein acted to forestall a massacre. A day before Goldstein's action a proclamation was distributed in Hebron from a terrorist organization saying that a terrorist action would take place within one or two days. There is official verification of calls for the murder of Jews within the area of the Cave. In the course of the services on a Friday, Sheik Tyassir Tamini gave a sermon which was recorded by the civil administration, which praised any Arab who would kill Jews as doing acts written in gold, exalted acts in the battle between the believers and the infidels."

The report thus confirms that there were many serious provocations which anyone with prudence would have had to take very seriously, especially in view of long bloody trails of Arab terrorism against Jews in Hebron going back to 1929 when the ancient Jewish community was attacked in a ferocious pogrom which claimed sixty nine lives. Dr. Goldstein, an admired doctor and social worker, had the good of his entire community at heart. His conclusion In now a matter of historic record. His aim was not to derail the peace process but to preempt an Arab massacre of Jews.

In these days the Arabs are challenging the Jewish claim to one of the oldest Jewish towns and the shrines in Hebron. The Machpelah Cave was bought, according to an archaeologically confirmed Biblical account, see Genesis 23, as a burial place for Sara, the Jewish matriarch, followed by the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Leah and Jacob. Hebron served King David as his capital for seven years. The sanctity to Jews since time immemorial of the Cave, as a place of special religious veneration, was emphasized by the magnificent building constructed over it by Herod, King of the Jews (73-4 BCE), built in the same style of masonry as Herod's reconstruction of the Jerusalem Temple. The Machpelah edifice and the Temple where Herod's only public building projects. This happened some seven hundred years before the birth of Islam. Hebron, mentioned seventy six times in the Jewish Bible, like Jerusalem, which is mentioned eight hundred and twenty five times in the Jewish Bible, is not mentioned in the Koran one single time.

It is, therefore, difficult to fathom how the Moslems can construe a greater claim to Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarch than the ancient, unbroken Jewish claim, especially as they can, at best, only claim one, Abraham, out of the six Biblical persons buried there as an ancestor.

Once the Arab demagoguery dies down, Jews and Arabs can surely live peacefully in Hebron, as in past centuries. But the Cave of the Patriarchs must be freely open to worship. Incidentally, where is the Vatican with its request for "international guarantees" for free access to places of worship in Israel? Does that concern not also cover Jewish sites such as the Cave of the Patriarch in Hebron? Since the Vatican was silent when Jordan destroyed every single synagogue during the nineteen years of Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem, it is doubtful that the Vatican is an unbiased party. The hasty attacks on Goldstein's motives should be withdrawn. Public apologies from Prime Minister Rabin and from the U.N. Security Council are in order.




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