Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation

One Year Later... Purim Hebron Remembered

Soon a year will have passed since Purim 1994, and it is likely that the leftist press will use the opportunity to again heap lies, abuse and distortions on the memory of Dr. Baruch Goldstein.

Here are some of the accusations they will spread throughout the media: Goldstein wanted to derail the peace process ... Goldstein refused to treat Arabs ... Goldstein was a poor soldier ... his attack was unprovoked ... his victims were peaceful worshipers ... no Arab weapon was found in the Machpelah ... the Shamgar Report found no evidence of hostility by the Arabs against the Jews ... this incident was proof that the Jews are terrorists no less than the Arabs ... the Hebron incident justifies Arab terrorism ... Goldstein’s act was typical of the behavior of all settlers ...

All these statements are false and malicious. Before analyzing them, we should perhaps ask ourselves the following: What are the motives of the leftist fanatics, who are using Goldstein for their purposes? Here are some of their sinister motivations:

1. Firstly, the leftists are keen to help their PLO friends to clear the Land of Israel of Jews, starting with the Jews of Hebron and the "settlements." Immediately after Purim they raised a clamor for the disarming of all settlers throughout Israel. This would expose the settlers to murderous Arab attacks and would force them to abandon the settlements and surrender them to the Arabs.

2. The leftists have, on ideological materialistic grounds, determined to destroy the image of any Jewish hero. In this vein they have carried out the "debunking" of our greatest heroes in our history. They claim that the martyrs of Massada did not really commit suicide; they denounce the hero of the Second Revolt, Bar Kochba, as not a great hero at all; they declare that early Zionist martyr, Josef Trumpeldor, never said, "it is good to die for our Land"; they even claim that Hanna Senesh, the great Holocaust martyr, was really a traitor who denounced her fellow partisans to the Nazis. Recently a TV program was produced in Israel attacking the story of Hanna Senesh’s martyrdom. When a storm of protest arose, the author had to admit that his story was pure fiction and that the evidence of Senesh’s heroism still stood.

But in Goldstein’s case, there is no clamor to restore his name sullied by the leftists. The image of Goldstein as a hero must be destroyed.

3. The leftists need an excuse for the Arab murderers, who have killed scores since last Purim. It is convenient to imply that these murders somehow were provoked by Goldstein instead of by the inherent Islamic hatred for Jews, which has been allowed to take violent form since the Oslo "peace" agreement.

Meeting Goldstein’s Parents

On my last stay in Israel, I invited Mr. and Mrs. Israel Goldstein, who live in Kiryat Arba, to come to Jerusalem. It was a very significant and emotional meeting. On the personal side, their deep mourning over their beloved son was of course with them every moment. They related to me the many details of Barich’s childhood and youth. His life in the United States was similar to that of thousands of young Orthodox boys and girls brought up in day schools and yeshivot. Like many of them, Baruch yearned to make aliyah to Israel, and he wanted to make a contribution to the Land as a doctor. His family ancestry, through his mother, went back eight generations to the Baal Hatanya. Members of his family had been victims of the Arab pogrom in Hebron in 1929, when some 69 Jews were slaughtered, without the British troops interceding.

The memory of this tragedy weighs heavily on all residents of Hebron. It demonstrates that the tribe of Arabs in Hebron, the Hebronite Arabs, more than most other Arab tribes, are violent and blood-thirsty. They are the descendants of the Arabs who on June 17, 1839, almost murdered Sir Moses and Lady Judith Montefiore when they visited the Machpelah with the Turkish governor. His diary reports the near outbreak of an Arab pogrom of the large Jewish community in Hebron after that near-fatal visit.

In tear-drenched statements, Goldstein’s mother told me of his son’s total commitment, after his years as a student at Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein Medical School, to his profession as a doctor. As proof of his dedication to the medical profession, she showed me confirmation of his healing an Arab terrorist.

The details and facts the Goldsteins documented reflected some of the findings in the 338 page Shamgar Commission Report of which I obtained a copy, but they have not been widely published in Israel because of the obvious leftist-inspired censorship that has been imposed on many of its findings. Thus, on Page 77 the Report confirms that Goldstein treated and healed an Arab terrorist in October 1990. If this had been publicized, the world press, including Time magazine, could not have claimed that Goldstein hated Arabs and refused to treat them.

The central feature in the actual events, clouded in the official versions, came out crystal clear from the documents his parents brought me.

Warnings of Arab Pogrom

A. On February 21, 1994 -- before Purim -- the Kiryat Arba Town Council near Hebron had an emergency meeting called on short notice by Gen. Mofaz and Brig. Gen. Kalifi, who warned the residents that the Army had concrete evidence that the Arabs were planning a serious attack and that the Jewish medical officers should be ready for emergency aid. This primarily referred to Dr. Goldstein, who was the head medical officer in Kiryat Arba.

B. At the same time the leading Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, published a news report before Purim stating that Hamas forces in Hebron had for days been alerting all Arabs in Hebron -- through their terror group Ez a-Adin Alqass, the murderers who recently had the Lapids and other Hebronite Jews killed -- to stock up with food and provisions since a great attack on Jews would take place and that it could be expected that, afterwards, the Israeli government would impose a curfew on the Arab population.

This all important clue to the impending Arab pogrom is contained in the Shamgar Report. "This being a Friday, the end of the Ramadan holy month, warnings of an attack had been given ... an attack by the Hamas was expected" (pg. 236).

The background to these warnings is specified on page 235 of the Report, with a description of the violent and hostile mood of the Arabs and their cries of "Etbach el-Yahud."

C. The Report also contains an account (pg. 139) of the appeal by Sheikh Tayassar Temimi in the Machpelah to kill Jews, which set the Arabs’ bellicose mood.

D. The Israeli press (Hatzofeh, February 27) reported that on the eve of Purim some 2,000 Arabs gathered during the time of the reading of the Megillah and shouted the infamous war cry "Etbach el-Yahud" -- "Slaughter the Jews." These blood curling cries must have shocked and unnerved every Jew, foreboding what the Arabs had prepared for the next day.

In 1929, too, the pogrom had been preceded by that dreaded war cry.

Baruch Goldstein understood full well what was impending. The Lapids, recent murder victims of the same terrorist group, had died in his arms ...

E. At least one witness, Mordechai Sayed, heard from inside the Machpelah that a gun, wrapped in an Arab kafiye, was found in the Machpelah, proving that the Arabs -- far from peaceful worshipers -- were armed for their planned pogrom.

Sayed offered the Shamgar Commission testimony about his discovery, but was informed by the Commission by their letter to him of April 12, 1994, that "there is no need for your testimony." This refusal is most curious and indicates a preconceived prejudice to rule out evidence of Arab provocation. (No body search was conducted on Arabs entering the Machpelah.)

F. I was shown various personal, eye-witness accounts describing the threatening situation before Purim. Car Bishop, an American visiting Israel with a group from the United States, encountered violence at the Machpelah one week before Purim. Batya Cohen, a local resident, testified that she heard in the days before Purim Arab appeals on loudspeaker "screaming in flowery language that the Holy Land must be recovered from the evil people (the Jews)." Eirat Sharbaf, a local resident, testified about the Arab broadcasts before Purim heralding Arab attacks on Jews. When she reported this to the Israeli Army she was told, "We know."

Similar Arab broadcasts had been heard some weeks before, following the attacks on the Lapids. Yisrael Ben Ahron, an army reservist in Kiryat Arba, testified that he saw Arabs storing food before Purim, and that although the army knew this, they did nothing about it. Yitzchak Matoof, local resident, testified that "Arab storekeepers told me not to come to the Machpelah on Purim as it will not be good for Jews there." Ilan Tor , local resident, who was used to reciting Tehillim every morning in the Machpelah, was terrified Purim morning "by the Arabs howling `Slaughter the Jews’ and their threatening gestures." Tor was sure that he would be killed by the Arabs. IDF officer Dov Stelman testified before the Shamgar Commission that he was afraid to sleep in his usual place on Purim eve "because he knew that something terrible was going to take place and he wanted to be ready."

Goldstein on the Eve of Purim

Dr. Goldstein had gone to the Machpelah Purim eve, Thursday evening, to attend the reading of the Megillah, but could not pray because of the sound of the Arabs howling, "Etbach el-Yalud" ("Slaughter the Jews"). He later told his father that when he turned to an IDF soldier and asked him to stop the Arabs, the officer just shrugged his shoulders and turned away. Goldstein left the Machpelah and attended the Megillah reading in the community center in Kiryat Arba. Goldstein’s parents were never asked to testify before the Shamgar Commission.

These testimonies give ample proof of the explosive atmosphere that the Arabs had created in the Jewish population. David Bar-lan, the editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post, writes me in a letter: "The Shamgar Report says, `It should be pointed out that a day before the massacre, a proclamation was distributed in Hebron from a terrorist organization saying that a terrorist action would take place within one or two days.’ It takes only common sense to conclude precisely that Goldstein acted to forestall a massacre."

G. It is crystal clear that nothing was farther from Goldstein’s mind than "derailing the peace process." He felt responsible for the entire community, which faced a blood bath for which ample threats and notifications had been given. In his anguish about the impending loss of lives -- especially in light of the Israeli army’s apathy in similar situations in the past -- he must have felt that he had to take the defense of his fellow Jews into his own hands. No doubt a well-established Jewish legal rule was also on his mind: "Habs l’horgecha, hashkenl, l’horgo" ("If you are threatened by murder, you can pre-empt it by killing the would-be murderer in self-defense.").

It is also evident that his act thwarted a bloodbath that would have killed and maimed countless Jews -- much as in the Arab pogrom in Hebron of 1929. His act was therefore thoroughly provoked -- not unprovoked as the leftist propagandists want us to believe. The Arabs were not peaceful worshipers but hostile fanatics, partly armed, ready to launch their pogrom against Jews.

H. The incident cannot have any bearing on the position of "settlers" anywhere else, nor can it ever be used to justify unprovoked acts of murder and massacres perpetrated by Arabs in fulfillment of Islamic religious commands. It has not before been pointed out that the Purim pogrom would have fallen on Friday, the Moslem "Sabbath," on which many of the subsequent murders of Jews in Israel have taken place since the Oslo "peace" agreement was signed. Generally unknown, but undoubtedly known to Baruch Goldstein, is the fact that the 1929 Hebron pogrom also broke out on a Friday -- August 23! No wonder that a bloodbath was also to take place on Purim, Friday 1994! Some of the murderers have openly confessed that by sacrificing Jews to Allah, they come closer to him. That fact, too, must have weighed on Goldstein’s mind -- the threat of a pogrom on a Friday was more threatening than on any other day.

I. Goldstein’s parents proudly handed me some certificates issued by the Israeli army certifying to Baruch’s exemplary character and service record. He had just been promoted to the rank of major. In the lengthy letter of promotion it says: "All his services have always been performed without monetary awards, worthy of highest praise. If there is an officer in the District of Judea and Samaria worthy of promotion in rank it is without doubt Dr. (Captain) Baruch Goldstein."

In another diploma, the medical chief of the army thanks Goldstein for miraculously saving the lives of soldiers who had been wounded by Arab terrorists: "With your dedication you saved the lives of the wounded and you saved the entire world."

Another magnificent diploma thanked Goldstein for his committed medical service beyond the call of duty. After he served in Lebanon, the army issued a certificate thanking him for his "devoted, efficient diligent, enterprising, thorough disciplined and expert exercise of his medical profession."

All these documents should lay to rest the malicious, totally unfounded criticism of this exemplary soldier and doctor.

Preemptive Strikes in Jewish History

A year after the event, there is every reason to honor Goldstein’s memory as a Jewish patriot who, only in the last desperate resort available to him, preempted a vast bloodbath of Jews being prepared for Purim morning 1994. As a self-sacrificing, compassionate doctor, Goldstein’s aim was to heal and save lives; he was incapable of an act of murder. Forced by the impending disaster and convinced that the government would not sufficiently protect the Jews against an Arab attack, he took their defense into his own hands. We can think of outstanding acts of pre-emptive strikes in our long history, ranging from Pinchas and Samson in Biblical days, to incidents during the Crusades, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, and the uprisings in various death camps, to the preemptive attack in the Six Day War. They are all remembered with awe and reverence.

I am grateful to Goldstein’s wonderful parents for sharing the evidence with me. Its publication should serve as a well-deserved consolation to them in their grief. Those who rushed to judgment last year, should rightfully hang their heads in shame.

 

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