ZOA: Palestinian Destruction Of Gaza Synagogues Only Latest In History Of Destroying Jewish Holy Sites
News Press Release
September 12, 2005

Would world be silent if
Israel destroyed mosques?

New York – With Israel’s unilateral retreat from Gaza, synagogues abandoned intact have been destroyed by Palestinian mobs. “Hours after the Israelis left the settlement of Neve Dekalim, young Palestinians were tearing aluminum window frames and metal ceiling fixtures out of the main synagogue there, as fires burned inside. The Palestinian flag and the flag of the militant group Hamas flew from the roof … The Palestinian leadership said it respected places of worship” (New York Times, September 12). Despite claiming respect for Judaism, the PA has a long, disgraceful record of allowing synagogues and sanctuaries to be attacked and destroyed wherever it has been in control:

  • September 1996: Palestinian rioters destroy a synagogue at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
  • October 2000: Joseph’s Tomb burnt down after the Israeli garrison guarding it was temporarily withdrawn during Palestinian attacks. It has since been rebuilt by the Palestinian Authority — as a mosque honoring a Muslim figure.
  • October 2000: The ancient synagogue in Jericho was deliberately torched and completely destroyed, while another historic synagogue in the city, with an ancient mosaic floor, is damaged and lies derelict.
  • Since 1996, Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem has been attacked numerous times by snipers, bombs and Molotov cocktails, forcing the Israel Defense Forces to build elaborate defenses and deploy extensive personnel around it.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The destruction of the Gaza synagogues by mobs of Palestinians is only the latest in a long record of Palestinian and Arab destruction of Jewish sanctuaries and disrespect for Judaism. Imagine the outcry in the Arab and non-Arab world if Israel had ever destroyed intentionally a mosque or two. Even when Arabs fired at Israelis from mosques, Israel did nothing to harm those mosques.

“When Jerusalem and Hebron were under illegal Jordanian occupation between 1948 and 1967, Jews were barred from praying at Judaism’s second holiest site, Jerusalem’s Western Wall.” Moreover, Jordan demolished all 58 synagogues in Jerusalem’s Old City and Jewish grave stones were broken and used to pave roads and Jordanian army latrines. In Hebron under Muslim rulers, Jews were not allowed into the Tomb of the Patriarchs beyond the seventh step on the staircase.

“This violence and hatred for Judaism and its sanctuaries has also been a feature of Palestinian Authority (PA) rule. In addition to the destruction on its watch of Jewish sites like Joseph’s Tomb and the Jericho synagogue, the PA media, mosques, schools and youth movements are filled with attacks on Judaism. PA officials have denied any Jewish connection to the land of Israel and even the past existence of the Temple in Jerusalem . Yasser Arafat once said, ‘That is not the Western Wall at all, but a Moslem shrine’ (Ma’ariv, Oct. 11, 1996). Jarid al-Kidwa, a Palestinian ‘historian’ broadcast in the PA media, has stated, ‘The stories of the Torah and the Bible did not take place in the Land of Israel — they occurred in the Arabian peninsula, primarily in Yemen.’ (Ha’aretz, July 6, 1997).

“Also, Walid M. Awad, Director of Foreign Publications for the PLO’s Palestine Ministry of Information, has insisted that, ‘Jerusalem was never a Jewish city’ (IMRA news agency, Dec. 25, 1996). When it came to the Camp David and Taba negotiations in 2000, the PA negotiators refused to accept that Jews had any connection to the city and Yasser Arafat told an amazed President Clinton that the Temple had never stood in Jerusalem.

“With this disgraceful record of lies about and hatred for Judaism, it is remarkable that the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat can dare to claim that, ‘We maintain the highest respect for Judaism.’”

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