Synagogue is symbol of
occupation and injustice
New York A Palestinian Arab terrorist group launching attacks upon Israel from Gaza has converted into bases for their attacks two of the large synagogues in evacuated Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip. Israel withdrew all military and civilians living in Gaza in September 2005, leaving behind abandoned communities, including 20 synagogues, most of which were destroyed by riotous Palestinian Arabs immediately thereafter. Abu Abir, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a Palestinian Arab terrorist group that specializes in firing rockets from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas, said that, We are proud to turn these lands, especially these parts that were for long time the symbol of occupation and injustice, like the synagogue, into a military base and source of fire against the Zionists and the Zionist entity … [Israel] left the synagogues behind so the world would see the Palestinians destroying them ( New York Sun, February 27, 2007).
This desecration of Jewish houses is but the latest in a long record of Palestinian Arabs violating the sanctity of Jewish holy and religious sites
- September 2005: 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, but did not want the responsibility of having to protect buildings that many Palestinians want to tear down as symbols of Israels occupation. (New York Times, September 12, 2005).
- October 2000: Josephs Tomb burnt down after the Israeli garrison guarding it was temporarily withdrawn during Palestinian attacks.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 deliberately torched and completely destroyed while another historic synagogue in the city, with an ancient mosaic floor, is damaged and lies derelict.
- September 1996: Palestinian rioters destroy a synagogue at Josephs Tomb in Nablus.
- Since 1996, Rachels 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.
Past statements by Palestinian Arab figures denying Jewish history, connection with the land of Israel and the existence of Jewish sanctuaries:
- Yasser Arafat, PA President: [Referring to Judaisms holiest site] That is not the Western Wall at all, but a Moslem shrine ( Maariv, October 11, 1996).
- Jarid al-Kidwa, a Palestinian historian: 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 (Haaretz, July 6, 1997).
- Walid M. Awad, Director of Foreign Publications for the PLOs Palestine Ministry of Information: Jerusalem was never a Jewish city (IMRA news agency, December 25, 1996).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The desecration of two of the surviving synagogues in Gaza by Palestinian Arab terrorists who have converted them into launching pads for terrorist rockets aimed at Israeli civilians is only the latest in a long record of Palestinian and Arab destruction of Jewish sanctuaries and disrespect for Judaism. When Jerusalem and Hebron were under Jordans illegal occupation between 1948 and 1967, Jews were barred from praying at Judaisms holiest site, Jerusalems Western Wall. In Hebron, Jews were not allowed into the Tomb of the Patriarchs beyond the seventh step on the staircase. Moreover, Jordan demolished 58 synagogues in Jerusalems Old City and destroyed 40,000 Jewish grave stones, which were used to pave roads and Jordanian army latrines.
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 Josephs Tomb and the Jericho synagogue, the PA media, mosques, schools and youth movements are filled with venomous attacks on Jews and Judaism. PA officials have denied any Jewish connection to the land of Israel and even the past existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, as the quotations from PA figures indicates. It also should be remembered that when it came to the Camp David and Taba negotiations in 2000, the PA negotiators refused to accept that Jews had any connection to Jerusalem and Yasser Arafat told an amazed President Clinton that the Temple had never stood in Jerusalem.
With this disgraceful record of lies, hatred and disrespect for Judaism, it is not surprising that the PA has allowed the destruction and desecration of the Gaza synagogues and this is a good indication of what would happen to dozens more Jewish shrines and synagogues were Israel to repeat the tragic mistake of unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza by retreating unilaterally from Judea and Samaria. Anyone who is genuinely concerned for the protection of religious sites cannot fail but to be alarmed at what would happen if Israel uprooted more communities and abandoned them to the PA.