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A visit to the grave of mass-murderer Baruch Goldstein

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Commenters on the conflict often speak of the grave of Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish extremist who gunned down 29 Muslims inside the Mosque of Ibrahim in Hebron in 1994. Jeff Klein recently visited the grave. This account appeared on his site, At a slight angle to the universe, on June 22.

On a hillside in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, overlooking the large West Bank Palestinian city of al-Khalil — known to Israeli Jews and most foreigners by its biblical name of  “Hebron” – is the grave monument of Dr. Baruch Goldstein.

On the Jewish holiday of Purim, February 25, 1994, Goldstein, then a reserve officer in the Israeli army, walked into the Mosque of Ibrahim (the traditional burial place of the Patriarch Abraham) in uniform and with his army-issued weapon, opening fire on the Muslim worshippers. 29 people were murdered outright and 125 wounded before the survivors managed to disarm Goldstein and kill him on the spot.
For many far-right Israeli Jews and especially the settler movement Goldstein was a martyr to the cause of religious Zionism.  His grave in a ceremonial plaza overlooking the Palestinian town became a place of pilgrimage and celebration – to the great embarrassment of the Israeli government and many of its supporters in the US. 
The ceremonial plaza around the grave was ordered dismantled, but the park and monumental walkway leading up to his grave remain in place.  The park is dedicated to Meir Kahane, the US-born rabbi who was a founder of the violent Jewish Defense League and later the leader of the fascist Kach party — which was so openly racist that it was eventually banned in Israel.  Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990, but today you can still find stickers and graffiti around Israel with the slogan “Kahane Lives” or in English “Kahane Was Right!” 

The Hebrew inscription on Goldstein’s grave monument reads, in part:

“The revered Dr. Baruch Kapel Goldstein… Son of Israel.  He gave his soul for the sake of the people of Israel, The Torah, and the Land.  His hands are clean and his heart good… He was assassinated for the Sanctity of God”
The stones on the grave are customarily left by visitors to express their mourning.

During the annual observance of the Purim holiday, settlers gather at Goldstein’s grave to celebrate his deed and sing songs in praise of the man they regard as a noble martyr.  One of the songs includes the verse: “Dr. Goldstein, there is none other like you in the world. Dr. Goldstein, we all love you… he aimed at terrorists’ heads, squeezed the trigger hard, and shot bullets, and shot, and shot.”
Then the settlers march down to pray at the Mosque/Synagogue of Abraham, accompanied by a  massive show of force by Israeli army troops. 

The 1994 Hebron Massacre launched a fierce outburst of violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories, which included the first suicide bombings carried out by Hamas within the 1948 borders.  
But in this case (Jewish) terrorism worked.  The ancient burial place of the Patriarchs, which had been converted into a mosque over a thousand years earlier was now divided into a Muslim and a Jewish section and made accessible to Jewish worshipers and foreign tourists.  
Ironically, it’s impossible for anyone to visit both parts of the shrine at a single occasion, since people approaching the heavy security at the shrine must declare their religious affiliation and are allowed into one or the other section depending on their answer.  Muslims are not allowed into the Jewish section and Jews are not allowed into the Muslim section. Non-Jewish tourists can choose one or the other, but not both.  (I know this from a previous visit with my son to the Mosque side). 
On the day I was there, a large group of Swedish tourists, the men sporting incongruously small white Jewish kippot (“yarmilkas”) given to them at the entrance. Jewish religious law does not require non-Jews to have their heads covered.
Meanwhile religious Jewish yeshiva students were chanting fervently and loudly just behind them.
Jeff Klein

Jeff Klein, is a retired local union president, a long-time Palestine solidarity activist and a board member of Mass Peace Action. He has a blog:

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21 Responses

  1. seafoid on July 4, 2013, 2:45 pm

    “later the leader of the fascist Kach party — which was so openly racist that it was eventually banned in Israel”

    Those were very different times

  2. Hostage on July 4, 2013, 3:51 pm

    Jewish religious law does not require non-Jews to have their heads covered.

    It was never legislated by the Sages or Torah for Jews either. It’s merely a custom or sign of piety: “Cover your head, so that the reverence of Heaven be upon you” (Shabbat 156b). “It is a custom not to walk under the heavens bareheaded” (Orach Hayim 2:6).

    • seafoid on July 5, 2013, 2:35 am

      The sages never predicted the mess the revenants would make of israel.
      I suppose it was no less dysfunctional in their day.

  3. Citizen on July 4, 2013, 3:56 pm

    That’s some tombstone inscription, considering what Goldstein did to earn it. I wonder what the rest of the inscription says.

    • Xpat on July 5, 2013, 7:15 am

      The full translation is:
      Here lies
      The saintly
      Dr. Reb Baruch Kappel Goldstein
      Of holy and blessed memory, May God avenge his blood (the religious code language for “killed by terrorists” E.)
      Son of Reb David, may he live a long life
      Seventh generation of the Old Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Baal Hatanya (founder of Lubavitch-Chabad. Chabad had a presence in Hebron dating back to the early 19th century. See E.)
      “His hands a clean and his heart is clear” (Psalm 24, an ode to the righteous that is well known to observant Jews from Jewish liturgy E.)
      Born….(hebrew date)
      Murdered as God’s martyr
      On Purim 1994
      May his soul be bound in the bond of life

    • Chu on July 5, 2013, 9:30 am

      another example of Israel terrorist worship. The US dumped Bin Laden into the sea, as they wanted to erase his from the earth. But in Israel, Brooklyn’s finest , Baruch Goldstein is worshipped in the land of the new Israel as a hero. What a sick place.

      ‘His hands are clean and his heart good’ (says who?)

  4. Stephen Shenfield on July 4, 2013, 4:58 pm

    I read testimony on a Palestinian site (sorry, I don’t recall which one and I couldn’t find it again) that Goldstein was not acting as a lone individual. Not all the bullets came from him — they came from various directions. Also, soldiers at the mosque said things suggesting that they knew what was going to happen. There was a broader conspiracy of some sort, at least among local settlers and soldiers. Then there was a cleanup immediately after the massacre to destroy evidence.

    • Woody Tanaka on July 5, 2013, 7:39 am

      “I read testimony on a Palestinian site… that Goldstein was not acting as a lone individual.”

      That would not surprise me one bit. But more to the point, every zionist has some degree of responsibility for this crime, because they made it not only possible, but inevitable.

    • eGuard on July 7, 2013, 8:38 am

      Then there was a cleanup immediately after the massacre to destroy evidence.

      The same after they shot al-Durrah: even the wall was taken down.

      And after the killings aboard Mavi Marmara.

  5. Mike_Konrad on July 4, 2013, 6:11 pm

    What was interesting was the response:

    As punishment for Goldstein’s crime, Shuhada street was closed to the Arabs.

    The official reason was to prevent an Arab response.

    But the logic is amazing. Arabs were punished for Baruch’s actions.

    I am pro-Israel; but even I find that Israel policy beyond belief.

    • Denis on July 4, 2013, 10:49 pm

      OK, Mike. You opened the door so I’m walkin’ through it:

      How on earth can any rational human being find this sort of thing “beyond belief” (which it is) and still be pro-Israel?

      The bastard kills 29 Muslims, wounds 125 more, and the IDF closes the area to Muslims. I mean . . . closing the street is such a small thing in the context of the murders and the rest of what is going on over there, but it is so indicative of what the hateful Israelis are doing and their twisted thinking. How could anyone support it?

      I am not being judgmental; I am being honestly curious.

      • Cliff on July 5, 2013, 8:13 am


        ‘Mike_Konrad’ has said that he is a Christian Zionist/Evangelical Christian.

        He is a fanatic who has stated that it would be reasonable for Israel to respond with nuclear weapons (annihilation) if the nations of the world made efforts to decolonize and/or honor a RoR for the Palestinians.

      • Denis on July 5, 2013, 9:27 am

        And, Mike. . .

        Please rationalize being pro-Israel in the face of such outrageous violations of Palestinian civil rights as the IDF taking over the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron for “military exercises,” throwing worshipers out, and preventing call to prayers. No, not in 1948. Yesterday.

        Please provide right-minded and rational people all over the world who are watching Israeli apartheid unfold some reason not to hate Israel in the same way and for the same reasons we hated the Afrikaners. Why should any human being with a conscience be pro-Israel?

    • Woody Tanaka on July 5, 2013, 7:26 am

      “I am pro-Israel; but even I find that Israel policy beyond belief.”

      Why would it be beyond belief? Israelis do this kind of crap to Palestinians all the time. The zionist mind knows nothing but violence and bigotry against innocent Palestinians.

  6. sandhillexit on July 4, 2013, 7:50 pm

    “No man can cause more grief than the one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancestors.” Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust

    • seafoid on July 5, 2013, 3:22 am

      Ze’ev Sternhell doesn’t pull his punches

      “How will the Jews of the world react once it becomes clear to them beyond any shadow of a doubt that Israel is on a collision course with their very existential interests? The various expressions of fanaticism in Israel, such as the exclusion of women in the military and, in a short while, in institutions of higher learning; the denial of equal rights to its non-Jewish citizens and the division of the population according to ethnic origin can all ultimately be considered as subversive actions undermining the status of Diaspora Jews in their various countries of residence.
      The truth is that one is already beginning to hear these voices on university campuses in Europe and the United States: The defense of Israel is becoming a burden and the situation of pro-Israel students and professors is becoming more and more difficult. Israel has evolved from the favored child of the international community to one of the world’s most hated nations. This process is not something that has accidentally occurred nor has it taken place overnight. The way things look today, the situation will only get worse with the passage of time.”

  7. jon s on July 5, 2013, 2:33 am

    The veneration of Goldstein by the extremist settlers is, indeed, disgraceful.
    Unfortunately, murderers of innocent Israeli civilians are also venerated on the Palestinian side.

    • Woody Tanaka on July 6, 2013, 3:20 pm

      And the israelis (both your uniformed terrorists in the i”d”f and your non-uniformed ones like Goldstein) have killed many more innocents, so your attempt at equivalency fails.

    • eGuard on July 7, 2013, 8:50 am

      jon s: veneration of Goldstein by the extremist settlers

      How do you know they are “extremist”? Because they threw the stones onto the grave (that would be terrorism right)? Because the grave monument has hate speech? What would a “non-extremist” settler do?

      I am glad you leave open the veneration of kilers of not innocent Israeli civilians.

  8. Woody Tanaka on July 5, 2013, 7:24 am

    The fact that the zio state hasn’t driven up, exhumed the body, buried it at sea or in an unmarked grave and destroyed this shrine to evil is an implicit affirmance of his crimes by the israeli state.

  9. Terri Ginsberg on July 5, 2013, 9:18 am

    When I visited Hebron in 2005, there was a small monument in the now largely-closed commercial section of the old town commemorating Baruch Goldstein and engraved with words referring to him as a “zaddik bedoratov”–a saint-like, bright light of his generation. Pathetic.

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