Hebron Killer Praised as a Hero by Young Israelis

By Helm, Sarah | The Independent (London, England), March 4, 1994 | Go to article overview
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Hebron Killer Praised as a Hero by Young Israelis


Helm, Sarah, The Independent (London, England)


THE eulogising of Baruch Goldstein, the perpetrator of the Hebron mosque massacre, by militant Jewish settlers is being echoed by teenagers in Israel's high schools, to the dismay of many teachers and education officials.

This week the Education Ministry ordered special lessons to be held on tolerance and the value of human life, after surveys showed substantial support for the slaughter.

The mass circulation daily paper, Yedioth Ahronot, which surveyed pupils at a middle class school in Jerusalem, found that almost all those questioned praised the massacre. "It was a mitzva {commandment of the Jewish law}," said Nir Ezra, 17. "He should have taken grenades."

Joe Kolodner, head of the ministry's school psychology department, told the newspaper: "If after 45 years a generation has grown up here who think that what happened in Hebron is OK, that is a sign that there is a deep crisis in Israeli society."

While many teenagers are uninhibited in their backing for the massacre, a significant number of their parents are also lending tacit, sometimes open, support. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, along with most political leaders, intellectuals and media commentators, has loudly condemned the atrocity, but significant numbers of ordinary Israelis heavily qualify their criticism of the killings. Many declare that the Arabs "got what they deserve".

An opinion poll published on Monday showed that 50 per cent of Israelis believe that Jewish settlers should remain in Hebron, and 76 per cent said the government should not disarm settlers.

Liberal Jewish religious leaders say they are deeply disturbed by the readiness of many Israelis to justify Goldstein's act on religious grounds, and are already moving to try to halt what they term "dangerous" and "demonic" interpretations of Judaism which "by osmosis" are entering the common language of ordinary people inside Israel proper. Yesterday a group of "Rabbis for Peace", Netivot Shalom, held an unprecedented demonstration outside the chief Rabbinate, which they say has not gone far enough to condemn the atrocity. "We are concerned about the moral wellbeing of the Jewish people. There is a growing demonic interpretation of Judaism and our responsiblity is to show very clearly that the interpretation of Judaism given by this murderer is not Jewish. It should be placed outside the law and outside Judaism," said Moshe Halbertal, a Netivot Shalom leader, yesterday.

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