Towards the end of 1994, posters appeared in Kiryat Arba stating that it was intended to bring out a memorial book on Baruch Goldstein. This book was to include scholarly articles on a range of subjects and reminisences about Baruch Goldstein.
I submitted a number of items which included a translation into Hebrew of my entire letter to the “Jewish Chronicle,” extracts from the Shamgar Report showing that the Arabs were planning a massacre of Jews in Hebron around Purim, and an article about Baruch Goldstein, the Shofar blower.
The book was published at the beginning of 1995 and according to press reports it was sold out - all 6,000 copies - within a day and a further supply of 4,000 copies was to be printed. About 600 books were sold in Kiryat Arba which was to be expected. However the sale of 80 copies in Tiberias and 150 in Tel Aviv, was unexpected.
The Editor was Michael Ben-Chorin who lives in the Golan and he was assisted by three sub-editors. The book contained over 500 pages and had articles by about 70 contributors. The first part contained scholarly articles on a number of subjects including Revenge, Kingship and War, the Temple, Society and Law in Israel, and Hebron. The next section described incidents in the life of Baruch Goldstein, testimony by people who knew him, and the events regarding Purim 1994.
Ben-Chorin was summoned for police questioning about six months after publication of the book and again about three months later. Some of the 70 contributors were also called to the police headquarters in Petach Tiqva (which is several hours journey from Kiryat Arba) for questioning. Amongst them was Rabbi Shalom Horowitz, who had written several reminisences of Baruch Goldstein and he was asked who had requested him to contribute to the book.
About a year and a half after publication the Attorney General decided to make a criminal case against Ben-Chorin and his three assistants. Ben-Chorin heard about this from the television, two and a half weeks before he was officially informed of the charge.
The indictment was dated 6 November 1996. Included in the charge sheet was: “Words of praise for the massacre perpetrated in the Cave of Machpelah by Baruch Goldstein.” Since this work is on Dr. Baruch Goldstein, we shall concentrate on this aspect of the indictment.
The case first came to trial in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, which is situated in the Russian Compound, in February 1997.
Ben-Chorin explained to the Court that the purpose of his book was to correct the disinformation disseminated by the communications media who were very selective in what they wrote or said about Baruch Goldstein. Nothing was reported about his good deeds as a doctor nor of the security background to his actions on that Purim. After publication a lot of people had contacted him and thanked him for enlightening them as to these facts.
He categorically denied that the book was intended to incite Jews against Arabs, insisted that he was revolted by racism and claimed that to equate the book “Baruch Ha-Gever” with the racist books of Hitler was a disgraceful act of the prosecution.
Ben-Chorin wanted to make his main line of defense that Baruch Goldstein had made a pre-emptive strike; his, had not been a terrorist act. Ben-Chorin had invited a long list of witnesses in order to prove that his contention was correct but most of them did not appear. He wanted the judge to subpoena them to appear but the judge persisted in his view that that type of evidence was irrelevant and refused to order the vast majority of the witnesses to appear. At the same time he commented that almost all the evidence heard that day had not been relevant!
I was one of the few witnesses who did appear. On the basis of the paper I had written several years earlier, on a study of the Shamgar Report (details have been given above), I was invited to be a witness for the defence and to appear at the Court on 26 May 1997.
When I entered the witness box, Ben-Chorin, who was conducting his own defence, began by asking me some questions regarding my contributions to his book. He then asked that my paper on the subject be entered as an exhibit, which it was. He started asking me questions on the paper, but the judge cut him short saying that this was unnecessary since it could all be found in my paper.
Each of the four defendants gave evidence. One of them, Netanel (Nati) Ozeri, was asked under cross examination why he refused to answer questions when questioned by the police. He replied that he regarded the whole investigation as political. “The aim of the investigator was plain - to do what he had been ordered to do from above and not because of any criminal offense which might or might not have been committed. I did not want to participate in these political games. This is purely a political investigation and I thus answered accordingly.” [Several years later, in January 2003, Ozeri was brutally murdered in his house by Arabs, whilst his family were eating their Sabbath eve meal.]
In his summing-up, the State Prosecutor summarily dismissed the claim that Goldstein’s act was a pre-emptive strike claiming that this had not been proven. However, since many of the key witnesses whom the defence wished to call to show that it was a pre-emptive strike, were disqualified by the Court, it is not surprising that the defense’s contention of a pre-emptive strike was not proven. Moreover, the State Prosecutor repeatedly referred to Baruch Goldstein as a “murderer” - something which has never been proven, either judicially or indeed in any other way!
The Court gave its ruling in November 1997. Of Judge Ya’acov Tzaban’s six and a half page judgment, the first three and a half were occupied solely by the entire fable “The Scribe and the Bandit” by the 18th century Russian fabulist Ivan Krilov.
The accused were found guilty of publishing material which could incite racial hatred and encourage violence. My evidence and paper, and the other evidence showing it to be a pre-emptive strike were not even mentioned. With respect to the learned Judge, one could have understood this if he had quoted this evidence, and then gone on to say that he could not accept it for various shown reasons. However he did not do this. Ben-Chorin was sentenced to eight months in jail and his three assistants to two months each.
The case then went on appeal to the Jerusalem District Court. The defendants argued that the activities of Baruch Goldstein prior to Purim 1994 should be viewed separately from the killings on that Purim and that the book “Baruch Ha-Gever” should be examined on the basis of such a separation. It would seem that the intention here is that the praise given to Goldstein in this book refers to his life prior to that Purim. The Court rejected this argument and in their judgment they said that since Baruch Goldstein is universally known as the man who perpetrated the massacre, no such separation can be made. It is of course true that Baruch Goldstein is associated in the minds of most people as the person who committed a despicable massacre. But why is this so? From all the statements constantly being made by politicians and in the media, the public has been “brainwashed” into believing that it has been judicially determined that Goldstein perpetrated a massacre.
As in the lower Court, the District Court made no mention whatsoever of the defendants’ claim that Baruch Goldstein’s act was one of a pre-emptive strike!
The defendants were given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. The State however asked to be able to delay their reply until after the Supreme Court had re-ruled in the case of Yusef Jabarin.
Jabarin, an Arab newspaper reporter, had in the early 1990s, published an article praising the throwing of stones and firebombs at Jewish targets. He was brought to trial under the 1948 “Regulations for the Prevention of Terrorism” and found guilty in the Magistrates Court. His conviction was upheld in the District Court and also in the Supreme Court. An appeal was then made to rehear the case in the Supreme Court with an expanded panel of judges. In November 2000, seven judges of the Supreme Court gave their verdict. The majority held that according to these 1948 Regulations, only a person praising terrorist acts perpetrated by a terrorist organisation could be found guilty. Praising terrorist acts performed by an individual was not forbidden by these Regulations. Jabarin had not specified in his article that he was referring to a terrorist organisation and he was thus acquitted.
The defendants in the “Baruch Ha-Gever” case had also been charged under these Regulations. One of the defendants, Yoel Lerner arranged to have his appeal heard separately from that of the other defendants, and utilising the Jabarin verdict, succeeded in having his jail sentence quashed.
In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Michael Ben-Chorin also brought the precedent of Jabarin. He also complained about the “severity of the punishment” reminding the Court that after Goldstein’s act he was put in administrative detention for a number of months, at which time he asked the High Court to send him to a camp for “re-education” as is “customary in the democratic regimes of China and Cuba.” [In “administrative detention”, a person is incarcerated in jail without any trial and without being informed of the reason for his imprisonment; a common procedure in totalitarian regimes. Needless to say it has come under very strong criticism from Human Rights organisations.] The High Court however refused his request for “ideological re-education,” and in view of this he asked in his appeal why he should be sent to jail for editing the book “Baruch Ha-Gever,” an act which, according to the lower Court, showed his thinking to be defective!
The appeal to the Supreme Court by Ben-Chorin together with Yosef Dayan, one of his sub-editors, was heard in April 2002. All the sides had agreed that these two defendants be acquitted only of charges brought against them under the “Regulations for the Prevention of Terrorism.” It was also agreed that the two month prison sentence of Dayan be quashed. With regards to the eight month prison sentence on Ben-Chorin, the State wanted it reduced to six months and if feasible done in the form of community service. Ben-Chorin considered even this to be too much. The Court stated that they would rule on this matter at a later date. On 20 June 2002, they sentenced him to six months community service to be done at the fire station at the Tzemach junction in the north of Israel.
At the same time as the appeal reached the District Court, Ben-Chorin brought out a pure research booklet entitled “Baruch Podeh Umatzil” (“Blessed be the Rescuer and Redeemer”). [Later an English translation of this booklet was made by David Cohen. ] Here Ben-Chorin included the background to the security situation and the action of Baruch Goldstein. The material on the action of Baruch Goldstein he largely took from my paper and he made the appropriate acknowledgment in the introduction.
But even this research booklet was too much for Knesset Member Ran Cohen, who demanded that the police and the Attorney-General investigate whether Ben-Chorin and the publisher should be prosecuted for it. Ben-Chorin was summoned four times to the police headquarters for questioning. His house was searched and his computer was taken. However no further action was taken in this matter.
When the book “Baruch Ha-Gever” was published, at least six thousand copies were sold. A copy also reached the library of Bar-Ilan University. After the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin by a person who had been a student at Bar-Ilan University, the head of Meretz (extreme left-wing party) in their Student’s Union, asked the President of the University “to remove racist publications” from the University library. The President replied “that he was unaware of their presence” but then ordered them removed. At the same time it was reported that this University had removed the book “Baruch Ha-Gever” from their library. However, I am informed by one of their librarians that this is not the case and that this book is still in their library. It also appears on the computerised catalogue of the books in the Bar-Ilan Library, just as it appears in the catalogues of the other University libraries in Israel.