Friday 25 February 1994 – Purim. If one looks at a book on Israeli history, it is almost certain to say that on that day Dr. Baruch Goldstein opened fire and massacred 29 Arabs who were praying in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron.
Is this a proven fact? The answer is NO! No Court of Law has found him guilty of such a crime. It was a “trial” by the politicians and the media.
Do we really know what happened on that day in that place? To this end, I spent a number of years researching this incident and published booklets and a book on the results of my research.
On that Purim morning I davened Shacharit and read the Megillah in the “Chasdei Avot” Synagogue, which was then situated in the Matnas (Community Centre) Building in Kiryat Arba. As we came out the Synagogue, one of the workers at the Matnas told us that a settler had gone into the Cave of Machpelah and shot a large number of Arabs. By that time, this news item had already been flashed around the world and we the worshippers of “Chasdei Avot” Synagogue, within a kilometer or so of the event knew nothing about it. Despite the fact that no investigation whatsoever had yet been made, the whole world was condemning Dr. Goldstein.
During the course of the following hours, all sorts of rumours were circulating in Kiryat Arba. Dr. Baruch Goldstein had committed suicide; Dr. Goldstein had been killed…. I understand his body had been taken to Abu Kabir, the Israeli Government’s pathology laboratory.
Jewish Festivals are celebrated on the same day by Jews throughout the world. The exception is Purim. Cities which were not walled at the time of Yehoshua bin Nun celebrate Purim on 14 Adar. Those which were walled at that period celebrate Purim one day later. But Yehoshua lived a long long time ago and there are therefore some cities whose walled status is in doubt. For such cities, and this includes Hebron, we “play it safe” and make a two day Purim celebration.
The 14 Adar cannot fall on Shabbat. However the 15 Adar can, and when this happens Purim in walled cities and doubtful walled cities have a 3 day Purim – from Friday to Sunday inclusive. This was the case in 1994.
On that third day of Purim, one has a traditional Purim meal. We were told that the burial of Dr. Goldstein would be that day – but we did not yet know the hour or the place. Vans with loudspeakers could have at any time gone around Kiryat Arba informing the residents that the funeral was just about to take place. When I began my Purim meal, I knew that this announcement could suddenly be broadcast and my family accordingly hurried our meal.
In fact the funeral did not take place until after nightfall. Also it did not take place in the Jewish cemetery in Hebron. I understand that there were a number of possible reasons. The Arabs were rioting that day and it would have been difficult to guarantee the safety of the participants at the funeral. Furthermore very few Jews but many Arabs lived in the area of the cemetery. It might therefore have been difficult to stop the Arabs doing something to the grave.
Instead, a place was prepared at the far end of the Meir Kahane Park at the entrance to Kiryat Arba. The Goldstein family had four children – two sons and two daughters. At the time the older son was ten years old and during the course of that day he was instructed in the saying of Kaddish.
Before the funeral there were the Hespedim (pre funeral orations) and they were held in the study hall of Yeshivat Kiryat Arba. The body which was in a wooden coffin had already been brought into the study hall. Since this would prevent Cohanim from entering the building, there was a sign near the entrance warning Cohanim not to enter.
The study hall, which is one of the largest rooms in Kiryat Arba was packed out. In the course of the Hespedim, the congregation was informed how the Arabs were preparing a massacre of the Jews of Hebron for that Purim. Although it is the custom for as many people as possible to help with the carrying of the body to the cemetery, in this instance the congregation were informed that only people who had that day gone to the Mikvah could help carry the body.
The congregation proceeded on foot to the Meir Kahane Park where the burial took place. During the funeral, the Heavens opened causing torrential rain to fall and everyone went home with thick mud over their shoes. Soon after, a member of the Chevra Kadisha recommended to the family that even though the grave was in Kiryat Arba – (it was in a relatively uninhabited place and close to the border of Kiryat Arba) – they put a stone over the grave as quickly as possible.
During the “shiva week” services were held three times a day at the Goldstein family house and crowds of people came to pay their condolences to the Goldstein family. But not all! Some had other motives! In an article written by Yisrael Goldstein (Baruch’s father) and published in the “Jewish Press” he wrote, “One woman reporter paid a shiva call wearing a hidden tape recorder and sat there looking and sounding so concerned and solicitous. How low can a person get?”
Having come from England, I was sure that there would be adverse comment about Baruch Goldstein in the British “Jewish Chronicle” and so I immediately prepared for this by drafting out a “Letter to the Editor.” When I paid one of my “shiva visits,” I told the family that I was in the course of preparing such a letter. I should mention that at that stage, I had only made preliminary investigations as to what had occurred on Purim. One of the things that that I learned was that Rabbi Shimon Ben-Zion had heard from army personnel that weapons had been found in the Yitzchak Hall of the Cave of Machpelah, the area where the Arabs had been, when Baruch Goldstein had acted. I telephoned the Rabbi and he indeed confirmed to me that three automatic weapons had been found – a Karl Gustov, an M-16 and a Kalashnikov.
The “Jewish Chronicle” is published weekly in London on Fridays and so the first news of Baruch Goldstein’s actions could only appear a week after Purim. It takes a few days for this newspaper to arrive in Israel and by about the following Sunday or Monday it can be purchased in Jerusalem. As soon as it was possible I obtained a copy. Indeed there were many adverse comments about Dr. Goldstein. The paper was full of this incident. The entire first and second pages, part of page 3, an editorial, two articles and a number of “Letters to the Editor.” I thus immediately finalised my letter.
I began my letter, “I cannot allow your remarks against Dr. Baruch Goldstein to go unanswered. I knew him personally – you didn’t.” I then wrote about his unparalleled outstanding devotion to his medical duty and continued about the security situation and the warnings and signals of an “imminent massive massacre of the Jews in the area” and the weapons found in the Cave of Machpelah after the killings.
I spoke of “individual Jews who took the law into their own hands to awake the world to the dangers posed by the Nazis to the Jewish people.… Had the world at the time taken heed of the warnings given …. [by these individual Jews], the Holocaust might never have occurred.… The P.L.O. Charter calling for the utter destruction of the State of Israel, stands in its entirety. The danger which loomed over European Jewry in the 1930s, today looms over the five million Jews living in Israel.”
I pointed out that “it is an unfortunate fact in war that civilians are killed” and did anyone so much as question “the continuous bombing of German civilian population centres by the Allies during World War II.” I concluded by referring to the blatant hypocrisy of “the very same people who quite happily shake hands with the arch-terrorist and mass-murderer Yasser Arafat, to condemn the actions of Dr. Baruch Goldstein.”
After my letter, I added a note, “In view of the extensive coverage you have given to remarks against Dr. Goldstein, I feel it is only fair that you publish this letter in its entirety.”
It was vitally important that the “Jewish Chronicle” receive my letter as quickly as possible. Even air-mail would have been too slow. The only answer was to send it by fax. Unlike today, fax machines in 1994 were not in “every other house.” I knew that Victor Atia, the Director of the local Chabad House had such a machine and I asked whether I could use it to send my letter to London and he readily agreed.
Within about half an hour I received a telephone call from the Editor of the “Letters to the Editor” section of the newspaper. I must mention that I had not included my telephone number in my letter. I would therefore surmise that this Editor had contacted the international telephone enquiries to ascertain my telephone number. He informed me that he wanted to publish my letter and even though he had already set up the typeset for that week’s edition of the paper, he would reset it to incorporate a shortened version of my letter. I answered that it was important that my letter be published in its entirety but he replied that for that week it was not possible. The letter appeared in a shortened form but which incorporated its main points.
Before this paper had arrived in Israel, my brother-in-law telephoned from London to say that my letter was in the newspaper. He was quite surprised to hear of the finding of weapons in the Yitzchak Hall after Baruch’s Goldstein’s action.
It is fortunate that I had not insisted that the Editor should wait for the following week and publish my entire letter. By the following week, other news items (such as a member of a Reform congregation being denied an Aliyah to the Torah in an Orthodox Shul) had pushed the Goldstein affair completely out the paper, and almost certainly my letter would then not have appeared at all.
Needless to say, media coverage was not limited to the newspapers. The television was also full of it. They came to get reactions at Kiryat Arba and a few people highly praised Dr. Goldstein’s action. For this they were brought to trial and sentenced to do community service.
On many occasions, the Government of Israel declines to set up Commissions of Inquiry, even when the populace thinks they are necessary. On other occasions they drag their feet for years before setting up one. However this was a notable exception. Within just days a Commission was set up and within a week it was already sitting.
All its open sessions were broadcast live on both television and radio. It was towards the end of the first day of the sittings that the Local Council, for whom I worked in the Pedagogic Centre, asked me to record the sessions from the radio. They were even concerned that they had missed out on the first day! They either gave me or told me to buy a supply of cassette tapes for this purpose. During the entire period that the Commission sat I was able to record a large number of their sessions. I remember that for some reason the reception was sometimes not clear.
After about a week, the Commission adjourned for nearly week since it was the Arab Festival, Id Al Fitr. A few weeks later it was Pesach and I was sure that they would not hold sessions during Chol Hamoed. How wrong I was!
On Isru Chag, the Head of the Local Council, Tzvi Katzover was due to give evidence before this Commission. He asked me to accompany him and film using the Pedagogic Centre’s video camera, (as far as I remember) the journey from Kiryat Arba to Jerusalem. That was the period of continual stone-throwing at Jewish vehicles and possibly he wanted to show such a film to the Commission. Unfortunately, the video camera was either on loan or was broken at the time and so this filming could not take place. However I understand that stones were indeed thrown at his vehicle that day on his way to Jerusalem.
Since I was recording the sessions of the Commission, I was able to listen to them and I was angered to hear Members of the Commission, in particular Judge Zouabi, calling Baruch Goldstein a “murderer” time after time before he had heard all the evidence. A member of a Commission, and especially if he is a Judge of the State of Israel, is forbidden to come to an opinion before hearing all the evidence.
Just over three years later, the appointments committee for judges was considering elevating this Judge Zouabi, who at the time sat on the bench at the Nazareth District Court, to a judge of the Israel Supreme Court. I personally felt this to be most inappropriate and wrote a letter in August 1997, to the Minister of Justice, Tzachi Hanegbi, who was the Chairman of this appointments committee.
I asked that before making a decision to elevate him to the Supreme Court, I wanted to bring to the Committee’s attention that three years earlier when sitting on the Commission to investigate what happened at the Cave of Machpelah, this judge described Dr. Baruch Goldstein as a “murderer” no fewer than 17 times, before he heard all the evidence. I quoted “chapter and verse” and enclosed photocopies of the appropriate pages from the minutes of the Commission.
I sent the Minister my letter by registered post and received a formal acknowledgement by one of the Minister’s advisors. Tzuri Popowitz, the spokesman of the Kiryat Arba Local Council, whom I had told about my letter, later informed me that he heard my letter referred to on a programme on the radio. However Judge Zouabi was elevated to a temporary Supreme Court judge. But after his temporary status lapsed, he was not given a permanent seat.
I also sent similar letters to a number of newspapers but as far as I know they didn’t publish it. The paper “Nekuda” wrote to me that they had intended to publish it, but at the last moment they were unable to do so.
At that period I was participating in a course on preparing one’s own website on the Internet. In this course we had to prepare in an attractive manner a site with the subject of our choice. I chose this subject regarding Judge Zouabi and prepared in English the material in a format to catch the reader’s attention.
In the summer of 1994, the Commission published its Report which was over 300 pages long. Since it did not mention the existence of any “secret supplement,” one would assume that none existed. However this is not so! In a meeting I had with Avraham Ben-Yoseph, who is the Mayor of the Hebron Jewish Municipal Council, he informed me that he himself had seen in two army offices, the outer cover of such a “secret supplement.” It is too much to expect the army officers to have allowed Ben-Yoseph to read it! However, according to “leaks” which I found on the Internet, this secret supplement states that Baruch Goldstein’s act was a pre-emptive strike to prevent a massacre of Jews.
The late Rabbi David Shisgal, who was always interested in this type of document, managed to purchase a copy of the Report – not the “secret supplement!” I myself soon learned that it was not so easy to purchase this Report. When I contacted the Supreme Court (the place where the hearings had been) in order to purchase a copy, they informed me that it was not sufficient to send them money for such a copy, one had to go to this building in person even if one lived at the other end of Israel. I was particularly interested in reading it and when Rabbi Shisgal had finished with it, he gave it to me on a long term loan.
I carefully read through it several times, lightly marking in pencil in a manner which could easily be rubbed out (since it didn’t belong to me) any portions I considered being of particular relevance and importance.
This Report also stated that minutes and documents not marked secret were open to the public at large. It was at the beginning of January 1995 that I decided I wanted to make a scholarly study of the subject, particularly in connection with the part played by Dr. Baruch Goldstein.
It was on 3 January that I went to the Supreme Court to ask to view the material which they said was open to the public. I went to that building since that was where all the proceedings had taken place and my first assumption was that this was the place where the material would be held.
At the time, this was a relatively new building situated quite near to the Knesset and the Prime Minister’s Office. It had been donated by the Rothschild family, who about thirty years previously had donated the Knesset building. I had never before visited this Supreme Court building but I had read that it was a modest building. However the Rothschilds might have considered it modest. I considered it to be de luxe 5 star!
When I got there and asked to view this material, I was directed from office to office, given a “grilling” on why I wanted to view it and was given a round of excuses why I could not see it! I was asked to put my request in writing which I did on the spot. However what I did learn was that the material was not housed there but in the State Archives.
I then contacted the State Archives and was given a different round of excuses why I could not refer to the material. Having heard no reply from my letter I had written at the Supreme Court, I wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Supreme Court reminding them of my previous letter.
However about a week later, I decided I would go right to the top and I wrote directly to Judge Meir Shamgar, who had been Chairman of this Commission. I listed all the excuses I had been given why I could not view this material, even though his Report clearly stated that it was open to the public. I concluded by asking that he ensures that this material will be open to the public without inconvenience and interrogations.
Soon after, I received a telephone call from a member of the staff of the State Archives. They were extremely apologetic and said there had been a misunderstanding. They informed me that Judge Alon Gillon, the Registrar of the Commission had been ill for several months and I would henceforth have free access to this material. On 14 February, Judge Gillon wrote me a letter, confirming what the staff member of the State Archives had said to me in his telephone conversation.
To prepare myself for the research, I went over the sound tapes I had made, listing tape by tape, the various points which I considered to be particularly relevant. The State Archives were then situated in Mekor Chaim which was fairly near to Talpiot. I have stated earlier that it was not an easy place to get to from Kiryat Arba, unless one liked walking or had a car.
I got to the building, signed in at the entrance, and then took the lift up to the appropriate floor. By the exit to the lift was a security guard who went through one’s briefcase to check one had not brought “undesirable” material into the building. One deposited one’s Identity Card and received a ticket which one clipped on one’s garment. Outside the reading room were lockers where one had to leave one’s briefcase.
The first time I went on this particular assignment, they gave me a file which indexed all the open material to this Shamgar Commission and in which file it was to be found. The secret material was not even indexed and so the public did not know even the titles of material which were secret. The open material comprised over 2,200 pages of minutes and several hundreds of documents, and material submitted by the public at large.
I began my work by ordering the first sections of the minutes which were bound in booklets. Orders are not processed immediately and one waits several hours until one gets the material. Thus a noticeable part of my first day was spent just waiting. I would therefore put in subsequent orders for material well in advance of my requiring it!
I then went through the minutes page after page noting on a sheet of paper the page numbers of those pages containing material I required photocopying. I had taken with me the notes I had made when listening to the tapes of the points of interest and I then looked over them to check that I had missed out nothing when reading through the printed minutes.
I found that the printed minutes were word for word what had been said at the sessions. In one case a witness from Kiryat Arba, asked if he could drink some water whilst giving his evidence. Before he drank it, he said the Berachah aloud. The Berachah, word for word, appeared in the minutes! This particular witness’s style of presentation of evidence was so humorous that I was afterwards asked by someone in Kiryat Arba to make a copy of that tape for them.
Some of the witnesses, who had a picture of Baruch Goldstein hanging up in their homes, were asked whether they had such a picture on their wall. I was horrified at the fact that someone had been snooping in people’s houses and regarded this as an invasion of privacy. When I mentioned to someone about this particular question which had been asked, they replied that had they been a witness they would have refused to answer such a question, since they were not on trial.
Incidentally I might mention that at that period there was a train service from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv. (This railway had been built at the time of the Turks. Israel Zangwill travelled on this line when visiting Jerusalem for Pesach at the end of the 19th century.) This train line would pass very close to the building housing the State Archives and anyone in the Reading Room would periodically hear the sounds of passing trains.
As the end of a day’s work would approach, I would indicate by clips attached to a piece of cardboard the pages I required photocopies of and hand them in to the librarian. By the time I returned the following week to continue my work, the photocopies were ready. At that period, they charged one shekel for each photocopy and I arranged that I would pay when all my work was finished.
The Archives had a small room adjacent to the Reading Room where researcher’s material would be stored for up to a month. I might mention that in the course of my work came Pesach. I realised that in addition to Pesach itself I would not have time in the weeks proceeding Pesach to come to the archives, thus making a interval of over a month when I would not be there. They kindly agreed that my material could remain in this adjacent room for this “over a month” period.
After many weeks of work, I finally finished going through the minutes and I then began on the “exhibit” material. This was arranged in files. I remember that the first file was so overloaded that the material would keep coming out of the file. I suggested to the staff that they divide it into two files but they said they could not do so since the material had been indexed according to which file it was to be found.
I asked whether I could make a photocopy of the index. They declined saying that the index was not archival material and that I would have to copy it out by hand! How bureaucratic can one get?
I went through the “exhibit” material which included a whole variety of things –evidence taken by the police, medical reports, documents from the Civil Administration, correspondence, photographs, news clippings and so on. Here also I indicated what I wanted photocopying.
The public had been invited to submit material to the Commission and a large number (including a few “cranks”) responded. This material was numbered and duly filed, including the envelopes it arrived in. I knew that both Rabbi Shimon Ben-Zion and Mordecai Saied from Kiryat Arba had submitted important material. I easily found Saied’s but could not find Rabbi Ben-Zion’s. I wondered whether it had arrived and told the Rabbi about this. He accordingly wrote to the Commission stating that someone had looked for but couldn’t find his submission. They assured him that it had arrived. I then made a further search and found it in a different file. Apparently this was “Submission no.1” and the first few submissions had been put in a different file.
After ten or eleven days’ work in the Archives, I finally completed my work there. All in all I had ordered photocopies of 300 pages and I accordingly settled my account with the Archives. The hard work then began!
I carefully went through all the material I had had photocopied, together with the relevant pages from the Report which I had also photocopied, and indicated the relevant passages with a yellow marking pen. I then catalogued into subjects the various passages I had marked. For example: the various warnings given of an Arab attack, the calling of Baruch Goldstein a “murderer” before hearing of all the evidence, the finding of weapons, the poor state of the metal detectors and the killing of Baruch Goldstein by the Arabs.
From all this, I then wrote up a booklet in English which I entitled “A Scholarly Study of Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s Act in the Cave of Machpelah” and I published it in July 1995. It was 18 pages long and contained nearly 150 references. With a few exceptions, all the references came from material I had found in the State Archives and from the Report of the Shamgar Commission. The main headings in this booklet, together with my personal conclusions summarised in a few words were:
(i) Were Arabs Planning an Attack against the Jews? – Yes. There is much evidence and indications that they were planning a massacre of Jews in Hebron at that period, some of it pinpointing this massacre to the Cave of Machpelah on Purim morning.
(ii) Was Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s Act Premeditated Murder? – There is no evidence which can stand up to serious scrutiny on this question.
(iii) Was Dr. Baruch Goldstein Aware of a Planned Arab Attack? – Yes. He was head of a medical team who had been officially told to prepare for such a massacre.
(iv) How did Dr. Baruch Goldstein Die? – He was beaten to death by Arabs after his weapon had been taken from him.
The booklet was duplicated, bound and distributed. Some months later, Aharon Friedberg, a resident of Kiryat Arba, went over this booklet and suggested some minor amendments and I also made a few corrections and a new edition was brought out under the title “A Study of Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s Act in the Cave of Machpelah according to Material in the Possession of the Shamgar Commission.”
Aharon Friedberg’s father is an English-Hebrew translator and he translated the booklet into Hebrew. I was told that he did this particular translation when travelling by bus. He (or someone else in his family) then put this translation onto a computer diskette.
Some of the original quotes were in Hebrew and I had translated them into English for my book. For the Hebrew edition, one obviously had to go back to the original quote. This reminds me of the anecdote concerning the proverb, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” which was translated into Russian and then back into English. What was obtained was, “The vodka is fine but the meat is rotten.” The moral of the story – always go back to the original source!
Whilst on the question of translations, at the same time as the revised English version was being prepared, I received a telephone call from someone who wanted to translate my booklet into Russian. Very commendable! But I told them to wait a few months until the revised and corrected edition came out. I heard nothing more about this until some months later a person proudly came to me with my booklet in a Russian translation. I must say I was annoyed since I had told them to wait until the revised and corrected edition came out. However I heard this booklet was popular with the Russian community.
Although almost all the material on Baruch Goldstein which was appearing – and there was plenty of it – was of a condemning nature, there were a few articles and “Letters to the Editor,” here and there, which explained the background and how the Arabs were planning an attack against the Jews that Purim in Hebron.
In Quebec there was a Jewish man called Dan Nimrod who was the Editor of “Dawn Publishing Company.” In addition to the numerous right-wing booklets he had brought out on subjects such as “Jordan is Arab Palestine,” “‘Peace Now’: Blueprint for National Suicide” and “Profile of a Jewish-American Dissident,” he would send out a mass of miscellaneous material which he described as “semi-confidential material.” I had been on his mailing list for a number of years, had corresponded with him and even met him personally when he visited Israel.
Dan Nimrod had written some articles defending Baruch Goldstein in a Canadian newspaper and this had let to a complaint by an Arab sympathizer to the local Press Council. At the time, I had just brought out the first edition of my booklet and I sent a copy of it to the Editor to help him answer the complaint. From the letter I received from the Editor, he didn’t seem worried about the complaint and commented that any resolution by this Press Council “only expresses a well-publicised opinion and has no punitive powers.”
Also during this period, a book called “Baruch Ha-Gever” had been published which included scholarly articles, reminiscences on Baruch Goldstein and events regarding Purim 1994. This book contained three items which I had submitted.
“Certain people” did not like such a book and a few years later it was decided to bring to trial the Editor and the three sub-Editors. It was in April 1997 that I received a letter by registered post (which also had a form to return to the sender that the letter had indeed been received) with an order for me to appear in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court in the case of the State of Israel v. Ben-Chorin. It seemed from the wording of this letter that I was being called by the Prosecution – maybe because I had contributed several items to this book. The date I had to appear was 26 May.
It was just before that date that Ben-Chorin telephoned me and said that it was he who was calling me as a witness. I had to be at the Court at 12 o’clock and I left my house with ample time to arrive there. As luck would have it, the Egged bus did not turn up and the next bus was over an hour later. Whilst I was waiting at the bus stop, one of my daughters passed by and I asked her to telephone the Court and express my apologies for being late.
Also whilst I was waiting, Yisrael Goldstein, Baruch’s father, passed and I told him where I was going. He replied that he would also go and ask to give evidence. We arrived at the Court which was in the Russian Compound and found the Courtroom where this trial was taking place.
Ben-Chorin asked that Yisrael Goldstein give his evidence before I did, since he anticipated that my evidence would be protracted. I had entered the court and was sitting with the spectators when one of the defendants said I should wait outside otherwise they would not let me give evidence. I accordingly waited outside until Yisrael Goldstein had given his evidence.
I was than called to give evidence and entered the “witness box” which consisted of standing behind some small barrier at one side of the room. Next to the judge was a clerk who was typing the evidence, in theory at least, a verbatim report, into a computer. In front of the judge was another computer screen.
This was the first time that I had ever been a witness in a Court case and I began by talking facing the audience. The judge told me to face the clerk to make it easier to hear what I was saying. I first expressed my apologies for being late – courtesy costs nothing and can give a good impression, and the judge confirmed that he had received my message.
After a few preliminary questions, Ben-Chorin asked me to give the Hebrew version of my booklet as an exhibit which I did, and at the same time handed him a few extra copies. He then began to question me on its contents but the judge claimed it was irrelevant and in any case, the book had been submitted as an exhibit. My evidence was thus relatively short.
I had lost a day’s work in coming to the Court, which would have to be made up elsewhere or docked from my salary, and I could thus have put in a claim to the defence for reimbursement. It goes without say that I did not – this was my contribution to the defence. I didn’t even claim from them my travelling expenses.
The result of the trial was a term of imprisonment for the defendants and an appeal was put in with the District Court. At the period that it was scheduled to take place, Ben-Chorin had planned to bring out a scholarly booklet largely based on my booklet. Just before it came out, he asked me to send him by fax the minutes of the evidence given before the Shamgar Commission by Lieutenant Hamudot that the Arabs had planned an attack on the Jews that Purim morning in the Cave of Machpelah.
Another activity going on at that time was in connection with the area around Baruch Goldstein’s grave. A left wing Member of the Knesset considered it was too elaborate and succeeded in introducing a bill to the Knesset to have it demolished. A resident of Kiryat Arba, Avraham Ben-Yoseph did his best to lobby Knesset members to have the bill stopped, but was unsuccessful. He was particularly disappointed in the attitude of some right-wing Knesset Members who were not prepared to help.
After the bill had finally become law, the military authorities immediately began to organise the demolition of the grave area which had been erected with all the necessary building licenses. Ben-Yoseph had employed a lawyer to fight this demolition who said that his fees would be twenty thousand dollars. He went around trying to raise this money. I contributed and so did my mother.
The Supreme Court had suggested arbitration on the matter. The difficulty was to find an arbitrator acceptable to both sides. The Goldstein parents informed me of a meeting they had had with the retired Judge Shilo. In the course of the meeting the Judge said, “You are direct descendants of the Baal Hatanya (the founder of the Chabad-Lubavitcher Hasidim); why can’t your other son be the next Lubavitcher Rebbe?”
The bottom line was that no arbitrator could be found and the Court ruled on the demolition of the area around the grave. After they had ruled, I asked Ben-Yoseph what he then intended doing and he told me that they would ask for a rehearing with an expanded panel of judges. This however was rejected and the demolition took place.
Ironically on the same day as this demolition took place, there was an item on the radio news at three o’clock in the afternoon regarding a member of the police force being accused of something. The news item continued that one must not attach guilt to a person without a trial and even a member of the police is entitled to a trial. My reaction to this item was that so is Dr. Goldstein likewise entitled.
In a radio phone-in programme on that same afternoon, a woman telephoned, (I think from Ramat Gan), and commented that the magnificent grave of the person commanding the attack on the Altalena had been paid for by the Government. The interviewer did not respond to her comment but immediately went on to another caller.
At the same period as the demolition, a leaflet was circulated around Kiryat Arba stating that nine years previously the Civil Administration had given a demolition order for an illegally built Arab house within the Municipal boundaries of Kiryat Arba – but the house was still standing. I went to the Head of the Defence Department of the Local Council to ask for a copy of this demolition order. He commented, “Why was everyone asking for a copy of this order? The Kiryat Arba Local Council doesn’t have it. It was with the Civil Administration.”
This demolition of Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s grave area prompted me to write a greatly expanded book on the subject. In it I included the legal subject “Killings sanctioned by Law,” Human Rights, and the Consequences of the wholesale condemnation of Baruch Goldstein without so much as his family being given the opportunity to put forward a defence.
I am not a lawyer and I realised that I would have to do a lot of work to write up the legal side of this subject. I had in the past utilised the Law library at the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus. For the next, I don’t remember how many – but quite a number of months, I would go once a week to this library to pursue my research.
The Hebrew University was originally founded in the 1920s on Mount Scopus. In the War of Independence it became an isolated enclave in the part of Jerusalem occupied by Jordan. Every two weeks an Israeli convoy would go there to guard the area for a period of two weeks until they were relieved by the next convoy. After the reunification of Jerusalem following the Six Day War, this campus was re-established and considerably expanded. Various faculties of the University are situated in one large building there and this incorporates the buildings built before the establishment of the State of Israel. For example, the building housing the Law faculty including its library, were built at the end of the 1930s. For the newcomer to this building and for the not so newcomer, the layout of this building is extremely confusing.
The Synagogue in this building is something fantastic. There are two Arks set at the sides of the front wall and in the centre is an enormous window. This looks on to the Temple Mount. Whenever I went to this building, I would try and make a point of davening Minchah in this Synagogue.
One would arrive at this campus by Egged bus which would stop in a tunnel. One would then enter the building and go up an escalator to reach the faculties. Following a walk around half the building, one would arrive at the Law faculty entrance. Up some stairs and a short walk would then bring one to the Law library.
This is an enormous library occupying three floors. The top floor includes books on Israeli law and Court rulings, Israeli legal periodicals, English law and Court rulings and various legal textbooks. The middle floor includes material on a number of different subjects such as labour law and environmental law, and also laws and Court rulings from different countries. Finally, the ground floor includes United States law and Court rulings, international law and current non-Hebrew periodicals. During the period I was doing this research, this library seemed to be open to everybody. The librarians I found most helpful.
In addition to the numerous books, there were computers from which one could find numerous legal rulings. There were photocopiers and one would purchase cards there to enable one to do 50 photocopies.
An important part of my research there was on the subject of killing by virtue of self-defence including the use of pre-emptive strikes. Obviously the stress in my research was on Israeli law and Israeli precedents. However I also studied laws and cases from England, the United States, Canada and other countries, since Israeli judges would bring down cases from these countries in their judgments.
To obtain leads for my research, I would utilise amongst other material, textbooks on criminal law, and indices such as those given in “Taksir Piskei Din” which is a summary of rulings of the Israel Supreme Court. I would find the full text of the Supreme Court rulings in “Piskei Din of Israel Supreme Court” popularly called “Paddi.” Needless to say, there were complete sets of these Israel Supreme Court Rulings in that library.
To find English cases I would use such works as Halsbury, Blackstone and “The Digest.” The library also contained numerous volumes of English cases such as “The All England Law Reports,” “The Weekly Law Reports” and many others.
Having tracked down the cases, I would then photocopy the Court verdicts, Occasionally I would run them off from the program “Takdin” which was on the computer. Although I photocopied or ran off a very large number of Israeli and foreign verdicts, I only quoted from part of them in my book.
Jewish religious law also became part of Israeli law but unfortunately it would seem “via the back door.” According to a Knesset law, if a judge cannot find a solution to a problem via certain other given methods, he should use “Moreshet Yisrael” which is understood as Jewish religious law. Here I found the relevant material using “The Bar-Ilan Responsa project.”
I also researched the question of “Killing during a War.” Here one comes into the realm of International Law and I found many textbooks on this subject in that library. These included treatises such as Oppenheim and the “Israel Yearbook on Human Rights.”
A book brought out by “The Treaty Centre” at Nottingham University in England showed that Israel had not signed, as at 1994, a certain treaty concerning conduct during war. Actually for the purpose of my book, it was sufficient to know the situation as at 1994, but I was interested to know whether up to date (I believe it was then 2001) they had signed. I telephoned the University of Nottingham but was informed that this “Treaty Centre” was a “one man affair” and that this man was on Sabbatical!
Let me mention here that as with my other research, I would make great efforts to go back to the primary sources, although on occasion I didn’t find them or they were not extant. I shall now give a few examples.
I saw in an article in Yated Ne’eman (English edition) on a “Shmuess” (ethical talk) given by the late Rabbi Shalom Schwadron that even “the minutest fraction of good in a person is never lost.” I wanted the primary source of this “Shmuess.” I therefore contacted Rabbi Schwadron’s son, Rabbi Yitzchak, who told me which book it could be found in. I then went to the Jewish National Library, ordered the book and after some searching found it.
Another article I saw in Yated Ne’eman dealt with a lecture which the Chief Justice of Israel, Aharon Barak, had given and in it had stated that the Supreme Court welcomes constructive criticism. I contacted the office of Judge Barak for a transcript of the lecture but when I read it I could not find any mention of “inviting criticism.” I therefore telephoned the writer of this article, Eliezer Rauchberger, who told me that Judge Barak had deviated from his prepared speech. Rauchberger assured me that he himself had been present at the lecture and the Judge had made this point regarding inviting criticism. I also found further confirmation of this in a report of this meeting by a different reporter, Gidon Alon, which appeared in Ha’aretz.
On a number of occasions I would quote from statutes or the Knesset proceedings. For these quotes I would go to the official Government publications. In addition, there was an official English translation of statutes up to about 1990 and I would of course utilise this. However, due to budgetary restraints, from then on there was no translation into English. Although Knesset proceedings eventually came out in bound volumes, this takes several years. In the meanwhile the library had stenographic reports which had been taken from the computer and stapled together and these I utilised.
In order to obtain the primary material (charge sheets, verbatim reports of sessions, judgments etc.) from the “Baruch Ha-Gever” case, I was in contact with the defendants who supplied me with photocopies of this material.
Since Purim 1994, a number of other cases had come to Court in connection with Dr. Goldstein and also here I wanted for the purpose of my book, the primary source material on these various cases. Although the files of all these cases could be found in the various Courts, some of them were also with the lawyers and there is far less bureaucracy to go to a lawyer’s office than the Courts. I got permission from the various parties to the cases to inspect and photocopy from the files of the lawyers.
The first case I researched was the one dealing with the grave. The lawyer was Naftali Werzberger. His office is situated in Hama’alot Street, which is a turning off King George V Street in Jerusalem. This was a very big file and it is always difficult to know what to photocopy. Often, after one has photocopied material and has taken it home to study, one realises that there are other things which also needed to be photocopied. It is not always easy or even possible to make a further visit to the source of the material. I saw that this file included a copy of my booklet on the Shamgar Report. It is possible that I had sent it to him – I don’t remember. That day, I photocopied quite a lot of material from this file and wanted to pay for the photocopies but he would not take any money.
The lawyer Gidi Frishtik had dealt with two cases. One of them was just before publication of the Shamgar Report when he demanded that publication be held up until Baruch’s widow Miryam was given the opportunity to offer a defence for her husband. The second case was when Miryam was denied the pension given to widows whose husbands were victims killed in hostile actions.
Frishtik’s office is in Tel-Aviv and in August 2000 I arranged a meeting with him in his office. It is difficult to precisely judge the time to travel to Tel-Aviv from Kiryat Arba and I in fact arrived in the vicinity of his office well before the appointed time. Just as I don’t like being late for meetings, I don’t like being early and so I took a walk in the area until the appointed time.
At our meeting, Frishtik himself went through the file and photocopied the documents he thought would be useful for me. At a later date after going through the documents, I saw that there were others referred to which would also be useful. I wrote to him listing the documents I required photocopies of, but he informed me that he didn’t have them. As I shall soon explain, I later found them in the Tel-Aviv District Court archives.
Another lawyer that I went to was Shmuel Casper who shared an office with Werzberger. He had dealt with the Arab terrorist Izz al-Din al-Kassam grave case. If they were going to destroy the area around the grave of Baruch Goldstein, surely justice demanded they do likewise to this Arab terrorist. This file had a number of documents, and also a number of photographs of al-Kassam’s grave and the surrounding area. Whereas the area around Baruch Goldstein’s grave was destroyed, the Court did not authorise likewise for this Arab terrorist’s grave!
In November 1995, a Tel-Aviv artist had travelled up specially all the way to Kiryat Arba and in front of news cameramen had damaged Baruch Goldstein’s grave. After several years he was brought to trial at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court but only received a trivial punishment.
I wanted a copy of this verdict and in February 2001 telephoned the Court asking for such a photocopy. I soon learned that it is not as simple as all that! They told me to write a letter explaining why I wanted it. I wrote saying that I needed it for my research. A few weeks later I received a positive “verdict” signed by the Vice-President of the Court. In addition to his signature there were on this document a whole “collection” of rubber stamps and an instruction to bring 21 shekels in revenue stamps.
Soon after, I went to this Court which was situated in the Russian Compound, went through all the security checks, went inside and received the file. In order to make photocopies one needed to feed money into the photocopier. It happened that I hardly had any coins. So I went to the office and asked if they could change some paper money of mine. They couldn’t and told me to go to the restaurant there. They also couldn’t. I had no alternative but to leave the file in the office and go out the building to see if I could change the money. I went to the Main Post Office of Jerusalem which was just a few minutes away. Unbelievably they also didn’t have any small money! Fortunately I found a shop-keeper in the area who was prepared to change my money for coins. Back I then went to the Court, through all the security checks again and began my work.
When I thought I had finished, I returned the file to the office. When I got home and went through the material, I saw that there was something else in that file which I needed. This was just a few weeks before Pesach and I wasn’t able to go again until after Pesach. When I was finally able to go there again, I asked if I could have the file. They told me that by then it had probably been returned to the archives. However when they looked, it was still in the office. For once I was grateful for inefficiency! I was then able to finish my work on this file.
As I stated earlier, Frishtik did not have all the papers I wanted on the “Pensions Case.” The Court which had dealt with it was the Tel-Aviv District Court. To be able to view this file, I had to go through even more bureaucracy than with the Jerusalem Magistrates Court.
I first wrote a letter to the Court and was told to send 22 shekels in revenue stamps - (it seems that by then it had gone up by one shekel!) - which I did by registered post. I was then told to put in an application to the President of the Court with an authorization by Miryam Goldstein. Don’t think that that was the end of the story! The President wrote back that I needed Gidi Frishtik’s reaction and this had to be sent within 7 days. Frishtik accordingly answered. The Court then telephoned to inform me that the President had given his authorization. I asked them to fax me the authorization but they said this was unnecessary.
The public reception hours at this Court were only in the morning and so I left Kiryat Arba early one morning. As luck would have it, there was a traffic jam before coming into Tel-Aviv and I was held up for a long time. I had originally planned taking a Dan bus from the Tel-Aviv bus station to the Court but due to the late hour I decided on a taxi. The driver wouldn’t use his meter but fixed a price which was rather high. I didn’t have time to argue with him. A further visit to Tel-Aviv would have been more expensive. (Incidentally, whilst at the Court I discovered that it would have been better to have taken a bus from Jerusalem to the North Tel-Aviv bus station.)
I arrived at the Court and received the file and photocopied a large amount of material from it. I even had time to spare before the public reception closed. Included in this file was the authorization from the President which stated “Permit browsing in the presence of a Clerk from the Court.” In fact I was given unsupervised unlimited use and the opportunity to photocopy from the file.
The law passed by the Knesset prohibiting the erecting of memorials to terrorists had been debated on many occasions by the Interior Committee of the Knesset. I already had in my possession the verbatim minutes of two of these meetings. They had been given to me by Tzuri Popovitz, the spokesman of the Kiryat Arba Local Council. He was particularly pleased that his Local Council had been cleared of any blame in the erecting of the area around Baruch Goldstein’s grave. However there were many meetings of this Committee which I did not have the minutes of. To obtain them I realised that I would have to pay a visit to the Knesset.
In mid-December 1999 I telephoned the Knesset library regarding these minutes but I was informed that the minutes I required were to be found in the Archives. I accordingly spoke to the Director of the Archives, Rachael Marcus and she said that they were only open to the public on Sundays and Thursdays. Although these were my usual working days, I managed to rearrange my schedule to be free on a Sunday.
I was told to send in advance by fax my name, identity card number, and the subject I wanted to research. When I arrived at the Knesset I should inform them that I was going to the Archives and I would receive from the computer an authorisation to enter the building.
At 9.26 on Sunday morning, 26 December 1999, I arrived at the entrance to the Knesset and received my authorisation to enter. On it was the date, the time, my name, identity card number, my destination (i.e. the archives) and the subject of my research. This came in the form of a stick-on label which one puts on one’s outer garment. Needless to say, I and my brief case went through the security checks and a label was stuck on the latter.
I found the archives and was given the file containing the minutes I required. I was told to take the file to the Knesset library, study it and use the photocopier in the library. I don’t remember whether I paid by cash or purchased a ticket for the photocopier.
I returned with the file to the archives. There were a few other relevant documents on this subject in the archives and these I photocopied in the archives themselves. The service I received at the archives was superb and on the following day, I wrote a letter of appreciation to the Speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, with a copy to Rachael Marcus, expressing my praise and thanks for the excellent service.
Whilst on the question of the grave, the following incident was reported in the press. David Shisgal of Kiryat Arba went to visit Baruch Goldstein’s grave. When he got there he saw people from the office of the Government Legal Office taking measurements in preparation for a demolishment. In conversation they asked his name. When they heard David Shisgal, they picked up their tools and fled from the site! What happened was they thought he had said David Shmidal, the Chairman of the Atra Kadisha, an organisation which works to prevent the desecration of graves – an organisation which is frightened of nobody!
In addition to the large amounts of material described above which I had amassed, I would also browse through the newspapers and would either cut and paste or photocopy any relevant material on Dr. Baruch Goldstein. I also downloaded a large amount of material from the Internet.
From all this material, which when placed in a pile would probably measure over one metre high, I was able to write my meticulously documented book “Did or Did Not Dr. Baruch Goldstein Massacre 29 Arabs?” The word “massacre” was written in a different font in order to make it stand out. This book consisted of four sections. The first was originally entitled “Purim 1994 and the Aftermath” and later renamed “Human Rights.” The thrust of this section was that the family of Dr. Goldstein has never been given the opportunity to put forward a defence for his actions.
The second section was a detailed study of the Report of the Shamgar Commission in relation to Dr. Goldstein’s actions on Purim 1994. This was an expanded version of my earlier booklet. The third section was a purely legal section discussing “Killings Sanctioned by Law.” The final section discussed the consequences arising from the wholesale condemnation of Dr. Goldstein even though no guilt had been proven against him in accordance with accepted judicial principles. The subjects included the destruction of the area around his grave, the denial of a pension to a widow whose husband was killed in a terrorist attack, and the prosecution of the Editors of the Memorial Book “Baruch Ha-Gever.”
My book was dedicated to “Truth and Justice.” I then elaborated, “In the interests of truth and justice, a Commission of Inquiry should be established - the composition of which to be acceptable both to the Israeli authorities and to the Goldstein family - whose sole function would be to determine whether the killings by Dr. Baruch Goldstein should be classed as a massacre of Arabs or a pre-emptive strike to prevent a massacre of Jews.” I hoped that my book would lead to the establishment of such a Commission of Inquiry.
At the end of the book were listed 714 references. For the first time I had utilised the automatic reference numbering found on “Word” and this certainly made the numbering, and in particular any insertion or deletion of references, operate automatically and thus save much time and effort. The bibliography contained about 150 items.
Since the book was dedicated to truth and justice, I put on the outer cover a picture of scales. On one side of the scales was written in English the phrase from the book of Devarim in the Torah, “Justice justice shalt thou pursue” and on the other side these words in Hebrew.
I ran off a large number of copies and donated them to various libraries. These included the libraries of all the Universities in Israel; Colleges which included Touro College, The College of Judea and Samaria, Jordan Valley College, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya; the Central Zionist Archives, and also other libraries. Yisrael Goldstein asked me for a number of copies to send to various people. I also put the book in its entirety on my website. Since I had used automatic numbering for the references, these numbers did not transfer to my website and I therefore had to go through my entire book and also the references adding these numbers one at a time.
Soon afterwards, Ariel Pasko, a graduate with a Master’s degree in International Relations and Policy Analysis, who each week sends articles to websites on the Internet, on matters concerning Eretz Israel, wrote a book review on my book for the Internet entitled “Baruch Goldstein and Hebron Ten Years Later.” A large number of websites including Arutz Sheva, Intellectual Conservative, Philadelphia Independent Media Center, Israel Forum, Truth News, Our Jerusalem and La. Indymedia then put it on their own websites.
The site “Israpundit” commented on Pasko’s article, “A new study by Rabbi Dr. Chaim Simons re-examines the Baruch Goldstein massacre, ten years later. This article is very thought provoking. We all know how embarrassed we were when reading the news of the ‘massacre.’ This article demonstrates how we should always reserve judgment and insist on the highest standards of investigation and reporting.”
As a result of Pasko’s article, I received a number of letters, and people posted their comments on the web. Almost all supported the line I had taken in my book. Here are some of these comments:
· Graham Calvert from England: I remember 10 years ago being in Jerusalem in August 1994, and davening at the Kotel and 1 or 2 men were saying Kaddish at the same shtender. I asked if they were Chiyuvim mourners who have priority to lead prayers), and they said no, but they came every day to the Kotel to say Kaddish for Baruch Goldstein. I was taken-a-back, but until I read your article today never really understood the background. I sincerely hope your work leads to the Commission of Inquiry you are asking for.
· Keith David from Mumbai India: The Truth has been covered up by the Leftist and the arabist enemies of Israel.
· Mindy Barad from Jerusalem: I remember a phone call from a close friend in K4 [Kiryat Arba], one or two days before Purim, in which this friend addressed her worries about the Arab leaflets all over Hebron warning Arabs to collect household supplies for three days because there was going to be a pogrom… And thank you Dr. Goldstein for saving Jewish lives on Purim.
· Rafael V. Rabinovich [hometown not given] : To the best of my knowledge, and after speaking with people in Hebron and researching the incident for years, is that Baruch Goldstein shot at an Arab crowd who had committed various acts of violence against Jews, and which was clearly preparing another major “pigua” [terrorist act] against Jews. Muslim prayers were altered as “Alla hu Akbar” had been intertuined [sic] with “Itbach el Ahud.” Signs in Arabic called for a violent attack on the Jews, and Arabs hopes were high on repeating the scenes of 1929 – when the Jews of Hebron were massacred and the Jewish community expelled. Baruch Goldstein, it is clear to everyone, turned the tables on them.
· Aliza [surname and hometown not given]: Although I had heard this version of the Baruch Goldstein’s motives and accomplishment, and I was able to believe it because the people who knew him personally speak so highly of him, but I was never able to repeat the story with confidence because my sources were Goldstein’s friends and neighbors (who are also hard to defend at times.) This article and the Rabbi Dr. Simons’ work are so valuable. Thank You!
· Joel [surname not given] from Brooklyn: This Purim, when the settlers of Kiryat Arba visit the hideous idol they have erected at the grave of Goldstein they should consider the gross discrepancy between Jewish safety in Hebron as opposed to the safety of the Palestinian citizens. Once again, in order for a handful of settlers to celebrate their holiday, the Palestinian inhabitants of H-2 [the area of Hebron under Israel army control] all 35,000 of them, will be put under harsh curfew and, if Purim is to really be a party, maybe ole’ Bad Boy [here the name of a local Jewish resident is given] will take out the rifle and shoot a few Palestinian children. Please don’t insult the intelligence of the world with your half-baked conspiracies about preemption. Goldstein, and every settler in Kirya (sic) Arba has blood on their hands. Shame on you for trying to solicit the sympathy of the sane Jewish community through some kind of argument that the settlers are not safe. There are three IDF soldiers for every settler in the Hebron H-2 and Kiryat Arba areas.
From time to time articles would appear in newspapers such as the “Jewish Chronicle” and the “Jerusalem Post” mentioning Baruch Goldstein and this was invariably followed by such epithets, such as the person who massacred 29 Arabs whilst at prayer. Often I would in response write a “Letter to the Editor” pointing out that he had never been found guilty of such a crime. But these papers never published my letters.
In July 2004 I sent up a note for my King’s College London University “In Touch, Class Notes.” There I said that I had “recently published a book showing that Dr. Baruch Goldstein has never been granted the most fundamental rights of justice.” I pointed out that “the book, which is dedicated to truth and justice, appears in its entirety online” giving the website on the Internet.
“In Touch” did not publish my “Class Notes” which is probably unusual. I did not give up but again sent it up to them in December 2004, this time by Registered Post, with the note, “In case you did not receive my ‘Class Notes’ which I sent you in July 2004, I enclose a copy.” But again they did not to publish it! However in a later edition they did publish it but in a “censored” form.
The summer 2004 issue of the magazine “Jewish Action” brought out by the Orthodox Union of America published an article by Toby Klein Greenwald of Efrat on “The Story of Hebron.” In it she had referred to Baruch Goldstein’s actions in the Cave of Machpelah. In the following winter edition, a reader from Jerusalem strongly took her to task for this item in her article and he described Baruch Goldstein’s action as “a planned massacre of innocent people in the midst of prayer.”
Toby was given the right of reply and in her detailed analysis she referred in detail to my book and listed no fewer than eight reasons showing that the Arabs had planned a massacre of Jews in Hebron at that period. She also seconded my demand that a Commission of Inquiry be set up to make “an honest and thorough investigation, in which all individuals with information will be heard.”
As soon as this issue was published, a Joe Schick put on the Internet under the heading “The Zionist Conspiracy” an article strongly condemning Toby’s letter. He used such expressions such as “absurd defence of Baruch Goldstein” and “rehashed as factual all the exaggerated defenses of Goldstein emanating from the extreme right.” Conspicuous by its absence was any attempt by Joe Schick to refute intellectually any of the points made in this defence by Toby.
In addition there were many other reactions on the Internet to Toby’s letter collated by “HaloScan.” Here are a few examples:
· Jack: Unless you can provide conclusive evidence that he attacked a cell of terrorists who were clearly going to attack us, there is no excuse.
· Steve Brizel: It’s easy to condemn an article about which we will never know the facts about because they are wrapped up in politics and ideology.
· Modernchassidish: I think Baruch Goldstein did the right thing. He helped save lives.
· Zev Sero: There were no cameras in there, so we don’t know what actually happened, let alone what his motives were.
· Almoni: Now if it’s not true that they were peaceful people who had no plans to kill anyone, if in fact they were praying for success in their plan to murder Jews or planning to follow their prayers with murder, the picture changes.
· Fotheringay-phipps: The best you can say about Goldstein is that his mind became unhinged. Which is not much.
Reactions were not limited to the Internet. Marvin Schick (the father of Joe Schick) went and took out a half page paid advertisement in the New York newspaper “The Jewish Week” of 17 December 2004. Under the heading “UnJewish Actions” – obviously a play on the name of the magazine “Jewish Action,” he attacked both “Jewish Action” and Toby Klein. He wrote:
“Jewish Action, the fine magazine sponsored by the Orthodox Union, has crossed into forbidden territory by giving a forum to an apologist for murder. I am certain that no official of the organization knew that in its latest issue, the magazine would publish a long letter – more than 1,000 words – by Toby Klein Greenwald arguing that there may have been legitimate grounds for Baruch Goldstein to kill. I am equally certain that one of the editors sympathizes with Greenwald’s views and that is why a sick and sickening letter made it into the publication. That person should be censured and perhaps removed and there should be an apology in the next issue.” [In fact in the next issue of this magazine, the subject was not mentioned at all.]
Schick went on to conclude, without giving any supporting evidence, that Baruch Goldstein’s action “was a planned massacre of innocent people in the midst of prayer.” Towards the end of his paid advertisement he wrote, “Whatever his motives and whatever his background, Baruch Goldstein was a murderer. What he did was evil. His killing of Arabs did not result in a single Jewish life being saved.”
It was made crystal clear that the purpose of my research and book and of Toby’s letter was that an independent Commission be set up to investigate what actually happened. Over this Schick is completely silent!
Toby Klein was sent by fax a copy of this paid advertisement by the “Orthodox Union.” On receiving it, she telephoned the Editor of “The Jewish Week” and expressed surprise that they would accept such an advertisement in their paper. The Editor replied that he had been abroad at the time and said she could answer it with an extended “Letter to the Editor.”
In her reply headed “Schick ‘Diatribe’” Toby began, “Marvin Schick’s paid advertisement titled ‘UnJewish Actions’ (Dec. 17) is a vile diatribe of distortion and character defamation, and I’m appalled at The Jewish Week for printing it.” She went on to state that to claim that she was an “apologist for murder” was “despicable” and then gave a number of reasons for a new investigation.
In conclusion Toby wrote, “Israel owes it to the families of the Arabs who were killed that day and to the family of Baruch Goldstein to have an unemotional, unprejudiced investigation, and to open for public scrutiny the Shamgar file stamped ‘Secret’ to put this painful chapter in Israeli history to rest once and for all.”
We can see that Marvin Schick’s paid advertisement had turned out to be a blessing. It gave Toby Greenwald the opportunity to put over her answer to an audience who did not read “Jewish Action.”
Several months later at the beginning of May 2005, there appeared on the Internet under “Cross-Currents” an article by Marvin Schick. Included in this article was, “I am certain that something that I wrote some months ago sharply criticising those who excused Baruch’s Goldstein’s murderous attack in Hebron has directly resulted in at least several people deciding that they will no longer contribute to the yeshiva [of which he was President].”
Also in 2005, I brought out a Hebrew translation of my book. After bringing it out, I sent copies to some Knesset members, whom I was sure would be interested in getting to the truth of what happened that Purim. I included the text of a suggested “Parliamentary Question” to obtain this objective.
I began this “Parliamentary Question” with a brief introduction and then suggested three questions to be directed to the Minister of Justice.
1. In the interests of Truth and Justice, will the Minister set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the motives for the actions of Dr. Baruch Goldstein?
2. Will the Minister publicise the “Secret Supplement” of the Shamgar Commission on this incident?
3. It is clearly stated in the Report of the Shamgar Commission that Baruch Goldstein was murdered by Moslem worshippers after his gun had been taken from him. The authorities know the identity of the Arabs who murdered Baruch Goldstein. However to this day they have not been brought to trial. Will the Minister act to have them stand trial?
Sadly, none of these Knesset members, one of whom knew Dr. Goldstein personally, submitted this “Parliamentary Question”.
It was also about this period that I discovered “Wikipedia” an online encyclopedia to which the public at large can submit encyclopedic-style articles and can also freely at will delete material from other people’s articles. In addition, for each article there is a Talk/Discussion section where people can argue with each other on the contents of the articles.
There are articles in this online encyclopedia on “Baruch Goldstein”, “Cave of the Patriarchs massacre”, and “Cave of the Patriarchs”. I decided to try and utilize them to incorporate facts which were unknown to the general public or were “conveniently suppressed.”
I would on a number of occasions insert material into these articles but “faster than the speed of sound” they were deleted/censored/vandalized (choose which word you like!) by other users. Some of those who deleted/censored/vandalized my material gave “reasons” for their actions which included, that my comments were “hearsay and garbage,” “theory without proof” and “original research.”
However a few of my additions have remained, namely:
* “Goldstein's Certificate of Discharge, dated 30 December 1985 (which is given to every Israeli soldier after their compulsory military service) described him as ‘devoted, efficient, diligent, enterprising, thorough, disciplined and expert in his profession’.”
* “In the autumn of 1993, in recognition of his medical work, Goldstein received two citations from the Israeli Army. In January 1994, Major Dr. Yitzchak Ashkenazi, the Local Medical Officer of the district of Judea and Samaria recommended Goldstein for promotion to the rank of Major in the Israeli Army.”
* “His official death certificate issued by the Ministry of the Interior of the State of Israel lists the cause of his death as “murder”. Although the Israeli authorities know (via an Arab source who was present that morning) the names of those who killed Goldstein, they were never brought to trial.”
* “Moshe Givati, the former Brigade Commander in Hebron, Colonel Dr. Aryeh Eldad, Medical Officer of the Central Command, Major Nachman Ash, Medical Officer of the Judea and Samaria Division, and Moti Unger, the Night Security Officer of the Kiryat Arba Local Council all testified that to their knowledge Goldstein had treated Jew and Arab alike. Evidence was also given by Superintendent Uri Weisskop, who was acting Commander of the Hebron Police Station, that he had not come across any case of Goldstein refusing to give medical aid to a wounded Arab.”
* “On the other hand, there were also articles and letters in the U.S. Jewish press claiming that Baruch Goldstein pre-emptively struck, thus saving many Jewish lives.”
Before I even began to contribute to Wikipedia, there were comments about my book in the Wikipedia article “Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.” One contributor wrote:
“Much of the “information” in this article comes from the book “Did or did not Dr. Baruch Goldstein massacre 29 Arabs?” written by Rabbi Chaim Simmons (sic) of Kiryat Arba, a well-known far-right extremist. It shows.”
In answer another contributor replied:
“Rabbi Dr Chaim Simons book is a perfectly valid, well researched and well documented source. One of the few I might add. The points to be made should be made; that the Israeli Government does not hold all people to the same standard and did not address this event in a balanced way. The motive was not explored, many witnesses were not called and many of the people involved in the Commission were blatantly biased. The evidence of a planned attack, by many of the people in that Mosque, that they were armed, that plans had been distributed in advance, should be taken into account, especially if it affects public perceptions. The Public has a Right to Know. The Public has a Need to Know. Whether the Rabbi is “Right wing” or not is irrelevant. His book is accurate and valid and the facts are not changed.”
I was more successful on the Talk/Discussion section of the articles on this subject and almost all of the material I inserted (and there is indeed a lot!) remains.
Here are some examples:
* I had added to the article entitled “Cave of the Patriarchs massacre” a section entitled “Background” to the events of that Purim. This was immediately deleted by a user giving his reason and I replied to him in the Talk/Discussion section as follows:
“You are basing your deletion solely on the fact that the material that I restored to the article ‘was not the background to the massacre as the research committee [Shamgar Commission] concluded.’
“Unfortunately, the way this Commission conducted its activities has much to be desired. Although the Israeli law on “Commissions of Inquiry” clearly states that should a situation arise where the name and honour of a deceased person could be harmed by the results of such an Inquiry, then the relatives of such a person have to be informed and given the opportunity to put forward a defence, including the right to cross examine witnesses [Source cited] Despite this law, the members of Dr. Baruch Goldstein's family were NEVER given such an opportunity.
“It also goes without say that judges or members of a Commission of Inquiry may not decide on the guilt of a person until they have heard all the evidence. Yet, in this Commission of Inquiry, the majority of its members were already calling Dr. Baruch Goldstein a “murderer” before they had heard all the evidence. One of its members, Judge Abed el-Rahman Zouabi, who is a professional judge of the State of Israel, used this term from the FIRST DAY of the hearings and in the course of the hearings used it no fewer than 17 times in just the open sessions [Sources cited from official Minutes for such appellations by Commission members Zouabi, Levy and Ya’ari]
“A parallel to this would be a person being brought to trial for murder, not being allowed to present his defence, and, in addition, most (or indeed even one) of the judges calling him a “murderer” before hearing all the evidence. It goes without say that a Higher Court would immediately disqualify such a hearing by the Lower Court.
“Thus in the act of Dr. Baruch Goldstein, we have to look at ALL the activities going on in Hebron at that period and then decide whether they are relevant to Baruch Goldstein's actions.”
I then gave 10 facts together with sources, which clearly indicated that Baruch Goldstein’s actions were a pre-emptive strike.
* I was very critical of the fact that Dr. Goldstein was being referred to as a “terrorist” and I accordingly wrote:
“Only a Court of Law can determine whether a person is a ‘murderer’ a ‘terrorist’, a ‘thief’, a ‘rapist’ and so on. Until such a Court has made such a determination, no-one has the right to categorise somebody with one of these terms. It is a basic principle of justice that a person is innocent until found guilty. No Court has ever ruled that Dr. Baruch Goldstein is a terrorist. Therefore the term “terrorist” is totally out of place for him.”
* In some cases where a user had asked a specific question, I answered it giving the source. For example, I gave the source for the Arabs shouting “Itbach al Yahud” (Slaughter the Jews) before they massacred 67 Jews in Hebron in 1929; that the metal detector at the East Gate [of the Cave of Machpelah] was already broken at least two weeks, if not several months, before Purim; that weapons of Arabs were found the Cave of Machpelah after Baruch Goldstein’s action.
* It was obvious from the comments of the various users that they not studied the facts and all their information had come from the media. I therefore wrote:
“As a person who has over the course of a number of years made a very detailed study of Dr. Baruch Goldstein's act in the Cave of Machpelah on Purim (25 February) 1994 and has subsequently written a fully documented book on the subject entitled “Did or Did Not Dr. Baruch Goldstein MASSACRE 29 Arabs?” I feel that I can speak on this subject with some authority….
“Many of the questions raised in the above “Talk” [i.e. comments made by other users in the Talk/Discussion section of “Cave of the Patriarchs massacre”] have been answered and fully documented in my book. I therefore suggest that you read this book which appears in its entirety on the Internet.”