Hebron Massacre

Essay by tracker55555College, UndergraduateA, December 2006

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It all began on February 25, 1994, when a Jewish American Zionist immigrant named Baruch Goldstein left his home at the settlement, Kiryat Araba, carrying his army-issued sub-machine gun. The middle-aged physician headed for the Ibrahimi Mosque, known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where worshippers were finishing their morning prayer.

The massacre occurred shortly after 5:00 a.m. when the mosque was crowded with worshippers for Friday prayers during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, and as soon as the faithful knelt down, Goldstein began spraying them with bullets from his automatic weapon. Within three minutes, 29 worshippers were dead and twice as many were either injured or maimed. Eventually, survivors overpowered the settler, who was still shooting, and killed him. The Israeli government, then headed by Yitzhak Rabin, sought to avoid responsibility for the massacre, while other Talmudic settlers embraced Goldstein as a hero and great martyr.

In the events that preceded the Hebron Massacre, one can only speculate on the reasons why it happened and what lead up to it, but it is highly speculated that the day before Dr. Goldstein was inside the Mosque attending a reading of the Scroll of Esther, which is part of Purim, when a group of Arab youths yelled "itbah al-yahud", which means, "slaughter the Jews". Therefore, the Hebron Massacre was the results of Dr. Goldstein's personal reaction to the Youth's insults.

During the funeral for Dr. Goldstein many people gave eulogies, one in particular tried to give reason for the Hebron Massacre. Rabbi Israel Ariel said: "The holy martyr Baruch Goldstein is from now on our intercessor in the Heavens. Goldstein didn't act as an individual: He heard the cry of the Land which is being stolen from us day after day by the Muslims. He acted in order to relieve that cry of the Land! The Jews will inherit the Land not by any peace agreement but only by shedding blood."

Of course in order to try and understand why Dr. Goldstein committed such a horrendous act, it's important to understand where he comes from. Dr. Goldstein was born in America and was an American trained physician as well as a Jewish American Zionist that eventually moved to Israel. To be a Zionist means that you believe the Jews are a sole people and nation, and thus should live in a single homeland, Israel. Zionism comes from the word Zion, which is a hill in Jerusalem, Israel. Zionism is a political movement with religious center. Zionists ultimately want to inhabit Israel for religious purposes. Jews believe that God gave the land of Israel to the ancient Israelites, and thus, the right of the Jews to that land is undeniable.

Since Dr. Goldstein is Jewish, he would have gotten most of his Ideology from Jewish Doctrine including the Talmud and Torah. To be clear, Israelites are Jewish and Ishmaelites are Muslim or Arab. Jewish people view the Talmud as a moral compass or instructional guide that influences the ethics and ideals of Judaism. In the Talmud, which is a Jewish religious doctrine, it states, "Show me the Ishmaelites...They are like the demons of the privy."

So, it stands to reason that while Dr. Goldstein was inside the Mosque attending a reading of the Scroll of Esther and the young Arabs began yelling what he considered to be insults that he became enraged enough to plan an attack on Muslims, using his faith as his excuse to murder what he considered demons. So, his faith gave him religious justification for the murderous acts. Dr. Goldstein's victims represented the ideology of otherness that was present in the doctrine of his faith. By reading those doctrines Goldstein must have felt a divine imperative to act as written in those doctrines.

On the other hand, the family members of those victims killed at Hebron might have considered what Dr. Goldstein had done, differently. Muslims are taught through their religion that victims such as the ones at the Hebron Massacre are martyrs, or those who suffer death for the sake of religion. Ironically, some Jews consider Dr. Goldstein a martyr for their faith, Judaism. Regardless of what the Muslim family members were taught, it is impossible not to be upset over a loved one's death. So, Muslim's, and particularly the Muslims affected by the Massacre, would view Judaism as a violent religion confirmed by the massacre. Muslims also believe that Allah avenges any injustice that happens to those faithful servants. Therefore, they may have found comfort in knowing that "justice would be prevail" in a manner of speaking.

The word "Muslim Terrorist" is difficult to define, but depending on how you look at it, it could be defined as a person of Arabic descent that carries out violent acts to achieve an objective based on the religious beliefs of Islamic culture. Also, the word "Jewish Terrorist" is difficult to define and depending on how you look at it, it could be defined as a person of Jewish descent that carries out violent acts to achieve an objective based on religious beliefs of Judaism culture. These definitions are my own way of looking at the words as separate and then blending them together to form something completely different, and yet reflect the way I see them. These definitions further extend the idea that even though their viewpoints are different their motives seem to be one in the same.

There is no answer to terrorism and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not easily solved. One thing is obviously seen though, and that is that with cultures come religious beliefs, and with these religious beliefs comes a human determination to defend these beliefs, even to the death if necessary. Both sides believe in their doctrines idea of peace, yet this peace often brings about violence, murder, assassination, massacres and war.

Conceivably what both sides should remember is that peace cannot exist if those that wanted that peace in the beginning are now dead as a result of trying to keep the peace. Overall, I can say that at the end of considering and analyzing Dr. Goldstein's actions and the actions of so many Israeli and Palestinian extremists is that "One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one".