Israeli Peace Activists to Visit Hebron, 28 Years after Goldstein’s Massacre

Together with several other anti-occupation Israeli organizations, Shalom Achshav is inviting activists to a day-long tour of downtown Hebron tomorrow, Friday, where they will examine the long-term toll that Baruch Goldstein’s massacre took on Hebron, 28 years later.

On February 25th 1994, the American-Israeli physician from the adjacent Kiryat Arba settlement entered the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing 29 Palestinian worshipers as they were praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque and wounding 125 others. The Brooklyn-born Goldstein chose to murder as many Palestinians as he could on Purim, a Jewish holiday of whimsy, masquerades and fun. Hebron settlers, since the 1970s, traditionally used Purim as an occasion to harass their Palestinian neighbors.

Goldstein’s massacre, the most lethal act of settler violence in Israel’s history, sent shockwaves throughout Israeli society. There was heavy public pressure on Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to dismantle the Jewish settlements inside Hebron, and according to some reports, Rabin seriously considered this option.

But years passed and Hebron was divided into areas under Israeli control and under Palestinian control. Most of the Palestinians who resided in H2, the part where the settlers reside, were either driven out or left under duress. Goldstein was buried in the Meir Kahane Park in Kiryat Arba. Yes, there is such a place. The tombstone says that Goldstein "gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah, and its land." Extremist West Bank rabbis wrote books praising him, and extremist settlers still celebrate him on Purim, sometimes even dressing their children as Goldstein.

Tomorrow's tour, guided by Breaking the Silence activists who served as IDF soldiers in the West Bank, will take Israelis to see for themselves, 28 years after the despicable massacre, what Hebron has become: a place where several hundred Jewish settlers have turned the life of many thousands of Palestinians into hell. Visitors will see the Cave of the Patriarchs, the place that used to be a bustling wholesale Palestinian vegetable market and after the massacre turned into a playground for the settlers’ kids, as well as Goldstein’s tombstone in Kiryat Arba.