Massacre in the Patriarch’s Tomb

The following letter to the Palestinian people shall never be sent. After at least three rewritings and endless discussions among my colleagues, it has been concluded that it would never have the effect we had hoped. Its message would be misused and distorted by the traumatized Palestinian people whose hearts it was meant to open. And the backlash it would cause in my Jewish community among those who have come back to settle the hills of Judea after our 2000 year exile, would be fierce and unforgiving. Traumatized as we are by our own terrible pain and loss, instinctively and derisively we lash out at anyone who expresses empathy for the pain of the other. My community would accuse me of lack of empathy for our own, of desecrating the memory of our dead. Letters are not the way. Only direct human contact can begin to heal the wounds.

February 25, 2017

To the Palestinian citizens of the Hebron area and their leaders,

We, the writers of this letter, grieve at the loss of human life that you have suffered. It breaks our hearts to think of the families that have been forever broken, the orphans and widows that will never see their loved ones again. We are deeply pained by thoughts of the wounded who have been forever scarred physically and emotionally.

We write to you as Jews deeply rooted in our own tradition, but your pain is ours as well. In our calendar the anniversary of the massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, called in your tradition the Abrahamic Mosque, is just about upon us. It was on the Jewish holiday of Purim when Baruch Goldstein 23 years ago, brought tragedy upon your people and sin upon ours.

Baruch Goldstein committed an act of murder in cold blood. His deed was unforgivable, a depraved act that had no justification in any way, shape or form. It ran contrary to the most basic axioms of human morality and completely contradicted everything written in our Torah. We, together with the vast majority of Jews in Israel and around the world, condemn his act totally and unconditionally, and we also condemn the rejoicing in his act that a small handful of Jews have engaged in.

Posted on March 7, 2017

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