Terror at Abraham's Tomb

February 26, 1994

It is time for Israel to crack down on armed fanatic settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, who do not need to live there and who declare themselves a law unto themselves and who dedicate their efforts to destroy the Israel-Palestinian agreement no matter how many Israelis and Palestinians and people the world over fervently pray that peace prevails.

Then it is necessary for Israelis and Palestinians to stick to their path to peace and not let policy be dictated by terrorists, be they terrorists from Hamas among Muslim Palestinians or from the Kach movement of the late American Meir Kahane and the Kiryat Arba settlement among Jewish Israelis.

Baruch Goldstein, an American who chose to become an Israeli, a physician sworn to save life and do no harm, committed one of the greatest atrocities in this long struggle when he burst with an automatic rifle upon Muslims at Ramadan prayers by the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

These were lives he had no right to take, bodies he had no right to maim, families he had no right to destroy. He desecrated the holy place of Judaism, Christendom and Islam. He became what most hated. He offended the God of Abraham, whose upholder he purported to be.

That Baruch Goldstein took his own life, after murdering dozens of peaceful neighbors and wounding hundreds, compensates for nothing. His evil lives on. That he may have been deranged or vengeful, after terrorists who may been from Hamas murdered two of his fellow settlers from Kiryat Arba, justifies nothing. Effectively, his ilk and Hamas are allies, using terror to destroy harmony and prevent peace.

That his terrorism was followed by violence between Israel's pTC army and agitated Muslims at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem perpetuates his influence, carries on his work.

It is up to Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to compensate for the enormity of this atrocity with more than stiff and formal condolences or temporary controls at Kiryat Arba. It is up to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to maintain the momentum of accord rather than play into the hands of Baruch Goldstein and his own enemies in Hamas by threatening to withdraw from the process.

These two leaders knew terrorists would try to prevent peace. They should not let the terrorists prevail. President Clinton's response of trying to expedite PLO-Israel negotiations is the best antidote and deserves their cooperation.

Between the Sept. 13 Israel-PLO accord and the Hebron massacre, 24 Israelis were killed in shootings, mostly by Hamas, and 65 Palestinians were killed by Israelis. No one of these killings justified another, no act of revenge did anything but provoke more revenge. Baruch Goldstein, like other terrorists, must not be allowed to win.

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