Goldstein eulogized as righteous hero

February 28, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM -- Several hundred extremist Jews gathered with their automatic rifles, their anti-Arab slogans and their deep anger to eulogize Baruch Goldstein as a righteous hero for slaying 48 Palestinians in a Hebron mosque days earlier.

While the massacre continued to trigger street clashes across Israel and to bring strong condemnation from Jews and Arabs alike, yesterday's funeral of the Brooklyn-born doctor responsible for the latest Middle Eastern crisis became a rallying point for right-wing Jews.

"The act itself was one of greatness. It was a great act of sanctifying the Name [God]," said Noam Federman, a spokesman for Kach, the relatively small extremist group that counted Mr. Goldstein among its members. "And me, a little man, compared to him, the great, can't condemn it."

Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, in paying homage to Mr. Goldstein, told mourners that even 1 million Arabs "are not worth a Jewish fingernail."

And angry voices in the congregation shouted, "We are all Goldsteins!" and "Arabs out of Israel!"

The extremists' defended Mr. Goldstein's actions on religious grounds, setting off a wave of religious self-examination by shocked rabbis and other Israeli leaders yesterday. Leading rabbis rejected the suggestion that killing Palestinians with an automatic rifle was, as some claimed, part of a mission, sanctioned by Scripture, to destroy the descendants of the Israel's enemies.

"I'm ashamed that a Jew did this," said Eliahu Bashki-Doron, one of two chief rabbis in Israel. "And it hurts to see that he did this as a religious man. A religious man has to account for his acts."

After the eulogies in Jerusalem, a white ambulance, with the blue Star of David on the front, carried Mr. Goldstein's coffin slowly through the winding, rain-swept streets. The atmosphere was surreal, with some mourners wearing traditional black suits and hats covered with plastic to protect them from the rain -- and others decked in clown suits, gorilla outfits and colorful masks as part of the celebration of Purim.

The body was transported under army escort along a 25-mile stretch of road south through the occupied territories, passing Palestinian shops on the West Bank closed for three days to mourn Mr. Goldstein's victims and Palestinian cars from which black flags fluttered.

At Kiryat Arba, Mr. Goldstein's home, where 7,000 Jewish settlers live next door to Hebron and its 65,000 Palestinians, he was buried by several hundred mourners after dark.

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