Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | September 11, 2005

Let the synagogues go with dignity

I’ve just read that the government voted 14-2 against demolishing the synagogues in Gaza, and to be quite honest, I cannot understand why. On the one hand, I can of course understand the not wanting to destroy the synagogues; under the best of circumstances it would be very painful to witness, and this is certainly not the best of circumstances.

If we allow the synagogues to remain standing, how long will it take before they are desecrated and destroyed by Palestinians, whose track record with regard to protecting Jewish holy sites is remarkably less than stellar? What would be more unbearable to watch – Israeli soldiers demolishing the synagogues with the dignity and solemnity required of such a task, or to see these buildings gleefully vandalized and desecrated on purpose – a sort of spiritual pigua (terror attack), if you will?

Unfortunately, I do not see a situation where these synagogues will remain standing under the protection of the Palestinians, given the lawlessness that currently reigns in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority, with all due respect, cannot control its citizens, nor does it really seem to want to do so. Under these circumstances, do we really want to entrust them with our holy sites if we have another choice? Two painful choices to choose from. There is no third choice. The synagogues must die. Do we allow them to die with quiet dignity, or do we knowingly subject them to a painful, undignified death?

And, before people start to attack me for wanting to destroy synagogues, well, that just isn’t the case. Secular as I am, it is troubling to see any house of worship destroyed. Sometimes, it must be done though. Like now. If we do not, the Palestinians will. It’s as simple as that. I expect our government to act responsibly on such an issue. The outcome of this vote serves no one but those Palestinians who are undoubtedly already making plans for desecration parties, and woe be the people who try to stop them.

Update: Well, as predicted, the Palestinians have set fire to four synagogues in Gaza, and are currently knocking them down. Are any of us really surprised? Apparently, some folks in the PMO expected a different result…

The Prime Minister’s Office said Monday that the PA must act to prevent the “acts of arson.” “Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to maintain the dignity of the structures of the synagogues,” said David Baker, an official in the PMO. “Unfortunately, that has not occurred, and the PA is expected to take the necessary steps to prevent these acts of arson.”

How pathetic… How sadly predictable…


  1. Neither Jewish nor Israeli, but: I agree entirely. My first thought on hearing that the synagogues would not be destroyed on withdrawal of the Israeli army, was that they obviously would be destroyed immediately afterwards, and in the most offensive manner possible.

    Letting them stand is just asking for trouble.

  2. Yep, it would have been nice to believe that the Palestinians might have respected these sites, but that’s not going to happen in our lifetime. Maybe a future generation?

  3. It’s like the government is purposely setting up the Palestinian Authority to fail, by asking them to take a position of protecting symbols of the occupation, which of course they can’t do. As a result, the world sees the Palestinians destroying synagogues.

    Very pathetic that the Israeli government is taking such a stance.

  4. I really don’t believe that our government was setting the PA up to fail.

    I also believe that it was actually somewhat important for the world to be reminded (again!) of what Israel is dealing with in terms of our so-called-partners for peace. Not that anyone in the global community will raise a peep about our houses of worship being destroyed — they didn’t when Joseph’s Tomb was destroyed and THAT had the additional significance of antiquity! Of course, now that we are out of Gaza no one will notice what is being done to our former houses of worship, as it is a PERFECT time to indite our military leaders for war crimes….

    The Palestinian leadership seems to have accomplished what no other segment of society has been able to do: they have their cake and are eating it too! If we’d destroyed the synagogues, we would have essentially been saying that the Palestinians are savages incapable of governing themselves. But, by not destroying the synagogues we have allowed some people to scream lifnei iver (placing a stumbling block in front of a blind person).

    If the buildings were, as Abbas contends, no longer holy places but simply empty buildings devoid of meaning, the rampages should not have been necessary. And if they retain any holiness, even empty, the manner of their destruction speaks volumes — and not just about Palestinian Statehood.

  5. This was another of those intractable dilemmas of which there are so many in the Middle East. I can understand how painful it would be for many to voluntarily agree to tear down the synagogues, especially with the fresh memories of how painful that was to experience or see in other parts of the world. But your point about that being preferable to having those same sites defiled is, of course, the realistic logical course of action. So, it boiled down to picking the least awful of two terrible choices. How sad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: