December 9, 1956|
Brooklyn, New York, United States
|Died||February 25, 1994
Hebron, West Bank
Cause of death
|Beaten to death|
|Kiryat Arba, across from the Meir Kahane Memorial Park|
|Other names||Benjamin Goldstein|
|Alma mater||Yeshiva University (1977) highest honors, Albert Einstein College of Medicine|
|Occupation||Physician (emergency doctor)|
|Known for||Killing 29 Palestinians and injuring 125|
Baruch Kopel Goldstein (Hebrew: ברוך קופל גולדשטיין; December 9, 1956 – February 25, 1994) was an American-born Israeli physician and religious extremist. He is known for being the mass murderer who perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125.
The Israeli government condemned the massacre and responded by arresting followers of Meir Kahane, forbidding certain settlers from entering Palestinian towns and demanding that those settlers turn in their army-issued rifles, though rejecting a PLO demand that settlers be disarmed and that an international force be created to protect Palestinians. The Israeli government also took extreme measures against Palestinians following the massacre, banning them from certain streets in Hebron, such as Al-Shuhada Street, where many Palestinians have homes and businesses, and opening them to the exclusive access of Jewish settlers and tourists.
Goldstein's gravesite became a pilgrimage site for Jewish extremists. Upon the tomb, the following words are inscribed: “He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land.” In 1999, after the passing of Israeli legislation outlawing monuments to terrorists, the Israeli Army dismantled the shrine that had been built to Goldstein at the site of his interment. The tombstone and its epitaph, calling Goldstein a martyr with clean hands and a pure heart, was left untouched.
Early life and education
Goldstein was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an Orthodox Jewish family. He attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush religious day school. He studied medicine at Yeshiva University, receiving a medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He belonged to the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a militant Jewish organization founded by his boyhood acquaintance Meir Kahane.
Immigration to Israel
Goldstein immigrated to Israel in 1983. He served as a physician in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), first as a conscript, then in the reserve forces. Following the end of his active duty, Goldstein worked as a physician and lived in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron, where he worked as an emergency doctor, and was involved in treating victims of Arab-Israeli violence. Israeli press reports stated that Goldstein refused to treat Arabs, even Arab soldiers serving in the IDF, believing it was against Jewish laws to treat non-Jews even for payment. This was also reflected in comments by his acquaintances. Goldstein was active in Kahane's Kach party and was third on the party list for the Knesset during the 1984 elections. He compared Israel's democracy to Germany under Nazism, and was in the habit of wearing a yellow star with the word Jude on it.
On February 25, 1994, that year's Purim day, Goldstein entered a room in the Cave of the Patriarchs that was serving as a mosque, wearing "his army uniform with the insignia of rank, creating the image of a reserve officer on active duty."  He then opened fire, killing 29 worshippers and wounding more than 125. Mosque guard Mohammad Suleiman Abu Saleh said he thought that Goldstein was trying to kill as many people as possible and described how there were "bodies and blood everywhere". Eventually, Goldstein was overcome and beaten to death by survivors of the massacre. According to Ian Lustick, "by mowing down Arabs he believed wanted to kill Jews, Goldstein was reenacting part of the Purim story."
Palestinian protests and riots immediately followed the shooting; in the following week, 25 Palestinians were killed (by the Israel Defense Forces), as well as five Israelis. Following the riots, the Israeli government imposed a two-week curfew on the 120,000 Palestinian residents of Hebron, while the 400 Jewish settlers of H2 were free to move around. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin telephoned Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, and described the attack as a "loathsome, criminal act of murder". The Israeli government condemned the massacre, and responded by arresting followers of Meir Kahane, forbidding certain settlers from entering Arab towns, and demanding that those settlers turn in their army-issued rifles, though rejecting a PLO demand that settlers be disarmed and that an international force be created to protect Palestinians. Goldstein was immediately "denounced with shocked horror even by the mainstream Orthodox", and many in Israel classified Goldstein as insane.
Gravesite and shrine
Goldstein was not allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery and is buried across from the Meir Kahane Memorial Park in Kiryat Arba, a Jewish settlement adjacent to Hebron. The park is named in memory of Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Israeli far-right political party Kach, a group classified by the United States and Israeli governments as a terrorist organization. Goldstein was a long-time devotee of Kahane.
The gravesite has become a pilgrimage site for Jewish extremists; a plaque near the grave reads "To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel." At least 10,000 people have visited the grave since the massacre. In 1996, members of the Labor Party called for the shrine-like landscaped prayer area near the grave to be removed, and Israeli security officials expressed concern that the grave would encourage extremists. In 1999, following passage of a law designed to prohibit monuments to terrorists, and an associated Supreme Court ruling, the Israeli Army bulldozed the shrine and prayer area set up near Goldstein's grave. A new tomb has been built (depicted above) and still receives visits from Jewish pilgrims.
Veneration of Goldstein and celebration of the massacre
At Goldstein's funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin claimed that even one million Arabs are "not worth a Jewish fingernail". Samuel Hacohen, a teacher at a Jerusalem college, declared Goldstein the "greatest Jew alive, not in one way but in every way" and said that he was "the only one who could do it, the only one who was 100 percent perfect." In contrast, mainstream Jewish religious leaders "rejected the suggestion that killing Palestinians with an automatic rifle" was authorized by the Torah. Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba declared that Goldstein was "holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust." In the weeks following the massacre, hundreds of Israelis traveled to Goldstein's grave to celebrate Goldstein's actions. Some Hasidim danced and sang around his grave. According to one visitor to the gravesite in the wake of the attacks, "If [Goldstein] stopped these so-called peace talks, then he is truly holy because this is not real peace." Some visitors declared Goldstein a "saint" and "hero of Israel".
The phenomenon of the adoration of Goldstein's tomb persisted for years. The grave's epitaph said that Goldstein "gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land". In 1999, after the passing of Israeli legislation outlawing monuments to terrorists, the Israeli army dismantled the shrine that had been built to Goldstein at the site of his interment. However, the tombstone and its epitaph, calling Goldstein a martyr with clean hands and a pure heart, was left untouched. In the years after the dismantling of the shrine, radical Jewish settlers continued to celebrate the anniversary of the massacre in the West Bank, sometimes even dressing up themselves or their children to look like Goldstein.
In 2010, Jewish settlers were criticized that during celebrations of Purim they sang songs praising Baruch Goldstein's massacre demonstratively in front of their Arab neighbours. A phrase from the song reads "Dr. Goldstein, there is none other like you in the world. Dr. Goldstein, we all love you… he aimed at terrorists' heads, squeezed the trigger hard, and shot bullets, and shot, and shot."
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- "CIA paper cites Jewish acts of terrorism", JTA, 26 August 2010
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Faced with rage in the territories and its own revulsion over the Hebron massacre, the P.L.O. has dug in on its demands that all settlers be disarmed and that an international force be created to protect Palestinians. Mr. Rabin has said no to both demands. But he [Rabin] has imposed tougher measures against a relatively small number of the most militant settlers, which, while far from what the Palestinians want, represents a significant shift for the Government. Several days after ordering the arrest of five people faithful to the anti-Arab preaching of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, the army began today to carry out other measures, telling 18 settlers to stay out of Arab towns and to turn in their army-issued rifles.
- AYELET WALDMAN (2014). "The Shame of Shuhada Street". The Atlantic.
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- BBC NEWS "Goldstein had been a member of the Jewish Defense League."
- BBC NEWS "Goldstein had lived in Israel for 11 years and was a doctor in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, just outside Hebron." "As the settlement's main emergency doctor he was involved in treating victims of Arab-Israeli violence."
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- On This Day 1994: Jewish settler kills 30 at holy site, February 25, 2005, BBC News.
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- Aditi, Bhaduri (May 21, 2006). "Fabled town, divided and bruised". The Hindu. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
Still fresh in the memory of almost all the inhabitants was the Goldstein case of 1994, when a two-week curfew was imposed on the 1,20,000 [sic] Palestinian residents of the city, but not on the 400 Jewish settlers of H2.
- The ethics of war in Asian civilizations: a comparative perspective By Torkel Brekke, Routledge, 2006, p.44
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- "Supreme court decision".
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- Emran Qureshi, Michael Anthony Sells (2003). The new crusades: constructing the Muslim enemy. Columbia University Press. p. 129. ISBN 0-231-12667-0.
- Sefi Rachlevsky,'Ruth Calderon in the wonderland of mutilated Israeli ideology,' at Haaretz, 10 April 2013
- Haberman, Clyde."Hundreds Of Jews Gather To Honor Hebron killer", April 1, 1994, New York Times.
- Bouckaert, Peter. Center of the Storm: a case study of human rights abuses in Hebron District, 2001, page 82.
- Sheikh Jarrah Jews praise Baruch Goldstein on Purim
- Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs -- Excerpts from the report of the Commission of Inquiry Into the Massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron (aka the "Shamgar Report")
- UN document containing extracts of the Israeli inquiry report
- When Fury Rules Time Magazine, March 7, 1994.