Baruch Goldstein

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Baruch Goldstein
Benjamin Carl Goldstein

(1956-12-09)December 9, 1956
DiedFebruary 25, 1994(1994-02-25) (aged 37)
Cause of deathBeating
Alma mater
Known forCave of the Patriarchs massacre
MotiveAnti-Palestinian sentiment
DateFebruary 25, 1994
Location(s)West Bank
WeaponIMI Galil

Baruch Kopel Goldstein (Hebrew: ברוך קופל גולדשטיין; born Benjamin Carl Goldstein;[2] December 9, 1956 – February 25, 1994) was an American-Israeli mass murderer, religious extremist, and physician who perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an incident of Jewish terrorism.[3][4][5] Goldstein was a supporter of the Kach, a religious Zionist party that the United States, the European Union and other countries designate as a terrorist organization.[6]

On February 25, 1994, Goldstein, a resident of the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba near Hebron, entered a room in the Cave of the Patriarchs that was serving as a mosque. Dressed in Israeli military uniform, he opened fire on the 800 Palestinian Muslim worshippers praying during the month of Ramadan, killing 29 and wounding 125 worshippers, until he was beaten to death by survivors.[7]

Following the massacre, Jewish Israeli settlers were barred from entering major Arab communities in Hebron. The Israeli government also took extreme measures against Palestinians following deadly riots after the massacre,[8] expelling them from certain streets near Jewish settlements in Hebron, such as Al-Shuhada Street, where many Palestinians had homes and businesses, and allowing access exclusively to Jewish Israelis and foreign tourists.[9]

The international community and the Israeli government condemned the massacre. Israel arrested followers of Meir Kahane, and criminalized the Kach movement and affiliated movements as terrorist movements. At the same time, Israel forbade certain Israeli settlers from entering Palestinian towns, and demanded that those settlers turn in their army-issued rifles,[10] although they rejected a Palestinian Liberation Organization demand that all settlers in the West Bank be disarmed and that an international force be created to protect Palestinians.[10]

Goldstein's gravesite became a pilgrimage site for Jewish extremists.[11] The following words are inscribed on the tomb: "He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land."[9] 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.[12] After the flagstones around it were pried away under the eye of a military chaplain, the ground was covered with gravel.

Early life and education

Goldstein was born on December 9, 1956, as Benjamin Goldstein in Brooklyn, New York, to an Orthodox Jewish family. He attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush religious day school. He studied medicine at Yeshiva University,[13] 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.[14]

Immigration to Israel

Goldstein immigrated to Israel in 1983.[1] 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.[15] He changed his name from Benjamin to Baruch, married a Soviet immigrant named Miriam,[16] and had four children. Israeli press reports claimed 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.[17][18] This was also reflected in comments by his acquaintances.[19] Goldstein was active in Kahane's Kach party, and was third on the party list for the Knesset during the 1984 elections.[20] He compared Israel's democracy to the Nazi regime, and often wore a yellow star with the word JUDE on it.[21]


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 an Israeli army uniform "with the insignia of rank, creating the image of a reserve officer on active duty".[7][22] He then opened fire, killing 29 worshippers and wounding more than 125.[23] 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".[24] Eventually, Goldstein was overcome and beaten to death by survivors of the massacre.[25] According to Ian Lustick, "By mowing down Arabs he believed wanted to kill Jews, Goldstein was re-enacting part of the Purim story."[26]

Civilian injured in the riots on the Temple Mount days after the massacre

Palestinian protests and riots immediately followed the shooting; in the following week, twenty-five Palestinians were killed (by the Israel Defense Forces), as well as five Israelis.[8] Following the riots, the Israeli government imposed a two-week curfew on the 120,000 Palestinian residents of Hebron. The 400 Jewish settlers of H2 were free to move around.[27] Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin telephoned Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, and described the attack as a "loathsome, criminal act of murder".[24] In an address to the Knesset, Rabin, addressing not just Goldstein and his legacy but also other militant settlers, stated:

"You are not part of the community of Israel ... You are not part of the national democratic camp which we all belong to in this house, and many of the people despise you. You are not partners in the Zionist enterprise. You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out. You placed yourself outside the wall of Jewish law ... We say to this horrible man and those like him: you are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism."

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.[10] Goldstein was immediately "denounced with shocked horror even by the mainstream Orthodox",[28] and many in Israel classified Goldstein as insane.[29]

Gravesite and shrine

Goldstein's tomb

Israeli military authorities refused to allow Goldstein to be buried in the Jewish cemetery in Hebron.[30] He was buried opposite 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 group. Goldstein was a long-time devotee of Kahane.[1]

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". According to Baruch Marzel, about 10,000 people had visited the grave by the year 2000.[11] 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.[31] 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.[32] As of 2014, a new tomb has been built, and still receives visits from Jewish pilgrims.[9]

Veneration by extremists

While mainstream Jewish religious leaders, including the chief rabbis of Israel, rejected the suggestion that killing Palestinians was authorized by the Torah, some extremist religious Jews have defended Goldstein's actions.[33]

At Goldstein's funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin claimed that even one million Arabs are "not worth a Jewish fingernail".[33][34][35] 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".[34][35] Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba declared that Goldstein was "holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust".[36]

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.[37] 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."[37] Some visitors declared Goldstein a "saint" and "hero of Israel".[37]

The phenomenon of the veneration of Goldstein's tomb persisted for years.[11] Even after the dismantling of Goldstein's shrine in 1999, 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.[11][38][39][40]

In 2010, Jewish settlers sang songs in praise of Baruch Goldstein's massacre demonstratively in front of their Arab neighbours, during celebrations of Purim. A phrase from one 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."[41]

Prior to entering the Knesset, Otzma Yehudit party leader and current Israeli Minister for National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir displayed a portrait of Goldstein in his living room. It was removed when Ben-Gvir entered politics.[42]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Lacayo, Richard; Lisa Beyer; Massimo Calabresi; Eric Silver (March 7, 1994). "The Making of a Murderous Fanatic". Time. Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  2. ^ Martin, Gus (2011), "Goldstein, Baruch (1957–1994)", The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism (2 ed.), Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc., p. 233, doi:10.4135/9781412980173, ISBN 9781412980166
  3. ^ Israel and the Politics of Jewish Identity: The Secular-Religious Impasse. By Asher Cohen, Bernard Susser. p.59
  4. ^ "CIA paper cites Jewish acts of terrorism" Archived August 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, JTA, August 26, 2010
  5. ^ Hillel Kutler, "US report cites increase in terrorism deaths in Israel", Jerusalem Post, April 30, 1995
  6. ^ "COUNCIL COMMON POSITION 2009/67/CFSP". Official Journal of the European Union. European Union. January 26, 2009. p. L 23/41.
  7. ^ a b "1994: Jewish settler kills 30 at holy site". BBC. February 25, 1994. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  8. ^ a b The Middle East Journal. "Chronology", vol 48, no 3 (Summer 1994) p. 511 ff.
  9. ^ a b c Ayelet Waldman (2014). "The Shame of Shuhada Street". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Haberman, Clyde (March 3, 1994). "West Bank Massacre; Israel Eases Curfew in Territories; Ensuing Riots Deepen Pessimism". The New York Times. p. A1. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2009. 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.
  11. ^ a b c d "Graveside party celebrates Hebron massacre". BBC News. March 21, 2000. Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  12. ^ GreenBerg, Joel. "Israel destroys shrine to mosque gunman" Archived August 14, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, December 30, 1999, The New York Times.
  13. ^ Precker, Michael. "Brooklyn's image as extremist hotbed disputed by some Borough defenders say ties to Israel cherished, but radical groups aren't", The Dallas Morning News, March 20, 1994. Accessed August 6, 2007. "'This is not what we are teaching,' said Rabbi David Eliach, principal at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, where Dr. Goldstein attended high school."
  14. ^ BBC News Archived July 6, 2017, at the Wayback Machine "Goldstein had been a member of the Jewish Defense League."
  15. ^ BBC News Archived July 6, 2017, at the Wayback Machine "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."
  16. ^ "Life in Hebron's cage of security". Christian Science Monitor. November 30, 1994. Archived from the original on February 19, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  17. ^ Gurvitz, Yossi (April 8, 2012). "Jewish soldiers refuse to share Seder table with Druze comrades". +972 Magazine. Archived from the original on November 17, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  18. ^ Israel Shahak, Norton Mezvinsky, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. (1999) 2nd edition Pluto Press 2004 p.96.
  19. ^ Mass-mediated Terrorism Archived August 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Brigitte Lebens Nacos, Rowman & Littlefield, 2002
  20. ^ "Brother Against Brother" Archived June 28, 2014, at the Wayback Machine By Ehud Sprinzak pg. 242
  21. ^ Ami Pedahzur, Arie Perliger, Jewish Terrorism in Israel. Columbia University Press, 2011. p.71.
  22. ^ "Commission of Inquiry- Massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron-26-Jun-94". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. June 26, 1994. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  23. ^ "Settlers remember gunman Goldstein; Hebron riots continue". Issacharoff, Avi. Haaretz. March 1, 2010.
  24. ^ a b "On This Day 1994: Jewish settler kills 30 at holy site" Archived July 6, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, February 25, 2005, BBC News.
  25. ^ George J. Church; Lisa Beyer; Jamil Hamad; Dean Fischer; J.F.O. McAllister (March 7, 1994). "When Fury Rules". Time. Archived from the original on December 14, 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  26. ^ Ian Lustick, For The Land and The Lord, Council on Foreign Relations (1988) 2nd ed., 1994, Preface
  27. ^ Aditi, Bhaduri (May 21, 2006). "Fabled town, divided and bruised". The Hindu. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. 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.
  28. ^ The Ethics of War in Asian Civilizations: A Comparative Perspective By Torkel Brekke, Routledge, 2006, p. 44.
  29. ^ Wilson, Rodney. 2007. "Review Article: Islam and Terrorism". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 34 (2): 203–213. (accessed August 29, 2010).
  30. ^ "Supreme court decision". Archived from the original on December 27, 2014.
  31. ^ "Goldstein's grave draws extremists" Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 22, 1996.
  32. ^ "Israel removes shrine to mosque murderer", CNN, December 29, 1999. Archived November 14, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ a b Kraft, Scott (February 28, 1994). "Extremists Pay Tribute to Killer of 48 at Funeral". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  34. ^ a b Brownfeld, Allan C. (March 1999). "Growing Intolerance Threatens the Humane Jewish Tradition". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: 84–89. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  35. ^ a b Emran Qureshi; Michael Anthony Sells (2003). The new crusades: constructing the Muslim enemy. Columbia University Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-231-12667-0.
  36. ^ Sefi Rachlevsky, "Ruth Calderon in the wonderland of mutilated Israeli ideology" Archived April 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine at Haaretz, April 10, 2013
  37. ^ a b c Haberman, Clyde."Hundreds Of Jews Gather To Honor Hebron killer" Archived February 18, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, April 1, 1994, The New York Times.
  38. ^ Bouckaert, Peter. Center of the Storm: a case study of human rights abuses in Hebron District Archived January 3, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, 2001, page 82.
  39. ^ Elliott Horowitz, Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence Archived September 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine pp. 8, Princeton University Press
  40. ^ Purim Party Sparks MKs Protests Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Haaretz, March 19, 2003
  41. ^ Medzini, Ronen (March 4, 2010). "Sheikh Jarrah Jews praise Baruch Goldstein on Purim". Ynetnews. Archived from the original on October 4, 2010. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  42. ^ "Israel's far-right leader Ben-Gvir wins adoring young fans". October 27, 2022. Retrieved November 2, 2022.

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