Palling Around With Terrorists: Glenn Beck, Yisrael Ariel, and Baruch Goldstein

Blog ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

Glenn Beck promoted a religious organization run by an extremist Israeli Rabbi who once praised mass murderer Baruch Goldstein as a "martyr" who is "above saints and righteous men."

Last week, Beck held a pro-Israel event near the base of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Before the event, he broadcast a brief feature on the history of the mount, which promoted the plans of a group called the Temple Institute to help bring about the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple:

NARRATOR: Plans are now underway to build a Third Temple. Groups like the Temple Institute in Jerusalem are preparing the necessary vessels and garments in accordance with Jewish Law. A new generation of Levite priest is being trained for Temple service. And a two million dollar menorah, covered in 95 pounds of gold, stands at the ready. Although Muslim holy sites currently dominate the Temple Mount, religious Jews agree the Temple will be rebuilt here. The only question is whether it will happen before the Messiah comes, or after.

The Temple Institute shares Beck's obsession with prophecy and the End Times. According to its website, the Institute "is dedicated to every aspect of the Biblical commandment to build the Holy Temple of G-d on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem." The Jerusalem Post describes the Institute as "a once-marginal organization that has been gaining increasing prominence." According to a January 25, 2000, piece published in Ha'aretz, "most" of the Institute's members are "extreme right wing."

As we reported last week, the Institute's founder and head, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, was a close ally of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and ran for the Knesset on the ticket of Kahane's Kach party. Kach has since been banned from Israeli elections because of its overt racism and its association with violent activities. Both the Israeli government and the U.S. State Department have officially listed Kach as a terrorist organization.

Since the 1970s, members of Kahane's organizations -- including the Jewish Defense League (JDL) and Kach -- have carried out terrorist attacks in the United States and Israel.

Perhaps the bloodiest attack took place on Feburary 25, 1994, when Baruch Goldstein -- a member of Kach and the JDL -- used an automatic rifle to murder 29 Muslims praying in a Hebron mosque and to wound more than 100 others before being beaten to death.

Most Jews -- in Israel and everywhere else in the world -- condemned the massacre as an abomination. But not Rabbi Yisrael Ariel. According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Ariel actually praised Goldstein during his funeral.

From a translation of the February 28, 1994, article by Ilana Baum and Zvi Singer:

Eulogies were made for a long time in the Shamgar funeral home. Eulogies as a cover for political sermons. Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, who was the Rabbi of Yamit, compared Goldstein to Judah Maccabee and Samson, who killed 30 Philistines. "He was a martyr. And martyrs are above saints and righteous men. Not everyone can stand with them."

"Baruch Goldstein," said Rabbi Ariel, "will be our advocate in heaven." The Rabbi added: "This was not the act of an individual." According to the Rabbi, Goldstein "heard the cry of the land being stolen every day by the Ishmaelites and acted to quell that cry." In conclusion, said the Rabbi: "Our land will not be acquired by peace agreements but by blood."

Ariel's praise of Goldstein puts him in the extreme minority of Jewish opinion, but he isn't alone. In 1999, the Israeli army destroyed a shrine that Goldstein supporters had built at his gravesite. According to The New York Times:

A few dozen Jewish militants hurled abuse from behind police barricades as workers ringed by soldiers and policemen bulldozed a stone plaza around Dr. Goldstein's tombstone that contained benches and lights, a prayer book case, a stand for memorial candles, a collection box and faucets for ritual hand-washing.

The tombstone and its epitaph, calling Dr. Goldstein a ''martyr'' with ''clean hands and a pure heart,'' was left untouched.

[...]

Dr. Goldstein was buried in a park named after Rabbi Meir Kahane -- the militant Jewish nationalist who was assassinated in New York in 1990 -- which lies at the entrance to this settlement. The site was chosen after the army, fearing Palestinian unrest and vandalism of the grave, refused to allow a burial in the old Jewish cemetery in Hebron's center.

The shrine that supporters built at the grave mushroomed into a pilgrimage site. Jewish admirers of Dr. Goldstein from Israel and abroad would pray at the grave, kneeling and kissing the tombstone. ''He gave his life for the people of Israel, its Torah and land,'' reads his epitaph.

To this day, radical settlers praise Goldstein's actions:

An increased police presence was deployed at the Kiryat Arba commemoration in memory of Baruch Goldstein. The police prevented the participants from reaching Goldstein's grave in the settlement. On the eve of Purim last night, among those in the area were extreme right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Kiryat Arba council member Mordechai Sayed, who attended the memorial ceremony for Goldstein said "I have come to honor a friend who saved many people in his life and in his death." Another council member, Yisrael Bramson, said, "we have respect for Dr. Goldstein, for his work and his deeds."

Kiryat Arba councilman Benzion Gopstein said "Goldstein observed the commandments - not only to eat hamentashen [Purim pastries] but also the work of Mordechai and Esther [of the Purim story] who avenged the enemies of the Jews. We are here to honor his legacy."

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