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The Desecration of Jewish Cemeteries: Serious, But Not New

March 28 2017

Over the past few months, there have been at least three incidents of vandalism of Jewish burial grounds in the U.S.; these have coincided with the series of bomb threats (all hoaxes) against Jewish communal institutions. Senator Bernie Sanders, Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League, and New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with countless journalists, have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Donald Trump. But the truth is that anti-Semites have a long history of striking at dead Jews, especially when live Jews are unavailable or sufficiently protected. Seth Mandel comments:

Nowhere is [the prevalence of this form of vandalism] illustrated more clearly than at Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives cemetery. Constructed 3,000 years ago, it contains tens of thousands of burial plots, including those for great rabbis and Jewish figures over the centuries. When Jordan took control of that area of Jerusalem during Israel’s War of Independence, it commenced desecrating every Jewish holy site it could find, very much including the Mount of Olives cemetery, using the stones for construction. Israel won the territory back in 1967, but the cemetery has consistently been the target of vandalism up to the present day. New security measures seem finally to be working; in late February the Forward reported that the cemetery was “free of vandalism for the first time in decades.”

All of which makes what’s happening now in the United States so disturbing, for two reasons. First, it’s not new. Second, it’s being treated as if it is. . . .

In [2008], Jewish graves in France, Hungary, Latvia, and Greece were hit. In 2011, cemeteries in New Jersey and Kosovo were hit. In 2012, Jewish cemeteries in France, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Canada, and New Zealand were vandalized, as well as the graves of Jewish war veterans in Florida. In 2013, it was Arizona’s turn. In 2014, Wisconsin and Massachusetts saw vandalism at Jewish graves, as did Hungary, Greece, England, and Norway. And these are just the ones that make the news. But . . . many don’t.

Attacks of this sort didn’t start in 2015, when Donald Trump decided to run for president. . . . Candidate Trump’s response to [the] outpouring of hate on his behalf was never better than insufficient, and often worse. But there was nothing linking Trump to any of the cemetery desecrations around the world in 2015, or the one that hit Philadelphia’s Adath Jeshurun in July of that year. Yet this year, when another Philadelphia Jewish cemetery was hit, and despite the fact that no arrests had been made as of this writing, it was viewed differently—not only because it came after another such incident in Missouri and amid the JCC bomb threats, but because the media framed the attack specifically in [in the context of Trump’s presidency].

Read more at Commentary

More about: ADL, American Jewry, American politics, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Jewish cemeteries, Jewish World

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount