By the Grace of G-d
Purim 5754 (2014)
TWENTY YEARS AFTER THE MASSACRE AT THE TOMB OF THE PATRIARCHS:
WHAT WOULD WE HAVE KNOWN WITHOUT THE MEDIA?
Wherever you happened to be on February 25, 1994, if you were old enough to read a newspaper you’ll likely recognize the name Baruch Goldstein. You may recall that he was a brilliant, exceedingly gifted physician, an expert in trauma medicine who, as a student at Yeshiva University, was president of his class and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 index. You may also recall that he studied medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, graduated with honors and was accepted into the AOA, America’s prestigious medical honor society.
What? It doesn’t sound familiar? You didn’t read about it in the newspapers? Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right. The media didn’t mention those particular details.
Maybe this rings a bell: When Dr. Goldstein was 25 he immigrated to Israel. He married, settled in Kiryat Arba and became the town’s chief emergency service physician. His stunning success as a trauma physician made him a living legend in the emergency wards of Jerusalem’s Hadassa and Shaarei Tzedek hospitals, where Jewish terror victims were sent after being treated by him. He also served in the I.D.F. with distinction and reached the rank of captain in the reserves. Yes, he opted to trade a life of ease for one of self-sacrifice because he thought that he was coming to a Jewish haven that wanted and needed him.
He also thought that he was coming to a democracy. In 1990 he ran for Kiryat Arba Town Council Chairman and received one seat on the Town Council – a laughable number for someone as wildly popular as him. At the time of his death he was preparing for a second run, in 1995. In fact, he had already chosen his running mate, an engineer and former Soviet refusenik named Mordechai Lapid, who immigrated to Israel in 1968 and became a pioneer of the right-wing settlement movement. When Russian immigrants began arriving in Kiryat Arba in 1990, Lapid was involved in immigrant absorption and became a popular community figure. Given the fact that his electoral base comprised 45 percent of the town’s population, with Dr. Goldstein commanding an even larger and more diverse constituency, the two were headed for a landslide victory. Both their wide lead and vigilance made election fraud an unviable solution – and democratic elections, a very real prospect that threatened to dissolve the Shin Bet’s command over Kiryat Arba and the surrounding area.
You didn’t know that, either? What about the fact that Mordechai Lapid and his son were murdered on December 6, 1993? It received wide coverage in the media. They said Lapid and his son were murdered by Arabs. When Dr. Goldstein was murdered two months later, they said the same thing. They said he was lynched by Arab worshippers after he opened fire on them in the Cave of the Patriarchs. Yes, Dr. Goldstein and his running mate were murdered two months apart. Just like it happens in El Salvador.
Here are a few more details you probably missed. Four days before the massacre, Major General Shaharam Mofaz, Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, visited Kiryat Arba. Among the people he met with was Dr. Goldstein. During their meeting, Mofaz briefed Dr. Goldstein on what he claimed was a serious security threat in Hebron. The army had been set on high alert, he said, and civilians were being recruited. Dr. Goldstein would be called up for reserve duty in the Cave of the Patriarchs on Purim morning; the recruitment order would be sent to him shortly and he was advised to bring it with him when he reported for duty. He and three additional reservists would be stationed in the Covenants Hall, just inside the Cave’s southern gate, as a field team on standby. Colonel Meir Kalifi, Commander of the Judea Brigade, would be there with them. Finally, handing him a letter dated January 18, 1994, and signed by Major Dr. Yitzhak Ashkenazi, Commander of the Medical Corps of the Judea and Samaria Division, Mofaz informed Dr. Goldstein that he was being recommended for promotion to the rank of major on Israel Independence day. The letter concluded in bold type:
“If there is an officer worthy of promotion in rank in the Judea and Samaria region, it is, without a doubt, Dr. Baruch Goldstein.”
Shortly after the meeting, Dr. Goldstein received the recruitment order. Early Purim morning, he and three of his closest friends from Kiryat Arba – settlers he had known for years – arrived at security headquarters in their I.D.F. uniforms and were driven by a security officer named Motti Unger to the Cave of the Patriarchs....
What would we have known about that fateful day without the media? We would have known the truth. We would have known that the Massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs on February 25, 1994, was a hoax built on the illusion that a settler staged the attack; that Dr. Goldstein had been framed in a black flag attack and was no less an innocent victim than those whose deaths were attributed to him. We would have known that the Arabs who died that day were killed by I.D.F. soldiers in a political ploy that backfired, orchestrated by PM Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to move the Oslo Accords forward; and that the people who lynched Dr. Goldstein were Jewish settlers from Kiryat Arba-Hebron, not Arab worshippers.
The facts just presented are part of an electrifying expose on the betrayal and assassination of Dr. Baruch Goldstein contained in chapters 17 and 18 (attached) of The Only Democracy in the Middle East, published by Bear Mountain Press and available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon.com. As Dr. Goldstein’s sister, I have one thing to say to the news media: Stop dancing around my brother’s funeral pyre. Either tell the story like it happened or stop telling it. Twenty years is enough.
Batsheva (Goldstein) Elkeslasi,
Director, Bear Mountain Press, Inc.