2005-09-12 15:19:00

Statement of Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar on the burning of synagogues by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip

The first thing the Palestinians did after the Israeli army withdrew from the Gaza Strip was burning synagogues, the houses of G-d. Their malice proved to be so great that as soon as they stepped in the territory they began not to build houses of their own but to destroy what others built. It is not accidental that the first victims of their hatred were synagogues, symbols of spirituality, buildings where people gathered together to pray to G-d. Terrorists kill people, but their greatest hatred is God because He has bequeathed to people goodness and creative work.

The Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas stated that for him this day ‘is the happiest one in the last one hundred years’. Strangely, he did not deplore the barbaric burning of synagogues. And it is not surprising. The Palestinians stated also before that they regarded the withdrawal of the Jews from Gaza and the destruction of their settlements as victory of their policy of violence and terror. Now the Palestinian chieftains and militants have shown what they intend to do next. By declaring war on the G-d of Israel, they have thus revealed their intention to wage their terrorist jihad till they capture Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, till they destroy the Jewish state and subject the Jewish people to genocide. This should be clear to those political and public forces who still believed that it was possible to strike a compromise with terrorists, that unilateral concessions might bring peace to the Middle East. This should sober up those advocates of the policy of ‘appeasement’ who have learnt nothing from the ruins of Orthodox churches in Bosnia and Kosovo, blown up by the adherents of the same cannibalistic ideology.

In conclusion I would like to emphasize that the house of G-d, even if destroyed by inhumans, will remain holy. For even in the absence of worshippers this place will remain holy for ever, and no one who claims to be a civilized person dares act in this way. To be sure, our people who safeguard the shrines of all religions in Jerusalem will not respond to the burning of synagogue by destroying mosques. But we expect from the Palestinian leaders a speedy reaction of condemnation and measures with regard to the perpetrators of this outrage. It is my firm conviction that this barbaric crime will not remain unpunished - the punishment of G-d and the punishment of man will ultimately reach the militants and extremists.

Berel Lazar
Chief Rabbi of Russia
September 12, 2005