Congressman Jerrold Nadler released the following statement today denouncing the destruction of synagogues in Gaza by Palestinians moving into the recently emptied territory:
“The destruction of synagogues in Gaza, immediately following the withdrawal, is a despicable attack on the Jewish people and another assault on the struggle for peace in the region.
It is the duty of the Palestinian Authority to protect sacred, sites, yet on the very day the withdrawal from Gaza was completed, Palestinian mobs set fire to the synagogues in Netzarim, Neveh Dekalim, Morag and Kfar Darom – while Palestinian police stood by. The Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, went so far as to try to blame Israel for this outrage, saying ‘this is a trap the Israelis are trying to set for the Palestinian Authority. They will use this to present Palestinians as uncivilized.’
Even more outrageous, the Bush administration has suggested that it was Israel’s fault for not destroying the synagogues themselves. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack suggested that leaving Gaza synagogues intact ‘puts the Palestinian Authority into a situation where it may be criticized for whatever it does.’
People of good will rightly denounced the alleged desecration of the Koran by U.S. military personnel; Jewish houses of worship deserve the same respect. Israel didn’t destroy the synagogues. It wasn’t Israeli police who stood by and watched houses of worship desecrated. Yet the administration joins Abbas in blaming Israel for these repugnant acts.
The U.S. government should not be an apologist for the outrages in Gaza. This vile desecration of synagogues is no fault of Israel’s, and the Bush administration should apologize for its wrongheaded insinuation.
Respect for the religious beliefs of others and the rule of law are the foundations of any future peace. Despite claiming respect for Judaism, the Palestinian Authority has an appalling record of inciting violence against synagogues and holy sites under its control – sites including Joseph’s Tomb, in Nablus, synagogues in Jericho, and Rachel’s tomb, near Bethlehem.
Standing in sharp contrast to the Palestinian Authority’s shameful conduct is Israel’s decision to increase protection around Muslim houses of worship in Israel. The Israeli government protects holy sites regardless of the religion to which each is sacred. If it is to be a credible partner for peace, the Palestinian Authority must do likewise.
The Palestinian Authority’s permissiveness toward – and some cases incitement of – destruction of Jewish holy sites and places of worship, and the lies that continue to be spread by the Palestinian media, in Palestinian mosques, and in Palestinian schools, are deplorable threats to progress and peace.”