Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein (December 9 or December 12, 1956 – February 25, 1994) was a Jewish American-Israeli physician and militant who killed 29 Muslims and injured approximately 100 in a 1994 shooting attack in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Israel.
Born in Brooklyn, New York to an Orthodox Jewish family, Dr. Goldstein was a direct descendant of the Baal HaTanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. His family also had close ties to modern-day Israel, as members of his family were murdered in the Hebron riot of 1929. Goldstein attended religious day school, Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein Medical School. He was also a member of the Jewish Defense League, founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane and, like many of his Zionist peers, looked forward to making aliyah and contribute to Israeli society. After emigrating to Israel, he served as a physician in the Israeli Defense Force, first as a conscript, then in the reserve forces. Here, he gained notoriety for refusing to treat non-Jews, even those serving in the IDF. When Goldstein was threatened with court-martial he declared:
- I am not willing to treat any non-Jew. I recognize as legitimate only two [religious] authorities: Maimonides and Kahane.
After Goldstein's death, the Shamgar Commission, which investigated Goldstein's role in the 1994 attack, noted that Goldstein did treat and heal an Arab militant in October 1990.
Following the end of his active duty, Goldstein worked as a physician and lived in the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron, where he served as head medical officer.
Goldstein is best known for having killed 29 Muslims during Friday prayers on Purim day, February 25th, 1994, in the Cave of the Patriarchs—the burial site of Biblical figures Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah—which is considered holy to both Muslims and Jews. After being subdued with a fire extinguisher, Goldstein was beaten to death by survivors. At his eulogy Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba stated:
- Goldstein was full of love for fellow human beings. He dedicated himself to helping others. Goldstein could not continue to bear the humiliations and shame nowadays inflicted upon us; this was why he took action for no other reason than to sanctify the holy name of God.
Rioting immediately followed the massacre, leading to the deaths of another 26 Palestinians and 9 Israelis.
Testimony at the Israeli inquiry raised the possibility that Goldstein had an accomplice—two Israeli army guards testified that a second settler entered the Cave of the Patriarchs on February 25 shortly after Goldstein did, and that when Goldstein went into the tomb he was armed with a different gun from the Galil assault rifle found by his body. The second settler was carrying a Galil, they said. This testimony was never confirmed, and a commission of inquiry established by Chief Justice Meir Shamgar found that Goldstein had acted on his own.
Goldstein's actions were immediately condemned by the Israeli government, and the Israeli populace in general. Spokespeople for all the organized denominations of Judaism denounced his act as immoral and as terrorism. The Kach movement, to which he belonged, was outlawed. The victims of the shooting received financial compensation.
Supporters of Goldstein
Supporters sometimes hold celebrations at Goldstein's gravesite in Kiryat Arba. His tombstone reads:
- Here lies the saint, Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein, blessed be the memory of the righteous and holy man, may the Lord avenge his blood, who devoted his soul to the Jews, Jewish religion and Jewish land. His hands are innocent and his heart is pure. He was killed as a martyr of God on the 14th of Adar, Purim, in the year 5754 (1994).
There is also a significant amount of controversy surrounding his motives. Of the supporters claims are the following :
- A week prior to that Purim morning, there were several incidents of Arab mobs at the Cave of the Patriarchs shouting "Itbach al-Yahood." which means "Slaughter the Jews."
- The metal detector at the East Gate where most of the Arabs entered that Friday Purim morning was damaged the night before.
- An unusually large number of Arabs came to the Cave of the Patriarchs that Friday around 500 men and 300 women, and only a handful of the men were searched, an none of the women were.
- Yitzchak Matoof, local resident, testified that "Arab storekeepers told me not to come to the Machpelah on Purim as it will not be good for Jews there." +
- The leading Israeli newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, published a news report before Purim stating that Hamas forces in Hebron had been alerting all Arabs in Hebron, through a group known as Ez a-Adin Alqass, to stock up with food and provisions since a great attack on Jews would take place and that it could be expected that, afterwards, the Israeli government would impose a curfew on the Arab population. This would also occur around the end of Ramadan.
Most Israelis are repulsed by the glorification of this Jewish militant. In 1998, a bill passed in the Israeli Knesset forbade the erection of monuments to whom it considered as terrorists. In 2000, a small shrine built around Goldstein's tomb was demolished. At the time, it was also declared that a discussion of the inscription on his tombstone was pending, but no revisions have yet been made (as of 2005).
- ^ Arych Kizel in Yediot Aharonot, 1 March 1994
- ^ Ilana Baum and Tzvi Singer in Yediot Aharonot, 28 February 1994
- UN document containing extracts of the Israeli inquiry report
- Pro Goldstein article
- An unofficial Israeli position on the 1994 massacre