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Press Release date: September 7, 2008



The National Council of Young Israel ("NCYI") today strongly condemned the desecration by Arab worshipers of the Cave of the Patriarchs (Maarat Hamachpela) in the Israeli city of Hebron. The NCYI also called on the Israeli government to implement measures to ensure that Jewish holy sites are properly protected from future acts of defilement.

Jewish worshipers who arrived at the site on Saturday morning were stunned to find that Arab worshipers had urinated near an Ark containing Torah Scrolls, and that Hamas flags had been thrown into the areas that mark the burial sites of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs.

"The desecration of Maarat Hamachpela by Arab worshipers should shock people throughout the world, Jews and non-Jews alike," said Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, the President of the National Council of Young Israel. "Defiling a historic religious site demonstrates a total disregard for human decency and utter contempt for the beliefs of others."

The desecration occurred as thousands of Muslim worshipers entered the site on Friday as part of their Ramadan rituals. Each Friday during the month of Ramadan, the Cave of the Patriarchs is closed to Jews so that Muslim worshipers can enter the site and pray.

"The Arabs claim that Maarat Hamachpela is holy to them and that they require access to the site during Ramadan in order to pray," said Mostofsky. "One has to wonder how important this site truly is to Muslims if they feel it is acceptable to use it as a public restroom and a place to pay homage to terrorists who murder innocent people. They are not using the Cave of the Patriarchs as a place to pray; they are using it to perpetuate hatred and disregard for others."

Mostofsky noted that Friday's act of desecration at the Cave of the Patriarchs is the latest in a series of desecrations that have occurred at the site when it is open solely to Arabs, and closed to Jews. Although reports of the destructive acts have been reported to the police, there have not been any arrests made.

According to Mostofsky, the Israeli government should consider prohibiting Arab worshipers from entering Maarat Hamachpela in the future without proper supervision by the Israeli authorities.

"The Israeli government needs to take steps to ensure that Jewish holy sites are properly protected from defilement and desecration," said Mostofsky. "The Arabs have proven time and time again that they do not possess the tolerance and understanding necessary to warrant giving them the keys to one of Judaism's holiest sites for unfettered access. If they cannot be trusted to maintain the site's integrity, they should not be permitted to enter the site at all."

Mostofsky also called on the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations, the European Union, and the entire international community to condemn this act of defilement in the strongest terms possible.

"There are those in the international community who never relinquish an opportunity to criticize and condemn Israel," said Mostofsky. "Those same folks need to immediately stand up and denounce this cowardly and appalling act of defacement by Muslim worshipers. Silence in this instance is simply not an option."

In addition, Mostofsky urged Jews to show solidarity for Maarat Hamachpela and to visit the site whenever possible in order to demonstrate the importance of maintaining control of one of Judaism's holiest religious sites.

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