Baruch Goldstein: Legacy of a Massacre

On the festival of Purim in 1994, Israeli-American doctor Baruch Goldstein opened fire in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, killing 29 Muslim worshippers. Condemnation was swift and decisive, but among the voices of dismay and repulsion were those who supported Goldstein’s actions and honored him after his death. Noam Weissman explores the background of the massacre, the events that followed and asks important questions about Jewish terrorism.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. Baruch Goldstein was born in:
    • Israel
    • The U.S.
    • The U.K.
    • Russia
  2. What was Goldstein’s profession?
    • Doctor
    • Lawyer
    • Politician
    • Army general
  3. Goldstein was a member of what political party?
    • Labour
    • Likud
    • Otzmah Yehudit
    • Kach
  4. Where did Goldstein carry out this attack?
    • The Kotel
    • The Dome of the Rock
    • The Cave of the Patriarchs
    • Herodium
  5. True or false? Despite the fact that his actions were condemned by Israeli religious and political leaders from across the spectrum, Goldstein is still seen as a hero by a small minority.
  1. Although there’s no way to know what ultimately drove Goldstein to carry out this attack, an interesting question arises: Does knowing his motivation matter? Why or why not? Make a case for both sides.
  2. In light of what you know about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, do you view this event as atypical and in isolation, or is it something you would expect?
  3. President Ezer Weizman described this massacre as “The worst thing that has happened to us in the history of Zionism.” A Goldstein supporter eulogized Goldstein by saying, “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” How do you understand the tension at play here?
  4. A difficult question to consider in regard to Jewish terrorism is whether the Israeli government should destroy the perpetrator’s family’s home as it does to Palestinians’. This question was raised by the controversial HBO series Our Boys. What do you think? Should the Israeli government have the same policy for Palestinians and Jews when they perform acts of terror, or should it be different? Explain.
  5. British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks said at the time: “Such an act is an obscenity and a travesty of Jewish values. That it should have been perpetrated against worshippers in a house of prayer at a holy time makes it a blasphemy as well… Violence is evil. Violence committed in the name of God is doubly evil. Violence against those engaged in worshipping God is unspeakably evil.” Why does the fact that Goldstein carried out this attack against worshippers make it more devastating? What do you consider sacred space in your life?
  6. If this was your first time hearing this story, what was your initial reaction? What feelings did such an episode evoke in you?
  7. While Jewish acts of terror are few and far between, they do occur from time to time. How does it make you feel when a fellow Jew carries out a heinous crime? Does it affect how you view Palestinian terror?
  1. Lead a podcast listening party. Download our PDF Guide.
  2. Play your Baruch Goldstein Kahoot!

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