William Saletan, a columnist at Slate.com, wrote a piece September 29 titled “The Ground Zero Synagogue: Should Jews build a synagogue near a site of Jewish terrorism?” He compares the debate over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York to the building of a new synagogue in Kiryat Arba, just outside Hebron, which he says is near the site where Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994.
Imagine a place where Muslims were the victims, not the perpetrators, of the worst terrorist massacre in recent memory. Imagine, for example, that the killer was Jewish and that in the wake of his attack, on the very ground from which he had plotted it, Jews built a synagogue. How would today’s opponents of the “Ground Zero mosque” react? Would they condemn, with equal vigor, the “Ground Zero synagogue”? We already know the answer, because the place I’m talking about isn’t imaginary. It’s Hebron, a city in the West Bank. The reason you haven’t heard about its new synagogue is that there has been no outcry. Apparently, the rule about keeping houses of worship at a respectful distance from scenes of terrorism is for Muslims only.
Today he posted a follow-up, titled “Jewish Terrorism: Readers Respond. Is it wrong to compare 9/11 to a Israeli settler’s slaughter of Muslims?” He quotes excerpts from some of the nearly 500 comments he received in reply to the first piece, with his retorts to each. Interesting reading.
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).