American Jews to Appeal to Congress and Courts to Force Protection of Kevorim On Har Hazeisim


har-hazeisim1A group of Jewish American citizens are planning an urgent appeal to the US State Department to take the necessary action to ensure that the destruction of graves of American citizens on Har Hazeisim in Yerushalayim comes to a halt. Arabs destroyed 14 graves on Har Hazeisim in mid-June, half of them the resting places of Americans who chose to be buried on Har Hazeisim, the oldest and most sacred Jewish cemetery in the world. The announcement was made by Mr. Avrohom Lubinsky, Chairman of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim, which he founded in May 2010 following a report by State Controller Micha Lindenstrauss on the state of neglect on Har Hazeisim.

Mr. Lubinsky noted that in addition to the destruction of the graves, Palestinians have also illegally expanded a Mosque that would extend to just 10 feet from the burial site of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.Further, Mr. Lubinsky expressed dismay regarding “the ineffective lip service, pronouncements about the unity of Jerusalem, and the total inertia of Israel’s security establishment while Palestinians continue to openly defile one of Judaism’s holiest sites in the center of Jerusalem.”

Renee Atlas Cohen, an American citizen who now lives in Jerusalem, was devastated when she found her father’s grave destroyed. “My father Aron Zvi Atlas passed away in 1997. He was a very religious and learned man; it was his wish to be buried on Har Hazeisim. On June 30th, I went to say Kaddish by my father’s grave. As I approached the grave I saw the stone with the name ‘Atlas” facing me, lying on the ground. My father’s tombstone had been smashed into two pieces.”

Many Jewish Americans are buried on Har Hazeisim. Over the past few years, Jewish travel to the burial site has become dangerous. Visitors to the cemetery are routinely stoned and one American family’s car was heavily damaged by a Molotov cocktail.

Charles Miller, an attorney and a member of the Committee, said that “Despite repeated promises of increased security and attention to prevent the reoccurrence of violence and destruction, the situation is worsening. Despite a Jerusalem court order to cease further construction of the illegally built mosque mentioned above, it is near completion.”

Many of the Americans have asked the Committee to reach out to members of Congress and senior officials in the State Department regarding the horrendous security conditions at the cemetery. Some are even considering legal action in United States District Court against the Israeli government for its failure to protect both the safety of mourners visiting the site and the integrity of the graves themselves.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, said he would convey the concerns of the American Jews to Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. “My hope is to forestall the necessity of involving the American government, Congress, and the courts in what should be the responsibility of the Israeli government. But in light of the continued desecration and violence, Americans with relatives buried on Har Hazeisim are faced with little choice but to pursue justice in the US.”

Jews from across the spectrum have voiced their protest at the desecration on Har Hazeisim. Hadassah’s founding president Henrietta Szold is buried there as are notables from every sector of Jewish life. One notable voice of protest has been that of Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a member of the Committee, who has raised the concerns of American Jewry at the highest levels of the Israeli government. Jeff Daube, the Israel representative of the Zionist Organization of America, has also met with Israeli leaders from across the spectrum.

{Yair Israel}


  1. Actually I put a letter to both of my state senators. I really don’t like this situation and hope that we can indeed find some leadership to change this illegal building.

  2. What right would the government of the United States have to interfere in the domestic affairs of another sovereign country?

    What would happen if GoI was to tell the US government to repaint the White House green? That suggestion is as absurd as Obama telling Israel how to run a cemetery.

    Sad as the situation at ?? ?????? may be, no US official is going to get involved. Why should they?

  3. #4 Read Jewish history and see the many chilul hashem’s that have occured during times of Neviim, Shoftim and Tannaim. Get REAL!!