On Erev Shabbos, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sent a letter to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren requesting Israeli intervention in the protection of Har Hazeisim. The site, an ancient bais hakevaros which is among the most sacred Jewish sites in Yerushalayim, has recently become a frequent target for vandalism and gravestone desecration.
Nadler’s letter follows:
February 18, 2011
Honorable Dr. Michael B. Oren
Embassy of Israel to the United States
3514 International Drive N.W.
Washington DC 20008
Dear Ambassador Oren:
As a Member of Congress representing Manhattan and Brooklyn, I am writing regarding Har HaZeitim (the Mount of Olives) the sacred site in East Jerusalem where Jews have been buried since biblical times, and where a number of my constituents’ family members are buried.
According to my constituents, who recently visited Jerusalem as part of the group the International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim, a number of gravestones throughout the cemetery and in areas where their family members are interred have been badly damaged or vandalized. I have also been told by my constituents that some visitors have endured stone-throwing and other incidents of violence. This is of great concern to me, as it is very important that those who visit this site are safe.
I know that the Israeli government also views Har HaZeitim as a place of great national, historic and religious significance, and so has undertaken a plan to restore gravestones and install additional security measures. I would greatly appreciate it if you could tell me what steps are being taken in terms of securing the area, what the timeline is for these measures, and what is being done in the interim to ensure that visitors are safe. It is in all of our interests to make sure that this site, which is of the utmost importance to so many Jews in my district and around the world, is protected and secure from attacks and vandalism.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Member of Congress