Ultra Orthodox Jews Destroy Christian Site in Beth Shemesh

Joe Zias reports

Evening news today reported that the ultra-orthodox in Beth Shmesh borrowed a page from the Taliban in Afghanistan, who destroyed those Buddha’s in 2001, by erasing from the face of the earth an important and beautiful Byzantine complex over the weekend. The IAA and others had been working there for some time uncovering mosaics, a church and other impressive archaeological features only to find it completely bulldozed this morning. Today, all was gone which prompted me to perceive how colleagues in the world of archaeology reacted to the blowing up of the two Afghan Buddha’s by the Taliban. Here all one has to do is to substitute the term ultra-orthodox in Beth Shemesh for the Taliban in order to understand what we in Israel are facing.  “… the Taliban’s destruction of the two Bamiyan Buddha statues was still painful to watch; and today it is recognized as an ominous forewarning of the Taliban’s distaste of anything other than their own set of extremist Islamic values.”

He continues

Sounds familiar, I hope that there is world public outrage over this act in Beth Shmesh on the scale of what we saw in Afghanistan, if there isn’t, it will only get worse as their behavior at times, towards ‘outsiders’ is on par with the Taliban. Not only towards outsiders, there in the ultra orthodox world of Beth Shmesh and in another 30 odd routes in Israel, women ride in the back of the bus and men up front.This is public transportation.

There’s not been a peep of this despicable outrage in any of the press so far- but there should be.  Someone needs to investigate this horrific desecration and arrest those responsible.  And prosecute them.

If Synagogues are defaced with Nazi symbols the entire world expresses outrage.  It’s time for outrage to be expressed at those ultra orthodox who act just as evilly as their Nazi brethren.

There’s a bit of background to this senselessness here.  So the problem has been around for years.  This weekend’s act is just the latest manifestation.

8 thoughts on “Ultra Orthodox Jews Destroy Christian Site in Beth Shemesh

  1. irishanglican 13 Jun 2010 at 3:33 pm

    “Nazi brethren”? Come on Jim, their zeal was just like all iconoclasts. Sad, wrong perhaps? But certainly not “Nazi” like.


    • Jim 13 Jun 2010 at 3:50 pm

      they share with the nazi’s a sense of superiority and a wish to control everything in society- so it’s a fair comparison.


  2. Chuck Grantham 13 Jun 2010 at 3:43 pm


    I’d say “Can’t we all get along”, but obviously, we can’t.


  3. irishanglican 13 Jun 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Well then we Irish all have that! lol Especially to control our ladies! But it’s never gonna happen there either! lol


  4. arenmaeir 13 Jun 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I have a lot of disagreement with the ultra orthodox jews in Israel (especially the extremists among them) on many levels (personal, communal, national). I think they are damaging to Israeli society for a long list of reasons. BUT, comparing them to the Taliban and the Nazis is way off.
    As far as I can tell, they have not yet starting executing people for their beliefs or for being different. Let’s keep the proper proportions when accusing and name calling.



    • Jim 13 Jun 2010 at 4:44 pm

      the will to power seems identical.


  5. Yigal 13 Jun 2010 at 4:54 pm


    From the news coverage I saw it was more a case of criminal negligence than religious fanaticism. The site had been covered up by the archaeologists, and the contractor – who was NOT ultra-orthodox (what was the last time you
    saw an ultra-orthodox construction worker?) went ahead and bulldozed the site without bothering about permits. The report did not mention that the site was marked as an antiquities site – indeed was it? There were no ultra-orthodox riots at the site during excavations – I doubt that many of the ultra-orthodox residents of the area knew or cared that a 6th century church was being excavated. Actually, an olive-press that remained uncovered
    as part of a public garden was not touched.

    You can’t have it both ways. A few weeks ago, the ultra-orthodox community was up in arms against excavating and then bulldozing a PAGAN burial site in Ashdod, because to them desecration of any graves is forbidden – even if it meant taking more time and money to expand the local hospital. And that was fanaticism, preferring the (pagan) dead over the living. Now, a (criminally?) careless contractor destroys an unmarked, re-buried, ancient
    church, but since the site happens to be earmarked for ultra-orthodox housing, that’s fanaticism. Obviously what happened should not have, but as with the coverage of the controversy about the Mt. Gerizim site a few days
    ago, there is no need to look for sinister plots against humanity under every rock. Let the IAA and the police investigate, if a crime was committed let the culprits be punished, and demand that the IAA take more care in
    clearly publicizing and marking the sites that it works on in the future.

    And Jim, before you start making comparisons, how many old, unused, synagogues in various countries around the world have been demolished to make way for modern housing? Again, what happened should not have, but let’s
    not lose perspective. I can assure you that the same would have happened if the site had not been a church, except that then the press would not have cared either.


    • Jim 13 Jun 2010 at 4:58 pm

      i dont know how many byzantine era synagogues have been bulldozed in the middle of the night.


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