Three Muslim youths were caught Saturday night desecrating Jewish holy books at a sacred Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem. The vandals were in the process of trying to burn several Tehillim – volumes of the Book of Psalms authored by the Biblical King David – at the ancient Mount of Olives Cemetery.
The three perpetrators, Arab teens about 16 years old, are residents of the Muslim neighborhood adjacent to the cemetery. All were arrested; two confessed to the crime, and the third was also found to have been involved although he continued to deny it. Police told reporters they plan to expedite prosecution of the case.
The Mount of Olives cemetery is an ancient, sacred Jewish burial ground still used today for interment of modern rabbinic leaders alongside holy Torah sages dating back thousands of years. The great Torah Sage and head of the worldwide Lithuanian hareidi-religious yeshiva world, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was laid to rest at the cemetery earlier this summer, when he passed away at age 102. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the modern State of Israel, is among the righteous Jewish leaders who are interred at the cemetery.
But there have been numerous reports, noting complaints about countless incidents of Muslim vandalism, desecration and attacks on Jews at and near the site. Some examples:
This past July, Muslims in a car who struck a vehicle with Jewish passengers near the cemetery got out of their car and began to attack the Jewish driver and his daughter. The lone police officer present was unable to stop the violence and was forced to call for backup.
In a separate incident, a Jew who visited his grandfather’s grave at the cemetery in June was horrified to discover local Muslims had used the cemetery as a place to throw out trash and burn household waste.
In February, U.S. Representatives Elliot Engel and Jerry Nadler, and Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein were attacked by Muslim rock throwers during their own visit to the Mount of Olives. The two lawmakers and Hoenlein all noted past video evidence of Muslim vandalism and desecration at the Jewish holy site. Charley J. Levine, adviser to the Preservation Committee in Israel said, “This is not a freak occurrence. This sort of vicious vandalism and desecration occurs at Har HaZeitim (Mount of Olives) every single day – some orchestrated, and some spontaneous.”