JERUSALEM (Jun. 22)
Jerusalem police are inclined to dismiss Palestinian nationalism as a motive in the murder of Hebrew University Professor Menahem Stern, one of Israel’s most distinguished academicians, whose body was found in the bushes next to the Israel Museum on Wednesday morning.
But the investigation of the crime has only just begun and nothing can be ruled out, according to the Jerusalem police district commander, Yosef Yehudai.
Stern was fatally stabbed Wednesday shortly before his body was discovered at about 9:30 a.m., by a group of first graders who were on an outing to the museum.
Knife wounds in his chest indicated Stern was killed only minutes before, and although papers and documents were scattered near the body, nothing appears to have been stolen, according to police and Shin Bet agents who arrived at scene.
“We don’t see a reason to start with the nationalistic motive. Very few Arabs wander around in this area,” Yehudai told reporters.
Nevertheless, he said, “all possibilities are still open, and we are only in the beginning of the investigation.”
Yehudai noted that there have been several murders in the area in recent years.
An Israel Museum employee told police he had seen a suspicious-looking man in the vicinity that morning, whom he described as a Jew, about 40.
AWARDED ISRAEL PRIZE
The only known facts in the case so far are that Stern left his home on Tchernikovsky Street in the Rehavia section at 8:30 Wednesday morning and, as was his habit, walked to the National Library at the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University.
Funeral services for the 64-year-old Stern have been scheduled for Sunday morning.
Stern, a tenured professor of Jewish history at the Hebrew University, was considered an authority on Hellenistic and Roman culture and an expert on the period of the Second Temple.
Stern was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for Jewish history in 1977. He had been a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences since 1978.
Stern was also chairman of the Israel Historical Society and a member of the editorial board of its quarterly magazine, Zion.
He was published extensively, including his most famous work, “Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism,” a three-volume opus published in English by the Academy of Sciences.
Stern was born in Byalistok, Poland, in 1925 and immigrated to Palestine in 1938.
He studied at the Hebrew University and received his doctorate there in 1960 when he joined the faculty.