Rabbis press for safeguarding Mount of Olives cemetery against Arab attacks

JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 100 Orthodox rabbis are urging action against ongoing Arab attacks on the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The rabbis, mostly from the United States, signed a petition organized by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn, national board members of the Religious Zionists of America, together with Rabbi Dov Fischer of the Young Israel of Orange County, Calif.

Rabbi David Lau, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel, also signed the petition, as did rabbis from France, Australia and Canada.

Cemetery visitors have been attacked and graves vandalized.

“We call on the Jewish community to press for immediate action by the appropriate authorities to safeguard this holy Jewish site and preserve the integrity of undivided Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital,” the petition said.

The petition will be presented Sunday at a public meeting in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the issue co-hosted by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Menachem Lubinsky, leader of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeitim, or Mount of Olives.

There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the mountain, where Jews have been buried since biblical times. Notable individuals buried there include the prophets Zechariah, Malachi and Hagai; Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin; famous modern rabbis such as Aryeh Kaplan and Ahron Soloveichik; Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah; Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt; and British parliamentarian Robert Maxwell.

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