A shocking record of destruction and desecration of Jewish holy places in and around Old Jerusalem during 19 years of Jordanian rule was documented today in the report of an inter-ministerial committee that was appointed after the Six-Day War to determine the state of Jewish shrines in Jordan held territory.
The findings of the committee were summarized by Zerach Warhaftig, Minister of Religious Affairs, at a press conference here. As examples of the wanton disregard of the religious rights of others, Mr. Warhaftig noted the destruction of all but two of the 58 synagogues in the Jewish quarter of the Old City and the almost total destruction of the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives which has been in continuous use for more than 2,000 years.
The cemetery was one of the Jewish holy places to which access was promised by the Jordanians in the 1949 armistice agreements although the promise was never observed. Tombstones were carried away for purposes ranging from fortifying mortar positions to building lavatories and the report says, documentary evidence and eye witnesses “make it clear beyond doubt that the desecration of the cemetery was carried out by Jordanian authorities for official purposes.”
The Jordanian Government, according to the report, had placed a special guard at the cemetery, but only to prevent tombstones from being pilfered by private persons. Their use was authorized for building military camps, fortifications, pathways and other installations and the walls of the building that housed the army commanders. Part of the road to the Intercontinental Hotel was paved with tombstones, the report said. And the Jordanians never bothered to remove the remains of the dead. In the Old City of Jerusalem, the report went on, only the synagogue of the Cabad Hassidim and the Torat Chayin yeshiva were left standing.
Dr. Warhaftig said that there was only one known instance of a clergyman protesting against the desecration and he was told by the Jordanian authorities to mind his own business. Moslem dignitaries whom Dr. Warhaftig questioned about the outrages disclaimed all knowledge.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.