Sunday, November 22, 2009

Who bombed the Beirut synagogue? 'Not Israel'

Whenever the Beirut synagogue of Maghen Avraham is in the news, it is taken as 'Gospel truth' (if you'll forgive the mixed religious metaphor) that it was bombed by Israel after 1982. The assertion is commonly found all over the internet, and was repeated most recently in this Jewish Chronicle piece on the proposed restoration of the synagogue.

But the week after the article appeared, the newspaper published this letter from Joe Millis :

In an otherwise excellent piece about the Beirut synagogue (JC October 30) Josie Ensor stated that Israeli shelling in 1982 destroyed the synagogue. It did not. This was a claim made by Robert Fisk in his book, Pity the Nation. But the Shi'a group Amal occupied Wadi Abu Jamil, the former Jewish quarter, in 1982. At the time, Amal was very anti-Palestinian/anti-Syrian because its founder, Moussa Sadr, had been abducted by Palestinians on instruction from Damascus and was never seen again.
Now, of course, Amal, led by Nabih Beri is very pro-Syrian and works in the shadow of Hezbollah. But in 1982, the Israelis would not have shelled an area held by their then allies, Amal.

Joe Millis
London SE21

The question is, then: whodunnit?

the debate is continuing on this anti-Zionist site. One commenter has produced 'evidence' of Israeli guilt: the 1982 report of the incident in the New York Times.


"(DATELINE: BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 11) Israeli shells have fallen on Beirut's only synagogue, sending dozens of Jewish families fleeing for safety, residents said today.

"Before the Israelis invaded Lebanon to crush the Palestine Liberation Organization, about 100 Jewish families lived in the quarter near the Maghen Abraham synagogue on Wadi Abu Jamil Street in the northern half of Israeli-ringed west Beirut. It is a few blocks from the so-called green line that divides the capital into Moslem and Christian sectors.

"Now the once-lively neighborhood is virtually abandoned. Seven Jewish families remain, members of the community said in interviews.

No Harassment by Arabs: ''My house is broken, my house is broken,'' an old Jewish woman, practically deaf, mumbled in French as she sat in a chair behind the synagogue.

"Jewish residents say they have not been harassed by their Moslem neighbors or the Palestinians since the Israelis invaded Lebanon on June 6.

"Neighborhood residents, including the Jewish families, said Israeli artillery firing from east Beirut and gunboats cruising offshore had persistently pounded the district, which is also populated by large numbers of Kurds and Lebanese Shiite Moslems.

The newpaper quotes 'neighborhood residents, including Jewish families' said.." Well they would say that, wouldn't they? The residents have reverted to their cost-free default position of 'blame Israel.' For the Jewish residents, their lives probably depended on it.


Jad Aoun said...

Truth is the first causality of war, I guess. There seems to be no definitive proof on who fired the rockets. Of course there's also the possibility that people do know but rather not say.

James Heartfield said...

In 1983 I watched a film presented by the Middlesex Polytechnic lecturer Arieh Finkel, who had been in Lebanon at the time. His film featured footage of the bombed synagogue. He said it was the Israeli Defence Force that did the bombing.

bataween said...

Did Arieh Finkel have first-hand proof? It seems this claim can be traced back to Robert Fisk, who himself quoted 'an eye witness'. But we have no independent corroboration, Fisk is no friend of Israel and the intent seems to be to show the Israelis as callous to their own people.
It must be
added that the windows of the synagogue had already been blown out by a car bomb before the roof was bombed.