Today, Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) reiterated the need for Israeli authorities to protect the sacred cemetery at Har HaZeitim, the Mount of Olives, which abuts Jerusalem's Old City. The Members sent a letter today to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu requesting his help in preventing both desecration of the gravesites and attacks on visitors. Nadler and Engel toured the site this February to learn more about the problem and experienced firsthand -- in a rock throwing incident -- the many security problems to be found there. Har HaZeitim is an ancient burial ground that has recently become a frequent target for vandalism and gravestone desecration.
The letter follows and is attached as a pdf:
April 10, 2012
The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
3 Kaplan Street
Hakirya Jerusalem, Israel 91950
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:
We are writing with respect to violence and vandalism at Har Hazeitim (the Mount of Olives), some of which we saw first-hand when we were in Israel in February. We are very concerned about the situation there and are available to help you and your government to see that it is improved.
First, we would like to thank you for meeting with us on our trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our discussion. We found our entire visit in Israel to be informative, invigorating, and uplifting.
Subsequent to our meeting, on February 24th, we visited Har Hazeitim as part of a group of Jewish leaders that toured the area under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. We were disturbed to see the vandalism that desecrates the oldest and most holy cemetery in all of Judaism. As we were about to conclude the tour, a large stone was hurled at us. Fortunately, no one was injured. Unfortunately, these problems of violence and vandalism are not new.
We know Israel recognizes the serious importance of Har Hazeitim to Israelis and Jews around the world. No holy site should be subjected to desecration and people of all faiths should be able to visit such places in peace. We understand that steps are planned to address these issues and in that vein we urge you to do what you can to see that Har Hazeitim is protected as soon as possible. We stand ready to help you in any way that we can.
We look forward to your response. Thank you for your time and attention.
Jerrold Nadler, Member of Congress
Eliot Engel, Member of Congress