Arabs raided the yeshiva of Homesh in Samaria on Wednesday and torched dozens of books of the Talmud and of the Five Books of Moses, leaving behind a pile of ashes. The arsonists ignored personal equipment, including beds, tables and chairs, and concentrated all their energies on Jewish texts.
“It was a horrible sight to see dozen of holy books of the Talmud and Bible burned almost completely,” said Rabbi Elishama Cohen, head of the yeshiva that has been the stronghold of the community the past two years. Homesh was one of four towns in northern Samaria that the government destroyed after expelling the residents during the “Disengagement” program four years ago.
“The Arabs did this very thoroughly and carefully,” Rabbi Cohen added. “We succeeded in saving the remains of some of the burned books and several pages where the letters still are recognizable, the same pages we learned the past several days.”
Return to Homesh leader Yossi Dagan said that the yeshiva students gathered the remains of the books to bury them according to Jewish law. “We demand that the Prime Minister establish a community larger than the original Homesh. This needs to be the answer of the government to this desecration and national humiliation."
The Return to Homesh movement re-established the town two years ago and has maintained a constant presence despite several subsequent expulsions by Israeli police, who also have destroyed a wooden building the yeshiva students built for study.
Rabbi Cohen said that instead of the spirit of the yeshiva students being broken, their numbers will increase next year as a reaction to desecration. Samaria Regional Council chairman Gershon Mesika called on the police to search and arrest the perpetrators. Police said they have begun an investigation.
Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon commented, “Whoever has not yet understood with whom we are dealing should look at the pictures of the burnt holy books. If Jews had burned dozens of Muslim books, the whole world would be shaking.”
Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs, said. "To my sorrow, this grave incident is a result of classic anti-Semitism and a reminder of the dark days of the past. It is sad to think that if there were permanent homes and official security, we would not be witness to this grave incident.”
Shas Knesset Member Rabbi Chaim Amsallem called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to allow the construction of a permanent yeshiva with proper security. The vandalism of the enemies of Israel proves that decision makers are playing in to their hands.”