Fifty U.S. Jewish leaders, headed by Malcolm Hoenlein, were joined by Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein on Friday on a visit to the Mount of Olives cemetery, which has been plagued by Arab desecrations and physical attacks on Jews..
Hoenlein is executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
A campaign to reclaim the “world’s oldest Jewish cemetery” has been launched, following years of vandalism at the cemetery, where many of the most revered Jewish sages are buried.
The Mount of Olives overlooks the Temple Mount site from the east and is part of Jerusalem that was restored to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967. It is claimed by the Palestinian Authority, which has encouraged illegal building on land that is zoned for the cemetery.
Last October, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel filed a complaint with the Jerusalem District Police regarding a stoning incident, two separate attacks on Jewish vehicles, and the stabbing of an Israeli who came to a funeral at the ancient cemetery.
The Mount of Olives contains approximately 150,000 graves. Between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan occupied the area, close to 40,000 gravestones were desecrated and used for paving roads and building latrines.