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Arab Youth Use Jewish Cemetery as Playground

Arab boys jump on Jewish graves in a recent video. Jewish sites expert: the problem is nearly 90 years old.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/21/2012, 12:55 PM

A recent video taken at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem shows young Arab men playing on the tombs by standing on top of them and jumping from grave to grave.

The offensive behavior was at first thought to be a new development in the long saga of deliberate desecration at the sacred site.

However, an expert on Jewish holy sites has revealed that the phenomenon is not new at all. In fact, Dr. Dotan Goren said, reports of similar behavior date back nearly 90 years.

Dr. Goren provided a newspaper clipping from August 1925 in which a letter writer expressed concern over Arab disrespect for the ancient Jewish cemetery.

“Whoever walks near the Jewish cemetery in Jerusalem towards evening will see the following: herds of animals grazing, Arab women making new paths to create a shortcut,” reader M. Lanberg wrote to Davar. "It is particularly joyful on the Sabbath. Groups of Arab youth jump from grave to grave for sport.”

He decried the phenomenon, saying, “Is there no institute in Jerusalem that, for the sake of the dear departed, can take care that the cemetery is not damaged or turned into a place for playing games and grazing sheep?”

Jewish MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad of the National Union party recently visited the Arab neighborhood along the road to the Mount of Olives and asked Arab adults about the repeated desecrations of the holy site. Local adults admitted that youth repeatedly attack Jews along the road, but gave varying excuses for the the phenomenon, rather than offering to try to put a stop to their youngsters' behavior.