Noisy Prayer War in Hevron

A fed-up Jewish resident of Hevron begins blasting Chassidic tunes in an attempt to force his Muslim neighbors to pray more quietly.

Maayana Miskin ,

Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hevron
Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hevron
Israel news photo: (file)

Hevron resident Baruch Marzel is sick of being disturbed by Muslim prayers, which are broadcast through loudspeakers atop the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Maarat Hamachpelah) and other local mosques five times a day. So the veteran Land of Israel activist has rented his own sound system and says he will play chassidic music 24 hours a day until his Muslim neighbors agree to turn down the volume while praying.

"They got money from Saudi Arabia to get a loudspeaker system just to make us miserable. I rented a powerful system and put on Carlebach every hour of the day. The [IDF] Civil Administration asked me to stop, I told them that when they stop I'll stop – and believe me, they'll stop,” Marzel explained.

Local Arabs have filed a complaint over Marzel's music, with help from the pro-Arab organization Yesh Din.

Marzel said he welcomed the complaint. “I'm waiting for them to bring this complaint forward, to bring this up for public debate.” However, he criticized Yesh Din for taking up the cause, calling members of the group “anti-Semites and traitors.”

Loud chassidic music is an appropriate response to the Muslim muezzin, said Marzel, who said he was acting “measure for measure,” a synomyn to the concept of an "eye for an eye." Marzel also complained about Muslim weddings in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which he said often continue until 3 a.m., while Jews are asked to end their ceremonies by 11 p.m.

"This is the only way to put an end to Arab abuse of Jews. And it isn't just here – the muezzin bothers residents of Ramat Shlomo as well,” Marzel said. Even residents of Tel Aviv hear the call to prayer blasting from the Hassan Bek mosque, he added, “but in Tel Aviv they don't want to impinge on the sanctity of Islam. So let them keep suffering.”

"We will not suffer. We will fight back,” he concluded.

A similar battle took place earlier in the year in the town of Kfar Veradim in the Galilee. Residents of the town took to playing loud classical music in response to noisy weddings in the nearby Arab village of Tarshiha.