Defaced Torah scroll
Defaced Torah scrollMateh Binyamin Regional Council

More than 100 people in Mitzpeh Yericho, south of Jerusalem, held a rally Saturday night protesting the government’s silence in wake of the desecration of a local study hall and a Torah scroll, Tatzpit reports.

“Where is Peres?” marchers shouted.

Community spokesman Moshe Eyal explained, “We here in Mitzpeh Yericho are very disappointed by the fact that the President who condemns any graffiti on a Muslim mosque is remaining silent when it comes to the desecration of Torah scrolls.”

Protesters marched from the city toward a nearby illegal Bedouin encampment. The purpose was “to show that we are here, too,” Eyal said.

He expressed hope that Peres would “come to his senses and come here and express support.”

The community got support from the Deputy Minister of Religious Services, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction. Ben-Dahan expressed horror at the destruction in the Netivot Yosef yeshiva and told yeshiva head Rabbi Shabtai Sabato that he would look into ways for the Ministry for Religious Services to assist in repairing the school.

Ben-Dahan noted the apparent discrepancy in responses to the attack compared to responses to incidents involving mosques. “When there is graffiti on a mosque, national leaders hurry to condemn the act and to apologize to the Arab residents,” he said. “It’s unthinkable that when Jewish Torah scrolls are destroyed, they will not do the same.”

“I call on the President, the Chief Rabbis and the ministers to denounce the act,” he said.

The sight of the damaged Torah scroll and holy books was particularly painful coming as it did shortly before Holocaust Memorial Day, he added. “Against the background of this painful day, the sign of torn holy books, a Torah scroll thrown to the ground, and a destroyed study hall remind me of the Jewish people’s darkest days,” he said.