[Ed. note – According to a new report, Israeli soldiers vandalized, looted, and defecated in churches back in 1949, this while rampaging across Palestine in the course of setting up their newly-declared “Jewish and democratic state.” The shocking behavior by the soldiers was witnessed and made note of by Moshe Sharrett, the new state’s first foreign minister, whose observations on the matter, along with the disgust he expressed over it, have remained sealed for all these years.
Sharrett’s 88-year-old son, Yaakov Sharrett, who is making the information public for the first time in a soon-to-be-released book, says the shocking behavior “was not done out of religious hatred,” but occurred only because the soldiers were undisciplined–which sounds a lot to me like trying to put the best face on it, and I find myself rather skeptical of his claim. But at any rate, put this together with the attacks on churches in Israel today–along with a reluctance on the part of the Israeli government to take enforcement action against the perpetrators–and we clearly do start to see a pattern of behavior. ]
In the transcript of the Israeli government meeting on July 5, 1949, about 30 lines are blotted out. Somebody decided to censor the remarks of Israel’s first foreign minister, Moshe Sharett, just at the most interesting part of a long speech he made on a hot topic on the agenda at the time.
Nearly 70 years have elapsed since then but the transcript, which is preserved at the Israel State Archives in Jerusalem, is still not accessible to the general public. “We have the transcript in our possession and it is indeed censored,” the archives informed Haaretz this past week.
The draft of a new book that has come into the hands of Haaretz prior to its publication helps dispel the mystery surrounding the hidden lines. The text reveals what Sharett told the ministers of the first government, which was so problematic that to this day the general public is not allowed to know about it.
The exact quote is still forbidden for publication, but transcripts that documented things Sharett said about the same issue and during that same period in other forums enable a nearly exact reconstruction of it. The issue at hand was acts of vandalism committed by soldiers of the fledgling Israel Defense Forces in churches during the War of Independence. Sharett defined the phenomenon as “abuse of the holy that is fit for savages and not members of the Jewish people.” Moreover, he said, they constitute a “disgraceful page full of filth” in the history of Israel. He compared the state, under the auspices of which these deeds were carried out, to “Caesar, who initially behaved like some savage evildoer, a drunkard who destroys and desecrates.”
Reports of acts of vandalism and looting of alien property carried out by IDF soldiers during the War of Independence, including places holy to other regions, have already been documented in history books. In recent years it has also been revealed that soldiers took entire libraries from Arabs’ homes in order to enrich the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. What is new now is the publication of the harsh things that were said in real time by a senior Israeli minister.