Aryeh Binyamin, the gabbai (administrator) of the Ayelet HaShachar synagogue in Givat Ze’ev, reacted sharply to the words of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Monday, after the latter called synagogue supporters “thugs” and “extremists.”
“Shame on you, Bogie,” he said, referring to Ya’alon’s popular nickname. “Your diplomatic immunity should be removed and you should be sued.”
“The Ayelet HaShachar Synagogue was established 15 years ago, the synagogue has over 200 people, we have over 40 people learning in kollel full-time, they are all wonderful citizens,” he continued.
“The land on which the synagogue is built was bought by us at full price. Instead of spreading slander against civilians – immediately resolve the crisis and to stop this magnificent synagogue from being destroyed.”
MK Shuli Muallem-Refaeli (Jewish Home) visited the synagogue in solidarity shortly after Ya’alon made the comments.
”I suggest the Defense Minister stop delegitimizing law-abiding citizens,” Muallem fired. ”Members of this community served in the IDF, work for a living and are breadwinners of families.”
“We cannot discredit them as we did the [expellees] of Gush Katif,” she warned, referring to the disastrous 2005 Disengagement from Gaza.
Givat Ze’ev Council head Yossi Avrahami also called for the Defense Minister to arrive to the synagogue himself and see what he was slandering.
“I strongly protests his words and the defense minister’s accusations against the worshipers in the synagogue,” Avrahami said. ”These are delusional, unfounded, and baseless accusations, all slandering the good name of the synagogue community numbering 400 families and tarnishing the good name of all the residents of Givat Ze’ev.”
“It seems that the whole point of the defense minister’s remarks is to distract the public powerlessness of the government [against terror – ed.],” he added.
Holy building, wholly controversial
The Ayelet HaShachar synagogue is slated to be demolished after a far-left group filed a petition with the Court, claiming that the structure had been build on privately-owned Palestinian Arab land.
The petition had been working its way through the courts for at least three years. Members of the congregation have offered the land’s alleged owners a high price for the purchase or rental of the land, but they, and their lawyers, have insisted that the synagogue be torn down.
Public officials have rallied behind the synagogue and called to save it, stating that sends the wrong message to Israelis over the character of the Jewish state.
Ya’alon slammed supporters of the synagogue Monday in a press conference, drawing some moral equivalents to the extremists who torched a Palestinian Arab home in Duma.
“Support for these young men, who throw urine bags and rocks at security personnel, [support] from politicians – they are the seeds of destruction,” he said. “It is not surprising then that they take the law into their own hands.”
Ya’alon then implicated part of the blame to the Givat Ze’ev Municipal Council, claiming his Defense Ministry offered the local synagogue a temporary building, but was refused.