YASUF, West Bank - Israel’s chief rabbi made a rare visit to a Palestinian village yesterday to condemn the torching of a mosque allegedly by Jewish extremists, saying the attack brought back memories of the Holocaust.
The visit by an Israeli dignitary to a Palestinian village, along with the reference to the emotionally charged issue of the Holocaust, reflected the depth of concern caused by last week’s mosque attack. Israeli leaders have been scrambling to reduce tensions.
There have been no arrests from last Friday’s blaze. But authorities believe Jewish extremists carried out the attack in retaliation for a government-ordered slowdown in settlement construction. The attackers burned prayer carpets and a book stand with Muslim holy texts, leaving Hebrew graffiti on the floor.
During his trip to Yasuf, Rabbi Yona Metzger said religious sites should be left outside any political dispute. He said the arson was especially troubling to Jews because their holy places were targeted in attacks by the Nazis.
“There were hundreds of synagogues. They took all of the holy books out onto the street and burned them,’’ Metzger said. “We are still living this trauma. And in the state of Israel we will not allow a Jew to do something like this to Muslims.’’
About 200 Palestinians stood in the center of this farming village yesterday to watch the arrival of the Metzger’s convoy.