Some 100 Islamist protesters in Indonesia rallied outside the country’s only synagogue Jan. 7, demanding its closure and expulsion of the Jewish community in response to Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Protesters marched to the synagogue’s gates chanting, “Go to hell, Israel!” The only Jewish religious site in the world’s most populous Muslim state—which has no rabbi and only a few followers—closed its doors as the march approached and protesters burned an Israeli flag.
“This is the way to show our solidarity for the Palestinian people and to condemn the Israeli attacks,” said Abdusshomad Buchori, local leader of the Ulema Council, which is pushing for the permanent closure of Beth Hashem synagogue in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city. “If Israel refuses to stop its attacks and oppression of the Palestinian people, we don’t need to defend [the synagogue’s] presence here.”
The woman who has run the synagogue since the 1970s went underground after the incident, in which Buchori threatened to drive any remaining Jews out of town. “The Israeli attacks against Palestine and Lebanon have resulted in increased anti-Semitism,” said Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, a human rights group. (AP via Ha’artez, Jan. 17)