A few days ago, Baruch Goldstein would have celebrated his 50th birthday. He gave his life in the “Cave of the Patriarchs massacre” in Hebron. On February 25, 1994, Baruch walked into the Jewish shrine turned into a mosque by the Arabs and gunned down 29 Arabs, wounding another 150. A hero to some, a mad settler to others, he remains in Jewish history.

Arabs disarmed Baruch and lynched him on the spot. Several Israelis went to jail for a similar crime, shooting terrorists and POWs after disarming them. Revenge, not temporary insanity, the Arabs’ action call for criminal prosecution. The Israeli police said the video surveillance record was unavailable, and the witnesses were ignored. Whatever Baruch Goldstein did, he was murdered, and his murder was never investigated. To murder Jews is socially acceptable in Israel.

Israeli media conducted a smear campaign against the dead Baruch. He was described as an emotionally unstable outcast, a right wing psycho, a Kahanist doctor who refused to treat Gentiles, a cold-blooded murderer of Arab worshippers. None of that was true. Baruch acted to defuse the extreme danger to Jews in Hebron before the Passover. After Baruch’s death – though the Israeli government condemned him and acquitted the lynch mob – Arab riots broke out. Five Jews and some Arabs were killed. The instant riot shows that Baruch acted on real, not imaginary, danger. The Israeli army was unwilling to contain the Palestinians during the holiday, and Baruch took justice into his own hands.

Baruch also took vengeance on Arabs for numerous murders of Jews in the Hebron area. He understood “an eye for an eye” as a practical guideline, not an outdated religious barbarism or doctrine of monetary compensation. The Torah does not support the anti-Semitic libel that Jews eagerly take money even for Jewish blood. “An eye for an eye” dictates that Arabs be killed for the Jews they murder. Nations are judged collectively: in Sodom, Nineveh, Afghanistan, or Palestine.

Baruch could have made a clearer statement by shooting the Arabs in a bus, not in a mosque. Israel honors Shlomo ben Yosef who first shot at an Arab bus in 1938, retaliating for Arab murders of Jews. The Palestinians did not attack worshipping Jews in Israel after the 1928 Western Wall massacre, and killing Arabs in a mosque diluted Baruch’s message with unnecessary religious overtones.

Official Jewish heroes such as Avraham Stern and Menahem Begin answered the murder of Jews with terrorist violence. Killing random Arab civilians proved an efficient tactic; it substantially stopped the decade-long string of Arab riots, pogroms, and frequent murders of Jews.

To condemn Baruch Goldstein is hypocritical. Hundreds of civilians were killed on Olmert’s orders in Lebanon. The lack of strategy led to hysterical killings in Gaza to stop the shelling of Sderot. Israeli and Western governments that annihilate scores of civilians ungraciously, unjustifiably, and unnecessarily have no right condemn Baruch Goldstein who set an example for honest Jews willing to oppose hostile Arabs.