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Jewish protesters at U.S. consulate in Jerusalem (WND photo by Gemma Blech)

JERUSALEM – Marking the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, about a thousand Jewish protesters today read the biblical book of Lamentations in front of the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to protest against the Obama administration’s demand to freeze Jewish construction in eastern sections of the city.

Tonight marks the fasting day of Tisha B’Av, or the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. It commemorates a series of tragedies that befell the Jewish people all on the same day, most significantly the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, which occurred about 656 years apart on the same day. Jewish tradition calls for the reading of Lamentations.

“The Obama administration is following in the footsteps of Rome. He is trying to do what the Romans did, passing anti-Jewish decrees at the time of the destruction of the Temple,” Nadia Matar, the protest organizer, told WND.

Matar told WND her group, Women in Green, a popular nationalist organization, decided to recite the Lamentations outside the U.S. consulate this year “because the pressure of the world is once again against us, especially from Obama.”


Jewish protesters at U.S. consulate in Jerusalem (WND photo by Gemma Blech)

Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad, who addressed the crowds at the protest, exclaimed, “If Obama is ready to sacrifice Israel for his interests in the Muslim world, we are here to tell him this is against our interests. We will not commit suicide to please Obama.”

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Speaking to WND, Eldad added, “I suggested to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tonight to understand that if he will surrender to Obama’s pressure he will lose his cabinet. Netanyahu must not take American dictations.”

Both male and female protesters sat down on a lawn across from the U.S. consulate, many brandishing Israeli flags, for the reading of Lamentations. Afterwards, the groups, protected by Israeli police, marched around Jerusalem’s Old City walls, concluding the protest just adjacent to the Temple Mount.

“We surrounded the Old City walls like a bride goes around her groom at the marriage canopy (during a Jewish wedding) and the couple pledge allegiance to each other,” Matar told WND.

“We are married to the land of Israel and the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, and we are not ever going to give it up,” she said.


Jewish protesters at U.S. consulate in Jerusalem (WND photo by Gemma Blech)

The Obama administration recently demanded Israel halt all Jewish settlement activity in eastern Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank – areas the Palestinians claim for a state. The U.S. demand includes construction for what is known as natural growth, or accommodating for growth of the existing Jewish population in the areas in question.

Israeli leaders accuse Obama of abrogating a deal made by President Bush to allow for natural growth.


Knesset member Aryeh Eldad at protest in front of U.S. consulate in Jerusalem (WND photo by Gemma Blech)

The deal was forged just prior to Israel’s 2005 retreat from the Gaza Strip. It was confirmed by Sharon aide Dov Weissglas in 2005 and in several recently U.S. newspaper columns by Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser to Bush who reportedly negotiated the arrangement. The deal was in line with an official letter from Bush the year before stating Israel cannot be expected to withdraw from the entire West Bank and that the Jewish state would retain major settlement blocs there.

Aside from the destruction of the Jewish Temples, a remarkably large number of massive calamities befell the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av. Jewish rebellion leader Bar Kokhba’s famous revolt against Rome failed in 135 B.C. Following the Roman siege of Jerusalem, the razing of Jerusalem occurred the next year. The first crusade pogrom against Jews in Palestine began on that date in A.D. 1096.

The Jews were expelled from Britain on Tisha B’Av in 1290 and were expelled from Spain that same day in 1492. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising was crushed by the Nazis on that day in May 1943, resulting in the slaughter of about 50,000 Jews.

Nationalists here also mourn the removal of Jews from the Gaza Strip in 2005, which began the day after Tisha B’av.

The book of Lamentations, written in poetic verse, mourns the desolations brought on Jerusalem and the Holy Land by the Chaldeans.


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