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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Indonesia for its religious tolerance on Monday, six months after the last synagogue in the country was destroyed.

“Yesterday, I had the privilege of going to the Istiqlal mosque,” Kerry said at a press conference during his visit. “And it’s my pleasure to not only say good morning to everybody here, but as-salam alaykum. It’s my honor to be a guest at this remarkable house of worship, the third largest mosque in the world, the largest in the region, in Asia, and really an incredible monument to faith and to the power of worship and the ability of people to come together and worship.

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“And what is really important, I thought, was to see just a short distance away the spires of the cathedral, which really is a symbol together of the tolerance that exists here in Indonesia, a very, very critical asset and one that we admire Indonesians for embracing. Much of the world could learn a great deal from your tradition of religious tolerance and pluralism, which is so clearly embedded in the DNA of Indonesian people.”

End quote.

Last October, the JTA quoted a Ditch news site as reporting that Indonesia’s last synagogue was destroyed following a large number of anti-Israel protests. The Beth Shalom synagogue in Surabaya on the island of Java was sealed by Islamic hard-liners in 2009, according to the Jakarta Globe.

”Reports of the synagogue’s destruction have appeared in the Indonesian media since May and were confirmed last week by Indoweb.nl, which quoted the director of the Surabaya Heritage Society as saying that he intended to protest the demolition in talks with government officials,” according to the JTA dispatch,.

“It is not clear by whom and when exactly the building was demolished,” Freddy Instanto told Indoweb.nl.

The City Council of Surabaya was in the process of registering the building as a heritage site. For that reason, Instanto said, the building “should have been protected.”

Situated in in eastern Java, the small synagogue was built in the 19th century by Dutch Jews when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. It had white-painted bricks and a Star of David painted on the front door.

The first Jews arrived in Indonesia in the 17th century with the Dutch East India Company. During the 1930s and 1940s, the community grew due to new arrivals fleeing persecution in Europe.

About 20 Jews are estimated to be living in Indonesia today.

”Reports of the synagogue’s destruction have appeared in the Indonesian media since May and were confirmed last week by Indoweb.nl, which quoted the director of the Surabaya Heritage Society as saying that he intended to protest the demolition in talks with government officials,” according to the JTA dispatch.

“It is not clear by whom and when exactly the building was demolished,” Freddy Instanto told Indoweb.nl.

The City Council of Surabaya was in the process of registering the building as a heritage site. For that reason, Instanto said, the building “should have been protected.”

Situated in in eastern Java, the small synagogue was built in the 19th century by Dutch Jews when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. It had white-painted bricks and a Star of David painted on the front door.

The first Jews arrived in Indonesia in the 17th century with the Dutch East India Company. During the 1930s and 1940s, the community grew due to new arrivals fleeing persecution in Europe.

About 20 Jews are estimated to be living in Indonesia today.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Typical anti-Semitic and leftist position. Going against Jews or Israel is permissible and they remain silent while it is occurring. But just one instance of Israel acting on national security grounds and the same groups attack them through the media, bds and so on. Hypocrites!

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