I will not be able to post again until after Shabbat, and so wanted to provide here just a bit of factual “catch-up,” as well as something in the way of a broader overview. These are difficult days.
I just read of one person involved in the issues of the Temple Mount who said that the problem is that we are dealing with religious fanatics on both sides who are exacerbating the situation. But I beg to differ.
We are dealing with a political war that is being couched in religious terms.
There were centuries during which the Temple Mount was in the hands of Muslims, and Muslims paid scant attention to it. They were able to access it but just didn’t bother. While for the religious Jew there is no place on earth that has more sanctity than the Mount, for the Muslim it is of far less significance religiously. Mecca is their holiest site. When they pray on the Temple Mount, they face Mecca. Jews the world over pray facing the Mount.
In point of fact, there were times, not so very distant, when Muslim clerics acknowledged the Jewish attachment to the Mount.
What has changed now is the political context. The Palestinian Arabs are eager to delegitimize Israel, and they see no better way to do it than by depriving Jews of access to their place of greatest sanctity. Please, as you read various reports, do keep this in mind.
I just came across an article about Muslim women who go up on the Mount and profess great devotion to Al Aksa mosque.
“You know,” one of these women said, “I never used to pray there. But now it means everything to me. I would give my life for it.”
Why this sudden passionate devotion? Because she’s talking from her pocketbook: she is being paid by Hamas to go up there, and to profess this devotion, and to harass Jews who come up.
I wrote yesterday about the young Muslim Arabs who stored weapons in the Al Aksa mosque with which to attack Israeli police. Is this how people of religion treat their holy place? Or is this how renegades and terrorists act to weaken Israel?
After I wrote yesterday, there was yet another attack by vehicle. This time it was in Gush Etzion: three soldiers were hit by a commercial van that pulled away after the attack. One soldier is in critical condition in intensive care; it is not certain he will live. The other two are less severely injured.
The incident was called a terror attack. A search began immediately for the driver of the vehicle – which was found, abandoned. Location of the van enabled the driver to be identified. His brother and father were arrested.
Then, lo and behold, the driver turned himself in to the police, claiming that what happened was hit and run. At some level this is being accepted – terrorists don’t usually turn themselves in. But there are those who challenge this scenario, saying that the terrorist came in because his family was already in custody and he know the police would get him – that he thought it better to surrender and make up this story. Additionally, claim those who challenge the “hit and run” story, the authorities prefer to call it hit and run so that the public is not so alarmed. The fact of two terrorist attacks by vehicle in one day was/is exceedingly frightening.
What is making headlines here now is communication that has gone on/is going on between Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah. They may have met, they definitely have consulted by phone. It is said that both are eager to cool the overheated environment here in Jerusalem.
There is certainly no way for me to know all that has transpired between them, or what agreements they have made. But what I am seeing, at a public level, are two things. And they unsettle me greatly.
The first is that Netanyahu has promised Abdullah that the status quo will be maintained on the Mount – which means he will permit no Jewish prayer. This is supposed to make the Palestinian Arabs who are devoted to the Mount calmer. The prime minister also acknowledged the special role of Jordan with regard to the Mount, as specified in the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.
The fact that Jews are not permitted to pray on the Mount is simply wrong, an injustice of considerable proportions. But I might be able to live with this situation for a modest interval of time (not indefinitely!), if I saw that it brought quiet to Jerusalem. It’s a matter of timing, and our time will come.
The number of terrorist incidents – rock throwing, firebombing, etc. – has gone down in the last few days. And there is reason to believe that Abdullah had something to do with this. Reason to believe that there may have been a quid pro quo in terms of his attempting to cool things down, as Netanyahu made his statement.
(To clarify here: I believe what’s going on with Abdullah is happening at two levels. There is his public grandstanding for effect, so that he calls in his ambassador. And there is a different level of understanding between the two leaders quietly. I often feel he overdoes the grandstanding, but that is simply my perspective.)
But what I am also seeing at the very same time is that Palestinian Arab incitement to terror is continuing unabated at a horrendous level. Both the PA and Fatah are using social media and various press outlets to specifically encourage people to use their vehicles to commit terror attacks:
This is what happens, then, when we back down on demands to pray on the Mount? Does Abdullah have any leverage with Abbas? Did he even try to cool him down?
What we are facing is a situation that cannot stand. It seems, Netanyahu’s conciliatory statement notwithstanding, that things will get worse before they get better. And that being very strong, and very sure of our rights, if the only thing that will make a difference.
After Shabbat I will try to find time to look at these matters – and some others – in more detail. Naftali Bennett is pushing his “annex Area C” campaign, which would give the Palestinian Arabs something less than a full state. There is a proposal to withdraw citizenship from Israeli Arabs involved in terror, which I think is a great idea and long overdue.
As well, I want very much to take the time to look at what Rabin stood for with regard to the Oslo Accords. His position has been considerably distorted by the left.
Shabbat Shalom! What would we do without Shabbat?
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