Perspective is something we easily lose when our emotions run high. I have a friend who often puts things into proper proportions for me.
I sought a calming voice after the saga that was distressing (for me and many others, but not everyone) of putting up metal detectors and cameras and taking down metal detectors, and then cameras . . . of Bibi claiming to stand firm on Israeli responsibility to secure Har HaBayit but then collapsing under the weight of what most interpret as outside pressure on Netanyahu to back down.The anger, shame and humiliation felt by many was ringing out from the social media and people were anticipating escalating violence on the part of the Arabs who had strong-armed Israel into compliance.
There were a few moments of grace when the Waqf prohibited Muslims from entering the Temple Mount so Jews were able to wander around without Arabs breathing down their necks. It was still not a totally free experience, as seen in Varda Meyers Epstein description of her visit.
There were riots in East Jerusalem — and the unabashed celebrations of the Umm-al-Fahm “martyrs” who killed the two Israeli police offers, that set off this whole series of events in the first place. There was the absurdity of all those Muslims saying they would not go onto the Mount as long as the status quo was not reinstated (i.e., that our security measures were removed). I was happy with that latter and would not have minded if they had maintained their stance of resistance until a new status quo of Israel hegemony on the Mount had had time to solidify (but I guess they had figured that out too).
I felt like I was on an emotional roller-coaster. My Facebook friends were witness to that phenomenon. No bother! I’m human! But the peak experience was seeing the flag that has come to be associated with the Palestinian Arabs — to see it wafting in the breeze atop the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount (Har HaBayit)
The iconic raising of the Palestinian flag on Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/T5pxlt0mgg
— Jalal (@JalalAK_jojo) July 28, 2017
That was when I spoke to Yosef Hartuv, my friend who lives in Kiryat Arba. This is what he had to say:
I watched about 4-5 films of the border police in action last night. So there really is a lot to say that your understanding of the situation is a matter of perspective. I was watching tens of thousands of Arabs, Muslims, up on top of Har HaBayit and they’re jumping up and down and they’re celebrating and, you know, “We’re the victors” and stuff like that. It was amazing to watch these films once they got rolling in the late afternoon — of thousands of Arabs running away from Har HaBayit!
Every time I see a ripening pomegranate (rimon in Hebrew) on a tree, cuz I know, I’ve been in these things, you can get 8 or 10 or maybe 20 border police up on a roof and when those rimonim come flying – even though they’re only rimonei helem (stun grenades) . . . when they start, you just want to leave! The Arabs were running into the alleyways, I mean they weren’t stopping to throw stuff back — they were getting out of there and so here you are: “We won! We’re the victors”. And you watch tens of thousands of them running away and trying to get out of there as quick as possible.
So, for me, when I look at that, I kind-of laugh . . . and the fact of the matter is, this is the return to the status quo: they used to riot, and the border police would chase them off.
You see them celebrating on Har HaBayit and then see one of them get nailed in the leg or on the shoulder, getting hit with a rubber bullet, and seeing them carry him off on a stretcher. When you see all his friends running away as fast as their two little legs can carry them. Even running from shock grenades. Granted, they make a horrible noise, but they don’t injure you. I cannot look at a scene like that and claim great victories for them. Granted that I really wish we didn’t have to do this every time this kind of thing comes up, but still . . . They should have victories like this every day . . . victories where we run them off in a matter of minutes, tens of thousands of them.
The guys are pretty good at running off . . . you know, they’ll trample women and a couple of children. When they want to move, they know how to get out of there.
And if you were American, you might be aware of how this is similar to the Battle of Gettysburg. The Confederate Army got wiped out but they did charge the hill. There is a scene where the Confederates got to the top of the hill and planted their flag at the top. And that was it! That was the turning point of the war. The Confederates were not going to survive the war. . . but they did get to the crest of the hill. Oh, they did feel good about themselves then!
And, of course the Palestinian flag was taken down to complete the return to the status quo.
— Muntaser Alrefai (@muntaser_buz) July 27, 2017
Oh wait! One more thing! Men under the age of 50 were not allowed onto Har HaBayit today for prayers for security reasons. Impressive victory, guys!
And thank-you, Yosef, for giving me a different perspective on what happened. We need to see things over the long term, don’t we? And not over hours or even days.
This was first published in Israel Diaries.