Jerusalemites who lived through the Second Intifada remember those years, from 2000 to 2003, all too well. Simply being out on the streets was a gamble.
Almost every month, sometimes every week, suicide bombings hit the city, and destroyed any sense of security here. Jerusalem was worst hit, but it was not unique: The suicide bombers targeted almost every Israeli city.
The attacks in Jerusalem of recent weeks have marked the return of the suicide attackers. There are differences this time. These are not attackers wearing belts laden with explosives or driving cars carrying bombs. They are “merely” using their cars and tractors as weapons. And they are overwhelmingly concentrated in Jerusalem.
Another difference is that the suicide attacks of the Second Intifada were orchestrated in large part by a Hamas terror infrastructure. This time, it appears that general instructions from the Hamas leadership, without an organized military infrastructure, are sufficient to prompt a wave of attacks, and again to destroy Jerusalemites’ sense of security.
What is common to the 2014 terrorists and those from the Second Intifada is that they set out expecting that they will not return; their motivation to kill Israelis prevails over their desire to live.
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch may well be right to say that this is not a new intifada. Indeed, it does not resemble the widespread uprising of the First Intifada (from 1987-1993), and nor does it mirror the Second Intifada. But it cannot be denied that a new phenomenon is bloodying Jerusalem, which may require a new name. Perhaps not an Intifada. Perhaps not an “uprising,” or an “explosion of violence.” But, rather, a name that reflects the combination of suicide attackers driving cars and tractors, and relatively low-level street riots. At present, the riots in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem are drawing dozens, sometimes hundreds, but not the masses that confronted Israeli security forces in Gaza and the West Bank in the early days of the two intifadas.
It is Hamas that is encouraging the terrorist attacks and the riots. And that means the Israeli government needs to deal with those who are responsible — that is, the Hamas leadership in Gaza. But nobody in Israel — or in Hamas’s Gaza leadership for that matter — wants another escalation of violence there.
In the absence of any substantive diplomatic process with Abbas, it is hard to imagine that the new form of Jerusalem violence is going to end anytime soon. Whether or not it is a third intifada, it shows every sign of continuing to batter Jerusalem.
The Palestinians on Wednesday asked the UN Security Council to demand Israel take steps to end clashes at the Temple Mount in east Jerusalem and warned of a brewing religious confrontation.
Palestinian representative to the United Nations Riyad Mansour said the 15-member council must “adopt a position to call on the Israeli government to stop all these activities and policies of provocation and incitement.”
The request for a statement from the council came after renewed clashes earlier Wednesday between Israeli police and Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount and a terror attack by a Palestinian driver who rammed his car into pedestrians, killing a border policeman.
Taken together, it’s interesting to note how rapidly the evangelical narrative of persecution developed. It was as if Christian leaders had been anticipating a time when the government would come into their churches and pronounce their views illegal, and now that time had finally arrived. Some evenclaimed to have predicted this very event. The narrative was cohesive and dramatic: They want to silence us, they want to outlaw our beliefs, and if we do not act now, we may not have a church in America tomorrow. This response betrayed deep fears about government intrusion into the church and the personal lives of believers.
Seen this way, this conflict was not just a local church-state conflict; it’s part of the larger, on-going American drama of religious freedom and pluralism. Evangelicals perceive that the culture they inhabit is shifting radically; the basic assumptions they make about the truth of existence and moral behavior are no longer the cultural consensus—and, often, even viewed as barbaric, bigoted, and evil.
In some ways, this was just another incident in the so-called culture wars—conservative Christians finding themselves at odds with changing laws and policies. But the details of the case actually reveal something much more complex.
For example, a number of legal scholars came out against the subpoenas. AsGene Volokh discussed in his coverage of the subpoenas for the Washington Post, the city had no legal ground to ask for such a vast number of documents with only tangential or no clear relevance to the case. He also noted that despite what some evangelicals were claiming, pastors’ sermons can in fact be subpoenaed in certain situations, but in this case, it was not clear how sermons that mentioned homosexuality were pertinent to a case about the validity of petition signatures. Even more troubling, there is a long history of using subpoenas coercively to punish or intimidate people, he argued, suggesting that the evangelical community’s concerns about the subpoenas were legitimate.
In the eyes of the evangelical community, this wasn’t just about a local ordinance; these subpoenas were about how evangelicals would be treated by their government when their beliefs were no longer popular or socially acceptable.