Thursday, July 27, 2017

Showdown At The Temple Mount, Israel Capitulates To Palestinian Escalation, 'It's About Sovereignty'


Strange as it may seem, the current rioting by Arabs in Jerusalem may be a blessing in disguise.
First, it will force the government to assert its sovereign authority over the Temple Mount.
Second, it exposes the absurdity of allowing the Jordanian government and the Wakf to exercise sole authority on the Mount, rather than over specific sites, such as the Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.

Third, it refutes delusional suggestions that Israel “share sovereignty” and relinquish valuable tangibles (Jewish holy sites, land and communities) for worthless intangibles (diplomatic relations and economic agreements).

Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, not the Western Wall, should be a symbol of tolerance and holiness, not a place to accommodate Muslim bigotry, hatred and incitement. To avoid friction, non-Muslims are allowed to enter only through one gate, which has a metal detector and is strictly controlled to prevent Jews from carrying any Jewish items; all other gates are designated for Muslims only and only now have security controls.

Since metal detectors are standard throughout the world, including mosques, why is the Temple Mount different? Muslim authorities and Arabs focus on metal detectors at the gates to the Temple Mount because they are symbols of Israeli and Jewish sovereignty – a clear statement about who is in charge, who sets the rules and enforces them.
This is the essence of the struggle. It also explains why Arabs won’t recognize Israel as the “nation state of the Jewish People,” and why UNESCO and other UN bodies vote against Israel.
The government of Israel, moreover, created this confusion by prohibiting Jews from praying on the Mount and allowing the Wakf to run the site as they want, desecrating and destroying Jewish antiquities – as documented by archeologists from around the world – and harassing non-Muslim visitors.
Paradoxically, the current unrest may be a necessary (though painful) step toward clarity and reality. It was no different when Arabs attacked Israel in 1948 and 1967, in 1996 (when Arabs rioted over the opening of the Western Wall tunnel into the Muslim Quarter), and in 2000 (when Palestinian terrorism, the second intifada, erupted). When provoked, Israel will fight back, and win.

By creating this crisis, Arab and Muslim leaders challenge the fundamental powers and obligations upon which all states rest: control over their territory and borders, enforcing their laws and protecting their residents and guests. If the government appears weak, it will only encourage further violence and undermine its claim of sovereignty.

The question is not if Israel will win this confrontation – it will – but if the Temple Mount will continue to be disgraced as a political football. Nor is the goal to “return to the status quo.” The Temple Mount should be respected as a sacred place where anyone can worship God.

This is an opportunity to establish a new, equitable and reasonable status quo.

The Netanyahu government has caved in to combined Palestinian and Israeli Arab pressure on its positions regarding Temple Mount and its responses to acts of terror. By Thursday morning, July 27, all the security measures, metal detectors, cameras and fences, had been removed from Temple Mount, and the bodies of the three Israeli Arabs who murdered to Israeli police officers handed over to their families in their home town of Umm al Fahm in the Israeli Arab Triangle.

In the Old City of Jerusalem, joyous Palestinians handed out candy and fired off crackers. Their cars hooted to celebrate their victory over the Jews.

In Umm Al Fahm, thousands attended a funeral march early Thursday under fluttering Palestinian flags and hailed the three terrorists, who set off the Temple Mount crisis by gunning down police guards, as “holy martyrs” who brought glory to “occupied Umm al Fahm.” This Arab town northeast of Tel Aviv is represented in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

Even after Israel gave in to their demands, for the sake of calming the loaded crisis, the Palestinians’ clerical leaders and the Waqf did not order Muslim worshippers to end their boycott of A Aqsa. Instead, their prayer gatherings in the streets outside are constantly swelling as a symbol of their confrontation with Israel. The Palestinian Authority, the Tanzim militia and Hamas have called for an escalated showdown with Israel on Friday...the Israeli government, by surrendering to Palestinian and Israeli Arab nationalist and religious extremists, has set its feet on a dangerously slippery slope. The insatiable demands for more capitulation will not stop at this point.

The disgusting terror murders of two Israeli policemen (one shot in the back) on the Temple Mount, coupled with the indescribable terror murders of three Israelis (grandfather, father, and aunt) celebrating the birth of a baby at their Sabbath dinner, were met with howls of outrage and threats of retaliatory violence and even religious war –- not by Israelis seeking vengeance, but by Palestinians!
Echoed by Jordanians, al Jazeera, and the UN, Palestinian strongman Mahmoud Abbas claimed he couldn’t be held responsible for escalated violence if Israel maintained the metal detectors on the Temple Mount installed to prevent a recurrence of violence directed at Jews.  

Nothing in the Middle East is ever what it looks like. Metal detectors may be metal detectors elsewhere, but on the Temple Mount they are an attack on “Muslim patrimony.” Turkey’s President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan made that clear. “When Israeli soldiers carelessly pollute the grounds of Al-Aqsa with their combat boots by using simple issues as a pretext and then easily spill blood there, the reason [they are able to do that] is we [Muslims] have not done enough to stake our claim over Jerusalem."

Israel, to the relief -- and kind words -- of the White House, has removed the metal detectors, but far from resolving the problem, the retreat encouraged Fatah to announce it would “intensify the struggle” because the “campaign for Jerusalem has effectively begun, and will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation.”

Two important issues have to be sorted out here: first, the political and religious rights of Jews in their indigenous space; and second, the right not to be murdered for the “crime” of being Jewish, or Israeli, or non-Jewish and non-Israeli but being in Israel. Among the recent victims of Palestinian terror are Druze Muslim police officers Kamil Shnaan, 22 and Haiel Sitawe, and American Vanderbilt University student and U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, as well as American and Israeli Jews.

Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people -- the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to even part of the historic homeland was prayed for since the end of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and celebrated since 1948. In the 20th century, Jews and Israelis accepted various suggestions and commands for borders of a reconstituted State -- everything from the lopping off of 75% of the British Mandate for a Judenrein Arab state (1917) to the split-state Peel Commission Partition Plan (1937) to the British Partition Plan (1938) to the Jewish Agency plan (1946) to the much smaller UN Partition Plan (1947).

In 1967, in an audacious (or there are other words) act of generosity, the Government of Israel informed the Arab Waqf that Israel would not assert sovereignty over the top of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism; that its administration would remain in the hands of the Waqf and King Hussein of Jordan. The Hashemite King is by history the “Guardian of the Mosques” (Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem).

Israel adopted the Arab position that Jews could not conduct prayer atop the Temple Mount, although visits by Jews and others were commonplace for decades after. Israel did, however, maintain security control through a negotiated series of steps with the Jordanians, the Waqf and later the PA. At various points, the Temple Mount was the scene of Palestinians throwing rocks down on worshippers at the Western Wall plaza, but at no time until last Friday were guns used on or from the Temple Mount.
But in Palestinian eyes, if Israel assumed the right to install metal detectors without negotiation, Israel assumed control of the space. And that, like every other manifestation of Israeli sovereign decision-making, is unacceptable to the Palestinians.  

Cue the howling!

“Al Aqsa is under attack!” didn’t mean Israel was shooting at the mosque, or that Israel had claimed it for Jewish prayer. It meant the sovereign Jewish state had exercised a governmental decision affecting the Temple Mount. And that was enough for Omar al-Abed to announce on his Facebook page that he would die a glorious death for al Aqsa. “All I have is a sharpened knife and it answers the call of al Aqsa.” He called Jews “pigs and monkeys,” a familiar phrase.

He put on a white shirt and black slacks -– the standard Sabbath dress of Orthodox Jewish men –- and knocked on the door of 70-year-old Yosef Salomon. The Salomons, who were expecting guests as they welcomed the birth of Yosef’s grandson, opened the door. Photos of the massacre scene show rivers of blood on the floor from Yosef, his daughter Chaya and son Elad. They can’t show the screams of Yosef’s wife Tova as she bled from stab wounds and watched her husband and children die.
As a result, Al-Abed stands to receive the standard PA “salary” for convicted terrorists –- and, happily for him, he committed his crime after Palestinian authorities announced a salary increase of 13%.
If the United States wants to help bring peace to a troubled place, it will focus on the Palestinians what territory and rights they claim, what heroes they pay and venerate, what constitutes a “crime” vs. “glory” in their lexicon, and –- most important –- what they believe are the sovereign rights of the citizens of the Third Jewish Commonwealth. If the Palestinians are honest (hmm?) the answer to the last is “none,” the conversation is over, and metal detectors are the least of the problem.

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