Thursday, October 29, 2015


Knife attacks on Jews in Jerusalem and elsewhere are not based on Palestinian frustration over settlements, but on something deeper.

By Jeffrey Goldberg Oct 16th 2015
For the full article go to:
In September of 1928, a group of Jewish residents of Jerusalem placed a bench in front of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, for the comfort of elderly worshipers. They also brought with them a wooden partition, to separate the sexes during prayer. Jerusalem’s Muslim leaders treated the introduction of furniture into the alleyway in front of the Wall as a provocation, part of a Jewish conspiracy to slowly take control of the entire Temple Mount.

Many of the leaders of Palestine’s Muslims believed—or claimed to believe—that Jews had manufactured a set of historical and theological connections to the Western Wall and to the Mount, the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, in order to advance the Zionist project. This belief defied Muslim history—the Dome of the Rock was built by Jerusalem’s Arab conquerors on the site of the Second Jewish Temple in order to venerate its memory (the site had previously been defiled by Jerusalem’s Christian rulers as a kind of rebuke to Judaism, the despised mother religion of Christianity). Jews themselves consider the Mount itself to be the holiest site in their faith. The Western Wall, a large retaining wall from the Second Temple period, is sacred only by proxy.

The spiritual leader of Palestine’s Muslims, the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, incited Arabs in Palestine against their Jewish neighbors by arguing that Islam itself was under threat. (Husseini would later become one of Hitler’s most important Muslim allies.) Jews in British-occupied Palestine responded to Muslim invective by demanding more access to the Wall, sometimes holding demonstrations at the holy site. By the next year, violence directed against Jews by their neighbors had become more common: Arab rioters took the lives of 133 Jews that summer; British forces killed 116 Arabs in their attempt to subdue the riots. In Hebron, a devastating pogrom was launched against the city’s ancient Jewish community after Muslim officials distributed fabricated photographs of a damaged Dome of the Rock, and spread the rumor that Jews had attacked the shrine.

The current “stabbing Intifada” now taking place in Israel—a quasi-uprising in which young Palestinians have been trying, and occasionally succeeding, to kill Jews with knives—is prompted in good part by the same set of manipulated emotions that sparked the anti-Jewish riots of the 1920s: a deeply felt desire on the part of Palestinians to “protect” the Temple Mount from Jews.

When Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem in June of 1967 in response to a Jordanian attack, the first impulse of some Israelis was to assert Jewish rights atop the Mount. Between 1948, the year Israel achieved independence, and 1967, Jordan, then the occupying power in Jerusalem, banned Jews not only from the 35-acre Mount—which is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, the noble sanctuary—but also from the Western Wall below. When paratroopers took the Old City,  Moshe Dayan, promised leaders of the Muslim Waqf, that Israel would not interfere in its activities.

Convincing Palestinians that the Israeli government is not trying to alter the status quo on the Mount has been difficult because many of  today’s Palestinian leaders, in the manner of the Palestinian leadership of the 1920s, actively market rumors that the Israeli government is seeking to establish atop the Mount a permanent Jewish presence.

The comments of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas—by general consensus the most moderate leader in the brief history of the Palestinian national movement—have been particularly harsh, his rhetoric has inflamed tensions. “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every martyr will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God,” he said last month, as rumors about the Temple Mount swirled. He went on to say that Jews “have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet.” Taleb Abu Arrar, an Israeli Arab member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, argued publicly that Jews “desecrate” the Temple Mount by their presence. (Fourteen years ago, Yasser Arafat, then the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told me that “Jewish authorities are forging history by saying the Temple stood on the Haram al-Sharif. Their temple was somewhere else.”)

These sorts of comments, combined with the violence of the past two weeks—including the sacking and burning of a Jewish shrine outside Nablus—suggest a tragic continuity between the 1920s and today.

One of the tragedies of the settlement movement is that it obscures what might be the actual root cause of the Middle East conflict: the unwillingness of many Muslim Palestinians to accept the notion that Jews are a people who are indigenous to the land Palestinians believe to be exclusively their own, and that the third-holiest site in Islam is also the holiest site of another religion, one whose adherents reject the notion of Muslim supersessionism.

 The violence of the past two weeks, encouraged by purveyors of rumors who now have both Israeli and Palestinian blood on their hands, is rooted not in Israeli settlement policy, but in a worldview that dismisses the national and religious rights of Jews. There will not be peace between Israelis and Palestinians so long as parties on both sides of the conflict continue to deny the national and religious rights of the other.


1 comment:

  1. I dontunderstand two things:
    1) why do you continue to use the word occupy instead of re-occupy in reference to the retaking of Jerusalem from the Jordanians in 1967? In this sentence you reinforce the idea by saying 'When Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem in June of 1967' Israel re-captured Jerusalem after the Jordanians captured it in 1948 and then set about sacking the Jewish quarter killing many Jewish residents and destroying many holy sites,
    2) Dayan made a grave error in allowing the Jordanians to continue to control the Temple Mount. IMHO this agreement was not made in stone and if the Waqf are incapable of controlling the mount in a peaceable manner then their control over the Mount should be taken away from them. I really don't understand why the so called 'status quo' needs to be kept when Israel continues to be accused of breaking it. If Israel is going to be accused of breaking it and suffering the consequences, then Israel should kick out the Waqf as surely the consequences can't be any worse than they are already.
    It's about time that Israel took control over it's own sovereign territory and stopped interference by Jordan who in effect cause all the troubles by not allowing other faiths to pray there.