Friday night, a Jewish family was butchered by a terrorist who came into their home while they were finishing their Shabbat dinner. You can read the details here. They will sound familiar to anyone who has been paying attention to Jewish-Arab relations over the last 100 years or so.
The 19-year old terrorist wrote a farewell post on his Facebook account – he expected to die in the attack, but unfortunately did not – in which he explained that he did it in part because “they are desecrating the al-Aqsa mosque.”
As I write, rioting continues at the Temple Mount and various other locations in Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria. At least 4 Arabs have been killed. Despite what you might read in Ha’aretz, this generally happens because they are throwing firebombs or otherwise endangering the lives of policemen, and not because they are “nonviolently demonstrating.”
All this because the Israel police set up metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount used by Muslims (the single gate Jews are allowed to use has had a metal detector for years), in response to the murder of two Druze policemen last week, in which guns were brought into the al-Aqsa mosque.
The Muslim waqf that Israel stupidly allows to administer the site announced that it would not permit Muslims to pass through the “electric gates,” closed mosques throughout Jerusalem and called on all Muslims to come to pray at al-Aqsa. Both the official Palestinian Authority media and Hamas have called for action to “protect al-Aqsa,” in precisely the same way as al-Husseini sparked pogroms in 1929, and Arafat and Abbas have done whenever they want chaos and death. They have always gotten it, and they are getting it this time.
Here are some observations:
- Israeli officials apparently debated whether to keep the metal detectors in place. Supposedly –this kind of report is never properly sourced – the Shabak (the internal security service) wanted to remove them and the police wanted to keep them. Why was this discussion made public at all?
- This dispute is not about the metal detectors themselves, which are in use everywhere in the world (in part thanks to the activities of “Palestinian” terrorists), including Mecca and Medina. The waqf has already announced that no additional security measures at the site will be acceptable to it. The issue is a matter of religious principle: can a Muslim allow a Jew (or a Druze) to tell him when or where he can worship? Anyone with even the sketchiest knowledge of Islam knows the answer.
- The fact that two Israeli police officers were murdered at the site last week with weapons that were brought into the compound through a gate without a metal detector is irrelevant to the Arabs. See 2 above.
- The struggle over this principle is also a struggle over sovereignty at the site. If Israel removes the metal detectors, it is equivalent to saying that Israel is not the sovereign power here. If we back down at what is the holiest place for Jews in the world, what will protect our sovereignty in the rest of Jerusalem or indeed the rest of the country?
- The so-called “status quo” that the Arab leadership claims is under attack by Israel has changed multiple times since 1967 – always in the direction of fewer rights for non-Muslims. The only way to stop the pressure is for Israel to stop giving in to it.
- The fact that the Halamish terrorist was not killed at the scene, but was shown grinning from the hospital bed where Israeli doctors saved his life, represents an enormous loss of honor for Israel and the Jewish people. Yes, I know, by Western (Christian) standards, the fact that we do this makes us enlightened and merciful, but our enemies do not apply those standards. They are encouraged by what they understand as our weakness, stupidity and cowardice, and there will be more, not fewer, attacks as a result of this. Do you understand? More innocent Jews (or Druze) will die.
What people outside of the region (and, unfortunately, some Israelis) do not understand is that this flareup – and indeed, the whole conflict – is not about the “interests” of Israel or the Arabs. It is about religious rights and honor. Pragmatic Israeli governments have been sacrificing these principles for years in the hope of achieving peace and reconciliation with the Arabs, while not understanding that their policies have destroyed whatever respect the Arabs may have had for us, and damaged our power of deterrence against their violence. And they didn’t make Europe or the US State Department like us any better, either.
Only a concerted effort to restore our honor will have a chance of restoring deterrence. So I suggest we start with the Halamish terrorist: put him on trial by a military court – make the trial be as quick as possible – and take him out and shoot him. Then demolish his house and expel his family, who have expressed support for his actions, from the country. All this should take less than a week.
And keep the metal detectors.
The ancient Israelite religion was honor-based, as Islam is today.
One of the reasons Jacob was so enraged at what Simeon and Judah did to avenge the honor of their sister Dinah, is that in preserving family honor by slaying Hamor and his sons, they endangered through their action, the family’s very existence. Honor is not at meant to be upheld regardless of the consequences.
Fast forward to today. Jews today are a guilt-based religion. They forget other people like Arabs, don’t think like them and they project their values upon them. Arabs are incensed not only because Jews have no respect for them, its evident from their standpoint, Jews have no respect for themselves. And unlike Jacob, Arab elders don’t admonish their children not to uphold their honor.
The only way Jews can earn Arab respect is to show they have honor and to stand fast on principle. In regard to the actions you list Israel should take, it should take them the sooner the better. And its speaking to Arabs in a language they understand because they do it themselves. Above all, the Middle East conflict is about sovereignty, symbols and values. In not giving them due regard, Jews are the Rodney Dangerfield of the Middle East. This needs to change so Israel can deal with its conflict with the Arabs on its own terms.
The Temple Mount story is one of shameful foolishness on our part, primarily because of the decision made by Moshe Dayan on June 10,1967 to allow the Wafq to retain control of the Temple, and to exclude Jewish religious worship from the site.
It is also absurd that the whole focus of the discussion in the world is on Muslim rights. They are the only ones who can pray there, and that does not make them happy. We are pathetic in that we do not honor the principle of religious freedom of worship for all faiths on the site. We deceive ourselves in maintaining that Sovereignty is ours on the site. A very strange Sovereignty which denies us all religious rights and enables one religious faith to dictate that others cannot pray there.