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Erasing Jewish History at the Temple Mount

Aug. 11 2017

At the heart of recent episodes of Palestinian violence and terror is the conviction that any Jewish presence on or near the Temple Mount somehow constitutes a threat to the integrity of Muslim holy sites. Yehudah Mirsky traces this conviction to its origins and explains its effects:

Palestinian nationalists in the 1920s relied upon the symbolic significance of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to shore up their own emerging ranks. Haj Amin al-Husseini, a new, young Palestinian leader who was then the mufti of Jerusalem, sought to Islamicize the political struggle with Zionism, not least because early Palestinian nationalism lacked secular rallying cries. He instilled the idea that anything Jews do on or near the Temple Mount, even something as seemingly innocuous as putting benches in the alley that then encased the Western Wall, was part of a plot to destroy its sacred mosques. . . .

[In recent decades], the Palestinian nationalist movement, like the mufti nearly a century ago, has increasingly stoked fears about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as a rallying cry. . . . In doing so, the Palestinian leadership has adopted the spurious claim that no Jewish temple ever existed on the site as a central theme in Palestinian politics. Yasir Arafat even cited this to President Clinton to explain his unwillingness to accept Israeli positions during negotiations at Camp David. This distortion has compelled Israel, which for years was content to leave the Mount in the hands of Muslim clergy and defer discussions of sovereignty, to assert its own claims to the Temple Mount. Further inflaming the situation, the Muslim clerics supervising the site have failed to maintain its archaeological history, which arouses Israelis’ fears that they are trying to erase Jewish history—a clear signal that Palestinians will never accept the Jewish state. . . .

The international community has exacerbated these tensions by adopting the Palestinian line on Jerusalem. On July 4, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution denying Jewish claims to Jerusalem and alleging all manner of Israeli misdeeds. . . . The decline of secular nationalism throughout the Middle East compounds this vicious cycle. . . .

Any hope for a sustainable future requires Palestinians to accept the historic tie and sacred nature of the Temple Mount for Jews.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: Amin Haj al-Husseini, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Temple Mount, UNESCO

The Threats Posed to Israel by a Palestinian State

Oct. 23 2017

To the IDF reserve general Gershon Hacohen, the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank would, given the current circumstances of the Middle East, create a graver danger for the Jewish state than either Iran or Hizballah. More damaging still, he argues, is the attitude among many Israelis that the two-state solution is a necessity for Israel. He writes:

Since the Oslo process began in the fall of 1993, dramatic changes have occurred in the international arena. . . . For then-Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin, Oslo was based on the superpower status of the U.S. . . . At the time, the Arabs were in a state of crisis and aware of their weakness—all the more so after the U.S. vanquished Iraq in the First Gulf War in the winter of 1991. . . . It was that awareness of weakness, along with the PLO leadership’s state of strategic inadequacy, that paved the way for the Oslo process.

[But] over the [intervening] years, the America’s hegemonic power has declined while Russia has returned to play an active and very influential role. . . .

Something essential has changed, too, with regard to expectations in the Israeli-Palestinian sphere. At first, in the early days of Oslo, the expectations were of mutual goodwill and reconciliation. Over the years, however, as the cycle of blood has continued, the belief in Palestinian acceptance of Israel in return for Israeli concessions has been transformed in the Israeli discourse into nothing more than the need to separate from the Palestinians—“They’re there, we’re here”—solely on our own behalf.

The more the proponents of separation have honed their efforts to explain to Israeli society that separation is mandated by reality, enabling Israel to preserve its identity as Jewish and democratic, the more the Palestinians’ bargaining power has grown. If a withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state is a clear-cut Israeli interest, if the Israelis must retreat in any case for the sake of their own future, why should the Palestinians give something in return? . . . Hence the risk is increasing that a withdrawal from the West Bank will not only fail to end the conflict but will in fact lead to its intensification.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Oslo Accords, Russia, Two-State Solution