Erasing Jewish History at the Temple Mount

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

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy