The Temple Mount Has Room Enough for Peaceful Pluralism

After years of reluctance, David M. Weinberg decided to visit the Temple Mount. He explains what he learned:

First, that there is plenty of room: loads of undeveloped and even desolate sections of land on the vast Temple Mount plaza where a Jewish house of prayer could be built without interfering in any way with Muslim shrines and prayer practices.

Nobody needs to feel threatened by a modest presence of Jewish petitioners tucked away in a distant corner of the holy mount. Unless, of course, your opposition to Jewish prayer and visitation on the Temple Mount stems from the wholesale denial of indigenous Jewish rights in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel—which alas has become almost-mainstream Palestinian discourse.

As Weinberg goes on to explain, the Israeli police and the waqf—the Jordanian-controlled trust that administers the Muslim holy sites—enforce a hierarchical system dictating which groups have access to the Temple Mount. This regime allots the most rights to Muslim worshippers, and fewer rights, in descending order, to: non-Jewish tourists, Jewish tour groups that are not visibly religious, and finally, it accords fewest rights to religious Jews.

Given the hostility of the waqf, I suppose that there is some law-and-order logic to this discriminatory treatment of Jews and Israelis, for the moment. I certainly have no complaints against the Israel police for doing the best they can at this supersensitive site.

But from Israel’s leaders, I have higher expectations and elevated demands. It’s time for them to negotiate significant improvements in the way the Temple Mount is administered, and Jewish-Israeli rights are accommodated there, based on principles of peace, tolerance, and religious freedom—for Jews and non-Jews alike.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Jewish-Muslim Relations, Temple Mount

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security