There’s No Reason for Hysteria over Jewish Prayer at the Temple Mount

Last month, Mansour Abbas, an Arab Knesset member and a participant in the outgoing coalition, warned that a decision by the new government to loosen restrictions on Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount could “lead to war.” Such fears about the possible policies of the new coalition—which has not yet been sworn in and has not endorsed any plans for the Mount—have been echoed by the American and Israeli media. Nadav Shragai cautions against what he sees simply as “hysteria.”

Jews have been praying on the Mount for five years now; quiet prayers, without provoking anyone, in the southeastern corner of the Mount, with police authorization, and under police supervision. . . . This [new policy] took time and was implemented gradually, after endless shakeups and material changes on the holy Mount initiated and executed by the Muslims.

Should we briefly recall what has occurred on the Mount since 1967? . . . The Muslims turned the Dome of the Rock—which of course originally was not a mosque—into a mosque and paved large sections of the Temple Mount compound, which is in practice used as a mass prayer hall for tens of thousands. They established three additional mosques on the Mount: al-Marwani mosque located in Solomon’s stables, in the underground vaulted space along the southeastern side of the Temple Mount; the ancient Aqsa mosque underneath the overground Aqsa mosque; and the Gate of Mercy compound.

And just as it would be inconceivable to remove Muslims praying from al-Marwani mosque and the ancient Aqsa mosque, . . . it should also be unthinkable to put an end to the quiet Jewish services on the Mount. If under the tenure of Omer Bar-Lev as minister of public security the police understood this well and Jordan, [which plays an official role in managing the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem], has swallowed this bitter pill, then during the renewed tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu and perhaps that of Itamar Ben-Gvir as the minister of public security—[an end to Jewish prayer] is certainly something that should not be entertained. Now, when the government is just about to change, is not the time to make any declarations, but simply to carry on.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli politics, Mansour Abbas, Temple Mount

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy