Why Israel Was Right to Allow a Jewish Politician to Visit the Temple Mount

Yesterday morning, Israel’s newly appointed—and highly controversial—national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a short visit to the Temple Mount, during a time it is regularly open to Jews. (Muslims generally have complete access to the area, while Israeli authorities sharply limit the entry of Jews.) Ben-Gvir’s visit was preceded by threats of violence from Hamas, as well as warnings from inside and outside the Jewish state that it could provoke unrest and other dire consequences. Although the politician’s thirteen-minute walk around the Mount was condemned by Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other countries, it proved uneventful. Yaakov Katz, writing before the visit, argues that, whatever one thinks of Ben-Gvir’s politics, he should be allowed onto Judaism’s holiest site:

The dilemma for the government is the following: if the Temple Mount belongs to Israel and is under Israeli sovereignty, then there should be no issue with any Israeli, especially an elected official, visiting the site. That it is such an issue shows the inherent problem.

On the other hand, there is a true fear of violence, which Israel always wants to avoid. It is also understandable that Ben-Gvir is not just any politician. He is viewed suspiciously by many Israelis and definitely by the Palestinians and the international community. Nevertheless, he is an elected Israeli official who is now a senior minister in the cabinet.

And the final point is this: of anyone thinks that violence will erupt because Ben-Gvir visits the Temple Mount, then it is important to keep in mind that the Palestinian terrorist groups do not need an excuse to launch attacks against Israel. They can use the Ben-Gvir visit this week, and next week, they will find another reason. The bottom line is that these [reasons] are just excuses. That is exactly what Hamas did in 2021, when it used the Jerusalem Day parade to launch rockets at Israel. A terrorist group bent on Israel’s destruction does not need excuses to attack.

Which is why the questions we should be asking are different: why is Israel under threat from a terrorist group for allowing Jews to pray at Judaism’s holiest site? Why is it okay for everyone else to pray there and not for Jews? And why do these Palestinian groups get away with making such threats?

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Hamas, Itamar Ben Gvir, Temple Mount

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy