The violent Islamic supremacist jihad that raged in Israel these past two weeks was a result of an inflammatory false narrative and incitement to violence based on the vicious Jew-hatred exhorted in the Quran. Hamas called for a “religious war” against Israel. And they meant to have it.
Below is an exclusive opinion piece from Oded Owen Schwartzberg is the spokesperson for ‘Likud Pride’ – ‘Ga’ava BaLikud’ – a conservative LGBT organization founded in 2011 and linked to the Israeli right-wing Likud party.
August 2, 2017, By Oded Owen Schwartzberg
At 7:00am on Friday, July 14th, 2017, three Arab-Israeli terrorists from Umm al-Fahm entered the Temple Mount and murdered two policemen, Command Sergeant Major Hayil Satawi and Command Sergeant Major Kamil Shanaan, both members of the Druze community. The terrorists used weapons smuggled into the al-Aqsa mosque by an accomplice terrorist. In response to the attack, the Israeli government forbade access to the Temple Mount for two days in order to investigate the attack, search for weapons, and put in place security measures to prevent future attacks and escalations which often follow the incitements during the Friday worship at the mosques. The following Sunday, Israel opened the Temple Mount to visitors, with newly-installed metal detectors placed outside the holy site. Many Palestinians, with the encouragement of the Mufti of Jerusalem – Muhammad Ahmad Hussein – responded by refusing to undergo a security check before entering the holy site. They initiated violent riots in East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria which included calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel, in addition to burning tires and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Three Palestinian rioters were killed during clashes with Israeli forces. That evening, a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the Solomon family’s home in Neve Tzuf, where he stabbed Yosef Solomon, the family’s grandfather, and his two children, Chaya and Elad, while celebrating the birth of a new grandchild. The terrorist, Abd al-Jalil, a 19-year-old Muslim, was shot by a soldier who resided nearby and heard the cries of the family. He survived and received medical treatment in an Israeli hospital.
On July 23rd, another major security and diplomatic incident occurred at the Israeli Embassy in Jordan, where an Israeli security guard shot and killed two Jordanians after one of them attacked him in his apartment. The incident caused an increase in tension between Israel and Jordan as the two countries were already on edge due to the situation on the Temple Mount. Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, called on Israel to remove the metal detectors, with the United States joining these calls. Israel was forced to relent, but announced that they plan to set up a security system in the future. As of the time of this writing, it is unclear whether Israel will keep this promise. The violent riots, as expected, continue.
The Strategic Aspect:
The public image is claimed by many to be a clear Palestinian victory, with Hamas and Fatah launching celebrations for their “huge and historic victory.” This is a victory that undermines Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount.
Indeed, the world watched Israel fold in the face of threats to the delight of the Palestinians. This is not an unusual moment. Even during the British Mandate, the Arabs understood that through pogroms and murders they could achieve what they wanted: to achieve their political goals and gain international recognition and sympathy. The moral compass of the West is broken, and it tends to reward violence from the Palestinians while pointing a finger at the victims of terror and those who try to eradicate it. For example, following the Arab pogroms in 1920 and 1921, the Arabs successfully pushed the British to set up the Haycraft Commission and publish the first White Paper. This is but a single example of a clear repeating pattern in which Arab violence led to a British yield manifested by restricting Jewish immigration and granting land to Arabs, who identified themselves as part of the Greater Syria vision at this time and not as a Palestinian people.
Modern-day cases like these permeate Israeli public opinion. The current right-wing government is being attacked by the right for removing the metal detectors, seeing it as a sign of weakness and defeat, as well as by the left, many of whom objected to the metal detectors in the first place. It will be interesting to see how Netanyahu will try to shape discussion and justify their removal. He may use this decision as leverage to pressure the allowance of other security measures – such as cameras. It is important to understand that the decision to place metal detectors was a direct result of the attack inside the Temple Mount. It was not an easy decision. Even before the attack, discussions on the need for additional security measures on the Temple Mount were raised, as Muslim worshipers frequently riot as well as shout at and even attack Jews and people of other religions who ascend the holy site. However, any initiative to add security measures is met with strong opposition from Palestinians who baselessly claim that the Jews are trying to violate the status-quo and take over the compound.
The anxiety of Muslim riots is so great that Jews are not even able to pray in their most sacred area. If Netanyahu is wise enough to use the removal of metal detectors as a way to devise more effective means, then the temporary public image defeat will pay off by helping implement a long-term strategic goal. He will be forced to negotiate with Jordan, which as a Palestinian majority under the control of the Hashemite minority. The Hashemite Kingdom is under constant threat of a violent revolution, only managing to persist by relying on the Bedouin indigenous minority that holds power positions within the army, police, government, and special forces. This is as the Jordanians see crumbling and unstable countries all around them in the Middle East.
Israel has an interest in maintaining good relations with Jordan as well as ensuring its stability mainly because it provides Israel with a quiet eastern border. Jordanian public opinion plays an important role in this relationship, and Jordan’s King Abdulla II has been forced to intervene on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Temple Mount in order to maintain stability in his kingdom. The two countries have a mutual interest in maintaining stability in Jordan. Because of Jordanian public opinion, which became even tenser following the incident at the Israeli Embassy, it is not surprising that Jordan decided to take a firm line and demand that Israel remove the metal detectors. It must be understood that the decision to turn metal detectors at the Temple Mount into a major issue was made by the Palestinians and Turks with the intention of pressuring the Jordanians. Jordanian Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh praised the perpetrators of the attack on the Temple Mount; nevertheless, the king of Jordan will not rush to burn all bridges with Israel. Jordan continues to rely on Israel on areas such as water, and Israel can help him in the event of an uprising as it did during the Black September events. Israel should be careful that the current situation does not serve as a catalyst for an attack on the Israeli Embassy like the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in 2012 or the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Egypt in 2011. Israel has taken into account additional strategic considerations in its decision to remove the metal detectors. It follows growing American intervention in the region and various developments in the Syrian civil war. Decisions on the issue of the Temple Mount, whose significance is undeniable , cannot be accepted without taking into consideration other regional events and the other actors who influence it.
The Media Aspect:
Many media outlets attacked the decision to place metal detectors on the Temple Mount on the grounds that such a move would endanger life, inflame the area, lead to violence, and endanger Israeli lives. These arguments show the contradictions of the left’s ideology. On the one hand, they claim that Israel has someone with whom to reach a peace agreement. On the other hand, their expectations from our ‘peace partners’ is so low that they prove to us that what they are trying to sell is fiction. This is a regular occurrence from the left, which chooses to treat the Arabs as children – racism of low expectations – since it is clear to all of us that one does not wake up in the morning with the desire to kill someone over metal detectors. Whoever wants to murder Jews will do so sooner or later, whether metal detectors are placed or not. Not one scientific study has ever shown that metal detectors inspire people to murder Jews.
Another argument the media often references is that placing the metal detectors is a violation of the status-quo. This is even a more disgusting spin from the media, since it was not Israel that changed the status quo on the Temple Mount, but those who decided to turn it into a terrorist base where weapons are stored and terror attacks are carried out. The decision to place the metal detectors came after the attack. As mentioned above, decisions on placing inspection measures in the past have been halted.
Reports of the attack on the Temple Mount and the subsequent demonstrations were a demonstration of anti-Semitism and a lack of objectivity. After every attempted attack, the media tends to report on the terrorists and victims as equals. “Six died in attacks in Jerusalem,” the headlines blared, for they see the terrorist as a victim who cannot be blamed for his actions. According to them, there is no difference between the family that celebrated Shabbat dinner in their home and was slaughtered and the three terrorists who chose to participate in violent demonstrations and call for a second Holocaust. They ignore the violent nature of the demonstrations and avoid answering the difficult questions: What in the culture or religion of Islam causes the Arabs to loathe the idea of freedom of religion? Why do they object to security measures from taking place in such a sensitive area that they claim to honor? Do they not think that attacks inside the compound conflict with their religion? Why do they cry out against security on the Temple Mount, but not when the millions of Muslims are screened in Mecca during the Hajj, or when they are examined in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries? Why are they trying to paint the terrorists as a few individuals while ignoring the support they receive from a large segment of the Palestinian population?
The latest round of violence surrounding the Temple Mount will not be the last. Since the early days of the Jewish Yishuv, the body of Jewish residents in the land of Israel, the Arabs have used the compound as an excuse to murder Jews. This was the case in the 1929 riots, when the Mufti at the time, Haj Amin al-Husseini, used the compound to unite Muslims by claiming that the Jews put it at risk. Many Muslim leaders followed Husseini’s footsteps. The “moderate” leader, Mahmoud Abbas, for example, who accuses Israel of wanting to divide the Temple Mount, said that “the Israelis will not be allowed to dirty the Temple Mount with their filthy feet,” and that “every drop of blood spilled in defending Jerusalem is pure”. The current Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, added fuel to the fire when, as part of his Friday sermon, preached that “the Jews, the enemies of Allah, are threatening the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
It can be understood that the use of the Temple Mount as an excuse for terrorism is widespread and will continue to exist regardless of Israel’s actions. This must be understood so that, instead of speaking in terms of emotions, we speak in terms of justice and preservation of freedoms, asking questions such as how we will protect the worshipers on the Temple Mount and how we can allow freedom of prayer for all. It is impossible to ignore the fact that the attack on the Temple Mount and the violent riots had taken place only a few days before Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E by the Babylonians and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. by the Roman army. On Shabbat before Tisha B’Av we read the haftorah of Shabbat Chazon – on this Shabbat, we see before our eyes the Third Temple. The Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, where the Temple was located, is ancient and eternal, and the latest round of violence will not succeed in severing it, just as previous attempts have failed. The recent events around the Temple Mount raised the site to the consciousness of the secular and religious alike, and the symbolic time in which they took place underscores in particular its religious and national importance as the holiest site for the Jewish people.
Oded Owen Schwartzberg is the spokesperson for ‘Likud Pride’ – ‘Ga’ava BaLikud’ – a conservative LGBT organization founded in 2011 and linked to the Israeli right-wing Likud party.