Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Arlene Kushner on Palestinian Incitement As Moderation, Israeli Rights As Extremism

From Arlene Kushner:
November 2, 2014

How Did We Get to This Place?

Our presence here in the land goes back more than 3,000 years. We prayed for millennia, while separated from the land, to be able to return.  Once we did return, our people sacrificed in order to build and protect the land.
And now, insanely, the Jew who is passionate about our rights to the land and our attachment to the land is viewed as a “radical right winger,” a troublemaker.
Come again?
The world certainly sees nationalist Jews this way:  If only these Jews would relent already, then Israel could reach an agreement with the Palestinian Arabs and there could be peace. But the fanatic and troublesome right-wingers keep getting in the way.
Far worse, there are Jews who think the same way.  A good percentage of those who don’t live in Israel certainly do.  Most painfully, and shamefully, there are Israeli Jews who have forgotten who they are.  (I will come back to this at some point, hopefully.)
The reason that Jews who seek Jewish rights are seen as troublemakers is because the Arabs tend to negotiate via violence and threats. (You don’t give me what I want, this is what I’m going to do.)
A tendency towards violence is inherent in the Arab Muslim culture.  We are not looking at a modern phenomenon, but at a situation that has persisted for centuries.  We see it in the way children are treated in this society, and the fact that it is considered permissible if not necessary sometimes to kill women for the sake of family honor.  (Not enough to disown them or send them away. Such women are killed by close relatives.)  It is well known among those who deal with these issues that terrorists who kill Jews then mutilate their bodies.  Relief and satisfaction derive from gruesome expressions of violence? 
Facing this is not politically correct, but is essential.  The true roots of deep Muslim Arab anger, expressed via overt violence, are not not “the occupation” or the lack of a Palestinian state.  Social scientists find it in such things as sexual abuse of young boys (also common in the culture); this perpetuates violence as the boys grow up angry.  
But now the situation is being exacerbated by Palestinian Arab leaders, so-called, who use this tendency towards violence for political gain, inciting their people rather than seeking to reduce tensions in the street. They are manipulating the crowds. For the Muslim Arab culture that is so prone to violence is also an honor/shame culture.  The perception that they have been “dissed,” treated with disrespect, foments anger and then violence.  And the messages being delivered by the likes of Mahmoud Abbas to the Palestinian Arabs is precisely this: that they are being treated with disrespect by Israel. 
I will add here that this culture is not big on compromise, either. To compromise is to forgo part of what you are entitled to, and this diminishes your honor.  The essential underlying ideology of Islam is that it is meant to supersede the earlier monotheistic religions, not live cooperatively with them. 
What happens then – because so many fail to understand what is going on - is that the Jew who seeks his or her rights is seen as “causing” Arab riots and attacks. How much more peaceful it would be, if only these Jews would stop insisting on things that irritate the Palestinian Arabs.  
Sounds crazy/unreasonable/simplistic, but that indeed is what is happening. Palestinian Arabs, who are collectively bullies, are being broadly embraced anyway.  Either their violence is perceived as justified, or it is simply deemed wise to give them what they want to keep them quiet. 
I write this now because Rabbi Yehuda Glick – who, thank Heaven, has been given a good prognosis for almost full recovery, but still faces more surgery – has been referred to again and again in the media since he was shot as “far right,” “radical” and more.  No one says, “Well, he deserved it.”  But implicit is the notion that if only he, and others like him, were less passionate about the Temple Mount there would be less Palestinian Arab anger.  People like Rav Yehuda are seen as stirring the unrest.

Credit: Getty Images
Here I would like to show you who Yehuda Glick really is, and share his words about his beliefs and the obstacles he confronts.
I said it before and reiterate it here: he is a gentle, non-confrontational soul, who would be delighted for good relations with Muslims.
He calls the Temple the House of Prayer for All Nations. This concept is built into Jewish tradition and Jewish prayer. In the days to come, all monotheistic religions are to have a share in the Temple.  Isaiah 56:7: “Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
While he doesn’t back down from Jewish rights – indeed is passionate about our connection to the Mount - he explains this vision here, describing the possibility that the Muslim Dome of the Rock could be retained as part of the Temple, if the Muslims would be peaceful and share in an effort to cooperate: 

And here he is joining in a prayer session with Arabs at the Mount:

Some radical extremist! 
(With thanks to Bennett R.)

Listen here to a segment of an interview that Yishai Fleisher did with Rabbi Glick with regard to the difficulty Jews have getting on the Temple Mount:
Allow me to explore a bit of background, a picture of the situation for Jews on the Temple Mount today, and where we are going. Or should be going.
When Israel liberated the Old City and the Temple Mount in 1967, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan made a very foolish – a very bad - decision.  He turned to the Muslims on the Mount – the Wakf or Muslim Trust - and told them that they would continue to manage day to day affairs there. 
What he said was:
“We have returned to the holiest of our places, never to be parted from them again….We did not come to conquer the sacred sites of others or to restrict their religious rights, but rather to ensure the integrity of the city and to live in it with others in fraternity.”

The worst of what he did was to rule that there would be no Jewish praying on the Mount, so as to not upset the status quo there.
I am not at all certain that Dayan’s motivation in doing this was proper, and it is clear that, as he was not a religious Jew himself, he saw the Mount more as a site of historical interest than one of on-going religious concern.  But I give him the benefit of the doubt in this respect: he didn’t understand Muslim Arab mentality or how matters would likely evolve.  This seems to be the case, as he refers to living with others in fraternity.
Over the years Jews have petitioned for the right to pray on the Mount.  This issue was last brought before the High Court in 2006, at which point it was said that only if “there is concrete information about actual danger to life” should Jewish praying be forbidden.  But ultimately, the matter was left in the hands of the police, who prefer to prevent Jewish prayer so that it is not necessary to send in reinforcements to contend with Arab rioting.

This is what Yehuda Glick was referring to. 
But how outrageous that in our land, where we protect the rights of all religious groups, it should be impossible for Jews to pray in the place that is holiest to Jews.
Over the last few years, there has been movement by Muslim groups to libel Israel, in order to arouse the people: The totally fallacious claim that Jews are about to destroy the Al Aksa Mosque on the Mount is put out regularly.
But now it has gotten much worse. Instead of saying that the Jews are attempting to pray where they shouldn’t or co-opt the Mount, there is a battle cry that the Mount is totally the heritage of the Muslims and that Jews have no place setting foot on it.  Declared Abbas:
“It is our sacred place, al-Aqsa [mosque] is ours, this Noble Sanctuary [as Muslims refer to the Temple Mount] is ours. They have no right to go there and desecrate it.”

Abbas put out calls to “protect” the Mount from Jews. And then, when it was closed to everyone for a day, after the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick, he called for a “day of rage,” because Muslims may never be prevented from entering the Mount for any reason.  This unleashed additional violence – with the throwing of pipe-bombs at police and much more in eastern Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods on Friday night and Saturday.

And last week, before the conference on the Temple Mount, at which Yehuda Glick spoke right before he was shot, Palestinian Media Watch says:

”...former PA Prime Minister and PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Qurei (Abu Alaa) issued a press release in which he condemned ‘the danger’ of the conference organized by Glick and warned of ‘extremist biblical plans encouraging settlers and extremist Jews to carry out large-scale invasions of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and calling on the entire Jewish nation to invade the Mosque.’ He also stated that Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are ‘undergoing one of the most dangerous periods since the beginning of the Israeli occupation’ and that it necessitates ‘immediate intervention in order to protect [Jerusalem] and rescue it from the threat of Judaization.’"


Talk about inciting violence and exacerbating the situation!


At the same time, there has been a growing sense of outrage among religious Jews that prayer on the Mount is not permitted.  Members of Habayit Hayehudi have been advancing legislation that would allocate different periods of time and different areas for Jewish and Muslim prayer on the Mount.  This proposal, which is altogether fair and equitable, is modeled after the pattern of shared praying time for the Machpela [Cave of the Patriarchs] in Hevron. 
It will not succeed at this point, however, because our prime minister will block it.  His rallying cry has been one of calling for “restraint” and maintaining “the status quo” on the Temple Mount.
“The status quo” position can be interpreted in two respects: To Israelis, he is saying that he will not permit the advancement of legislation for praying on the Mount, and to Arabs, that he will not permit the co-opting of the Mount by Muslims in a way that excludes Jews.
Today in his statement to the Cabinet, he made this quite clear:
”I have ordered that massive reinforcements be brought in and that additional means be used in order to ensure law and order in Israel's capital. It could be that we are in a lengthy struggle; however, we are determined to be successful. 
“We will certainly oppose all systematic and continuing attempts by Islamic extremist elements to stir up unrest. They would like to set a religious fire in Jerusalem and thereby ignite the entire Middle East.  The place they are most determined on is the Temple Mount. 
”We will not allow this to happen; neither will we alter the worship arrangements and the access to the Temple Mount that has been customary for decades.  We are committed to the status quo for Jews, Muslims and Christians. 
”Since the time of our patriarch Abraham, the Temple Mount has been the holiest site for our people. (Traditionally the Sacrifice of Isaac was said to have taken place on Mount Moriyah, where the Temples were later built.) The Temple Mount is the most sensitive kilometer on earth. Alongside a strong insistence on our rights, we are determined to maintain the status quo. It is easy to start a religious fire, but much more difficult to extinguish it.”



What we are seeing, as clear as day, is a determination by the Muslim Arabs to use the Mount to undermine Israel. I understand Netanyahu’s unease at the moment.  Now even the Arab League has weighed in with threats.  Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Hilli has called on Arabs and the international community “to put a stop to these practices by the Israeli occupation authorities in Jerusalem. Touching Jerusalem will lead to results with untold consequences.”  But these are only threats.  Words. The Arab states have enough on their plates to contend with, without throwing their weight around on this issue.

And come on!  We must be honest and recognize that the time of the “status quo” has already come to an end. Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, Director of the Temple Institute, says the Mount “has become a stronghold of Islam. The Arabs get tons of money just to have a presence there and intimidate Jews who dare to ascend the Mount.”  (Emphasis added)

Unless we get a lot stronger on the Mount, our influence will continue to diminish, with consequences that are unthinkable.

If there is one thing the Arabs understand, it is power.  If we have to break heads, we must break heads. But we must remain in control of all areas of Jerusalem, and most especially the Temple Mount.  And we must go up there in ever greater numbers.  Hopefully, there will be an allocation of a time and place for Jewish prayer before too much time has elapsed.

MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) went up on the Mount this morning, as he does very frequently, despite calls from Netanyahu to cool matters.  I salute him for this.

Credit: Flash 90


Today Mahmoud Abbas praised Netanyahu for saying he would not allow Jewish prayer on the Mount, saying it was “a step in the right direction.”


From my perspective, this means it was the wrong decision. What “step” will Abbas expect Netanyahu to take next to quell violence?  There is never enough with these fighting Muslim Arabs. There will always be something else.


One other issue remains in this discussion: the role of Jordan.  It is the Muslim Wakf that is in control on the Mount, at least theoretically.  In 1967, that was a Jordanian Wakf.  After Oslo, the PA established a competing Wakf, but today it is solidly Jordanian.  That is, the Jordanians have a role in what is going on.

Their peace treaty with Israel not withstanding, they are big on threats as well, and have done everything in their power to diminish Israel influence on the Mount and surrounding area (as with the bridge leading to the Mughrabi gate).

King Abdullah has just declared that he will work against “Israeli unilateralism” in Jerusalem and there have been mumblings about Jordan breaking its peace treaty with Israel over these events.

He declared a “victory” when Israel opened the Mount on Friday, pleased to take public credit for this.

What is clear is that King Abdullah is shaky on his throne.  He is contending with a host of radical forces at his border, thousands of Syrian refugees inside of his border, and pressure from Palestinian Arabs.  He plays it in a manner that he believes will best protect him. Consequently, Netanyahu has always done a very careful balancing act with Jordan. It is in our interest that the king should not fall.  Under the façade of multiple challenges by the king, there is a good deal of cooperation.  The irony is that Jordan absolutely does not want a Palestinian state at its border, even as it calls loudly for one.


However, what I did last night was go to the text of the 1994 Peace Treaty Agreement between Israel and Jordan. With regard to this issue, it says (emphasis added):
  1. Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.

  2. In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines. (This has to do with Israel not giving the PA priority on the Mount.) 
  3. The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.


Not only does this not give Jordan great power on the Mount, it would seem that Jordan has been severely remiss in meeting its responsibilities.  Freedom of access to places of religious significance?  Freedom of religious worship?  Well, now.


I would say Netanyahu needs to take another look at how he responds to Jordan.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) has it right (emphasis added):
“I hear the Jordanians are threatening the peace agreement and [I] wonder if they have forgotten the Six Day War and the years in which King Hussein leaned on Israel. The Temple Mount and Jerusalem are under Israeli sovereignty just as Amman is under the absolute rule of Jordan. They should internalize this fact.”


Credit: Flash 90

THIS is the sort of talk we need to hear more of from our government.

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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