Israeli Border Police officers patrol the Temple Mount. (photo credit: Reuters)
If you are eagerly waiting for the video cameras to be installed on the Temple Mount, as Israel and Jordan agreed to do last week, in the hope that this act will help restore law and order at the holy site – don’t hold your breath. First – because the cameras have not yet been installed and obstacles could still prevent them from being installed (or they can be destroyed soon after being installed). The Palestinians already expressed their objection to the cameras. Riyad al-Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister, “told the Voice of Palestine that the plan was a trap, because Israel would use video footage to arrest Muslim worshippers it claims are inciting against it.” So the question remains: will the Palestinians cooperate with the decision and, if not, would Israel (and Jordan) be able locate effective cameras without such cooperation? Second – because it is not at all clear that the cameras could change the dynamics on Temple Mount, even if they are installed and even if they become operational.
The cameras are one item out of several understandings reached by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Jordan’s King Abdullah. The Palestinians were disappointed by these understandings. And that is not surprising. They gained little from the recent wave of violence. Israelis to the right of Netanyahu were also disappointed. That is also not surprising. Netanyahu has committed himself and Israel to a status quo that these right-wingers would like to change.
General Yaakov Amidror, formerly the National Security Advisor to Netanyahu, wrote last week that “it is important that the current escalation wanes without a Palestinian achievement, especially when it comes to the Temple Mount. We must avoid fueling tensions on the already volatile site, so the government and the police are doing the right thing by limiting access to it. However, once order is restored, the status quo should be resolutely enforced. Israel’s strategy has to make it clear that violence reaps no rewards.”
So the question for both sides really is whether keeping the status quo – whether Israel’s declaration that it “will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount” – is a “reward” for those perpetrating violence.
It will not come as great surprise to discover that the answer to this question depends much on the political tendencies of the respondents. Those of them who want a change to the status quo see the agreement as caving under pressure. Those opposing change see it as merely stating the obvious: Israel never intended any change. Those who want a change see no reason why Israel should restate its acquiescence to a settlement that is inherently flawed. Those opposing change see no reason to risk more violence and expect their government to behave responsibly.
Last year, in an article I wrote for The New York Times, I explained that “today, there is a status quo, supported by manipulation and intimidation. The Temple Mount can easily ignite a wave of Jewish-Arab violence. And two very different groups hold the fuse: the calculating Palestinian leadership, and a reckless and growing section of the Israeli Jewish street.” Obviously, one of the great debates we have today is whether the recent violence is because of the actions of the first group or the second group. On the one hand, we have evidence with which to support the first claim: PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his friends spreading lies about Israel’s intentions, and calling for Jews not to desecrate the holy site with their “dirty feet.” On the other hand, we also have evidence with which to support the second claim: Minister Uri Ariel and his juvenile insistence to make Temple Mount provocations.
I also wrote, in another article, that Israel’s PM has recently been finding “himself in an awkward situation. Benjamin Netanyahu is known abroad as a staunch right-winger. But now he needs to do the exact opposite of what his image suggests.” This is an often overlooked fact that is yet again at play today: Netanyahu – the leader that the world sees as a staunch belligerent – is in fact the least hawkish member of his own government (supported by Minister of Defense Yaalon and Shas Minister Aryeh Deri). Ariel, and other members of Habayit Hayehudi and Likud (including, yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotoveli) can keep talking about the unjust arrangement at the Temple Mount, they can keep wishing for this arrangement to change for the better, they can keep complaining – with good reason – about the outrageous behavior of Palestinian leaders (including the political leadership of Arab Israelis). Netanyahu pretty much ignores all of it, or even rebukes the insensitive members of his cabinet when necessary, and does what he thinks is necessary to avoid more bloodshed and more violence.
Is that a good thing – to ignore these complaints and accept a far from perfect arrangement on Temple Mount? Here is what I wrote last week, in Hebrew (for Israel’s Maariv Daily): In a “just” world the Jews would have retained the right to be able to visit Temple Mount. But Israel does not operate in a just world, it operates in a world of power, in a world of measured calculations of cost and benefit. And in such a world it needs to constantly remind itself that rights, like all things, are subjected to hierarchy. There is the more important, and there is the less important. Often, those who insist on having everything end up having nothing – just ask the Palestinians.
So Israel has to keep insisting on telling the true story of the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. But alongside the right to tell, and the right to visit and the right to insist – alongside these many “rights” – it is necessary for Israel not to neglect its “obligations.” Chief amongst them: the obligation to keep its secured future as a Jewish State, even if such a goal requires the temporary abandonment of this or that “right.”
The article was published in the LA Jewish Journal on 10-27-2015
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.