The disgusting terror murders of two Israeli policemen (one shot in the back) on the Temple Mount, coupled with the indescribable terror murders of three Israelis (grandfather, father, and aunt) celebrating the birth of a baby at their Sabbath dinner, were met with howls of outrage and threats of retaliatory violence and even religious war –- not by Israelis seeking vengeance, but by Palestinians!
Echoed by Jordanians, al-Jazeera, and the UN, Palestinian strongman Mahmoud Abbas claimed he couldn’t be held responsible for escalated violence if Israel maintained the metal detectors on the Temple Mount installed to prevent a recurrence of violence directed at Jews.
Nothing in the Middle East is ever what it looks like. Metal detectors may be metal detectors elsewhere, but on the Temple Mount they are an attack on “Muslim patrimony.” Turkey’s President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan made that clear. “When Israeli soldiers carelessly pollute the grounds of Al-Aqsa with their combat boots by using simple issues as a pretext and then easily spill blood there, the reason [they are able to do that] is we [Muslims] have not done enough to stake our claim over Jerusalem.”
Israel, to the relief — and kind words — of the White House, has removed the metal detectors, but far from resolving the problem, the retreat encouraged Fatah to announce it would “intensify the struggle” because the “campaign for Jerusalem has effectively begun, and will not stop until a Palestinian victory and the release of the holy sites from Israeli occupation.”
Two important issues have to be sorted out here: first, the political and religious rights of Jews in their indigenous space; and second, the right not to be murdered for the “crime” of being Jewish, or Israeli, or non-Jewish and non-Israeli but being in Israel. Among the recent victims of Palestinian terror are Druze Muslim police officers Kamil Shnaan, 22 and Haiel Sitawe, and American Vanderbilt University student and U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, as well as American and Israeli Jews.
Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people — the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to even part of the historic homeland was prayed for since the end of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and celebrated since 1948. In the 20th century, Jews and Israelis accepted various suggestions and commands for borders of a reconstituted State — everything from the lopping off of 75% of the British Mandate for a Judenrein Arab state (1917) to the split-state Peel Commission Partition Plan (1937) to the British Partition Plan (1938) to the Jewish Agency plan (1946) to the much smaller UN Partition Plan (1947).
The Arab states agreed to none of those and declined to say where Jews might then exercise sovereignty — because there was no such place. The 1949-67 lines were unacceptable and so were the post-67 lines. Israel and the U.S. posited new lines after the Oslo Accords, and in 2008 when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed 93% of the West Bank plus political rights in Jerusalem for the Palestinians (the Gaza Strip already being 100% in Palestinian hands). Mahmoud Abbas said no.
“No” was the necessary answer because the Palestinians agree there is no legitimate place for Jews to exercise sovereign authority. This goes directly to the question of the Temple Mount and metal detectors.
Jews have prayed alongside the Western Wall since, perhaps, the 12th century, and certainly since the 16th century, when the Ottoman Sultan gave them official permission to do so, according to scholar Nadav Shragai. The Arab warning, “Al Aksa (the mosque on the Temple Mount) is in danger” –- used in this case by Abbas –- has been a call for shedding Jewish blood by Arabs for more than a century. The originator of the lie was Haj Amin al Husseini –- the Hitler acolyte Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the earlier part of the 20th Century. Abbas and Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel carry on his legacy.
In 1967, in an audacious (or there are other words) act of generosity, the Government of Israel informed the Arab Waqf that Israel would not assert sovereignty over the top of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism; that its administration would remain in the hands of the Waqf and King Hussein of Jordan. The Hashemite King is by history the “Guardian of the Mosques” (Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem).
Israel adopted the Arab position that Jews could not conduct prayer atop the Temple Mount, although visits by Jews and others were commonplace for decades after. Israel did, however, maintain security control through a negotiated series of steps with the Jordanians, the Waqf and later the PA. At various points, the Temple Mount was the scene of Palestinians throwing rocks down on worshippers at the Western Wall plaza, but at no time until last Friday were guns used on or from the Temple Mount.
To prevent further weapons use, Israel searched the mosque and installed metal detectors. It is hard to get Americans excited about that -– we’ve been taking off our shoes, agreeing to be x-rayed and patted down, and tossing our Starbucks for years, precisely because Palestinian terror (remember who started airplane hijacking) was focused on civilian rather than military objectives.
But in Palestinian eyes, if Israel assumed the right to install metal detectors without negotiation, Israel assumed control of the space. And that, like every other manifestation of Israeli sovereign decision-making, is unacceptable to the Palestinians.
Cue the howling!
“Al Aqsa is under attack!” didn’t mean Israel was shooting at the mosque, or that Israel had claimed it for Jewish prayer. It meant the sovereign Jewish state had exercised a governmental decision affecting the Temple Mount. And that was enough for Omar al-Abed to announce on his Facebook page that he would die a glorious death for al Aqsa. “All I have is a sharpened knife and it answers the call of al Aqsa.” He called Jews “pigs and monkeys,” a familiar phrase.
He put on a white shirt and black slacks -– the standard Sabbath dress of Orthodox Jewish men –- and knocked on the door of 70-year-old Yosef Salomon. The Salomons, who were expecting guests as they welcomed the birth of Yosef’s grandson, opened the door. Photos of the massacre scene show rivers of blood on the floor from Yosef, his daughter Chaya and son Elad. They can’t show the screams of Yosef’s wife Tova as she bled from stab wounds and watched her husband and children die.
As a result, Al-Abed stands to receive the standard PA “salary” for convicted terrorists –- and, happily for him, he committed his crime after Palestinian authorities announced a salary increase of 13%.
If the United States wants to help bring peace to a troubled place, it will focus on the Palestinians what territory and rights they claim, what heroes they pay and venerate, what constitutes a “crime” vs. “glory” in their lexicon, and –- most important –- what they believe are the sovereign rights of the citizens of the Third Jewish Commonwealth. If the Palestinians are honest (hmm?) the answer to the last is “none,” the conversation is over, and metal detectors are the least of the problem.