December 1, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Israeli and Palestinian leadership

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Re: “Pop Culture, Politics and Perception |  Importing Hate,” Blogs, Nov. 4.

These past few years, the Middle East has been exploding, figuratively and literally. But there is one country that has made news headlines since its foundation. Israel and her tumultuous relationship with her neighbors, especially Palestine, are at the forefront of the minds of most foreign journalists. Matti Friedman, former correspondent for the Associated Press says, “When I was a correspondent at the A.P., the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the A.P. had in China, Russia or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined.” Yet, as Sarah Palmer noted in her latest blog post for The Sun, “Pop Culture, Politics and Perception; Importing Hate,” it’s not an easy subject to discuss, especially for those who aren’t so familiar with it. Those who follow the situation tend to be sincerely invested in it, often for personal reasons, and often have a difficult time demonstrating their understanding of the conflict clearly, because it’s not so black and white.

Palmer is quite clear in her piece that she is not an expert and considers herself as an outsider, meaning someone who has not invested time into analyzing the current and past situation in Israel. She opened up a discussion that, because of the situation’s complexity and historical significance, must be clarified and put into context.

The current state of turmoil in Israel began when Palestinian leaders incited attacks on Israelis by blatantly lying about an Israeli plan to change the policy at the Temple Mount that prohibits non-Muslims from praying at the holy site. Abbas provoked religious Muslims with statements such as “the dirty feet” of Jews don’t belong in the Mosque. This is by no means the first time Abbas has showed his support for terrorism. In 2012, the Palestinian leader glorified the terrorists responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis and two American diplomats.  In 2013, he awarded Nayef Hawatmeh, the head of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the “highest order of the star of honor” for his work in committing dozens of terrorist attacks, including one assassination of 22 school children and 4 adults in Ma’alot. In 2014, Abbas sent a letter to the family of the terrorist who tried to kill Yehudah Glick in Jerusalem, praising him for his actions and calling him a martyr. Time and time again Abbas shows his support for terrorizing Israeli civilians and the current situation is no exception.

This tension surrounding the Temple Mount dates back to 1967, when Israel was forced to defend itself yet again from the constant Syrian-sponsored Palestinian guerilla attacks from Jordan and Lebanon, and Egyptian war crimes, especially closing off the Straits of Tiran to Israeli trade. Regardless of Israel’s appeal to Jordan to stay out of the war, they attacked and occupied U.N. headquarters in Jerusalem, bringing the conflict to the holy city. At the end of the war, Israel found itself in control of East Jerusalem, but the Temple Mount remained in the hands of the Jordanian Waqf. Although every part of Israel practices religious freedom (which is why you see pictures of all different faiths at the Western Wall for instance), the Waqf only allows Muslims to pray at the Temple Mount and assigns specific hours of visitation rights for other religious groups. There is absolutely no proof that Israel planned to change this. Abbas’ message was simply intended to incite chaos.

These past months, there have been countless Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens from within the walls of the Old City and throughout the rest of the country. They are throwing boulders down on people and hiding mass amounts of weapons in the Al-Aqsa mosque. 12-year-old children are brainwashed to stab Jews. Knife-wielding extremists have assaulted elderly women. A young boy on a bicycle was assaulted in Pisgat Zeev. An Arab woman pretending to ask questions of a guard suddenly pulled out a knife and tried to stab him. There is terror everywhere in Israel right now. What have Palestinian leaders done to condemn this? Nothing. Fatah encourages it. The few extremist Jews who have attacked Palestinians are reprimanded by almost everyone in the country, and most importantly by the Israeli government. Yes, all terrorism is awful and both sides have done wrong, but there is no moral equivalency between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The Israeli government has responded by taking security measures that inconvenience the lives of moderate Palestinians living in the West Bank. As a response to an attempt to butcher everyone on a bus, Arabs living in East Talpiyot are now forced to drive all the way through Bethlehem, an hour out of the way, because they can no longer drive through Armon Hanastiv. Abbas, Fatah, Hamas … they are all supporting the men, women and children of all ages who are risking their lives to kill Israelis. Unfortunately, the average Palestinian is suffering.

This situation clearly does not boil down to a rumor about the Temple Mount. Tension between Israelis and Palestinians has only escalated since the establishment of Israel in 1948. In the years leading up to this significant date, the Palestinians refused multiple proposals for a two-state solution, which would have established Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty in the land. Rather than accepting any of the peaceful negotiations, the Palestinians and every surrounding Arab country declared war as soon as Israel declared its independence. Since then, the hostility between the two nations has only grown through decades of wars, intifadas and terrorism.

The first step in breaking this cycle is to change the education systems in Gaza and Palestinian Authority-controlled Area A of the West Bank. Leaders, school teachers, imams and other role models indoctrinate Palestinian children to hate Jews and Israelis. It is not only the harsh conditions that some Palestinians live under that cause this terrorism. Before we can move forward on the relations between neighboring countries, we must address the distorted and violent education of the Palestinian people. We are all doing a disservice to the Palestinian children by ignoring the hate propagated under the Palestinian leaders.

There is no moral equivalency between the Israeli government and the PLO or Arab terrorist organizations. While the Israeli government is concerned for the safety of its citizens, the PLO holds almost no legitimacy among the Palestinians and organizations such as Hamas only advocate for terror. When Palmer states that “leaders have helped to sensationalize the violence,” it must but clarified that one side deals with terrorism through trial and justice while the other applauds the attacks.

Sarene Shaked ’18

8 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: Israeli and Palestinian leadership

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  2. Sarene Shaked attributes the current violence in Israel to Palestinian incitement over the Temple Mount. And indeed, the Temple Mount is at the center of much of the recent violence. It is the holiest site for Jews and the third holiest site for a sizeable portion of the Muslim world. (Muslims refer to this site as the Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary). Many Muslims believe that it is from this site that Muhammad ascended into heaven with the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) where he met Adam, Jesus, Moses and Abraham and, most importantly, Allah. The importance of this site to many Muslims cannot be overstated.

    Shaked wrote, “At the end of the [1967] war, Israel found itself in control of East Jerusalem, but the Temple Mount remained in the hands of the Jordanian Waqf.” Actually, Israel captured the Temple Mount during the war, and Israeli flags flew briefly over the Temple Mount. Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister, realized how important this site was to Muslims and ordered the flags removed and control of the site turned over to the Jordanian Waqf in order to avoid a holy war.

    So yes, one cannot understand the violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank without understanding the violence surrounding the Temple Mount. But did this latest round of violence start at the Temple Mount? It’s hard to say, because events in the West Bank set the background for events in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, just as events at the Temple Mount influence what occurs in the West Bank. And exactly where one cycle of violence leaves off and the next one begins is also difficult to demarcate. But if I had to pick the single most important event setting off the current violence I would chose the July 31 West Bank arson attack that took the lives of 18 month old Ali Dawabshe and his two parents. Israeli authorities believe this attack was perpetrated by Jewish terrorists–Defense Minister Ya’alon claims they have even identified the culprits. But they have not charged them with a crime because they do not want to risk exposing intelligence sources during a trial. This, of course, enrages Palestinians and sends a message to them that Israelis believe their lives are expendable.

    Unfortunately, this is not the only time Israelis have sent Palestinians that message. Benjamin Netanyahu sent that message when he put Eli Ben-Dahan in charge of civil administration of Area C of the West Bank. In 2013, Ben-Dahan said, “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.” And to prove he’s an equal-opportunity hater, he also said, “A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.” And on October 9, 2015, the ever-so-diplomatic Ben-Dahan declared, “Palestinians have to understand they won’t have a state & Israel will rule over them.”

    Shaked claims that Palestinians are lying about Israeli intentions of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount. But Israel has given the Palestinians plenty of reasons to be suspicious. To see why we must focus on The Temple Institute-an organization whose goal is to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount. The Temple Institute’s FAQ page contains the following gem:

    “When will the reconstruction of the Holy Temple Commence? . . .
    Geo-politically, the Temple Mount has to be cleared of the Dome of the Rock and the mosques which are presently located upon it before the physical rebuilding of the Holy Temple can begin.”

    These folks are serious about building the Third Temple. Last year they raised over $104,000 through Indiegogo to develop detailed architectural plans for the Temple. They are now trying to raise a pure red heifer–a Biblical requirement necessary for a purification ritual before the building of the Temple. On June 15, 2015, the website “BreakingIsraelNews” reported that Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a former Executive Director of the Temple Institute told them that he and his partner had been granted an exclusive license by the Israeli government to mine gold under Mount Eilat. Glick claims that these gold deposits are worth billions of dollars and he plans to use the proceeds towards building the Third Temple.

    If that isn’t enough to cause the Palestinians to believe Israel’s ultimate goal is to build the Third Temple at the expense of their sacred site, then how about this: The Temple Institute was subsidized by the Israeli government in 2012 to the tune of roughly $100,000. Knesset Member and Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel called for the rebuilding of the Third Temple in 2013. And this past October, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated, “It’s my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.” This statement so dismayed Netanyahu that he read her the riot act. She was forced to explain that this was just her personal feeling and did not represent the goal of the Israeli government. Netanyahu should be praised for chewing out Hotovely, but if he really wants to convince Palestinians that changing the status quo to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount isn’t just the first step down a slippery slope to rebuilding the Third Temple, he will have to do a LOT more than that.

    Sources
    Moshe Dayan orders Temple Mount turned over to waqf to avoid a holy war http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/10/17/status-quo-on-the-temple-mount/

    Defense Minister Ya’alon believes he knows who murdered the Dawabshe family, but won’t prosecute for fear of exposing intelligence sources: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.675566

    Eli Ben-Dahan quotes:

    http://972mag.com/next-head-of-civil-administration-said-palestinians-are-sub-human/106533/

    http://mondoweiss.net/2015/10/palestinians-israeli-minister

    Temple Institute funded by Israeli Government: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Report-State-funds-groups-that-advocate-building-Third-Temple-321990

    Temple Institute FAQ: https://www.templeinstitute.org/frequently-asked-questions.htm

    Temple Institute Indiegogo fundraiser for architectural plans for the Third Temple https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/build-the-third-temple–3#/

    Temple Institute- Raising a Red Heifer http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/197996#.Vl5h23ZY3cc

    Yehuda Glick mining gold for the Third Temple https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/43278/temple-mount-activists-find-billions-dollars-gold-jerusalem/#1ODEg6JwqvvSuIeB.97

    Uri Ariel calls for building the Third Temple http://www.timesofisrael.com/minister-calls-for-third-temple-to-be-built/

    Tizip Hotovely wants to see the Israeli Flag flying over the
    Temple Mount

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/deputy-fm-i-dream-of-israeli-flag-flying-over-temple-mount/

  3. Sarene Shaked attributes the current violence in Israel to Palestinian incitement over the Temple Mount. And indeed, the Temple Mount is at the center of much of the recent violence. It is the holiest site for Jews and the third holiest site for a sizeable portion of the Muslim world. (Muslims refer to this site as the Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary). Many Muslims believe that it is from this site that Muhammad ascended into heaven with the Angel Jibril (Gabriel) where he met Adam, Jesus, Moses and Abraham and, most importantly, Allah. The importance of this site to many Muslims cannot be overstated.

    Shaked wrote, “At the end of the [1967] war, Israel found itself in control of East Jerusalem, but the Temple Mount remained in the hands of the Jordanian Waqf.” Actually, Israel captured the Temple Mount during the war, and Israeli flags flew briefly over the Temple Mount. Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister, realized how important this site was to Muslims and ordered the flags removed and control of the site turned over to the Jordanian Waqf in order to avoid a holy war.

    So yes, one cannot understand the violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank without understanding the violence surrounding the Temple Mount. But did this latest round of violence start at the Temple Mount? It’s hard to say, because events in the West Bank set the background for events in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, just as events at the Temple Mount influence what occurs in the West Bank. And exactly where one cycle of violence leaves off and the next one begins is also difficult to demarcate. But if I had to pick the single most important event setting off the current violence I would chose the July 31 West Bank arson attack that took the lives of 18 month old Ali Dawabshe and his two parents. Israeli authorities said they believed this attack was perpetrated by Jewish terrorists–Defense Minister Ya’alon even claimed in September that they had identified the culprits. But they did not arrest anyone for the crime because they did not want to risk exposing intelligence sources during a trial. This, of course, enraged Palestinians who interpreted this as a message that Israelis believed their lives are expendable. Israel finally did arrest two suspects for the crime yesterday–but allowing this wound to fester for four months was one of several factors motivating Palestinians towards violence.

    Unfortunately, this is not the only time Israelis have, intentionally or not, sent Palestinians the message that their lives do not matter. Benjamin Netanyahu sent that message when he put Eli Ben-Dahan in charge of civil administration of Area C of the West Bank. In 2013, Ben-Dahan said, “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.” And to prove he’s an equal-opportunity hater, he also said, “A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.” And on October 9, 2015, the ever-so-diplomatic Ben-Dahan declared, “Palestinians have to understand they won’t have a state & Israel will rule over them.”

    Shaked claims that Palestinians are lying about Israeli intentions of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount. But Israel has given the Palestinians plenty of reasons to be suspicious. To see why we must focus on The Temple Institute-an organization whose goal is to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount. The Temple Institute’s FAQ page contains the following gem:

    “When will the reconstruction of the Holy Temple Commence? . . .
    Geo-politically, the Temple Mount has to be cleared of the Dome of the Rock and the mosques which are presently located upon it before the physical rebuilding of the Holy Temple can begin.”

    These folks are serious about building the Third Temple. Last year they raised over $104,000 through Indiegogo to develop detailed architectural plans for the Temple. They are now trying to raise a pure red heifer–a Biblical requirement necessary for a purification ritual before the building of the Temple. On June 15, 2015, the website “BreakingIsraelNews” reported that Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a former Executive Director of the Temple Institute told them that he and his partner had been granted an exclusive license by the Israeli government to mine gold under Mount Eilat. Glick claims that these gold deposits are worth billions of dollars and he plans to use the proceeds towards building the Third Temple.

    If that isn’t enough to cause the Palestinians to believe Israel’s ultimate goal is to build the Third Temple at the expense of their sacred site, then how about this: The Temple Institute was subsidized by the Israeli government in 2012 to the tune of roughly $100,000. Knesset Member and Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel called for the rebuilding of the Third Temple in 2013. And this past October, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated, “It’s my dream to see the Israeli flag flying on the Temple Mount.” This statement so dismayed Netanyahu that he read her the riot act. She was forced to explain that this was just her personal feeling and did not represent the goal of the Israeli government. Netanyahu should be praised for chewing out Hotovely, but if he really wants to convince Palestinians that changing the status quo to allow Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount isn’t just the first step down a slippery slope to rebuilding the Third Temple, he will have to do a LOT more than that.

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