An American cousin sent me a link to the PBS documentary, 1913: Seeds of Conflict, and asked if it was a fair and accurate presentation.

 
I clicked, and received a message, "We're sorry, but this video is not available in your region due to right restrictions."
 
The Internet being what it is, I found it on YouTube.
 
It appears to be fair and reasonably balanced, yet two points are worth noting.
 
First is its claim that Arab and Jewish accommodations were replaced by nationalistic enmity. 
 
This is not entirely false, but it overlooks persistent conflicts from prior to the beginning of modern Jewish settlement, as well as continued accommodations until today. My own experience in the universities has included points of dialog and friendship across religious and ethnic lines, in the classrooms, on the pathways, and at other points of meeting. The locker room of the Hebrew University gym and swimming pool is a place of cross cultural banter that touches on sensitive issues with humor and without raised voices. The universities also are home to conflicting student groups, with noisy demonstrations by Arab and Jewish activists that require police to separate their chanting and sign waving.
 
1913: Seeds of Conflict is also limited in its focus on a particular incident of violence as the start of nationalist confrontation. That was an incident in 1913 that produced the deaths of a horse, a camel, a Jew and an Arab that triggered an increase in confrontations. The program ends by asking if the onset of World War I interrupted efforts at dialog that may have settled the issue and put the communities on a better path.
 
The reality is that there have been numerous points of intense conflict, as well as efforts at dialog and compromise, beginning before 1913 and still continuing. What we see in the program, that individual Jews and Arabs have worried about the development of conflict beyond control while other Jews and Arabs have incited nationalist sentiments remains, with changes in personalities as activists leave the stage in fatigue, or grow old and die, and are replaced by those younger, whose intensity is fresher, incited by themes of religion, nationalism, and the passions of those seeking power.
 
What the Preacher wrote long before the establishment of PBS, or 1913, remains true,
 
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9)


The Jews of Israel and the Palestinians/Israeli Arabs are tribal, with conflicting divisions within as well as between the two major communities. Arabs/Muslims differ by religion, ethnicity, and culture (Muslim, Christian, Circassians, Druze, Bedouin), as well as by locale and extended families. Jews differ by ethnicity, as well as their styles of religiosity or its lack. Social class, standard of living, and education are additional dividers within both Jewish and Arab communities. 


Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The Hebrew month of Tishri, with Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Succoth has begun with what we have seen several times in the past during this month, i.e., an uptick in violence focused on the Temple Mount but not limited to that site.


This year is comes as part of a wave of stone throwing, homemade fire bombs, and fireworks thrown at police and individual Jews, along with drive-by shootings and using cars as weapons against pedestrians. One can date its beginning with the failure of the Kerry-managed peace talks, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli young men by Arabs in the West Bank, the kidnapping and murder of a young Arab in a Jerusalem neighborhood by Jews, an increased wave of rockets fired from Gaza, and the IDF operation in Gaza that claimed about 2,200 Arab and 70 Israeli lives.


Current headlines are focusing on stone throwing and other low grade Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount, or what the Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary, where they claim exclusive rights and deny a historic Judaic presence. We are seeing a repeat of what is well practiced by both sides. Arab youths, men, and women curse and seek to disturb Jews who visit the site, throw what they can at police, and lob stones on the crowd praying and milling alongside the Western Wall. The police enter in force, with shields, batons, and other forms of usually non-lethal crowd control, chase Muslim activists into al Aqsa Mosque and occasionally enter the Mosque in pursuit. Each confrontation is likely to produce some injuries among the police and Arabs, and a few arrests.


The politics surrounding such events are closer to the conception of "world shaking" than the events themselves.  In keeping with well established practice, the head of the Palestinian Authority and King Abdullah of Jordan have accused Jews of violating a Muslim holy place, and threaten escalation into a region-wide war of religion. 


This year the threat has to be taken with more than its usual salt, insofar as there is already a region-wide war that can be described as a war of religion, with most of the combatants being Muslims fighting other Muslims.


Mahmoud Abbas' contribution was headlined on the front page of Israel Hayom.
 
“Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Jews have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.”


Critics are, among other things, wondering about Abbas' claim of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt have also been heard on the side of Muslim exclusivity of rights to the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount. The UN, the US State Department and White House have urged both sides to avoid precipitous acts.


Prime Minister Netanyahu also acted in typical form. He declared the necessity being more severe in dealing with stone throwers, called an emergency meeting of the Government after the end of the Rosh Hashana holy day, where he linked the increase in violence to the death of an Israeli who suffered a heart attack when his car was stoned on a Jerusalem street. 


One of Bibi's Likud colleagues said that lower court judges who hand down light punishments for stone throwers should be held back from any promotion to higher positions. 


This brought a condemnation from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. She stressed the importance of an independent judiciary, whose members should not suffer because politicians do not like their decisions. Other experts have said that it would be difficult to solve the problem of stone throwers by harsher statutes, especially in the case of juveniles who do a lot of the stone throwing. 


As in other cases, Netanyahu's actions have been substantially less dramatic than his rhetoric. The Government meeting concluded with the appointment of a committee to examine possibilities. 


The word has gone out from the Office of the Prime Minister that leading members of Likud should desist from organized visits to the Temple Mount, where they and their police escorts have been one of the provocations mentioned by Muslim activists.


Not all of the Prime Minister's party colleagues are accepting his lead. Some say they will continue their visits to the Temple Mount, in order to demonstrate the Jews' priority to the holy site, and are talking about the even more contentious issue of being able to pray there.


The police have posted snipers at sensitive places, with instructions to shoot Arabs involved in the throwing of fire bombs. 


We can hope that those injured will not die. The funerals of declared martyrs are high profile events, likely to spur further violence.


Succoth is usually a more contentious time than Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur. It is a long holiday, and spans a Friday day of Muslim prayer when tens of thousands pass through the Old City and gather on the Temple Mount, while just as many Jews seek to honor Succoth traditions by passing through the Old City and congregating at the Western Wall.


This year the Muslim holy day Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice i.e., Abraham and Ishmael) coincides with Yom Kippur. Jews will want to close roads; Muslims will want to travel for family gatherings.


We can hope that what remains of Tishri passes quietly, but that ain't likely this year.




 

Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

Think others should know about this? Please share