Things are looking pretty bad for Israel.
The Palestinians embarked on another wave of historical fabrication (the Jews never had a prominent role in Jerusalem), demands for monopoly of holy places (Temple Mount), incitement showing no relation to reality (the Jews are intent in taking the holy place from them), and then a wave of rock throwing, knifings, fire bombs, mass charges against the Gaza fence, and claims that the Jews were overreacting and committing murder while the realities were defensive measures against Palestinians acting in deadly rage.
While the Jews may have dampened the Palestinian violence by a combination of defensive measures resulting in far more arrests than deaths, major actors are taking the side of the Palestinians. Official Americans mutter about Israeli overreactions. UN officials are far more certain that Israel has used excessive force, and are less certain about Palestinian responsibility for the upsurge in violence.
Palestinians are trying to take advantage of things by demanding an international presence on the Temple Mount.
Palestinians are getting some credit internationally by condemning the burning of Joseph's Tomb, and claiming to begin inquiries to identify those responsible.
Joseph's Tomb stands as a minor site, popular with a religious fringe who see what is most likely a sheikh's tomb from centuries past as the resting place of the Biblical Joseph. Palestinians who express concerns for Jewish feelings for that locale cannot overcome the revulsion that many more Jews associate with the Muslims' rejection of any Judaic claims with respect to the Temple Mount.
Americans are aping the Palestinian assertions, yet again, that the basic cause of tension comes from Jewish settlements over the 1967 lines. Officials also express the Palestinian claim that Israelis had threatened the status quo on the Temple Mount, and maybe that is the cause of the present commotion.
All the above may be an accurate description of what we are hearing, but Israelis and their friends really don't have a great deal to worry about.
The wave of violence has been about as costly for Israelis as the accidents and other calamities that occur in several days of winter storms in North America or Europe.
The blather we hear from Palestinians, and the echoes from the international community is the same old stuff that we hear whenever the Palestinians feel that it is time for another effort to stir the pot.
Israelis are suffering mostly from fear. People are acquiring the weapons available to them, mostly pepper spray, and staying in their homes. The streets, sidewalks, buses, and shops have been near empty. Arabs, too, are staying at home. They fear encounter with Jewish extremists seeking revenge, as well as the bother of passing through checkpoints set up alongside their neighborhoods, having to wait in line, show their documents, and being searched.
Israeli media are contributing to the unrest. Each incident produces a dramatic interruption of the existing program, followed by sending personnel to the site, interviewing witnesses, paramedics and police, followed by reports about the injured from hospital staff, with the material replayed for an hour or more, or until the next incident.
In recent days, there has been virtually no news of greater happenings, to distract from the morbid fascination about yet another threat against the Jews.
Jewish businesses are firing Arab workers, perhaps because they are afraid of the workers, or fear that their customers will not come to a shop or office having Arab workers.
It seems likely that, as in times past, the international community will rest with words in behalf of the poor benighted Palestinians. Israel has indicated that it will not accept international observers or an international force on the Temple Mount.
There is enough military capacity here, and enough officials in major governments with respect for Israelis, to assure that international bodies will not go beyond anti-Israeli pronouncements to anti-Israel actions.
None of which soothes the Israeli concern for a loss of credibility.
Especially problematic are comments from the US State Department and White House, suggesting--in keeping with their sense of trust directed at Iran--that the American leadership is out of touch with Middle Eastern realities, and has signed on to the key goal of a Palestinian State, concern for giving offense to Muslims, accepting Muslim claims of history and holy places, and that the lines of 1967 should determine what happens next.
Israel's mistakes occurred in 1967 when it made a gesture of granting control of the Temple Mount to Muslim religious authorities, and again in 2005 when it made a gesture of withdrawing Jewish settlements from Gaza.
Both seemed wise at the time, and in retrospect appear to have been excesses of Jewish generosity, and gifts not reciprocated with anything approaching mutual recognition.
One can wonder if this is an opportunity to open the issue of Muslim religious control over the Temple Mount, and to accept whatever condemnation is associated with asserting equal rights for Jews on that site.
Or to rest with the fiction of Muslim control, when the reality is that Israeli police and other forces enter the place and impose control whenever Muslims go over a vaguely defined line of craziness.
The fascination with the borders of 1967 serves as a declaration of failure before negotiations begin. People have moved since the beginning of time. There is as much chance of Israel returning to the lines of 1967 as Americans giving Manhattan and a lot more to descendants of their original occupants, assuming they can determine who should be receiving titles of ownership.
If Jewish settlements have spread over substantial parts of the West Bank, the responsibility lies with Palestinians and other Arabs, who on several opportunities refused to accept Israeli offers to keep things as they were at the time.
One day's news on our radio reported on a meeting between Barack Obama and the Prince of Abu Dhabi, concerned with the activity of the Russians in Syria.
How many of you can describe the location of Abu Dhabi, including the regimes found along its borders, and comment intelligently about Abu Dhabi's weight in international politics?
One senses that the action of Israeli media to headline that discussion is a way of ridiculing the American President's disconnect with Middle Eastern realities.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will remain polite, at least in public, in his comments about Barack Obama and John Kerry. He will say time and again that the United States is Israel's greatest friend.
One should bet that Israelis will get through this uptick in violence. Recent days have been quieter, with most of the action in the West Bank and alongside Gaza, with fewer reports of Israeli injuries.
Israeli police and soldiers are responding quickly and often deadly against knife-wielding Palestinians. As in confrontations past, the balance of casualties is heavily weighted against the Palestinians.
The standing of the 80 year old who remains as the Palestinian President (West Bank) despite his term ending in 2009, has never appeared more pathetic. Those of the UN General Secretary, and leading Americans who are echoing Palestinian blather are hardly more impressive.
Should Americans truly want to influence how this region develops, they should be worried about their prospects.
If I were a Syrian, still living in Syria, I'd begin learning Russian.