Over the past century this land has witnessed ongoing, if sometimes punctuated, violence between Jews and Arabs, which can be generally attributed to the Arab objection to the Zionist enterprise.
The recent and ongoing violence in Jerusalem, while not divorceable from opposition to Israel’s existence, is connected with a more specific objection. Specifically, to the alleged Judaization of the Temple Mount, which includes the Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, and which is said to be the third holiest site in Islam.
The actual “Judaization” in question: visits by an increasing number of Jews to the site, which is the holiest in Judaism, with many of the visitors attempting to pray.
The Palestinian response: plowing cars into civilians waiting at train stations, murdering four people including a three-month-old infant; attempting to assassinate a political activist; and rioting at the holy site itself.
This violence, and the acts of violence by Palestinians outside of Jerusalem that have followed, have been stoked by incitement from the supposedly moderate Palestinian leadership. Several days before the attack in which the infant was killed, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for Jewish “settlers” to “be barred from entering the compound by any means,” adding, “This is our Aksa... and they have no right to enter it and desecrate it.”
When the Temple Mount was temporarily closed following the shooting of Rabbi Yehuda Glick – the closure being intended to calm tensions – Abbas did not hesitate to call it a “declaration of war.” The Fatah party issued a “call to arms” to defend al Aksa, and has been encouraging Palestinian to run over Jews with their cars on Facebook.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been issuing their own inciting declarations throughout, including calls for a “day of rage” and urging Palestinians to attack Israelis with their kitchen knives and cars.
Such declarations follow years of Palestinian leaders, including Abbas, claiming that Israel is intent on destroying al-Aksa Mosque or wresting the Temple Mount from Muslims. According to one such claim, construction on the Mughrabi Bridge was a plot to undermine the foundation of the Aksa Mosque. (The watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch maintains an online catalog of countless such statements, going back to 1997).
Incitement and violence over alleged Jewish incursions into the Temple Mount date back to at least 1928-29.
In September 1928, Jews at the Western Wall placed a partition between men and women at the Western Wall for prayer purposes. Arab leaders responded with claims that the Jews would take over the Temple Mount. In 1929, Arabs rioted and killed 133 Jews and injured 339.
Like the mafia warning of “accidents” that might occur if you do not buy the right insurance, Abbas warns that failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (i.e., establish a Palestinian state) will lead to an escalation of violence. The violence has indeed spread, but instead of becoming a reason to create a Palestinian state, it has become another piece of evidence convincing Israelis that further Israeli withdrawals will lead to more violence.
Until relatively recently Jews have hardly attempted to pray at the Temple Mount. Israel has allowed the Islamic Wakf to administer the site since 1967. The Israel Police prevent Jews from praying there. Yet on a whim, hundreds are ready to commit acts of violence to “defend” al Aksa from imaginary attack.
The quick resort to allegations, incitement and random violence over relatively innocuous Jewish actions is a bloody demonstration of how there will always be a reason for Palestinian leadership and terrorists (if there is a difference between the two), and a significant portion of the population, to commit or condone violence against Jews.
If a Palestinian is shot by police while throwing firebombs at passing cars, or during an attempt to attack police officers with an axe, it is an excuse for more violence.
Even with no event upon which to base a new tale of suffering and reason to kill, wild accusations about Jews proliferate with ease in Palestinian society. These include claims that Israel released “super rats” to force Palestinians out of Jerusalem, spreads drugs in an ongoing effort to Judaize Jerusalem, and many other ridiculous conspiracy theories.
The Palestinian violence today is being committed almost entirely with makeshift or unregulated weapons, such as vehicles, stones, knives and crowbars. In only one case so far was a firearm used. The lack of firearms and even more widespread violence, as was seen during the second intifada, is due to the fact that Israel directly controls all of Jerusalem and much of Judea and Samaria.
In contrast, violence from Gaza, which has for the most part been ruled by Palestinians since 1994 and from which Israel completely withdrew in 2005, has been committed by organized and sophisticated groups, with terrorist death squads, infiltration tunnels, firearms and thousands of rockets.
If Israel were to withdraw from Jerusalem and withdraw further from the Judea and Samaria, as Abbas demands, peace agreement or no it would only be a matter of time before the next round of Palestinian violence erupted over one absurd claim or another. Without the IDF and other Israeli security forces to prevent the spread of heavy weaponry and terrorist networks, we would not be dealing with cars and stones, but bullets, bombs and rockets.
In such a situation, every dispute, such as those over whether Jews can murmur prayers at holy sites or over wholly imaginary wrongs could lead to massacres of our citizens and thousands of deaths of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. That is a situation we cannot accept.The writer is a resident of Jerusalem, an attorney and a Likud Central Committee member.