Last Friday, the UN again passed two anti-Israel resolutions that referred to the Temple Mount only by the Arabic term al-Haram ash-Sharif, thereby ignoring any Jewish connection to the site. All 28 European Union countries voted for the resolutions.
This jives with UNESCO’s recent adoption of nonsensical resolutions declaring Jerusalem an exclusively-Muslim heritage city, and criminalizing Israel’s custodianship of the holy city. Most of Israel’s European allies went along with that affront too, either voting for or abstaining from the resolutions.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman responded to the latest UN disgrace by tweeting on Monday, “More than 2,000 years ago, Jewish patriots (Maccabees) captured Jerusalem, purified the Holy Temple and rededicated it as a house of Jewish worship. The UN can’t vote away the facts: Jerusalem is the ancient and modern capital of Israel. Happy Hanukkah from this blessed city!”
This didn’t sit well with Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney – a constant critic of Israel – whose Irish parliamentary colleagues just made it a crime to import or sell goods originating in settlements or east Jerusalem.
Coveney accused Friedman of being “provocative and biased” and “unhelpful in creating the necessary environment of compromise” in the search for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Coveney’s brassy hypocrisy is glaring! He obviously doesn’t feel that the Irish Senate boycott bill is “biased,” “provocative” or “unhelpful.”
It’s Coveney’s brand of perfidy that makes it even more necessary that Israel reassert its sovereign rights in Jerusalem, and especially on the Temple Mount which, after all, is where the Hanukkah struggle was centered some 2,000 years ago.
Consider: Over the past 10 years, and certainly since he rejected John Kerry’s 2014 peace initiative, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has been on an outrageous path, an assault on the core identity of Jews and Israelis, an offensive to deny the most fundamental building blocks of Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.
Abbas initiated those shamefully spurious UNESCO resolutions. And then Abbas falsely accused Israel of committing “violations” against Islamic and Christian holy sites, including al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount – when it is his Wakf Islamic religious trust that has turned al-Aqsa into an armed fortress and turned every Jewish visit to Judaism’s holiest site into a skirmish.
It is Abbas’s Wakf that wantonly has dug up and destroyed thousands of years of Jewish archaeological treasures on the Temple Mount while the world stood by without protest. And the muftis he has appointed, like Yasser Arafat before them, completely deny that any Jewish Temple ever stood in Jerusalem.
It is also Abbas’s gangs that have destroyed Joseph’s Tomb, sought to destroy Rachel’s Tomb, and have run Christians out of Bethlehem.
The UN secretary-general and most European countries have swallowed every bit of Abbas’s bile about exclusive Arab rights in Jerusalem, while ignoring Palestinian denial of Christian history in the city.
WHAT DO you do in the face of such betrayal, when confronted by UN Security Council condemnations of Israel – and only Israel – for obstruction of peace diplomacy? What do you do when the Big Lie is evident everywhere?
You act to introduce realism and truth-telling to the global and regional dynamic by reasserting the Jewish people’s profound historic and national rights in Jerusalem. (Thank you, once again, to the Trump administration for contributing mightily to this effort by moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem).
Furthermore, you push back against Palestinian and European denialism by reinforcing Israel’s sovereign hold on the city, and by changing the lame, so-called “status quo” situation in Jerusalem.
Primarily, this means three, admittedly controversial, things:
1. Israel should give citizenship to Jerusalem’s 300,000 Arabs (at least to those who wish to embrace full citizenship rights and obligations). Extending citizenship to the Arab third of the city’s population would make Israel’s rule and responsibilities in united Jerusalem clear, while encouraging the integration and advancement of Jerusalemite Arabs.
2. Israel should immediately embark on a grand-scale home-building campaign in Jerusalem and its environs for Jewish and Arab citizens alike, as part of a package master plan. Building in Givat Hamatos, Atarot, Beit Hanina, Beit Safafa and in the E-1 quadrant beyond the city’s eastern edge will shore up the city’s future as a predominantly Jewish and Zionist metropolis, while immeasurably improving the quality of life for Jerusalemite Arabs too.
3. Israel must insist upon Jewish prayer rights on Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount. Allowing Jewish prayer at the holiest site in Judaism, which is also the ultimate place of Zionist national expression – something that is now forbidden! – would be an excellent way to wring grudging Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people’s ancient rights in its ancestral homeland.
It doesn’t have to be that difficult. Jewish prayer can be cautiously and modestly facilitated in some symbolic way on the Temple Mount without threatening or overshadowing the two large Muslim structures there. It should be possible to arrange a time-sharing agreement for worshipers, like that in place at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, or to establish a small synagogue tucked away on the fringes of the vast, and mostly unused, Temple Mount plaza.
These initiatives will engender Palestinian (and European) resistance, but with both resoluteness and sensitivity Israel can succeed and overcome the opposition. The Netanyahu government will enjoy widespread public backing for action to buttress Israel’s stake in its age-old and modern capital city.
Next Hanukkah, the education, tourism and religious affairs ministries should run a broadscale campaign to bring tens of thousands of Israeli visitors (if not worshipers) to the Temple Mount for guided tours in the footsteps of the priestly-loyal and militarily-heroic Maccabees.
And the Foreign Ministry should embark on a campaign to have world leaders everywhere wish Israelis “Happy Hanukkah.” After all, doing so axiomatically acknowledges Jewish indigenous rights in Israel and on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, and concomitantly emasculates the denigration of Israel as an “occupier” of “Palestinian” lands.
“Happy Hanukkah” means that Jews are incontrovertibly native in Israel and Jerusalem.
The writer is vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, jiss.org.il. His personal site is davidmweinberg.com.
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