There was a time when air travel was glamorous and fun. Then the Palestinians decided to put themselves on the map with a series of hijackings. From their perspective it worked well. The hijackings and terrorist attacks throughout the 1970s turned the label “Palestinian” into a brand name – for Arabs, not Jews. Amazingly, the perpetrators of the attacks became the heroes and their victims were turned into villains.
Hijacker Leila Khaled is now feted at BDS events in places like Barcelona and South Africa.
When did flying finally lose its thrill? September 11, 2001, when al-Qaida turned into a household name after hijacking and crashing planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Now consider this: Osama bin Laden’s followers did not use planes to kill more than 3,000 innocent people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania to protest long lines and sometimes humiliating security checks at airports. The increased security was the result of the attacks. The attacks were carried out purely from jihadist ideology.
Why do I mention this? Because, in a brilliant ploy swallowed by a gullible world eager to maintain what sense of safety it can, the Palestinians have managed to turn the question of security on the Temple Mount (or al-Aksa compound) into the trigger for potentially explosive conflict.
The Palestinian Authority this week vowed to maintain the protests even though the metal detectors – those same gates routinely used at airports around the world – had been removed.
This was never about the metal detectors and security cameras. It was an attempt – a successful one – to put the Palestinian issue back on the global radar, turn Israel into the perceived aggressor, and act as a rallying cry for the entire Muslim world – which doesn’t mind having attention deflected from its internal and terrorist-related problems.
I was surprised that the metal detector gates weren’t already placed at the entrances to the Temple Mount. Visitors to the Western Wall all pass a thorough security check. Every train station, bus station, hospital and mall has security checks and metal detectors. In times of increased terrorist attacks, and I sincerely hope that we’re not headed in that direction again, it is routine in Israel to have security guards checking bags at the entrance to restaurants, wedding halls and supermarkets – all of which have been targeted by terrorists in the past.
“We will not return to al-Aksa until the situation returns to what it was before,” a Palestinian protester told reporters.
I wondered how it can go back to what it was. Even given the Druse belief in reincarnation, the two policemen killed at the site two weeks ago are not going to suddenly spring to life. Haiel Sitawi will not be with his newborn son as he grows up; Kamil Shnaan won’t marry his fiancée.
Outside Israel, the policemen murdered by three Israeli Arab terrorists have already been largely forgotten. Who cares why the metal detectors were placed at the site in the first place? Police and security forces are stationed at the site to protect all worshipers and visitors, the majority of them Muslim. Outrage at Israel’s security measures is misplaced.
Again the question of what came first should be considered. Moral outrage should be directed at those, including members of the Wakf Islamic trust, who chose to turn the Dome of the Rock into a storeroom for weapons and a sanctuary for terrorists.
The attack on the Temple Mount was an affront to humanity and the holiness of the site.
One person particularly aware that this is not the first murder on the Mount is Jordan’s Abdullah II. His great-grandfather was killed on the steps of al-Aksa during Friday prayers in 1951. A report in The Guardian at the time said his assassin “was an Arab who had been a member of a military force associated with the ex-mufti of Jerusalem” and noted that he was the fourth Muslim leader to be murdered by another Muslim within four months.
The current Hashemite monarch knows he has to handle the situation carefully. His life and kingdom depend on it. He is trying to strike a balance between voicing support for the Palestinians (who make up a majority of Jordan’s population) and preserving his role as he sees it as protector of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem with his need to prevent Palestinian rioting from getting out of control and preserving, however cold, the peace treaty with Israel. The Hashemite kingdom would be unlikely to survive without Israeli help.
That’s the reason the king helped contain the incident on July 23 when an Israeli guard at the embassy shot and killed a youth who had stabbed him. (Another man was also killed in the incident.) Despite statements from the Prime Minister’s Office, it is hard to believe that the security cabinet decision to remove the metal detector gates was unrelated to the release and safe return of the guard and embassy staff.
The inflammatory role of Turkish President and would-be Ottoman emperor Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also significant, serving his role as sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdogan is calling for Muslims around the world to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest site.
It was nasty but not a shock that threatening demonstrators proclaiming the “al-Aksa” cause kicked at the doors of Istanbul’s Neveh Zedek Synagogue last week.
Muslim worshipers had been observing until Thursday a self-imposed boycott of al-Aksa (and blaming Israel for the lack of religious freedom. They have even hijacked “chutzpah.”) When they pray there, however, they bow down and face Mecca.
Only the Jews consider the Temple Mount their holiest site. Only Jews will fast next week on Tisha Be’av, mourning the destruction on that date of the First and Second Temples, by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the Romans in 70 CE – both long before the birth of Muhammad and Islam.
THE TERRORIST attack at the home of the Salomon family in Neveh Tzuf-Halamish last Friday night as they prepared to welcome guests to celebrate the birth of the latest member of the family was an atrocity. The murders of Elad, 36, his sister Chaya, 46, and their 70-year-old father Yosef cannot be justified by any decent human being. This was not an attempt to “save al-Aksa,” despite the reported post on Facebook by 19-year-old Palestinian perpetrator Omar al-Abed before the attack.
It was part of the effort to wage unholy war.
Israel’s security requirements come from the experiences of nearly seven decades of war and terrorism. Those wars and terrorist attacks are also the cause of Palestinian suffering.
And here lies the true tragedy of the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Their leaders are not trying to create heaven on earth: They are encouraging more violence and martyrdom through endless incitement. Take, for example, Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi trying to provoke an incident by thrusting her cellphone into the face of a young border policeman in Jerusalem. Instead of getting upset by the sight of a policeman smoking on duty, I found myself pleased to see him coolly blowing smoke into Zoabi’s hate-filled face.
Unless responsible Muslim leaders speak out, the “Days of Rage” will turn into one long hot summer – the type of burning summer that naturally follows the Arab Spring.firstname.lastname@example.org