Sources of tension

Some are already declaring that we are in the midst of a third intifada.

November 6, 2014 21:25
3 minute read.
jerusalem protest

Israeli protesters gather at the site where a Palestinian terrorists rammed his car into a group of people at a Jerusalem Light Rail station, killing an infant girl.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Violence and mayhem seem to be spiraling out of control in the capital. Some are already declaring that we are in the midst of a third intifada.

In this latest round of Palestinian aggression, the chosen weapon for striking out at Israelis is the vehicle – car, van or bulldozer.

Similar to the suicide bomber, the driver in a vehicular attack has prepared in advance to die in the act of murdering as many Jews as possible, revealing yet again the death-worshiping aspect of militant Islam.

Protecting the honor of Al-Quds in the face of “Zionist desecration” is the rallying cry of the drivers with a death wish. For instance, the Facebook activity of Ibrahim al-Akary, 38, the Hamas-affiliated death-driver who plowed into a group of people waiting for the light rail on Wednesday morning, reveals a religious zealot consumed with a faith-based anxiety disorder concerning Haram al Sharif, which Jews and Christians call the Temple Mount.

On Wednesday, Jordan recalled its ambassador in protest against Israel’s purported desecration of the Aksa Mosque.

The Wakf Islamic trust overseeing the Temple Mount accused the Israeli police of going deep into the mosque.

It apparently was irrelevant that this “intrusion” was part of an attempt to keep order and track down rioters who regularly hide in the place of worship. A large cache of stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails was found in the Aksa Mosque, a stark example of how the borders between worship and faith-inspired violence are blurred in radical Islam.

Insisting on being offended, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said, “These violations are infuriating the emotions and the sensitivity of 1.5 million Muslims around the world.” Amman said it was reassessing its 20-year-old peace treaty with Israel.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on “the world and the Muslim community to protect al-Aksa Mosque” and termed the Israeli presence on the Mount “cruelty to the core.”

Those who perpetrated or underwrote the violence on the streets of Jerusalem and made threats in diplomatic channels feigned to be oblivious to the clear messages issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on nearly a daily basis that his government has no intention of changing the “status quo,” the arrangements set immediately after the Six Day War that prohibit Jews to pray on the Temple Mount and that give Muslim authorities full custodian rights – though Israel retains security control.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman tried to help calm the Muslim world in his own way by lashing out at rightwing lawmakers who he claims have contributed to escalating tension in and around Jerusalem by insisting on visiting the Temple Mount in recent days.

Liberman is right to want to reduce to a minimum friction surrounding the Temple Mount. Netanyahu’s reassurances are honorable and, if they had been accepted in good faith, could have helped calm the situation.

And in an encouraging development on Thursday, Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah jointly called for an end to violence and incitement around the Temple Mount issue.

Netanyahu assured Abdullah that Israel did not intend to change the status quo on the Mount. He also told the king that Israel respected the Jordanian monarchy’s role as custodian of the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, including the Aksa compound.

But none of these welcome gestures should be confused with a justification of murderous vehicular attacks on innocent civilians. By no stretch of the imagination can the desire of a few Jews to pray at what they believe to be the holiest site in the world be construed as justification for violence, for scrapping a mutually beneficial peace treaty, for downgrading diplomatic ties, for rioting. If anything, the senseless and murderous violence directed at random pedestrians reveals a depraved religious mentality; the hypersensitivity to real or perceived insult belies a supreme insecurity and a proclivity for playing the victim.

Israeli politicians and activists can and should agree to temporarily forgo their right to visit the Temple Mount, they can and should issue reassuring statements and refrain from statements and actions that might escalate tensions.

But ultimately it is the religious and ideological fanaticism or a large swathe of the Muslim world that is fueling the unrest and the violence. No amount of explaining and reassuring will change this sad fact.

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