My Word: No golden silence in Jerusalem

There is an intifada going on and it’s not a quiet one, just lo-tech – so far.

Youth holds stone as Palestinians clash with IDF in the West Bank (photo credit: REUTERS)
Youth holds stone as Palestinians clash with IDF in the West Bank
(photo credit: REUTERS)
 It is being called “The Silent Intifada,” but not by me. When bereaved families cry and emergency vehicles wail on their way to yet another terrorist incident in the capital; when police helicopters hover above hot spots in Jerusalem; shots ring out; and the sound of fireworks being thrown at Jewish homes can be heard almost every night, these are indications that there is an intifada going on and it’s not a quiet one, just lo-tech – so far.
In the early hours of the morning, the intifada is particularly noisy in my neighborhood, like so many others in Jerusalem.
It is then that the muezzin can be heard calling the residents of nearby Arab neighborhoods for prayers. The volume is much greater than that needed to wake the sleepy devout; in colloquial terms, it is loud enough to wake the dead. This is not an act of religious freedom – it is part of the ongoing psychological warfare. And the sermons sounding out oh-so-loud and clear in the wee hours are not calling for peace and quiet: They are adding fuel to the intifada flames, broadcasting the message of jihad.
When the heavy rains began falling in Israel last week, many of us prayed that they would dampen the riots. Even hotheaded youths don’t like getting wet. And the situation in Jerusalem did calm down – relatively and briefly.
On October 29, Yehudah Glick was shot and critically wounded outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center where he had just spoken on the subject he is passionate about, the right to visit and pray on the Temple Mount.
On November 5, Border Police officer Jidan Assad, from the Druse village of Beit Jann, was killed and others critically wounded in an attack at the Shimon Hazaddik light-rail stop. This is near the stop where three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and 22-year-old Karen Jemima Mosquera were fatally wounded in a similar incident two weeks before.
In Hebrew we have a term for this particular form of attack, carried out by terrorists who need only a vehicle and a perverted ideology.
We call it a “pigua drisa,” a running-down terrorist attack. It came into use in 2008, when two Arab construction workers used their bulldozers not to build but to destroy.
The method, and the term, has been used in Israel several times since then and I suspect that the rest of the world will soon search for a similar phrase. Canada sadly witnessed such an attack just last month.
This week’s fatal attack was carried out by a terrorist with a clear Hamas affiliation.
The assassination attempt on Glick was carried out by an Islamic Jihad operative, who had already served time for security offenses. The name Islamic Jihad should give you a clue of the nature of the terrorist organization. This is not about creating a Palestinian state. This is war. On the world.
But most of the world finds it too hard to comprehend.
The double standards are sickening – and dangerous.
After more than 30 of its soldiers were killed last week, Egypt swiftly created a buffer zone between Gaza and Sinai, displacing thousands of Palestinians in the process. It could be considered fortunate that at least one country threatened by Islamist terrorists is allowed to take action.
The 4,000 rockets launched at Israel this summer from Gaza apparently don’t constitute a war crime in the eyes of the world diplomatic community. Neither does the serial disregard of cease-fires that could have halted all the hostilities and loss of innocent lives. Only Israel’s defense is criminal.
I don’t know whether this is because the Jewish state was audacious enough to want to defend itself or because – horror of horrors – not enough Jews died during the war (thanks in part to the Iron Dome) to make the casualties “proportional.”
The threats to take Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague have not gone unnoticed. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on November 4 told tens of thousands of his supporters that his organization is not afraid of another war with Israel and that his rockets can reach the country’s ports and airports.
The fact that he was speaking via video link from a bunker is small consolation.
The destruction by Israel of his stronghold in Beirut’s Dahiya neighborhood in response to the rocket attacks in the Second Lebanon War is no longer a deterrent. In a culture that worships martyrdom and a world that automatically condemns Israel, the Iranian-backed master terrorist feels with some justification that he can’t lose.
The recent conference by donor states on the reconstruction of Gaza, under the same Hamas leadership that had deliberately caused its destruction, proves his point. It perversely encapsulated the definition of “chutzpah”: the man who kills his parents and then pleas for mercy from the court because he is an orphan.
The Palestinians appeared to have co-opted the concept of chutzpah just as they have adopted so many motifs important to Israel and Jews. (Just when did Jerusalem become so central to their world? Not when it was under Ottoman, British or Jordanian rule.) This week it was revealed that the sister of senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk is receiving treatment for cancer in an Israeli hospital. Last month, the daughter of former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh was hospitalized in Israel.
Meantime members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement globally have stepped up their campaign against any relations or normalization efforts with Israel. (BDS apparently doesn’t apply when it comes to receiving top-notch Israeli medical care, but perhaps the greater absurdity is that the Israeli government permits this farce ongoing hostilities notwithstanding.) MKs Haneen Zoabi and Ahmed Tibi continue to sit in the Israeli parliament, assured of healthy salaries and pensions, while decrying “the apartheid state” and fanning the flames of hatred.
The light rail, which until this summer acted as a symbol of peaceful coexistence, is now being targeted, we’re told, because it passes through Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods.
Were it to stop short of those neighborhoods, Israel would be accused of discriminating against Arab residents.
Strangely the only place in the country that approaches what can be described as an apartheid policy is the Temple Mount, where Jews – not Muslims – are banned from openly praying. The attempt to keep the Temple Mount judenrein can be seen in the Arab riots, where the sanctity of the site – and its mosques – are defiled by thugs throwing rocks and firecrackers.
It is all too easy to present Glick, with his fiery red hair and beard, as a right-wing fanatic. Easy but wrong. Glick is passionate about the rights of members of all the monotheistic religions to pray at the site where the First and Second Temples once stood. In past contact with him, I found him mild-mannered and naive but far from being a rabid racist.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not condemn the attack on Glick.
On the contrary, he sent a letter of support to the family of the suspect of the shooting attack, killed as he resisted arrest on the rooftop of his Jerusalem home. Describing Hejazi as a martyr, Abbas said his death is another crime “of the Israeli occupation army against our people since the Nakba.”
It is another sign, for those who care to see it, that the core issue isn’t the settlements or even Jerusalem. The problem is the existence of the State of Israel.
Leaders who seek true peace do not go out of their way to glorify Islamic Jihad “martyrs.”
They seek to stop the bloodshed and calm tensions.
Israeli lawmakers and opinion leaders on the Right would be wise – and morally correct – to use their influence to calm the tensions among their followers. The sanctity of Jerusalem can only be maintained through peaceful means. However hard and painful the present situation, violence and provocation will never provide the answer, only more ammunition to our enemies.
And patience should be a particularly important virtue in a city that’s more than 3,000 years old.
A few hours after the November 5 attack in Jerusalem, it was reported that French Socialist parliamentarians, following as similar move by Sweden and the British opposition, were calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state, even without clearly defined borders. I, too, call for recognizing the Palestinian entity for what it currently is: We already have Islamic State.
The last thing the world needs is another terrorism-supporting, borderless entity, dedicated not to peace and progress but to death and the cult of martyrdom.
The writer is editor of
The International Jerusalem Post.
[email protected]