Ne­tanyahu’s bur­den of blame

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Ge­of­frey Al­der­man

LAST MONTH, ELEVEN Is­raeli Jews were killed and more than 100 in­jured in an epi­demic of bru­tal at­tacks upon Jews through­out Is­rael. While there is no com­fort to be gleaned from th­ese out­rages, they do send some clear mes­sages that we ig­nore at our peril. There has been much me­dia spec­u­la­tion as to whether the Arab per­pe­tra­tors of th­ese crimes were “lone wolves” — op­por­tunis­tic vil­lains — or whether they were will­ing par­tic­i­pants in an or­ches­trated up­ris­ing. But this is the wrong ques­tion to ask. The facts are that th­ese vil­lains op­er­ated in an at­mos­phere of crude, brazen in­cite­ment against Jews (re­peat, Jews), and that this in­cite­ment came — and con­tin­ues to come — from within the Arab world and with the en­thu­si­as­tic en­dorse­ment of a va­ri­ety of Is­lamic reli­gious lead­er­ships.

We know, for ex­am­ple, that the killer of Ne­hemi­ahLa­viandAharonBen­net­tintheOld City of Jerusalem on Oc­to­ber 3 was en­cour­aged by Arab passers-by to kill iden­ti­fi­able Jews. Shot dead by Is­raeli se­cu­rity per­son­nel as he wentabouthis­mur­der­ous­work,hehas­been posthu­mously hon­oured by the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship by be­ing buried with “holy soil” from the Al-Aqsa mosque, re­ceiv­ing an hon­orary law de­gree, and hav­ing a street named af­ter him. We also know that Is­lamic so­cial me­dia are awash with ex­hor­ta­tions to the faith­ful to kill Jews and to cel­e­brate their killing, and that th­ese ex­hor­ta­tions in­voke en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponses. For ex­am­ple, on Oc­to­ber 25 it was re­ported that a Pales­tinian fam­ily in Gaza hadan­nouncedtheirnew­born­son­wouldbe named “Knife of Jerusalem” — “It’s the least we can do,” the proud fa­ther de­clared, “to show sol­i­dar­ity with our peo­ple in the West Bank and Jerusalem.” A friend ex­plained that the idea was his: “we were watch­ing the mu­sic video ‘Lovers of Stab­bing’ on TV, and I said: ‘How about Knife of Jerusalem?’”

The pre­vi­ous week, dur­ing the course of a Ha­mas Al-Aqsa TV in­ter­view, Dr Subhi Al-Yaz­iji, Dean of Qu­ranic Stud­ies at the Is­lamic Univer­sity of Gaza, de­clared as fol­lows: “All Jews in Pales­tine to­day are fair game — even the women… Ev­ery sin­gle Jew in Pales­tine is a com­bat­ant, even the chil­dren.” Ter­ror at­tacks, he opined “should be car­ried out in the very heart of the en­emy — in Haifa, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and Hadera.” And when asked if the ra­tio­nale for th­ese at­tacks was to be found in “the oc­cu­pa­tion” he calmly re­sponded in the neg­a­tive: women and even chil­dren were to be killed sim­ply “be­cause they’re Jews.” [For those of you who are in­ter­ested, this in­ter­view can be found on the web­site]

Why were Jewish women and even Jewish chil­dren to be killed? The an­swer (as I’ve ex­plained be­fore in this col­umn) is to be found in the re­li­giously-in­spired, anti-Jewish racism that per­vades the Mus­lim world. It’s not “the oc­cu­pa­tion” that’s the is­sue. It’s not “the right of re­turn.” It’s Jewish con­trol over ter­ri­tory that was once part of the Dar al-Is­lam — the House (or Realm) of Is­lam. This is the grim but un­de­ni­able re­al­ity that my short-sighted aca­demic col­leagues who signed the in­fa­mous boy­cott state­ment pub­lished in last week’s Guardian would rather ig­nore. The quar­rel is reli­gious. It al­ways was reli­gious. And it al­ways will be.

At the cen­tre of this quar­rel is Jerusalem’s Tem­ple Mount, which is only a Mus­lim holy place be­cause it’s a Jewish holy place. In an at­tempt to pla­cate in­ter­na­tional opin­ion, Is­rael’s prime min­is­ter re­cently de­clared that “Mus­lims pray on the Tem­ple Mount; non-Mus­lims visit the Tem­ple Mount.” On a prag­matic level, I un­der­stand why Ne­tanyahu framed his state­ment this way. But what that state­ment amounts to is a de­nial of reli­gious free­dom to Jews and Chris­tians. In other words, it’s ap­pease­ment pure and sim­ple — made some­what less un­palat­able (I con­cur) by the agree­ment with Jor­da­nian author­i­ties to in­stall se­cu­rity cam­eras on the Mount, which will hope­fully al­low Is­rael to mon­i­tor the area for ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity.

‘‘Mod­er­ate’’ Arab states (I am think­ing par­tic­u­larly of Egypt, Jor­dan and Saudi Ara­bia) re­alise that Pales­tinian na­tion­al­ism is lit­tle more than ji­hadism writ small. At this par­tic­u­lar junc­ture, Is­rael ben­e­fits from their co-op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially in the face of the com­mon threat that they face from Is­lamic State. But the ban­ning of Chris­tian and Jewish wor­ship on the Tem­ple Mount is al­most cer­tainly a breach of in­ter­na­tional law, for which Ne­tanyahu must take re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The re­al­ity is that this quar­rel will al­ways be reli­gious

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