The Truth behind the Temple Mount controversy

by MARK SILVERBERG August 1, 2017

On July 14th, three armed Israeli-Arab terrorists emerged from the al-Aqsa mosque within the Temple Mount and murdered two Israeli Druze police officers guarding one of the entrances to the mosque. The location was deliberately chosen by the terrorists to mount a challenge to Jewish sovereignty on Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem. Smuggling weapons into the Temple Mount is, in itself, a desecration of the holy site. But murdering two police officers who were stationed there to safeguard the site and protect Muslim worshippers made this despicable act even worse. Nevertheless, it was the installation of metal detectors and cameras by Israel and not the heinous use of a Muslim holy site as a platform for murder that enraged the Palestinians!

To an objective observer, the crisis that erupted made little sense. After all, Israel's placing security devices at the various entrances to the al-Aqsa mosque was understandably a preventive security matter designed to detect metal objects being carried onto the Temple Mount to prevent a recurrence of the crime and to protect worshipers coming to pray. Even the King of Saudi Arabia has no problem with the installation of electronic means of inspection, which are the same ones used at Islam's holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. In Mecca, for example, there are 5,000 closed-circuit television cameras (overseen by a British company, G4S) and, as a security measure, an electronic bracelet is attached to each of the millions of pilgrims throughout their entire stay in the kingdom, allowing the authorities to monitor them. That hasn't stopped the pilgrimage. Moreover, metal detectors are now a fact of life in the West, found at sports events, shopping malls, bus stations, the Vatican, the Western Wall itself, and major religious sites around the world including many mosques in Muslim-majority countries that use the same security technology to protect worshipers, tourists and police.

So why would Israel's installation of metal detectors and high-tech cameras to protect a Muslim holy site be considered an act of war especially given that all the Muslim leaders know very well that Israel has no intention of changing the status quo of the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.

The answer is simple, and it has nothing to do with metal detectors or high-tech security devices being installed to protect those who seek to enter the area. It's about something much bigger. The core issues are not territory, settlements or security measures, but existential and religious matters that, from the Palestinian perspective, are not subject to discussion or compromise.

For the Palestinians, the essence of the struggle is not over the Temple Mount or the lie being perpetrated by Mahmoud Abbas and the Jordanian Waqf Islamic Trust that Israel intends to alter the status quo of the site by installing security devices. The essence of the struggle relates to a culture of hatred in Palestinian society that refuses to grant Jews in Jerusalem (specifically) and in Israel (in general) any status other than d'himmitude as non-Muslim subjects who must pay the jizya or head tax for protection in an Islamic-controlled Palestine that would stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This is consistent with Islamic doctrine that states that any land once under Muslim control is an endowment that must inevitably revert to Muslim rule. As a consequence, the Temple Mount issue is part and parcel of the intent of the Palestinians to demoralize, threaten and murder Jews who stand in the way of restoring Muslim rule in what they consider to be "occupied Palestine".

For 20 years, Abbas and his colleagues in the PA have encouraged a toxic Palestinian culture that glorifies terror and terrorists, indoctrinates Palestinian Arabs through a culture of hatred and violence against Israel and Jews, describes Jews as human scum, and seeks their annihilation. The Hamas Charter also makes it clear that the murder of Jews is not only defensible but necessary.

This message is communicated through Palestinian schools, universities, books, magazines, in their mosques and summer camps, on television, radio and the Internet. Palestinian Arabs of all ages are taught that Jews have no right to live. In fact, they are encouraged to murder them and to view contributing to their death as their highest goal in life.

The results are predictable. Over 2,000 Israelis have been murdered in Palestinian terror attacks since the PA was established. This is why the overwhelming majority of Palestinians celebrated the murder of the Fogel family of Itamar on March 11th, 2011. After having stabbed to death the parents, a boy of eleven, his four-year-old brother, and their three-month old sister - at the trial, the terrorists regretted not having noticed two other sleeping children in the home. The same holds true for the Salomon family who were murdered in their home on July 25th in Halamish as they celebrated Shabbat and the birth of a new grandchild. What is equally revolting is that according to the Palestinian Authority compensation law, the Salomon family murderer (Omar al-Abed) is now entitled to $3,364 each month. That's $40,368 a year or $1,211,040 for 30 years for murdering Jews!

In a ceremony aired on Palestinian television, the host, a Fatah member, said: "Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs is a war of religion and faith," and the Mufti of Jerusalem who spoke after him said that "the resurrection of the dead won't arrive until you fight the Jews," with a call to kill Jews. That was in 2012. There were no metal detectors then, but the chorus and the Palestinian culture of death have not changed.

So the larger question is this - can peace ever be achieved with those who name kindergartens, schools, summer camps, sports tournaments and other institutions after terrorists and use young suicide bombers as pedagogic role models? Can a true and lasting peace ever be achieved with a culture that encourages celebrations in its streets to mark the murder of Jews and Israelis? What kind of society uses its summer camps to train thousands of its children how to make firebombs, use firearms, and ambush and kidnap Israelis? What kind of society allows the portrayal of Jews as vermin and allows publication on its government's Facebook page of a cartoon of three rats, each bearing the Star of David, dangling from a fishing rod? What kind of society allows its official Palestinian Authority (PA) media to broadcast young Palestinian girls singing about Jews as 'the sons of apes and pigs' or a sermon by a Palestinian Imam, in the presence of the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, referring to Jews as 'apes and pigs' and repeating the hadith about Muslims killing Jews hiding behind trees and rocks, because ‘Judgment Day will not come before you fight the Jews.' What kind of society allows its own government websites (in Arabic of course) to continue to feature the original PLO and Fatah covenants and other founding documents, all of which explicitly rule out recognition or peace with Israel and assert a claim to all of Israel? What kind of society produces mothers who encourage their children to become suicide bombers and to slaughter their Jewish neighbors? What kind of society encourages its soldiers to hide among civilians during battle and to use children as human shields? What kind of society creates a cultural milieu of vengeance, violence and death and consciously and purposely sacrifices its own youth for political gain and tactical advantage through a death cult?

Would any Israeli or American mother raise her children to become kidnappers and murderers and proudly say so to journalists? Perhaps the Palestinians and their sympathizers in the Western media and the EU should recognize that a culture that openly celebrates "martyrdom" and the murder of Jews is simply incapable of making peace with a Jewish state the inhabitants of which they perceive to be "descendants of pigs and apes."

Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote recently that "post-war German society went through a process of moral rehabilitation that began with recognition of what it had done." It is highly unlikely however, that such moral rehabilitation could have taken place until the scourge of Nazism had been completely expunged from German society, and, unfortunately, Palestinian culture today suffers from the same scourge. According to the U.S. Senate Committee Hearing on Palestinian Education, between 72% and 80% of children living in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority yearn to die as "martyrs" and 80% of Palestinians believe they can eliminate the Jewish state.

Until this culture of death and martyrdom has been expunged from Palestinian society, the deceitful argument that the Jews are attempting to defile the al-Aqsa Mosque (built over the site of the Holy Temple) by setting up electronic security checks for those who enter the site should be recognized for what it is - a lie being perpetrated by those who cannot accept the presence of Jews in any part of "occupied Palestine."

In short, it is not the security measures that the Palestinians want dismantled, it is Israel per se. For that reason, Prime Minister Netanyahu should have drawn and enforced a strict red line on the Temple Mount security issue - which he failed to do. The Palestinians and their clerics should have been firmly informed that if they choose to continue to boycott al Aqsa and hold prayers in the street outside the shrine, so be it. He should not have compromised on Israel's responsibility to secure the Temple Mount against more violence. As Dr. Mordechai Kedar notes: "No declaration, no matter how bombastic, whether proclaimed by the president, prime minister, ministers, officials, IDF commanders or police can hide the bitter and humiliating truth that terrorists forced the Israeli government to cave in and retreat from its correct and completely justified original decision".

Israel's failure will now be perceived as weakness and appeasement and these perceptions will spawn new terrorist outrages designed to force the Israeli government to continue to take actions detrimental to its national security and ultimately, its survival. By surrendering to Palestinian and Israeli Arab nationalist and religious extremists on the security issue on the Temple Mount, it has set its feet on a dangerously slippery slope. The insatiable Palestinian demands for more capitulation will continue. There is now nothing to prevent further threats to extort further and more far-reaching concessions from Israel. As a consequence, Israel has come out of the Temple Mount crisis considerably weakened.

Mark Silverberg is a foreign policy analyst for the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel). He is a former member of the Canadian Justice Department, a past Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (Western Office) based in Vancouver, a member of Hadassah's National Academic Advisory Board and a Contributing Editor for Family Security Matters, Intellectual Conservative and Israel National News (Arutz Sheva). He also served as a Consultant to the Secretary General of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first Palestinian intifada. His book "The Quartermasters of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad" and his articles have been archived under www. marksilverberg .com.


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