Americans for Peace Now Israel Jerusalem Palestinians Temple Mount

How to prevent another conflagration in Jerusalem

At long last, I’ve found some sensible sentiments on the scary, sad situation in Jerusalem. They come from Americans For Peace Now’s Lara Friedman and Daniel Seidemann of Ir Amin, who have a piece in Haaretz.

They note a few other times when battles over Jerusalem’s holy places threatened to turn a nationalist conflict into an existential, religious war: “If the timing – in terms of the annual cycle – seems familiar, it is no surprise: Most eruptions in Jerusalem occur around the Jewish High Holidays. Recall the 25 Palestinians killed on the Temple Mount during Sukkot in 1990, the opening of the Hasmonean Tunnel during Sukkot in 1996, Sharon’s Temple Mount visit on the eve of Rosh Hashanah in September 2000, etc.”

They could have gone back even further. On Yom Kippur, 1928, riots erupted after Jews erected a temporary screen to separate men and women who were praying at the Western Wall. For months, there were charges and counter-charges, as local Arabs were revved up by nationalist and religious leaders to believe that the Zionist infidels wanted to take over the Temple Mount, and local Jews were revved up by nationalist leaders to stake their claim to Jerusalem. These escalating tensions eventually helped to spark the horrifying massacre of Jews in Hebron in 1929. That occured after the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem claimed that Jews were endangering Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount, and incited Arab riots throughout Palestine.

Oh, Jerusalem…Tom Segev, in One Palestine, Complete, is a good source for the feverish conflict over holy places in that city during the British Mandate period. Lara Friedman and Dani Seidemann are a good source right now. They write:

The pyromaniacs are out in force, weakening the forces of moderation and dictating the agenda. Tensions are high, and the stakes could not be higher. To make it through these delicate days with the city – and prospects for peace – intact, it is vital that all sides act with utmost restraint and responsibility.

For Israel, this means that early intervention – such as prevention, for the sake of public order, of any inflammatory event (Israeli or Palestinian) – should be the operational imperative. It also means no provocations: no new settlement activity, tunneling, demolitions or evictions. No symbolic or ceremonial activities on the exposed nerves of the conflict. Israel’s actions in all these arenas will, perhaps more than any other factor, determine whether the current tension dissipates or escalates into a conflagration.

For the Palestinians and the Arab/Muslim worlds, acting responsibly means not stoking the fires of extremism with polemical rhetoric and hyperbole. This does not mean acquiescing to highly problematic Israeli policies in East Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa today is not in danger, but Palestinians in East Jerusalem constitute a community at risk, and the creation of an exclusionary settler hegemony around the Old City threatens to marginalize the Muslim and Christian presences in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority and forces of moderation in the Arab world can and should articulate genuine concerns, and demand that Israel act responsibly. Furthermore, they must also demand the same of all Palestinian factions, making clear that cynical manipulation of Jerusalem to gain domestic political points is not acceptable.

9 thoughts on “How to prevent another conflagration in Jerusalem

  1. This must be difficult for Netanyahu, who was the individual that gave the order for the Hasmonean tunnel building in 96, that was originating incident behind the formation of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, comprised at that moment largely of former Israeli trained Palestinian police, very deeply imprinting the untrustworthiness of armed Palestinian police.

    Provocation. Netanyahu. Hamas. Chaos dancers.

  2. I believe the authors overrate the credibility of the Palestinian Authority in the Palestinian community. Calls for moderation from the PA will quite possibly be written off as mere collaborationism. For that matter, they may be mere collaborationism.

  3. I see already in the first sentence the old, tired cliches of the Israeli “peace camp”-“we don’t want to turn a nationalist conflict into a religious one”.

    IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A RELIGIOUS CONFLICT. The Left likes to pretend thagt it isn’t because they think if it is “nationalist” then it will be easier to solve, so by saying that, it makes it so.
    I suggest everyone read Benny Morris’ book on Israel’s War of Independence called “1948”. He makes clear that the conflict has always been religiously motivated, and in fact that is what brought in support from Arabs of neighboring countries, NOT “concern for the Palestinians” whom they in reality couldn’t care less about.

    It is intolerable to any good Muslim that a dhimmi people, particularly the Jews, should have a sovereign state within the “Dar el-Islam” (the Realm of Islam”, which includes North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia). This is obvious to all Muslims, but the Israeli Left is oblivious to the truth.
    Until everyone recognizes the reality of the situation, there is no ability to frankly confront it and deal with its consequences. That is why the phony “peace process” starting with the Oslo Agreements have brought more hate, violence, destruction and death to the region, in addition to the erosion of Israel’s position in the world, than existed before it. Time to wake up.

  4. 1.5 billion Muslims in the world vs. how many Jews? If you really think this is a religious conflict, YBD, better pack it in and move to Poughkeepsie.

  5. William Burns-
    We have always been greatly outnumbered but we are hanging in there. People have counted us out before. I am not worried.

    Remember the Gaza War? We are always warned about “the rage of the Arab street”. What was the response of the “Arab street” to that war? NOTHING. No big demonstrations, even by the “Palestinian brothers” in Judea/Samaria (West Bank). Sure, Arab countries suppress all demonstrations, but if the rage of the “Arab street” the Arab/Muslim brothers would have gladly marched into the truncheons, tear gas or bullets of the police. But, as I said, there was no response.
    What does this mean? On the one hand, there is endemic, religious hostility to Israel. But, this does not necessarily transform into support for the Palestinians by the other Arabs/Muslims as a whole. And someone may hate Israel and Jews, but that doesn’t mean that they are willing to fight and die for the cause. Our job is to make it clear that, no matter the hostility they may feel towards us, it is not worth taking action. This is achievable, even if it means they won’t ever agree to a formal peace with Israel.

  6. I remember one particular wacko @ mondoweiss (who shall remain unnamed) lambasted me for using a racist term like Arab street.

    Meanwhile, it’s an Arab expression and it’s not even meant to be derogatory.

    Anyway…I keep hearing different things everyday about the relations between Israel and the US. First Netanyahu says he will freeze settlements, then the next day it’s something different.

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