Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fire on the Mount

A bit of history: on the evening of June 10, 1967, the last day of the Six Days' War (which 42 years later is in fact still going on), the Israeli bulldozer made a debut appearance in United Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Israel etc.etc.etc. The inhabitants of the Mugrabi Quarter – a neighbourhood of thousands of people, which had existed for hundreds of years – were given expulsion orders, effective immediately. Within a few hours, the entire neighbourhood was razed and wiped off the face of the earth. As later told by Etan Ben Moshe, the officer in charge, an old woman who did not leave her home was crushed to death, her body found the next morning under the ruins of her home.

It was not done because of any deed with which the inhabitants were charged. Simply. it was their bad luck that they lived near the Wailing Wall. Moshe Dayan, the then all-powerful Minister of Defence, wanted to have a very big open space to all the Jewish worshippers who would come to pray at the Wailing Wall. So was created the great , wide (and not exactly beautiful) Wailing Wall Plaza,

You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mughrabi_Quarter

At least. Dayan had the sense not to go too far in provoking the Arabs and Muslims. The Jews were given a big and wide place for prayers at the Wailing Wall, and the Mount above left to the Muslims who had been praying there for 1300 years already. It just happens that this place was very holy and precious to about a billion people all over the world, and it would be unhealthy to heat them up. True, the Jewish Temple had stood there once upon a time, and when the Messiah comes it might stand there again Meanwhile, the Chief Rabbinical Council ruled unanimously that until the coming of the Messiah it is neither worthwhile nor advisable to ascend the Mount – if fact, it is strictly prohibited on purely religious grounds.

That was 42 years ago. Meanwhile things have changed – and not for the better. A new generation of rabbis has arisen – nationalist rabbis, settler rabbis, fanatic rabbis, provocateur rabbis, rabbis who are already used to create accomplished facts at every hill and vale. Now they cast covetous eyes also at this holy mount, caring not at all that they are setting aflame a very big fire.

How shall we put off the fire? There is needed a clear and unequivocal declaration, on the most senior level of the State of Israel: This Mount is a Muslim place of prayer, and so it will stay. Jews wanting to pray in this area have a big and wide plaza available at the Wailing Wall. To climb the Mount they can – but only as guests of the Muslim owners. Those for whom this is not enough will just have to wait patiently until the coming of the Messiah.

A governmental declaration? Certainly not from Binyamin Netanyahu's government. Meanwhile, the fire will continue to burn. It might burn all of us.

A Temple? No, thanks!

A small question. Supposing that the space was completely open, and that it was possible to create a Jewish Temple without harming anybody and without provoking a billion Muslims, would that have been what we really want, in the Israel of 2009? To go back to the time when the public slaughter of living beings was the peak of religious worship?

If there are people living among us who get a sublime feeling of closeness to God by watching poor sheep and cows being killed and their blood scattered around, they can get complete satisfaction by just going to the nearest abattoir. And they had better also see a psychiatrist.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The ceaseless chattering

In his address to the gala opening of the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, PM Netanyahu called on Palestinian President to renew peace negotiations. "Tell your people that the time has come to end this conflict; tell them that the time has come for two nations to live side-by-side in peace and security. I believe that peace with the Palestinians is possible, but that requires brave leadership on both sides".

Nice words. Nice words? Nice chattering. Had our Prime Minister meant a single word of what he said, he should at the same time have addressed the settlers and exhibited a brave leadership. He should have told them something like this: "Ladies and Gentlemen, your story is over. There will be no more construction in the settlements, not a single building more – it is a waste of money. Moreover, start packing your belongings and prepare for getting out of the territory – unless you are ready to become citizens of Palestine".

Everybody knows that without a dismantling of settlements there will be no State of Palestine – and without a state of Palestine, there can be no peace, either. Everybody knows it – even the chattering Netanyhau.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Those nasty Turks

What a chutzpah! Turkey cancelled the joint exercises with the air force of Israel. They are just not willing to let the planes which killed hundreds of civilians in Gaza come to hold exercises over Turkish territory. For fifty years, ever since Ben Gurion's time, the state of Israel had worked so hard to establish and maintain political and economic and military ties with Turkey. And in a single month of bombings over Gaza, all that has been destroyed? Commentators on the Israeli media express shock: Why do we deserve this? Why?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paying back the loan

Dear Mr. President, the Nobel Peace Prize you have gotten is like an advance payment, a loan on which you have hardly started paying off the first instalment.

On several occasions you have declared that, as far as you are concerned, the ending of Israeli occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state is neither lip service nor empty rhetoric, but a real and concrete goal to be achieved during your present term in the White House. In fact, you and your aides repeatedly mentioned a specific time frame: during the year 2011. To achieve that - as you must be fully aware - it would not be enough to restrain the settlements nor even to freeze them. Quite a lot of dismantling will have to be done, too. When the free and sovereign State of Palestine is created and signs peace with the state of Israel, then – at least as far as I am concerned - you will have fully earned your Nobel Prize.

Get to work, Mr. President, and good luck!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who is the inciter here?

Exactly two months ago a man named Yehoshua Tor, who heads a body known as "The Movement for Restoration of the Temple", said the following: "There, at the top of Temple Mount, there is a foreskin which should be removed. The Temple will arise in place of that boil, full of pus". So he said, about the mosques which are holy to a billion Muslims all over the world. So he said, and nobody cried "Incitement". No minister demanded the outlawing of him and of his movement. Nobody even took care to implement a government decision from 2003, by which this man lives in an illegal settlement outpost (in the South Hebron Hills) which the government is obliged to remove.

A band of extremists with an implausible, mad, twisted dream? Unquestionably. But in the past forty two years, it happened more than once that this kind of crazy bands got the full support of the IDF, and the Israel Police, and all government ministries, in implementing their crazy dreams and crazy ideas right there on the ground. Not so far from the Temple Mount there is the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarah, where such a band of crazies came in the middle of the night and with the full support and protection of the police threw two (Palestinian) families out into the street and took over their homes. Even closer to Temple Mount is Silwan Village, the place which settlers call "City of David", where settlers are digging deep into the earth, and undermine the homes of their Palestinian neighbors, and nobody really knows where and how far they are digging.

In short: When Arabs and Muslims are worried about these extremist groups and their crazy plans, these fears are far from unreasoned or baseless. It is not just paranoia and certainly more than manipulation. But when somebody comes to cry out "Al Aqsa is in danger!" the Government of Israel immediately comprehends what it means, Hurrah, hurrah, we have found the inciter!

Israel fears violence following arrest of Islamic Movement head

Islamic leader tells Haaretz Temple Mount clashes won't end until occupation of Jerusalem does

WATCH Organizer admits City of David endangers Arab homes

Yehoshua Tor speaks frankly

Monday, October 5, 2009

From one to forty-nine

As all Israeli governments have said since 1967, and as PM Netanyahu reiterated a few weeks ago, Israel is committed to the freedom of religious worship in Jerusalem.

This week, like so often before, the Jerusalem Police forbade Muslims aged less than fifty to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Jerusalem Police also detailed large forces to safeguard the prayers of Jews at the Wailing Wall, for whom no age limitations were set.

Yes, there is freedom of religious worship in Jerusalem – but sometimes you have to wait until you are fifty…

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Born to be free

Release him - now!
Because this young man, who stands prolonged detention with so much courage and dignity, deserves to be free. Because three years and three months are long enough and far too long. Because the state of Israel which sent him to the border of Gaza must bring him back, with no further delay. Because on this issue the people in Israel are united, more than on anything else. Because his whole country wants Gil'ad Shalit back home with his family.

Release them - now!
Because his whole country wants Gil'ad Shalit back home with his family. Because there can never be peace while Israel's prisons and detention camps are full of thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Because there is hardly any Palestinian family which did not have a member in prison at some time in the past forty two years. Because Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Shamir had also been called terrorists. Because their whole people wants the Palestinian prisoners back home with their families.

Friday, October 2, 2009

If only...

"The Goldstone Report endangers peace" said Prime Minister Netanyahu. Why? "When we disengaged from Gaza, we thought that the world would let us use self-defence. If it does not, we can't take any more risks for peace".
Translation to plain English: "If you don't give us a free hand to bomb the West Bank after we have withdrawn from there, to bomb, to kill and to destroy, we will just not withdraw".

And, with that permission you would? Really, Mr Prime Minister? From the whole West Bank?