...While one could critique that approach, there is some logic to it. Images of Israeli police officers breaking into Al-Aqsa mosque, or beating Muslims, do Israel a disservice. Better the world sees pictures of masked Hamas men pushing wheelbarrows loaded with stones and bottles through the mosque.
22 April '14..
It happened in 1988 on the Temple Mount. It started when a gang of Muslims captured an Israeli policeman -- an officer in the "Yamam" counterterrorism unit. By the time he was rescued by his comrades, he had been beaten and bloodied. His weapon, however, remained with his captors. With the firearm in hand, thousands of Muslims barricaded themselves in Al-Aqsa mosque. Police began closing in on the mosque, but resisted breaching its walls, as was common in those days. Eventually, a compromise was reached and a team of officers approached the mosque gates. The besieged group inside cracked open the doors and the gun, according to an agreement reached earlier, was "concealed" beside it. Police "discovered" it. Israeli "honor," as well as the gun, were restored to their rightful places. The masses made their egress from the mosque.
Now it's 2014. Compromises hardly ever work at the Temple Mount anymore. Restraint no longer projects strength, but rather weakness. A small concession breeds larger concessions. There is a limit to containment. Already more than year has passed since members of Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel began organizing trips to the Temple Mount to provoke and antagonize Jews who happen to be there. The police back down time and again, often opting for the easy solution -- closing the Temple Mount to Jews or stringently restricting their access to the site.
Last Passover, thousands of Jews sought to make a pilgrimage to the Temple Mount. Indeed, that is their right. Even the government recognizes that, but the Muslims community has dictated a different reality, "occupying" the Temple Mount for all intents and purposes. Yet again, Muslims barricaded themselves in the mosque and police treated the site as an extraterritorial zone.
While one could critique that approach, there is some logic to it. Images of Israeli police officers breaking into Al-Aqsa mosque, or beating Muslims, do Israel a disservice. Better the world sees pictures of masked Hamas men pushing wheelbarrows loaded with stones and bottles through the mosque.
On the other hand, the police has lost its power of deterrence at the Temple Mount. Once it realized that, it was already too late. Any sign of weakness spawns violence and more vehement incitement. The slightly more aggressive measures taken by Israel during Passover have already been rendered ineffective. The Temple Mount has been "occupied," and the Jews -- the victims here -- have been left outside. The Muslims -- the aggressors -- are celebrating in their faces. The time has come to liberate the Temple Mount again.
There is a remedy. If the Temple Mount is closed to Jews, it should be closed to Muslims as well. Not half the community, not gradually over time -- all at once, completely! That is the only logical way to show the Muslim community that it too has something to lose at the Temple Mount.
Moshe Dayan's historic 1967 decision to keep Jews from worshipping at the Temple Mount was also an historic mistake, but there's no use in crying over milk spilled some 47 years ago. You cannot turn the clock back. Israel must restore the historical status quo. It must reinstate freedom of access (not freedom of worship) at the site for Jewish visitors. We must project a loud and clear message to the Muslim community that if Jews, no matter the number or appearance, whether secular or religious, cannot freely ascend the Temple Mount, then the Muslim community also will remain outside. Such a measure will hit them where it hurts, but it will have the right effect.
If the hypocrites throughout the EU condemn such measures, Israel could remind them how Great Britain sealed off the Temple Mount during the second Arab uprising, going as far as to break into the mosque in order to crush terrorism and incitement. The whole thing was well-documented.
If Jordan throws a conniption, then Israel could go ahead and unshelve the Jordanian intelligence it seized during the Six-Day War, which proves Israel acts as a benevolent Santa Claus when it comes to its administration of the site compared with the Jordanian supervisory style.
The Saudis and Pakistanis can't say anything, either. They too have a history of storming mosques where inhabitants were suspected of inciting to violence and terrorism, quashing potential uprisings with an iron fist.
The Egyptians also behaved thusly. Cairo's efforts were undergirded by Al-Azhar University Grand Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy -- considered one of the Sunni Muslim world's leading religious authorities -- who issued a ruling on the issue. Israel hasn't reached that point, yet. We have no reason to invade Al-Aqsa mosque. Instead, it should simply be closed to Muslim worshippers; then they will understand. The state has already revoked the right of Jews to worship at the site. As far as freedom of access to Jews goes, however, there is no room for compromise.
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