Good News Friday

It’s time for a palate-cleanser after the balagan of the past week, so here is a Good News Friday installment to put us all into a better mood for Shabbat.

Let’s start with the amazing “Good Neighbour” program instituted by the IDF to help Syrian civilians caught up in the fighting, and who are desperate for food, hygiene products, medical help and anything to enable to live a half-normal life amidst the destruction. Just watch this video:

Kol hakavod to Tzahal (the IDF) and to all the multitudes of personnel involved in this important project.  We can be so proud of our crazy little country!

In the Bible it is written “מעז יצא מתוק” – “out of bitterness comes sweetness”. Maybe this Operation Good Neighbour will be the thing that can bring about peace between our nations.

Look out for more videos and Facebook clips about Operation Good Neighbour. They are all eye-opening and heart-warming.

Since we’re talking about helping others, here is a story of a non-Israeli – a visiting British policemen – who helped an Israeli under attack by a violent gang in Jerusalem while he was on holiday, who has then received a well-deserved award for bravery:

A detective sergeant from Essex Police is up for a bravery award tomorrow night — for saving the life of a Jewish resident of Jerusalem after he was violently attacked.

Detective Sergeant Richard Burgess told the Jewish News this week that he “didn’t think about it” despite nearly getting killed in the attack. But he did detect “God’s purpose” in helping the Jewish man.

Detective Sergeant Richard Burgess who saved Israelis from attack in Jerusalem

DS Burgess, 45, who is based in Rayleigh, Essex, has served in Essex and the intelligence community and has been a police officer for 25 years. But his real ambition, as he told the Jewish News, is to become a priest, and he has been studying with Canon David Tudor of St Nicholas’ Church in Canvey Island.

The group’s week-long tour was nearly at an end when, at DS Burgess’s initiative, they visited the grave of Oskar Schindler, who saved hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. Schindler is buried in the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion, near the Old City’s Zion Gate. The police officer has worked as a historian and a Holocaust guide, teaching many young people and guiding them around sites in eastern Europe.

“As we came out of the cemetery, there was a young child screaming in an alleyway opposite, and a woman who pointed down the alley and begging, ‘please help’ in broken English.

“I saw three Arab-looking males assaulting a Jewish man wearing a kippah. I saw him being dragged and assaulted, and some sort of noxious substance appeared to have been sprayed at his face, because his eyes were streaming.”

The burly police officer ran down the alley “without a thought”. He said: “It wasn’t a good year for me, 2016. We went to Israel two days after my mother’s death and I had had a bad motorcycle accident which affected the use of my right arm”.

But, undeterred, he said: “I curled my arm around one of the men — who was hitting the Jewish man with a belt which he was using as a knuckleduster — and put him in a headlock. With my other arm I pulled at the Jewish man’s clothing and literally threw him up the alley, shouting ‘go, go’ — he soon got the message”.

But the drama wasn’t over, as the men began hitting DS Burgess round the face with the belt-buckle. “A third man came into the area with a claw hammer, and hit me on the back of my head.” The police officer slumped against the wall and the assailant raised the hammer once more — and this second blow would certainly have killed him.

“I managed to raise myself up — I’m a big bloke — opened my arms wide and shouted at them”. The men shouted back for him to leave and Canon Tudor and his police colleagues made certain that the children of the injured Jewish resident were safe.

Two men were later convicted of assault and DS Burgess made his way back to the pilgrimage coach and safety. His colleagues nominated him for a Police Federation Bravery Award, which is due to be presented on Thursday evening.

The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off-duty. The awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.

Kol Hakvod to DS Burgess! As his superiors said, he is a true police hero. He also should be awarded a medal for courage from the Israeli police. May DS Burgess have success in his chosen career and may he continue to be a role model for all policemen.

Turning now to something completely different, here are some lovely educational items.

Teachers in haredi (Ultra-Orhtodox) schools have decided to bring nature studies to the classroom. These children typically study mainly “book-learning” with very little hands-on experience, particularly about the environment, and the teachers had the bright idea of teaching about nature by creating “mitzvah gardens”:

Leshomra is a two-year-old organization that helps plant gardens at nursery schools, kindergartens, schools, and community centers in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in an attempt to connect children in a tactile way to nature and how things grow. It aims to build environmental awareness and green practices from the bottom, through a real understanding of Haredi culture and how best to relate to people in that community.

“First you need a connection with nature,” explained Avishai Himelfarb, the founder and director of Leshomra. “If you go to a [Haredi] first-grade class and say ‘you should recycle,’ that’s not even the issue… They don’t even understand that nature exists and that you need to take care of it” through recycling and other actions, he explained.

“Maybe they know it in their brains, but they don’t experience it, they don’t know what nature is,” Himelfarb said as he looked out across Modiin Ilit, one of the first places where Leshomra started working. Many of the playgrounds in the city are covered with synthetic grass.

…  Leshomra now works in 85 schools and community centers in the ultra-Orthodox locations of Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, Modiin Ilit, Elad, Tel Stone, and Beit Shemesh. It mostly works with younger children, but in some places with Talmud Torah schools, or elementary schools for ultra-Orthodox boys.

He started Leshomra two years ago after running shmita, or sabbatical year, tours in the central Israeli Moshav Gimzo, where he lives. Without any advertising, more than 7,000 ultra-Orthodox kids and their parents came for tours to learn about the special Torah commandments that govern every seventh year, when observant Jews let the land lie fallow. The strong response inspired Himelfarb to pursue his dream full-time by starting Leshomra. He studied at the Mandel Institute’s Leadership Development in the Haredi Community program to help him develop the idea.

The mitzvah garden also enables the children to integrate their Jewish studies and the commandments relating to the Land of Israel to nature studies:

There are commandments connected to agriculture that few observant Jews have a chance to fulfill because they are not farmers. One of these is kilayim, or the prohibition of planting different species close to each other.

At the kindergartens and nursery schools, the children make their own “kilayim rulers,” practicing numbers and geometry in the process, and plan their gardens with sufficient space between the species.

… Rivkie, a kindergarten teacher from Modiin Ilit who declined to give her last name, recalled the excitement when she taught the students about the commandment of ma’aser, or tithes, which means putting aside 10 percent of the harvest for the Levites. In their garden tended by 4- and 5-year-old girls, 10 percent of the harvest turned out to be a single radish.

They gave that lone radish to the father of a student, who was a Levite. He brought it to the kollel where he studied Torah full-time and cut it into little pieces, and all of the Levites there took a small bite.

“Everyone was excited,” said Rivkie. “From the girls to the father to all of the people in the kollel — because it was the first time they had observed this commandment.”

“It really affects people,” she said. “I see mothers come in to the kindergarten to visit, and the girls don’t show them their drawings, they run with them to the garden and they want to show them how it’s growing… The girls document every little leaf that sprouts for us.”

And there are some important life lessons in all this too:

There are also disappointments, like when a whole class waited patiently for a single watermelon to ripen only to discover that the fruit had rotted and ants had eaten its innards.

“It’s also part of the experience when things don’t grow,” said Rivkie. “It’s part of dealing with life — there are disappointments, and there are also so many other wonderful things.”

Read the whole article. What a beautiful idea! Kol hakavod to Avishai Himmelfarb and the Leshomra organization and to all the teachers who participate and encourage nature studies, bringing such an important dimension to these children’s lives. May they go from strength to strength.

And one more item before we go (via Hadassah). Sarit Sternberg, a 16 year old Israeli student who is in the Hebrew University’s Alpha program for gifted students, was invited to Australia to represent Alpha. She described how she discovered a virus that kills anthrax in her studies at Alpha:

Antibiotics are usually used to treat anthrax, but certain bacteria are building resistance.

Sternberg has been looking at bacteria-killing viruses called phages, and she found one that can kill anthrax.

Sarit Sternberg in Sydney speaking to Year 11 students at Emanuel College.

“It was wonderful, I was really, really happy. I was literally jumping up and down, it was amazing,” she said.

“Anthrax is a very dangerous disease. It could cause death within a week or less.”

It’s a significant discovery and a remarkable one for someone of her age.

Sternberg addressed Year 11 students at Emanuel College in Sydney on Tuesday – and has a new fan in the shool’s principal.

“When you see people like Sarit and the work she’s doing to solve some of the problems the world has, it gives me great hope for the next generation,” Emanuel School Principal Anne Hastings said.

As well as studying at high school, Sternberg does scientific research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem two days a week.

Listen to Sarit’s interview on Australian RN radio here. (Click the arrow on the left).

Kol hakavod to Sarit!  She and her friends are the young people who are the promising future of Israel, but who work for the good of all mankind. May she continue with huge success in her future studies and career.

And with these inspiring thoughts I wish you all a safe, peaceful Shabbat and Chodesh Tov.

Posted in Israel news, Culture, Arts & Sports, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Update on Al-Aqsa unrest

Just a quick update with what’s been happening today on the Temple Mount and Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa.

Last night, as the cabinet discussed the measures to be taken on the Temple Mount, the Arabs continued to riot violence, leaving 42 Arabs and 5 policemen injured:

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Palestinians threw rocks and glass bottles at the officers outside the Old City’s Lions Gate following evening prayers. Police responded with tear gas and riot dispersal methods. Samri said 5 officers were hurt.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that 36 of the protesters were taken to the hospital for treatment. Two of them were in serious condition after being hit by rubber bullets.

As I mentioned last night, Israelis were worried that our government would cave in to pressure to remove the metal detectors at the entrance to Al-Aqsa. Thankfully, the cabinet did NOT surrender.

The Political-Security Cabinet decided on Thursday night, after a four-hour meeting, that the magnetometers will remain at the entrance to the Temple Mount as part of the new security measures at the compound. The decision was taken the evening before the Friday prayerrs at the site, when large numbers of Muslims ascend the Mount..

The Cabinet also authorized the police to make every decision “in order to ensure free access to the holy places, while maintaining security and public order” on the Temple Mount.

“Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy sites. Israel is committed to protecting the safety of all worshipers and visitors to the Temple Mount,” said a statement.

Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Channel 2 News in an interview that the metal detectors must remain on the Temple Mount because “the security interest in preventing future attacks in the wake of a desire to imitate what happened [last week] has to prevail.”

“We must continue to install them (the metal detectors) on all roads to the Temple Mount. If the Shin Bet is opposed to the security measures, then it should offer alternatives, and that did not happen.”

They also instructed to prevent under-50 year old men from entering the Mosque. Yisrael Katz, Likud Minister for Transportation, said “we won’t concede our sovereignty on the Temple Mount“.

Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), who serves as a member of Israel’s Secrity Cabinet, on Friday said that the Cabinet decided to keep magnetometers on the Temple Mount and did not leave the decision up to the police.

“The Temple Mount is in our hands,” Katz said, quoting the soldiers who liberated Jerusalem’s Old City during the Six Day War. “We will not cede sovereignty. The State of Israel is responsible for preserving law and order on the Temple Mount.””Contrary to reports, the Security Cabinet decided to continue using every security precaution which was begun immediately following the despicable terror attack, including the use of metal detectors. The State of Israel is responsible for implementing this policy.”

Earlier on Friday, Israel Police announced that entry to the Old City and the Temple Mount would be closed to men below the age of 50, and that private vehicles would not be allowed to enter the Old City or the nearby Sultan Suleiman Street.

The police also closed certain roads around the Old City area:

Following internal police consultations on Friday morning, Jerusalem Police chief Yoram Halevy ordered the continued operation of the metal detectors and restricted entry to young men, allowing only those over 50 or women of any age to enter the Old City.

Muslim worshipers perform noon prayers by the Lions Gate, outside the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 20, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Checkpoints at the entrances to Jerusalem will also be bolstered, as well as police patrols in the alleyways of the Old City and on paths taken by Jewish and Muslim worshipers to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

Police also announced that some roads around the Old City will be closed to vehicles, including Sultan Suleiman Street and various circumference roads in the Old City basin.

Halevy issued a special notice to officers posted at the metal detectors “emphasizing the importance of ensuring the dignity of the worshipers” as they pass through the gates.

It is important to note that the directive emanated from the government to the police. If the choice had been left up to the police themselves, they might well have removed the magnetometers simply in order to “keep the peace”. This is certainly a short-term measure but that is how the police operate if left to their own devices. But they would not act against government directives. This is the way the government should act also regarding Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount – they should instruct the police to permit it, and it is up to the police then to enforce those rights.

In protest, the Mufti of Jerusalem called on Muslims to pray outside the Mosque rather than go through the security gates. I’m pretty sure that suits us all fine. It leaves the Temple Mount free for the Jews, and the Muslims can pray wherever they want.

Muslims pray outside Al-Aqsa, pointing their backsides towards the mosque

A win-win situation for all, as long as the Muslims stop their rioting.

I will update here if there is any more news before Shabbat.

UPDATE: 3 Palestinians killed, 200 injured in further riots.

Posted in Incitement, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spiral of violence over Temple Mount security measures

Middle East pundits like to talk about the cycle of violence in the region, particularly in relation to the Israel-Palestinians conflict. But the truth is that the violence is not a cycle, it is a spiral, prodded and pushed and magnified at each level by the Palestinians and their leadership. (In a previous post (back in 2013!) I wrote about the “unicycle of violence“).

I saw the perfect graphic on Twitter illustrating this spurious “cycle” of violence, via Kirsten Stauffenberg: (click on the graphic to enlarge)

The Al-Aqsa cycle of violence

We see this spiral every day, but never so clearly as we have this week when, the Palestinians, incited and inflamed by their religious and political leadership, declared a day of rage at the chutzpah of Israel in installing metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount following the deadly terror attack last Friday.

As part of the security measures taken in the wake of the shooting to prevent further such attacks, police installed metal detectors at the entrance to the site, which Jerusalem police commissioner Yoram Halevi said were necessary for it to reopen. Friday’s gunmen, residents of the northern Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, emerged armed from the compound and opened fire on the police officers stationed outside.

Fatah on Monday called for marches in the West Bank toward Israeli checkpoints in protest of the new measures and announced that Friday prayers, when many worshipers go to the Temple Mount, would be conducted in public squares instead. The decision was made following a meeting between Fatah Revolutionary Council secretary Adnan Ghaith, Fatah central committee member Jamal Muheisin, and Fatah representatives from the northern West Bank.

The group said the measures were called in order to denounce Israeli “terrorist procedures” in the Old City, according to a report in Ma’an.

The officials called for maintaining the delicate status quo at the Temple Mount, denouncing a “fierce and organized attack” by Israel against East Jerusalemites.

Watch scenes from the Arab riots in Jerusalem on Tuesday night:

Dozens of Arabs rioted outside the gates of the Temple Mount on Tuesday evening and threw rocks and bottles at police.

Police dispersed the rioters using crowd dispersal measures. Two policemen were lightly injured.

In Ras al-Amud, rocks were thrown at a Border Police force. The officers are searching the area for suspects.

Channel 2 News reported that the chief preacher of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, said during the demonstration, “We are here to protect Al-Aqsa. I call on the Muslims to go to the mosque in large numbers on Friday.”

The riots continued on into Wednesday across Jerusalem:

By early Wednesday morning, the riots had spread to Silwan, near the City of David, where dozens of Arab rioters hurled fire bombs and stones at police and Border Police officers at a number of locations across the neighborhood. Rioters also shot fireworks at officers before being dispersed by security forces.

Arab rioters in Issawiya, Jerusalem (Flash 90)

Rioters also attacked police Wednesday morning in the Arab neighborhood of Issawiya. Fire bombs were hurled at officers before the attackers were dispersed by security forces. No officers were injured in the attack.

One Israeli woman was injured after Arabs threw stones at a car near the Beit Orot neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.

The disturbances come hours before demonstrations planned as part of the “Day of Rage” declared by Palestinian Authority leaders and Muslim clerics in protest of new security measures put in place on the Temple Mount following last Friday’s terrorist attack.

The vile Mufti of Jerusalem fanned the flames as he warned Muslims that if they go through the metal detectors Allah will not hear their prayers. (Seriously!).  Nevertheless many Muslims defied the Mufti’s orders and entered the Mount quietly after having gone through security.

Not only Muslims, but Jews too entered the Temple Mount freely. However after exercising their inalienable right to worship (at least one would think it was our inalienable right), the police temporarily closed the Mount to Jews:

Muslims began returning to the Temple Mount Wednesday, even as the Waqf continued to order worshipers away from the holy site in protest against the installation of metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount following the deadly terrorist attack at the holy site last Friday in which two Druze police officers were murdered.

Hundreds of Muslims passed through the upgraded security to visit the Temple Mount Wednesday.

… With the Waqf temporarily absent, Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount took the opportunity to exercise their freedom of religion, but were escorted off the Mount by police and detained.

After the two separate incidents of Jewish prayer on the Mount, Jerusalem Police Commander Yoram Levy ordered the Temple Mount closed to Jewish visitors.

“Following an additional violation of the visitation rules for the Temple Mount by a group of Jewish visitors who ascended the Mount, Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Levy ordered the group removed from the area and Temple Mount closed to Jewish visitors,” a police spokesperson said.

However, the site has since been reopened to Jews as long as they comply with the Waqf-imposed and Israeli police-enforced ban on Jewish prayer.

The Temple Mount was reopened to Jewish visitors Wednesday afternoon, after police had closed the holy site to Jews earlier this morning.

Jewish visitors were barred from visiting the holiest site in Judaism after police claimed several Jews “violated visitation rules” earlier on Wednesday.

Under the current rules, Jews are not allowed to engage in prayer on the Temple Mount, even silently, and are barred from bringing religious items with them, such as prayer books and tefillin (phylacteries).

Jewish visitors are usually escorted by officials from the Jordanian Waqf, the Islamic trust which manages the Muslim sites on the Mount. Waqf officials monitor Jews visiting the Mount to ensure that they do not approach the Muslim prayer areas or engage in prayer.

It was also just announced (via RRW) that the terrorists’ accomplice has been arrested:

New details have been released by Israel Police on last Friday’s terror attack at the Temple Mount.

Police have arrested the accomplice who helped the terrorists smuggle in the guns with which they murdered two Israeli police officers and wounded several others, according to Israel’s Channel 10 TV.

In addition, police have released the security footage that tracks the movements of the terrorists in the minutes prior to the attack.

The police have not identified the man and they blocked out his face in the video so he can’t be identified.

As the article above ntoes, if there had been metal detectors installed, this terror attack could not have taken place.

It must also be stressed that in the holiest place according to Islam, in Mecca, there are metal detectors and explosives detectors. And no Mufti or Muslim official declares that the prayers from Mecca are not going to go to Allah! Many other holy sites around the world, from the Vatican to Buddhist and Hindu sites and others also have metal detectors. Why is Israel singled out? (Rhetorical question, no prizes for the correct answer).

The question is, what next? Will Israel cave in to international pressure (surprise!) to remove the metal detectors? Given Netanyahu’s jelly-like behaviour in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised:

The London-based Arabic-language Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Thursday that the United States is proposing a compromise, whereby the magnetometers will be removed from the entrance to the compound, but visitors will be continue to be carefully inspected by Israeli security guards before being allowed to enter.

The newspaper quoted senior Palestinian Arab officials who claimed that there was agreement on their part to inspect suspicious persons only, but who stressed they would not agree to a situation in which every Arab entering the Temple Mount complex would be inspected.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made clear on Wednesday that the security measures on the Temple Mount will continue, but added that discussions are being held on how to do this optimally.

Meanwhile, the controversy over the magnetometers within the defense establishment is ongoing. The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) argues that there is no need for the magnetometers, while the police claim that they are necessary in order to assist in the prevention of terror.

On Wednesday night, the White House published a statement in which it expressed “concern” over the situation on the Temple Mount.

Maybe Netanyahu will withstand the pressure given that, very surprisingly, the Saudi Arabian King Salman intervened over the Temple Mount crisis, speaking much more responsibly than “our friends” the Jordanians:

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud personally intervened to end the closure of the Temple Mount following a terrorist attack at the site, according to an Arab media report on Tuesday.

Saudi Kind Salman

King Salman, according to a report in the Saudi-owned and London- based Arabic news site Elaph, sent a message to Jerusalem via the White House, urging Israel to reopen the site to Muslim worshipers as soon as possible.

In return, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly sent back reassurances that he had no intention of altering the 50-year-old status quo at the site, according to which non-Muslims may visit but not pray at the site. Misinformation regarding Israeli plans to make changes to the status quo surfaces frequently, roiling the Palestinian street and angering the Arab world.

The source for the Saudi report defended the installation of the metal detectors at the gates to the Temple Mount, saying it had become “commonplace” at holy sites to because of terrorism, which attacks “without discrimination.”

Netanyahu reportedly expressed anger to King Abdullah II of Jordan over a comment made by the speaker of the Jordanian parliament, Atef Tarawneh, who praised the attackers and said a prayer for them during a parliamentary session.

Maybe the Mashiach really is on our doorstep at last. Jews can ascend freely to the Temple Mount without Waqf activists screaming epithets in their faces (albeit without permission to pray); the Saudis are intervening on our side in a religious crisis… all we need now is for the Temple to be rebuilt, speedily in our days, Amen!

Posted in Incitement, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Muslim preachers incite to violence because of security measures after terror attack

As night follows day, Muslim leaders began protesting the new security measures on the Temple Mount that Israel put in place following the deadly terror attack on Friday in which two Israeli policemen were murdered. The Temple Mount was closed to Muslim prayer for 24 hours while Israeli security forces searched the area for weapons, and then installed metal detectors at the entry points to the Mount for anyone entering.

Muslim worshippers refuse to enter the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa because of metal detectors

The outcry that followed, whipped up by Muslim extremists and preachers, could lead one to think that Israel had banned Muslim worship there forever. One might even think that the terrorists were not their co-religionists, acting on their incitement. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the truth has never been a strong point for Muslim extremists.

It should also be noted that there have been metal detectors, scanners and sometimes body searches at all entrances to the Kotel more or less since the beginning of Jewish prayer there. The Muslims should consider themselves lucky that they never had to worry about such measures before. And given the incitement that is heard from their preachers I can’t help wondering why such measures were not implemented earlier.

The first thing that happened were scuffles that broke out at the entrance to the Temple Mount due to incitement from the Waqf:

Amid heightened tension at the Temple Mount, sporadic scuffles broke out Sunday between security forces and Muslim protesters who were trying to prevent other Muslim worshipers from going onto the site.

Muslim protestors outside the Temple Mount

Israel partially reopened the ultra-sensitive holy site, which had been closed since Friday’s terror attack that killed two policemen, having installed new security measures including metal detectors and cameras.

But some members of the Waqf — the Islamic trust that administers the site — objected and called on people not to go up.

Nevertheless, several hundred worshipers went through the metal detectors to pray at the site that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Note that it was Muslim-on-Muslim violence above everything else:

Dozens of Muslim men physically blocked worshipers at Lions’ Gate from approaching the newly installed security measures.

The metal detectors and bag searches were being carried out by a private security firm.

Despite pleas from Yoram Halevi, head of Jerusalem District Police, the leaders of the Islamic Waqf refused to cooperate, and told their followers not to comply with the new security arrangements.

But many worshipers did enter, including Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf. Al-Khatib entered from a different gate accompanied by several hundred worshipers, and made no complaint about the newly installed security measures. When asked why he accepted the new measures, al-Khatib told reporters that he did not want to leave the holy site empty.

And as usual, the Palestinians want a do-over after their own violence:

Adnan Husseini, the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Affairs minister, said arrangements must to return to how they were before the deadly attack.

He said the Palestinians will not accept Israeli security additions at the entrance to the site. Though he acknowledged there was violence, he said it “shouldn’t be an excuse for making changes.”

Avi Issacharoff at the Times of Israel warns of the dangerous theatrics of Muslim officials at the most incendiary site in the world:

The Waqf officials knew in advance that metal detectors now stood at the gate; they knew international media would be waiting to see how things would unfold; and they had evidently decided to use the opportunity to display their opposition, knowing it would be broadcast across the world by the dozens of journalists gathered at the entrance.

The waiting police officers made clear to Ahmed Omar al-Kiswani, the director of al-Aqsa Mosque, and to chief Sharia judge Wasef al-Bakri, that they need not pass through the metal detectors and could enter the Temple Mount compound directly. But instead of entering, the Waqf officials halted theatrically, and suddenly begin shouting in protest against Israel’s ostensible “attack on Al-Asqa Mosque.”

..

Halevi had hoped for the reopening of the holy site to be a celebratory affair. Instead it had quickly turned into an act of protest against the placement of the metal detectors — designed to ensure security in and around the site.

The made-for-TV protest was broadcast on countless media outlets, especially in the Arab world. Al-Kiswani, who was clearly enjoying the limelight, gave interviews, while instructing worshipers not to enter to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque so long as the metal detectors remained in place.

Waqf officials demonstratively pray outside the Temple Mount because of opposition to metal detectors

Al-Kiswani knew full well that the three Friday killers smuggled the weapons they used to kill the police officers onto the Mount. He knew, too, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Saturday evening with Jordan’s King Abdullah, who pays his salary, about the planned reopening of the compound. Nonetheless, he had decided this was the appropriate response.

And that was only part of the farce. What al-Kiswani didn’t know was that, at around the same time, a short distance away, the head of the Waqf, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, had entered the Temple Mount Compound, accompanied by a large delegation of Waqf officials, through the Majlis Gate, adjacent to the Waqf’s offices. While al-Kiswani was protesting against the alleged Israeli violation of the site, his boss was at that very moment not merely encouraging worshipers to come pray at the mosque, but was actually leading them up to the Mount.

It is not clear why some officials of the Waqf — whose members are Jordanian officials for all intents and purposes — have chosen this confrontational course. It may be that they have been inspired by Jordan’s conduct — marked by its unreasonable demand on Friday for the compound to be immediately reopened, even as Israel searched for weaponry.

On Saturday, there was an anti-Israel/defend Al-Aqsa march in Amman. On Sunday, the speaker of the Jordanian parliament read out a eulogy for the “martyrs of Palestine and the Jabarin family,” from which the killers hailed. He termed their attack a heroic act. All this, even as King Abdullah and Netanyahu had spoken by phone and agreed to reopen the Mount.

The question now is who will blink first. Will someone from the Hashemite kingdom intervene to impose some order? Will someone in the Israeli government back down? The latter seems particularly unlikely: Netanyahu told reporters on Sunday that the metal detectors are here to stay, and that they constitute an an all too evidently necessary security measure, not a change to the status quo.

Indeed, Jordan’s role in this incitement is extremely worrying. While King Abdullah phoned Binyamin Netanyahu to condemn the attack and called for calm, his own parliament was busy inciting against Israel and glorifying the terrorists:

The Jordanian parliament lauded the actions of the three terrorists Sunday evening who carried out a deadly shooting attack on Friday at the Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, describing them as “martyrs.”

Condemning Israel’s decision to temporarily close the Al-Aqsa mosque to worshippers in the aftermath of the attack, the MPs glorified the three terrorists who murdered the two Druze policemen, Staff Sgt. Maj. Ha’il Satawi, 30, and Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shnaan, 22, of Maghar and Hurfeish respectively

Jordanian parliamentarians pray for the three Temple Mount terrorists

“May God have mercy on our martyrs who watered our pure soil,” said the chairman of parliament, Atef Tarawneh.

“May Allah have mercy on our youths, the members of the Jabarin family who deserve honor and fame,” Tarawneh declared.

“The damage by the Israeli occupation in the holiest sites of Jerusalem and in Al-Aqsa are grounds for continuing the resistance, not to surrender in the face of oppression or tyranny. The Israeli persistence and the severity of its crimes it is committing are the reasons for the setting of fire of revenge in their hearts among the generations who inherit the hatred of the occupation.”

I have few expectations from the Jordanians despite the ostensible peace agreement between our two countries. But we all expect more from Israel’s own Arab parliamentarians. Outrageously all we heard was silence, which President Reuven Rivlin condemned:

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday condemned Arab-Israeli leaders for not speaking out against Friday’s terror attack at the Temple Mount, saying their silence was akin to an endorsement of the shooting.

“The silence and the feeble responses from some Arab political leaders are outrageous,” the president said at a ceremony at the National Security College.

“Terrorism must be denounced unconditionally,” he added. “Anyone who doesn’t denounce terrorism is collaborating with it.”

While lambasting Arab-Israeli leaders for not denouncing the attack in which two police officers were killed, Rivlin praised the “responsible” conduct of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, both of whom condemned the shooting in phone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“[They] fully understood the danger and worked together with us to calm tensions,” he said, according to Channel 2.

I wouldn’t be so quick to praise them. It was mere lip service to placate Israel rather than an honest condemnation which would have entailed curbing the incitement from their own populations.

The incitement involved some vicious cartoons in the Arab media warning that Al Aqsa is in danger:

In Saudi Arabia, where the government has yet to issue an official statement on the topic, the newspaper Al Watan printed a caricature of a Star of David with Satan’s horns, which is eating the Dome of the Rock.

Saudi incitement claiming Israel is destroying Al-Aqsa

… Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, also affiliated with Qatar, showed the mosques on the Temple Mount closed off with yellow crime scene tape marked with the Star of David and a sign that says “No entry.”

Qatari cartoon inciting against Israel

Ben Dror Yemini in Ynet traces this incitement back to the infamous Raed al-Salah, and warns that incitement inevitably leads to violence as we have just seen.

Incitement in the first act leads, almost always, to a terror attack in the third act. The first act fully belongs to Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, which has been outlawed. This branch is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement in general, and with Hamas in particular.

Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini turned Al-Aqsa into the main focus of his incitement against Jews. Salah is following in the mufti’s footsteps when it comes to Al-Aqsa. These two specialized in incitement. The younger people are getting down to business. We received another example on Friday.

The focus is on the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” libel. According to the libel, which was spread by the mufti in the 1920s, the Jews are planning to take over the Temple Mount mosques and build the Third Temple on their ruins. Since then, the Al-Aqsa libel has been one of the main causes of the waves of terror. Salah himself has called on his followers to sacrifice their lives “to defend Al-Aqsa.” Whoever thinks brainwashing doesn’t work is wrong.

So there’s a need for two things. First of all, it’s time for the Israeli authorities to realize that talk leads to action. Salah and his likes should be silenced, and any legal way will do. Second, Israel’s Arabs, the majority, must speak up much more blatantly. Salah and his followers are the enemy. They are the strife mongers. They are harming the justified struggle for equality. They are spreading lies and nurturing incitement. For our sake, for their sake, Israel’s Arabs should also get rid of this nuisance.

But there has been one good outcome so far from the terror attack and the Muslim response to Israel’s security measures: For the first time, Jews were allowed up to pray on the Temple Mount without a Waqf escort!

Israeli police permitted Jews to visit the Temple Mount Monday, despite the absence of Waqf officials, marking the first time in years that Jews have been able to visit the holy site without being escorted by representatives of the Jordanian organization.

This welcome development came about as a result of the Waqf boycotting any cooperation. They have obviously shot themselves in the foot. Long may they continue doing so as long as it does not lead to more incitement and violence – which sadly, I am sure will continue.

Posted in Defence and Military, Incitement, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Good News Friday

I was not really in the mood for a Good News Friday post after the terror attack in Jerusalem this morning in which two Israeli policemen were murdered.

And yet…  I feel I can’t leave my blog over Shabbat with such a sad post on the top, so here is a very quick Good News Friday post. The video below, and the article, were sent to me by a good friend just yesterday (although they date back to May – I can’t think how I missed it!) and I realized they are the perfect answer to the murderous violence we saw this morning.

An Emirati pop star made a video – davka during Ramadan, which has since gone viral with millions of views, has confronted Muslim terrorists about the violence they spew, and chides them to “worship with love, not terror”:

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — A video advertisement that depicts a would-be suicide bomber confronted by the faithful has gone viral two days into the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“Worship your God with love, not terror” is the main message of the three-minute advert posted Friday online by Kuwaiti telecommunications giant Zain, which operates across the Middle East.

“I will tell God everything,” says the voiceover of a child at the beginning of the ad as a man is seen preparing a bomb.

“That you’ve filled the cemeteries with our children and emptied our school desks…”

It features images from bombings across the region claimed by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group.

But it ends on a positive note with footage of a happy wedding and cheerful children dressed in white.

“We will encounter their hatred with songs of love,” concludes a caption superimposed on a black background.

The video is a bitter reminder that the main victims of Muslim terrorism are Muslims themselves. Even today in Jerusalem, the victims of the terror attack were Muslims –  Druze Israeli policemen.

The video features actual victims of Muslim terrorism, who either hold pictures or mention their loved ones who were killed in such attacks.

Watch the video:

It is videos like these, and pop stars and cultural heroes like these, who will eventually bring peace to the Middle East. They are the answer to the hatred and violence – if only they can get their message across and bring it to the masses of Muslims worldwide.

May we all have a more peaceful and safe week. Shabbat Shalom everyone.

Posted in Israel news, Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

UPDATED: Terror attack starts at Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem, continues on the Temple Mount

This morning Palestinian terrorists opened fire near the Lion’s Gate entrance into the Old City of Jerusalem, critically injuring two Israelis (apparently security forces) and moderately injuring one more. They then fled to the Temple Mount, or in their opinion the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and continued shooting from there. Israeli policemen finally killed them there.

UPDATE: Sadly, it was announced that the two critically injured policemen have died. Both were young Druze officers.

Speaking to the press after the attack, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said: “This was a tough morning for the police. We have two people killed, officers, who paid the dearest price in this battle.”

Sitawe, 30, hailed from the town of Maghar, a mostly Druze and Arab city in northern Israel.

Shnaan, 22, was from the Druze village of Hurfeish, also in northern Israel.

Sitawe joined the Border Police as part of his mandatory national service instead of serving in the military. He joined the Israel Police in 2012 and has served in the unit responsible for securing the Temple Mount ever since.

He leaves behind a wife, Irin, a three-week-old son, his parents and three brothers.

Shnaan joined the police directly after high school. He decided to stay on the police force seven months ago, signing on as a career officer.

He was the youngest son of a former Labor Party Knesset member, Shachiv Shnaan. His engagement party to his girlfriend was to be held next week.

Shnaan leaves behind his parents, one brother and three sisters.

Both Shnaan and Sitawe were posthumously promoted to the rank of master sergeant.

What a terrible loss! May their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may their memories be for a blessing. יהי זכרם ברוך

In stark contrast to the loyal Arab policemen who gave their lives to defend Jerusalem, the terrorists were Israeli citizens of the Arab town of Umm al Fahm – and all of them had the same name:

The Shin Bet security service confirmed that the terrorists who carried out the attack were Arab Israelis from the city of Umm al-Fahm, which had also been under a gag order, which was lifted shortly before noon.

What are the leaders of the Israeli Arab community going to do to prevent such terror and incitement from their community?

Medics treat victims of a shooting attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 14, 2017. (Magen David Adom)

Arutz Sheva has the initial story:

At least two people were critically injured on Friday morning in a terror attack at the Lions Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.

An additional victim was injured moderately, and is fully conscious. He sustained a wound to his upper body.

Initial investigations show that three terrorists left the Temple Mount armed, and walked towards Lions Gate. They then spotted police officers and shot at them, then escaped back towards the mosques on the Temple Mount.

Police officers chased after the three terrorists and caught up to them, eliminating all three.

A search of the terrorists’ bodies revealed a pistol and two Carl Gustav guns.

Aussie Dave at Israellycool has dramatic video footage of the attack:

Note how in this next video one of the terrorists gets up, before being killed. Show that to all the “experts” who think shooting to kill a terrorist is not the way to go.

The implications of this attack, taking place on the most volatile spot on Earth, the Temple Mount, cannot be overstated. This could be the trigger provoking an all-out religious war. It could also finally provide Israel with the justification for either closing off the Temple Mount to Muslim prayer altogether, at least temporarily, or – preferably in my humble opinion- to allow free and full Jewish prayer on their holiest site.

But no, Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered a continuation of the status quo for fear of igniting yet more violence. You might think that this is a reasoned, sensible position to take given the circumstances, but a quick look back at recent history shows that Israeli concessions, or simply non-escalation, bring us no less terror and no fewer attacks. In fact, it is only when Israel delivers a harsh response that something resembling calm returns to the streets.

The Times of Israel reports on Netanyahu’s resistance to calls to change the status quo:

The dramatic terror attack at the Temple Mount Friday drew condemnations from across the Israeli political spectrum, including calls to change the long-standing arrangements at the holy site that allow Muslim prayer there but forbid Jewish prayer and religious rituals.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fended off the calls with a blunt statement from his office Friday saying, “The status quo will be protected.”

According to the statement, Netanyahu convened a briefing with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Eisenkot, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai and others.

Erdan called the attack “an extremely serious event which crossed all red lines. The investigation is ongoing. We will need to reevaluate all of the security arrangements on the Temple Mount and its environs. I call on all public leaders to act to calm the situation and ensure quiet in Jerusalem.”

The only response to the attack was a temporary closure to the Temple Mount for the day – and I wonder if that closure affects Jews too.

Following the attack, Jerusalem Police chief Yoram Halevi canceled prayers for the day on the Temple Mount, ordering the complex cleared and the entrances to the holy site closed. Police also placed checkpoints at the entrances to the Old City.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said the “cynical use of the Temple Mount as a kind of zone of immunity for incitement and terror has to stop. We’re not eager to [send security forces to] operate on the Temple Mount, but when we must, we will. The very willingness of the terrorists to use the Temple Mount flows from the incitement” heard at the site, which he noted as already led to rioting there in the past.

It is outrageous that Jews cannot make so much as a blessing on a cup of water, move their lips in prayer let alone actually whisper the words, or even cry tears since they are expressing sorrow at the state of our holiest shrine, lest they get ejected from the Mount and are even banned from returning. But Muslims can play soccer there, make picnics, store stones for attacking Jewish worshippers at the Kotel below, and now can openly shoot at Israeli police with no reprisals and no consequences.

How Palestinians “protect” Al-Aqsa – with stones and rocks to throw at the Jewish worshippers at the Kotel

How holy can Al-Aqsa mosque be to the Muslims if they allow such behaviour there, and if terrorists can use it as a launchpad for attacks against Israelis and Jews?

It is an utter disgrace. I have zero expectations from the Palestinians or Muslims. I have very high expectations from our government – and I feel they have bitterly failed us.

Here are some Twitter responses:

The US Ambassador condemned the attack:

And in anticipation of international biased headlines, former IDF spokesman Peter Lerner warned:

 

Posted in Incitement, indigenous rights, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments