The battle for Jerusalem

Jerusalem has been under fire, both literally and diplomatically, for a long while now, but in recent weeks the situation has deteriorated sharply.  If the authorities, i.e Binyamin Netanyahu and his Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharanovitch don’t get matters in hand very soon I dread to think what might happen next.

Starting with the Silwan neighbourhood: contrary to the received wisdom, this is no “Arab East Jerusalem” neighbourhood. This was once a Jewish or mixed area, settled (oops, there goes that word again) by Yemenite Jews at the end of the 19th century.

Yemenite Jew in Shiloah (Silwan) c. 1882

The Jews were driven out in the Arab riots of 1929 and were finally ethnically cleansed in 1948 by the marauding Arabs. The area remained Judenrein until Jerusalem was liberated in 1948. Somehow, since those 19 years of Arab occupation, the “Arab identity” of the area stuck and it is considered unacceptable for Jews to live there.

However over the last few years, Jewish individuals and organizations have started buying property in Silwan, which in any other area literally anywhere in the civilized world (I do not consider most Arab countries civilized) would not even raise an eyebrow. In the last few weeks two properties were purchased by Jews and the purchasers moved in, thereby doubling the Jewish presence in Silwan.

The Arabs have been seething ever since. Because Silwan is designated nowadays as an “Arab neighbourhood”, these purchases have been called provocation, theft and generally outrageous and inflammatory. The condemnations have come in swift and sharp from the likes of the PLO and various foreign ministries.

The fact is that it is an outrage that these people consider it an outrage for a Jew to buy a house, and – gasp! – move into it, in his own capital city, or any other city anywhere in Israel. The outrage, faux or real, only encourages the Palestinian irredentists to entrench themselves in their rejectionist positions. If the world is so concerned about peace in the region, they ought to internalise for themselves, and then teach the Palestinians that Jews are allowed to buy property and live in it wherever they so wish, just as the Israelis are pushed to allow the Palestinians to live where they wish.

“Deebo” at Israellycool has an excellent take-down of  the Palestinian point of view as reported by the Palestinian newspaper Ma’an, which illustrates so clearly how slanted is the view about Israel, Jews and Jerusalem. One small example – with Deebo’s remarks in brackets:

The (previous) owners of the buildings, Salah al-Rajabi and Imran al-Qawasmi, sold the properties to a Palestinian man identified as Shams al-Din al-Qawasmi, who in turn sold the buildings to Jewish settler groups, the center said. (Oh that guy is dead meat now)

The previous Palestinian tenants left the buildings over four months ago. (so they “raided” and “occupied” an empty home, that was legally purchased, but some will still claim the previous inhabitants were forced into homelessness)

For more background and history of Silwan, and Jerusalem in general, read this  scholarly article by Shaul Bartal in Middle East Quarterly. One very important point that he makes is this:

The ultimate goal of the Palestinians and their allies is to advance the idea that Jerusalem in general, and neighborhoods like Silwan in particular, have no Jewish ties. Archeological remnants found in Jerusalem are thus presented as either Canaanite or Muslim.

On the Temple Mount, Arab riots and Muslim provocations continue against Jewish visitors. I use the word “visitors” advisedly because Heaven forfend that they should be worshippers for that is forbidden by the Waqf and the Israeli police.

In the latest incidents Mahmoud Abbas has called Jewish visitors to their holiest site “herds of cattle”, and has now called for Jews to be banned completely from the Temple Mount, using “all means”. If that is not a call to violence I don’t know what is.

This follows the shocking daubing of swastikas on the Temple Mount, discovered this week:

Swastikas daubed on the Temple Mount

Avigdor Liberman got it right when he said that Abbas is an anti-semite trying to ignite a holy war in Jerusalem. The terrifying thing is that Abbas might well get what he wants. But he will be the loser – yet it will be blamed on Israel as usual.

The American blogger Meryl Yourish (so glad she has resumed writing) takes AP to task for calling Abbas’s inflammatory words “a suggestion” and concurs with Liberman’s accusations against Abbas:

In a speech quoted by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abbas said Jewish “settlers” should be prevented from entering the site “by any means.”

“This is our Noble Sanctuary … they have no right to enter and desecrate it,” Abbas added.

That is outright religious hatred. He’s not talking about the mosque. He’s talking about the entire Temple Mount. You know, the holiest site in Judiasm. And “suggested”? really? You know what a suggestion is? “Hey, I think you should try putting a purple streak in your hair and see how it looks.” That’s a suggestion.

This? This is outright saying Jews have no right to their own holy place. No right to the site where both Temples stood, where the Ark of the Covenant resided, where Jewish priests blew the shofar on Rosh Hashanah–the site, in fact, where Judaism was practiced for centuries before Islam existed. This is part of the Palestinian strategy to pretend that the area was wholly Muslim and Jews have nothing to do with it. It is, straight out, a lie. And the AP calls it a suggestion.

The Muslim desecration of Jewish holy places extends even to the dead, as Arabs  vandalised over 40 graves at the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

Jewish graves vandalised on the Mt. of Olives cemetery

Meanwhile, Arab anti-Jewish violence in Jerusalem continues, with lynching attempts, stonings, firebombings, not to mention the severe damage caused to the Jerusalem light rail, putting almost 40% of the line out of action.

Damage to Jerusalem light rail station

Jerusalem light rail train carriage windows smashed by Arab rioters

It has taken until now, but PM Binyamin Netanyahu has finally lost patience with the incompetence of the police and their lack of response to the Arab violence in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday demanded Israeli police and security agencies take a harsher stand against escalating firebombing, stoning, and vandalism attacks against Jewish residents by pro-Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem in recent months.

Calling to bolster police presence in the streets of the capital as a show of deterrence, Netanyahu “instructed that forces be increased in the confrontation areas and that vigorous action be taken against those who disturb the peace.”

However, despite the staunch calls for a crackdown on crime, a government official told the 0404 news site that Netanyahu is “furious” at Aharonovitch over his inability to quell the burgeoning violence.

According to the source, Netanyahu has expected that Aharonovitch know what steps to take in order to get the streets under some semblance of control.

“Netanyahu is furious with Aharonovitch’s lack of treatment on the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem,” the official said. “The situation is catastrophic. Aharonovitch ‘fell asleep on his watch,’ and now everyone’s getting hit by the ricochets.

“This verges on scandalous,” the official said.

Eyewitnesses at the meeting earlier in the day between Netanyahu, Aharonovitch, Barkat, police officials, and others who deal with the attacks in Jerusalem, said Netanyahu slammed his fist on the table as he turned to speak with Aharonovitch.

Netanyahu, according to those present, gave Aharonovitch five days to boost forces and stop the violence.

But since Netanyahu was the one who appointed Aharonovitch in the first place, why does he not fire him and find a more competent replacement?

This is not a matter of mere politics any more.

Unfortunately, the battle for Jerusalem is not only in our own hands. As Shaul Bartal in the above-mentioned Middle East Quarterly article sums up with these sad words:

Sadly, the battle over Silwan (and for that matter the wider Palestinian-Israeli conflict) is likely to continue as long as Palestinian Arabs and their brethren refuse to recognize that another people, the Jews, have a claim to the Land of Israel.

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12 Responses to The battle for Jerusalem

  1. Pingback: The battle for Jerusalem |

  2. peteca1 says:

    ABSOLUTELY this is a fight for Jersualem.
    That goal, or “prize”, is what will ultimately drive the Middle East into its final ultimate conflict.
    Because Jerusalem is not just a piece of land, not even just a holy city. It symbolizes eternal hope – a hope beyond all the cares and worries of this world. And sadly … people will fight down to their last toenail – for that hope.

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      You’re right that Jerusalem symbolizes hope – but not for the Arabs. Or rather, the only hope it symbolizes is the one where they wish to destroy Israel and the Jews.

      The Arabs are not fighting for Jerusalem as a symbol of hope. they are fighting for Jerusalem to prevent the Jews from holding it. The ONLY reason they want Jerusalem is so that we shouldn’t have it. It’s a dog in the manger attitude.

      They don’t want the Jews in Jerusalem and they don’t want the Jews in Israel. They don’t want the Jews in the world at all, but they’re starting with Jerusalem and Israel. And a willing world aids and abets them.

      • peteca1 says:

        Anne … is this true? I understand you practical attitude about the defense of a place that you hold to be sacred. But dont Muslims consider Jerusalem also to be an important city within their own spiritual views? I have not spent any time delving into the Quran. But I thought that Jerusalem was the third most holy city for the relgion of Islam … or is this perception wrong?

        Pete, USA

        • anneinpt says:

          Pete, I know it is hard for someone not directly involved to fully understand the Muslim psyche. But you should know this. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Tanach, the Jewish Bible (Old Testament). It is mentioned precisely ZERO times in the Koran.

          The reason for this is very simple. Some say that Mohammed never actually visited Jerusalem. Others say that he went there when he saw that his efforts to convert the Jews had failed, and went to Jerusalem with his Jewish friend to see why it was so holy and why the Jews could not be persuaded.

          After Mohammed’s death, Jerusalem was co-opted by the Muslims as a holy place in order to try and persuade the Jews that Islam was worth following. (I’m not sure I have the facts 100% correct but this is the rough idea).

          The very fact that the Muslims pray on the Temple Mount with their backsides (their asses, excuse my French) facing the Temple Mount, and their faces towards Mecca, shows what they really think of Jerusalem. Imagine entering a church and turning your back on the altar, or kneeling while facing away from it. It’s unthinkable.

          And what does “3rd holiest place” really mean anyway? Either a place is holy or it isn’t. The way the Muslims currently treat the Temple Mount is a disgrace and shows what they think of its holiness. You can easily find pictures of children playing soccer on the grounds, families picnicking, not to mention the ever-present rioters and the violence. The Jews don’t prevent other religions from visiting their holy sites, including the Western Wall. The Christians don’t prevent other religions from visiting their churches. Why do the Muslims have to be so violent and intolerant? Why do we let them get away with it?

          It’s all a nonsense, but the world has fallen for it. Meanwhile the Jews, for whom the Temple Mount is the very holiest site in the world, are demanded to give up their rights there. It’s outrageous.

          • Earl says:

            Also, the “Noble Sanctuary” that Abbas is banging on about is filthy, decrepit and an utter disgrace to the Mohammedans. I could not believe the garbage, builders’ rubble, and general unkempt structure and surroundings. “Islam’s third holiest site” could just as easily have been Cleveland, if Mohammed had the capability of dreaming it up…

            Anne is correct, though- this is yet-another manifestation of the dar al-Islam v. dar al-harb dichotomy that is a central tenet of Islam. It is incessant. And until every last Jew in Eretz Yisroel is driven out, this Mohammedan behaviour will continue.

            • anneinpt says:

              Earl, thank you for that description of the Mosque. You are about the only person that I know who has ever visited the place, so your description is invaluable.

              I heard a talk a couple of years ago by a Rabbi who in 1967 was a new IDF recruit. After Jerusalem was liberated, while fighting was still ongoing, he was sent to guard the Dome of the Rock. Besides being desperately bored, he was shocked at the state of the place. The pictures he showed displayed a desolate, neglected, ill-maintained place. It looks a hundred times better today than it did then – so you can imagine how it must have looked.

              And remember, in 1967 the Temple Mount had been in the hands of the Palestinians, sorry, the Arabs, for 19 years, without one Jewish foot “desecrating” the place. What was their excuse for not making something beautiful out of their “third holiest place”?

              Holy, my foot! Like with everything else Jewish or Israeli, the Arabs only became interested in it when the Jews showed an interest. Up till that moment it interested them not a whit.

  3. Reality says:

    The problem is taht as always Israels leaders are so scared of the “Wests” accusations of apartheid,discrimination that they do nothing until practically war has broken out. When will we learn to quash violence at its source swiftly & immediately. Believe me if it had been Jews doing this the results would’ve been seen within days. Its time to lift up our heads,acknowledge what is ours will stay ours & defeat violence

    • anneinpt says:

      I vote for Reality for Minister of Police, internal security, Defence and Foreign Affairs!

      Now you go and persuade our beloved leaders particularly the incompetent Aharonovitch.

  4. Pingback: Terror attack by vehicle in Jerusalem – 3-month old baby killed |

  5. Pingback: Outrageous outrage over the Temple Mount | Anne's Opinions

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