Saturday, October 17, 2015

The "stabbing intifada": The historical background


















Some historical background by Jeffrey Goldberg on the current violence in Israel:

In September of 1928, a group of Jewish residents of Jerusalem placed a bench in front of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, for the comfort of elderly worshipers. They also brought with them a wooden partition, Jerusalem’s Muslim leaders treated the introduction of furniture into the alleyway in front of the Wall as a provocation, part of a Jewish conspiracy to slowly take control of the entire Temple Mount. Many of the leaders of Palestine’s Muslims believed—or claimed to believe— that Jews had manufactured a set of historical and theological connections to the Western Wall and to the Mount, the site of the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, in order to advance the Zionist project. 

This belief defied Muslim history—the Dome of the Rock was built by Jerusalem’s Arab conquerors on the site of the Second Jewish Temple in order to venerate its memory (the site had previously been defiled by Jerusalem’s Christian rulers as a kind of rebuke to Judaism, the despised mother religion of Christianity). Jews themselves consider the Mount itself to be the holiest site in their faith. The Western Wall, a large retaining wall from the Second Temple period, is sacred only by proxy. 

The spiritual leader of Palestine’s Muslims, the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al Husseini, incited Arabs in Palestine against their Jewish neighbors by arguing that Islam itself was under threat. (Husseini would later become one of Hitler’s most important Muslim allies.) 

Jews in British-occupied Palestine responded to Muslim invective by demanding more access to the Wall, sometimes holding demonstrations at the holy site. By the next year, violence directed against Jews by their neighbors had become more common: Arab rioters took the lives of 133 Jews that summer; British forces killed 116 Arabs in their attempt to subdue the riots. In Hebron, a devastating pogrom was launched against the city ’s ancient Jewish community after Muslim officials distributed fabricated photographs of a damaged Dome of the Rock, and spread the rumor that Jews had attacked the shrine. The current “stabbing Intifada” now taking place in Israel—a quasi-uprising in which young Palestinians have been trying, and occasionally succeeding, to kill Jews with knives—is prompted in good part by the same set of manipulated emotions that sparked the anti-Jewish riots of the 1920s: a deeply felt desire on the part of Palestinians to “protect” the Temple Mount from Jews...

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