Posted tagged ‘Palestinian terror at Temple Mount’

UN Chief Guterres, the Media and Palestinian Fake News

September 1, 2017

UN Chief Guterres, the Media and Palestinian Fake News, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, September 1, 2107

(Please see also, INTO THE FRAY: The Taylor Force Act – Putting “Palestine” in perspective. — DM)

One of the mothers who attended the meeting with the UN chief was Latifa Abu Hmaid. Four of her sons, Nasser, Sharif, Nasr and Mohammed are serving multiple life sentences for their role in terrorism. The Palestinian Authority (PA) chose the mother of these terrorists because they are all members of President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, which is regularly described by Western media outlets as a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian party that believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel.

The minimum the UN chief and his aides could have done is to call out the PA leadership and condemn it for the ambush and the fabricated report from the official Palestinian news agency. Had Israel been involved in a similar incident, we would have witnessed a diplomatic crisis, prompted by the UN secretary general and his spokesmen as well as the international media. Palestinians, as usual, are given a pass.

The lie about “Jewish extremists” setting fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque has become so widespread and accepted that even senior Muslim scholars such as Abbas’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, has also been spreading the blood libel. He and most Palestinians continue to describe the Australian Christian arsonist as a “Jewish extremist.”

According to the Palestinian propaganda machine, nearly without exception, the terrorists were on their way to buy bread for their mothers or visit their grandmothers. These were innocent victims, the story goes, arrested or shot by Israel for no reason. Then there are the lies about Israelis “planting” knives near the bodies of terrorists who stab or try to murder Jews. Western journalists and others accept these lies as facts.

Fake news is an old story in the Palestinian world. Yet recently, fake news has been taken to new heights by Palestinian spin-doctors, who have been working overtime to mislead the international community and media. A number of stories published in the past few days in the Palestinian media demonstrate the extent to which Palestinians are prepared to go to deceive the world and impact international public opinion.

Excellence is often a virtue — except when one excels at lying. And if there is one thing at which the Palestinians have excelled in the past few decades, it is spreading lies about its conflict with Israel. The mainstream media in the West usually takes the fake-news bait — it sells papers! — and demonstrates tolerance, if not sympathy, toward Palestinian-produced fake news fabrications.

The most recent case of Palestinian fake news emerged during United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s visit to Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians. The UN chief, who does not seem to be familiar with the Palestinian culture of lies, fell victim to a typical PR stunt organized by his Palestinian hosts.

According to the Wafa news agency, the official organ of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Guterres “held a meeting on Tuesday evening (August 29) with families of Palestinian martyrs and prisoners held in Israeli occupation prisons.” The report said that the families called on the UN secretary-general to take rapid and serious action to save the lives of more than 6500 male and female prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Wafa then quoted Guterres as saying: “We understand the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners and we will work with the relevant parties to end their suffering.”

First, it ought to be of interest that the “prisoners” and “martyrs” are Palestinians who were involved, directly and indirectly, in terror attacks. Many of the prisoners have Jewish blood on their hands and were convicted of often unspeakable crimes.

Second, it quickly became clear that the meeting between the UN chief and the Palestinian families was part of an ambush set up by his Palestinian hosts in Ramallah. According to a UN spokesman, Guterres was surprised by the sudden request of the Palestinian Authority to meet with the “mothers of detained children” but that he agreed to meet with them. To his great credit, Guterres also issued a clarification that the report in Wafa that he had expressed sympathy for the prisoners’ plight was “fabricated.”

Third, it is worth noting that one of the mothers who attended the meeting with the UN chief was Latifa Abu Hmaid, from the Al-Ama’ri refugee camp near Ramallah. Four of her sons, Nasser, Sharif, Nasr and Mohammed are serving multiple life sentences for their role in terrorism. The Palestinian Authority chose the mother of these terrorists because they are all members of President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, which is regularly described by Western media outlets as a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian party that believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel.

The response of the UN chief’s spokesman to the “fabricated” report by Abbas’s Wafa news agency and the unscheduled meeting with the families of the “prisoners” and “martyrs” is a fine example of how the Palestinian Authority manipulates the world’s top diplomat. The PA and other Palestinians, however, have been getting away with this for decades.

The minimum the UN chief and his aides could have done is to call out the PA leadership and condemn it for the ambush and the fabricated report on the official Palestinian news agency. Had Israel been involved in a similar incident, we would have witnessed a diplomatic crisis, prompted by the UN secretary general and his spokesmen as well as the international media. Palestinians, as usual, are given a pass.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his to Ramallah, August 29, 2017. (Image source: UN Photo/Ahed Izhiman)

In another example of Palestinian fake news designed to slander Israel and win international sympathy, several Palestinian media outlets have been reporting during the past week that an Israeli female undercover agent masquerading as a nurse has been uncovered in a Palestinian hospital in Hebron.

According to the fake reports, the “nurse” was an Israeli settler who had helped the Israel Defense Forces infiltrate the hospital to arrest and shoot Palestinian fugitives. A quick check of the facts revealed that the Palestinians were apparently referring to a Western volunteer who had worked in the hospital to treat Palestinian patients. The hospital administration has strongly denied the reports, which continue to spread like fire on social media and Palestinian news websites. The purpose of the fake reports is to implicate Israel and present it as a state that shows disregard for hospitals and patients. This case shows that rumors and fake news are regularly accepted as facts in the world of the Palestinians and Arabs.

Or consider another example of how the Palestinian propaganda machine operates. On August 23, the same Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported on the anniversary of the 1969 fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

First, the historical facts: On August 21, 1969, an Australian citizen named Denis Michael Rohan set fire to the pulpit of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Rohan was arrested for the arson attack, tried and found to be insane. He was hospitalized in a mental institution before finally being deported from Israel in 1974.

Since 1969, however, the Palestinians have repeated the lie that Israel and Jews were behind the arson attack. The fact that Rohan was a Christian is apparently inconsequential to them.

So this year, marking the anniversary of the arson, this is what Abbas’s official mouthpiece, Wafa, had this priceless piece of perjury to say: “The Al-Aqsa Mosque was torched by Jewish extremists in 1969.”

The lie about “Jewish extremists” setting fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque has become so widespread and accepted that even senior Muslim scholars such as Abbas’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, has also been spreading the blood libel. He and most Palestinians continue to describe the Australian Christian arsonist as a “Jewish extremist.”

These lies are simply a few recent examples that extend a long list of Palestinian fake news and blood libels aimed at framing Israel and inciting the world against it. Take for example, the famous Palestinian lies about terrorists: according to the Palestinian propaganda machine, nearly without exception, the terrorists were on their way to buy bread for their mothers or visit their grandmothers. These were innocent victims, the story goes, arrested or shot by Israel for no reason. Then there are the lies about Israelis “planting” knives near the bodies of terrorists who stab or try to murder Jews. Western journalists and others accept these lies as facts.

The manipulation of the UN chief in Ramallah comes as no surprise to those familiar with Palestinian tactics of deception. The question, however, remains: For how long will the international community receive with equanimity the lies that Palestinians spit in its face, lies that hour after hour, day after day, only endanger the lives of both Palestinians and Jews, promote an all-too-welcomed anti-Semitism, and worst – contrary to the claims of those who purport to want to help them — prolong the suffering of Palestinians who dream of one day living in freedom –like their neighbors, the Israelis — with institutions of democracy like free speech, an independent judiciary and educational system, and most of all, with accountable leadership?

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

More arrests as terror stalks Jerusalem again

August 16, 2017

More arrests as terror stalks Jerusalem again, DEBKAfile, August 16, 2017

Finding the UAE funding Hamas terror was somewhat of a shocker to Israel.  After all, the emirate formally joined the anti-terror coalition that US President Donald Trump created during his visit to Riyadh and later to Israel in early April.

Obviously, Israel’s sovereign presence on Temple Mount, which is holy to three monotheistic faiths and claimed by Muslims, is an abidingly explosive issue. Last month’s crisis centering on the shrine, appears to have abated – but only on the face of it. The embers of the conflagration continue to simmer under the surface of the site and the city.

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Three major Israeli counter-terror operations in a week (Aug.10-16) are a measure of the intensity of terrorist plots for the commission of mass-casualty strikes in Jerusalem.

On Aug. 10, a combined effort of the Shin Bet, the police and the IDF, led to five Palestinians from Hebron being intercepted in the Palestinian Jerusalem neighborhood of El Azaria on their way to an attack. No details of this plot were released. But it was obvious that the five terrorists, armed with guns and explosives, were only stopped at the last minute from reaching the center of Jerusalem, just 15 minutes drive from El Azaria, and conducting a major attack.

Then, on Saturday, Aug. 12, a Palestinian woman knifed a man on Suleiman Street in East Jerusalem, mistaking him for a Jew. He turned out to be a local Arab Christian and was not badly hurt, before a police patrol nabbed the woman.

On Sunday, Aug. 13, a suspect was shot in the foot while resisting arrest at Bet Tsafafa, in southern Jerusalem . The police later reported they acted on a Shin Bet tipoff that the suspect, a resident of the mixed Abu Tor neighborhood, was primed for a terror operation.

On Monday, Aug. 14, indictments were filed at the Jerusalem district court against three residents of East Jerusalem on charges of plotting a shooting attack, as well as targeting police forces and persistent rock attacks on traffic – all in Jerusalem. They were also accused of planning to loose gunfire and explosive devices on vehicles using the Nablus bypass. This group therefore harbored ambitions for a widespread terrorist offensive in and outside Jerusalem.

Although Israel’s security authorities are cagey with the information they release on the mostly covert war they wage on Palestinian and Israeli Arab terror, three geographical areas may be marked out as significant: They are metropolitan Jerusalem including Bethlehem; Hebron – the city and mountain district; and the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, northeast of Tel Aviv, which was the home town of the three gunmen who shot dead two policemen on Temple Mount on July 14.

Each location occupies a special place on the terror map.

The terrorist networks of Hebron and its environs are mostly tied ideologically and operationally to the extremist Palestinian Hamas. In the past fortnight, Hamas was found to be receiving large sums of money, most of it coming from sources in the United Arab Republic in the Persian Gulf. Some of the cash was funneled to Judea and Samaria and provided those networks with an extra incentive to go into action.

Finding the UAE funding Hamas terror was somewhat of a shocker to Israel.  After all, the emirate formally joined the anti-terror coalition that US President Donald Trump created during his visit to Riyadh and later to Israel in early April.

The terrorist cells operating in Jerusalem mostly belong to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, or its militia, the Tanzim. Most are fringe groups that are not directly associated with their leaders. But the fact that they are free to perform acts of violence against Israelis is worrying Israeli security authorities.

The networks of Umm al-Fahm and its rural villages appear to be ideologically inspired by the outlawed Northern Branch of the Israeli Arab Muslim Movement (which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood), or directly tied to the Islamic State command center in Syria.

At least 20 Israeli Arabs are known to have crossed into Syria to fight in ISIS ranks, some of them from Umm Al-Fahm.

Last Friday, Aug. 11, an indictment was filed against two residents of the town, who were preparing to leave for Syria and join the Islamic State. They were being helped by a former resident who had already reached Syria and was fighting with ISIS. One of the accused belonged to the same Jabarin clan as the murderers of police officers on Temple Mount.

Then, on Tuesday, Aug. 15, police arrived at the Umm Al-Fahm home of Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the banned Northern Branch of the Israeli Muslim Movement, with a warrant for his arrest. He was accused of publicly inciting to violence and terror and membership of an illegal organization.

Salah has been in and out of Israeli prisons for years over his fiery hate-filled sermons, which regularly call on his followers to “fight for the liberation” of Al Aqsa. Last year, he was locked up for calling on Israeli Arabs to join a Palestinian uprising against the state of Israel.

However, this time, the wide publicity given to his arrest so soon after the Temple Mount clashes – in an attempt to press charges serious enough to keep him behind lock and key for the long term – has brought the firebrand sheikh solid sympathy among sections of the Israeli Arab populace.

Obviously, Israel’s sovereign presence on Temple Mount, which is holy to three monotheistic faiths and claimed by Muslims, is an abidingly explosive issue. Last month’s crisis centering on the shrine, appears to have abated – but only on the face of it. The embers of the conflagration continue to simmer under the surface of the site and the city.

Abdullah’s friendly reminder to Abbas

August 13, 2017

Abdullah’s friendly reminder to Abbas, Israel Hayom, Dr. Ronen Yitzhak, August 13, 2017

Abdullah’s visit was in fact aimed at reining in Abbas following his handling of the crisis in Jerusalem. Abbas has been outspoken as of late in his criticism of the understandings between Israel and Jordan, and has effectively been edging Jordan out of the Temple Mount by allowing radical Islamist elements to gain a foothold there.

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According to senior Palestinian official Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Jordanian king’s visit to Ramallah last week is proof that “the Palestinians and the Jordanians speak with one voice.”

Indeed, King Abdullah’s visit appears to have been aimed at bolstering the position of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in light of recent tensions with Israel over the Temple Mount. Arab media outlets reported that the two leaders discussed increasing cooperation between Jordan and the PA, as well as the need to advance peace talks between the PA and Israel.

Despite this public show of solidarity, it seems Abdullah’s visit was in fact aimed at reining in Abbas following his handling of the crisis in Jerusalem. Abbas has been outspoken as of late in his criticism of the understandings between Israel and Jordan, and has effectively been edging Jordan out of the Temple Mount by allowing radical Islamist elements to gain a foothold there.

Abdullah also demanded stability in the West Bank. He knows violence in the Palestinian territories could spill over into the Hashemite Kingdom, and is therefore constantly working to ensure the PA’s continued rule over the West Bank.

The timing of the visit is no coincidence. Jordanians are currently furious at Israel and at Abdullah, who is seen as working in cahoots with the Israeli government in the recent shooting incident at the Israeli Embassy compound. (He allowed Israeli Embassy guard Ziv Moyal, who shot and killed two Jordanians after being attacked with a screwdriver, and the embassy staff to leave Jordan without being investigated for the shooting, which sparked a diplomatic crisis [LINK: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=44183%5D.) Abdullah’s visit to Ramallah, therefore, was also aimed at demonstrating to his people that he is not a collaborator.

According to Jordan’s official news agency, Petra, Abdullah made it abundantly clear to Abbas that Jordan would continue to fulfill its historic role as guardian of Jerusalem’s holy sites. Although this message was outwardly directed at Israel, it was also a reminder to the PA that it is the Jordanians, and not the Palestinians or the Arabs or any other group, who determine the policy in Jerusalem.

And so the king made the politically wise decision to come to Ramallah. Abdullah’s visit allowed him to demonstrate his solidarity with Palestinians, while simultaneously reminding Abbas that when it comes to Jerusalem, he is in charge.

Deadly False Narratives Drove the Temple Mount Crisis

August 2, 2017

Deadly False Narratives Drove the Temple Mount Crisis, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, August 2, 2017

Until the attack, Israel had been relying on intelligence alerts, rather than physical security measures, to defend the site. But the shootings led the Israel Police to ask the Israeli government to beef up security, and install metal detectors.

The government agreed, despite the misgivings of the Israeli defense establishment, which was concerned that the move would fuel the propaganda of fundamentalist forces, leading to unrest and instability.

Iran helped fuel the unrestIsrael Hayom reported, by sending protesters “tens of thousands of … prepackaged meals along with notes in each one citing a famous quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: ‘With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.’ The note also depicted the Dome of the Rock and the Palestinian flag.”

Additionally, a senior Iranian official reportedly met with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad representatives in Iran, offering them assistance for Palestinians injured in clashes. The IRGC released a statement, condemning “the Zionist regime’s  aggressive and criminal actions against Al-Aqsa mosque.”

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The crisis between Israel and the Palestinians that raged in recent weeks over the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa holy site in Jerusalem has died down, but the affair provides important clues about the rising ability of fundamentalist Islamists to seize control of the narrative.

Radical rhetoric espoused by those who sought to inflame religious conflict dominated the Temple Mount crisis.

“Israel wants more than ever before to implement its plan for complete control over al-Aksa Mosque,” Hamas politburo chief Ismael Haniyeh said, even after Israel moved to defuse the situation. Days earlier, Hamas had called for a “religious war” against Israel.

Islamists in Gaza, Jordan, east Jerusalem, and within the Israeli Arab community, had the upper hand in their ability to push their interpretation of events. They claim Israel wants to take over the holy site and destroy the mosque to make way for a third Temple. This baseless narrative sweeps away the terrorist attack that caused the crisis and presented three Palestinians killed in subsequent clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem as martyrs who died defending Islam.

Not to be outdone by their Islamist rivals, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders peddled the same falsehoods. Religious Affairs Minister Sheikh Yusuf Idai’is told the official PA television channel that Israel “has plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and establish the alleged Temple in its place.”

Those seeking religious strife were able to mobilize masses onto the streets, with the help of self-organizing demonstrators and rioters who were infected with the Islamist fervor, and spread it themselves on social media.

Together, these elements forced pragmatic Arab leaders – who do not subscribe to Islamist ideology – to adopt the Islamist narrative, and to deal with Israel as if it was guilty of the Islamic hard-liners’ fabricated accusations.

A recap: The crisis erupted when a terrorist jihadist cell, made up of three Arab-Israeli gunmen, used firearms smuggled into the Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – to shoot dead two Israeli police officers. Security forces then returned fire, killing the gunmen.

Until the attack, Israel had been relying on intelligence alerts, rather than physical security measures, to defend the site. But the shootings led the Israel Police to ask the Israeli government to beef up security, and install metal detectors.

The government agreed, despite the misgivings of the Israeli defense establishment, which was concerned that the move would fuel the propaganda of fundamentalist forces, leading to unrest and instability.

The defense establishment’s concerns came true. Rioting erupted in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Mass demonstrations were held in Israel’s eastern neighbor, Jordan, and included members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.

A Palestinian knife attacker, pledging to “die for Al-Aqsa” on his Facebook page, massacred three members of an Israeli family in their home in the West Bank.

All of these events were driven by incitement to religious violence. The unrest was sparked by the false accusation that Israel was seeking to change the status quo at Al-Aqsa, and that the site needed defending from Israelis schemes. It is a conspiracy theory that has been peddled by Palestinian hardliners for decades, dating back to the days of Hajj Amin Al Husseini in the 1920s and 30s.

Hamas in Gaza and Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the Temple Mount shooters as “heroic,” and called for more attacks. They issued a rallying call to defend Al-Aqsa. A Salafist-jihadist group in Gaza fired two rockets at southern Israel.

Israel responded with tank fire at a Hamas military post.

Turkey, ruled by a pro-Hamas variant of the Muslim Brotherhood, exploited the tensions to urge all Muslims to “protect Jerusalem,” and called on Israel to end the crisis. Israel’s Foreign Ministry called it “absurd that the Turkish government, which occupies northern Cyprus, brutally represses the Kurdish minority and jails journalists, lectures Israel, the only true democracy in the region. The days of the Ottoman Empire have passed.”

Iran helped fuel the unrestIsrael Hayom reported, by sending protesters “tens of thousands of … prepackaged meals along with notes in each one citing a famous quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: ‘With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.’ The note also depicted the Dome of the Rock and the Palestinian flag.”

Additionally, a senior Iranian official reportedly met with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad representatives in Iran, offering them assistance for Palestinians injured in clashes. The IRGC released a statement, condemning “the Zionist regime’s  aggressive and criminal actions against Al-Aqsa mosque.”

In Israel, Sheikh Raed Saleh, the former leader of the now banned Islamic Movement – a sister organization to Hamas – led a funeral procession for the three Arab Israeli terrorists. Thousands of mourners marched belligerently by the coffins of the terrorists, shouting, “By fire and with blood we will redeem you, Al-Aqsa,” and, “You are the martyrs of Al-Aqsa.”

Palestinian social media buzzed with calls to defend Al-Aqsa. The Islamist narrative had won the day.

Israel tried to challenge this mythology by directly addressing Palestinians. “So that the truth is clear, when did the Temple Mount incidents erupt?” IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai asked in Arabic on Al Jazeera. “A week ago. After a terror attack was committed by three Muslims, who entered the Temple Mount with weapons and opened fire. Israel does not want to change the status quo. This is a clear message to the world from the Muslim world.”

His message appeared to largely fall on deaf ears. With the fundamentalist rhetoric leading the way, even pragmatic Arab leaders, some of whom rely on cooperation with Israel for the very stability of their rule, felt the need to play according to the radical playbook, in order to avoid being tagged as Israel’s ‘abettors.’

The most obvious example was Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. Without Israel’s steps to quell Hamas in the West Bank, Abbas’s Palestinian Authority would have faced multiple armed attempts by Islamists to depose him .

During the Temple Mount unrest, Abbas cut security coordination between his forces and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

“Jerusalem is ours. It is our capital and our sovereignty. As long as the situation in occupied Jerusalem does not return to what it was before July 14 [when Israel installed metal detectors], there will be no changes [in our position],” Abbas said, according to a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translation.

Promoting the lie that the Al-Aqsa Mosque required protection from Israel, Abbas told east Jerusalem Palestinians, “What you did was defend your honor, your religion and your holy sites. It was the true answer to those who wish to harm our holy sites and the principles of our faith. We supported you in what you did and are [still] doing. We decided to suspend the security coordination; [that decision] still holds. We [decided to] defend the holy sites; that still holds as well.”

The Fatah movement, which runs the Palestinian Authority, added fuel to the fire. With the full knowledge that it was risking new clashes, Fatah’s Central Committee called for mass protests.

Egypt and Jordan, both of whom are busy combating Islamist threats at home, called on Israel to remove the metal detectors.

The situation in Jordan became even more complicated when an Israeli embassy guard was stabbed by a local youth. The guard opened fire to defend himself, killing the attacker and accidentally shooting dead a second Jordanian citizen who was nearby.

Jordan’s King Abdullah refused to allow the Israeli guard to leave Amman, reversing his decision only after Israel said it would remove the metal detectors.

King Abdullah, one of the Arab worlds’ most moderate leaders, whose Kingdom shares many common interests with Israel, still felt the need to issue a statement vowing to prevent the “Judaization” of holy sites in Jerusalem.

Jordan controls the Jerusalem Islamic trust in charge of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, called the Waqf. Behind the scenes, Jordan helped end the Temple Mount crisis, which threatened to destabilize it.

The Waqf told Islamic worshipers that they could re-enter the Temple Mount after Israel had removed the metal detectors.

Even after the crisis reached a resolution, the Palestinian Authority remained highly wary of being labeled as a collaborator with Israel.

An aide to Abbas said security coordination with Israel would only be resumed “gradually,” to avoid giving the impression that the Palestinian Authority is too enthusiastic about working with the Israeli military in the West Bank.

The crisis provides a clear indication of the influence that Islamist propaganda has on the area. Even Arab leaders who are directly threatened by radical forces feel they must march according to their drumbeat, or risk their very legitimacy.

Israel’s decision to dismantle the metal detectors was designed to prevent the Islamist pyromaniacs from using the Al-Aqsa crisis to set the region on fire.

The fact that the Islamists came so close to succeeding, however, is the latest indication of who is in charge of the popular narrative in the region.

“The Battle over Jerusalem Has Just Begun”

August 1, 2017

“The Battle over Jerusalem Has Just Begun” Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil, August 1, 2017

(Please see also, Israel’s public diplomacy challenge. — DM)

The Palestinians, feeling triumphant now that Israel has complied with their demand to remove the metal detectors and security cameras, have been clarifying that it is only the first step in their fight to eradicate any Israeli presence in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

They admit that this is a battle over sovereignty on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. For the Palestinians, the real battle is over who controls Jerusalem and its holy sites. The real battle, in their eyes, is over the Jews’ right to live in their own state in the Middle East. Many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist, and that is what this battle is really about.

The Palestinians have added it up just right. In their own words, they aim at an escalation of violence because they believe that what Israel did is the first step toward even more concessions and even further retreat.

The Palestinian “victory” celebrations that took place after Israel removed metal detectors and surveillance cameras from the entrances to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem bode badly for the future of stability and peace in the Middle East.

To the Palestinians and many Arabs and Muslims, the Israeli move is viewed as a sign of weakness. In their eyes, the removal of the security cameras and metal detectors is capitulation, pure and simple.

How do we know this? Easy: look at the Palestinian response. Rather than acknowledging the conciliatory nature of the Israeli government’s decision, aimed at easing tensions and preventing bloodshed and violence, the Palestinians are demanding more.

As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the controversy over the Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount, which came after three terrorists murdered two Israeli police officers at the holy site on July 14, is part of a larger battle with Israel.

We have reached a new level in this discourse: Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are now openly admitting that it is not the metal detectors or security cameras that are at issue.

Instead, they admit, this is a battle over sovereignty on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. For the Palestinians, the real battle is over who controls Jerusalem and its holy sites. The real battle, in their eyes, is over the Jews’ right to live in their own state in the Middle East. Many Palestinians have still not come to terms with Israel’s right to exist, and that is what this battle is really about.

The Palestinians, feeling triumphant now that Israel has complied with their demand to remove the metal detectors and security cameras, have been clarifying that it is only the first step in their fight to eradicate any Israeli presence in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

No one explained this Palestinian position better than the PA foreign minister, Riad Malki, who announced on July 27 that the Palestinians consider the Israeli decision to dismantle the metal detectors and security cameras as surrender. He also confirmed what many Israeli and Palestinian political analysts have been saying for the past few weeks — that the conflict over Israel’s security measures was merely an excuse used by the Palestinians to force Israel to make political and territorial concessions.

In a speech before the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Malki explained: “The issue is not metal detectors or cameras, but who is in charge and who has sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Malki went on to explain that the Palestinians do not see the recent conflict as a security issue, but rather as a purely political matter. “The battle over Jerusalem has just begun,” he said, adding that the wave of Palestinian protests over the Israeli security measures had succeeded in “thwarting” Israel’s “conspiracy” to change the historical and legal status quo at the Temple Mount.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki (pictured above in 2009) said last week in a speech: “The issue is not metal detectors or cameras, but who is in charge and who has sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque… The battle over Jerusalem has just begun.” (Image source: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

We are witnessing a rare moment of truth from the PA foreign minister, in which, ironically, he refutes claims by many in the international community and media to the effect that the recent conflict was sparked by metal detectors and surveillance cameras.

The Palestinian protests that came in response to the security measures indicated that it was more about hating Israel and trying to force it to its knees than about the removal of metal detectors and cameras. During these protests, especially at the entrances to the Temple Mount, Palestinians chanted slogans that included threats to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

“We are marching toward Al-Aqsa (Mosque), and we will sacrifice millions of martyrs,” was one of the chants at the protests, which were led by top Palestinian religious and political leaders. Another chant: “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, jaish Mohammed sa yaoud” (“Khaybar Khaybar O’ Jews, the army of Mohammed will return”) — a reference to the Battle of Khaybar in the year 628 between Prophet Mohammed and his followers against the Jews living in the oasis of Khaybar. The Jews were forced to surrender after being slaughtered and were thereafter permitted to live in Khaybar on condition that they give half of their produce to Muslims. The protesters also chanted slogans calling on Hamas’s military wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, to launch terror attacks against Israel.

For the most part, the foreign journalists covering the protests did not perceive these chants as intimidating or anti-Semitic. The protests were largely reported in a positive sense as peaceful “civil disobedience.” This is precisely the rhetoric, however, that fuels the Palestinian fire to take to the streets and hurl stones and petrol bombs at Israeli police officers and civilians.

Eighteen-year-old Omar Al-Abed, however, is one Palestinian who paid careful attention to such rhetoric. On July 22, he stormed the home of a Jewish family in Halamish, in the West Bank, and stabbed to death a grandfather and his son and daughter during a dinner to celebrate the birth of a grandchild. Shortly before setting out on his murderous mission, Al-Abed posted a note on his Facebook page in which he echoed many of the slogans from the protests, and went further by describing Jews as “sons of pigs and monkeys.”

The carnage in Halamish was perpetrated by a single Palestinian. Perhaps he acted alone, without having been indoctrinated to murder Jews and without communal support for doing so? Well, let us check: how did the Palestinian street react to his murderous rampage? How did Al-Abed’s own mother respond? The terrorist’s mother was filmed handing out sweets to visitors in celebration of her son’s decision to take the lives of the three Jews. “I’m proud of my son because he has raised our heads high,” she declared.

Perhaps the pride in the terrorist was simply a local affair? No, even that hope is smashed: as many Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, took to the streets to celebrate the brutal murder, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh phoned the terrorist’s father to tell him, “Your son brought pride to the nation.”

The Halamish bloodshed brought intense pride to the terrorist’s mother, to those around her, and to the Palestinian world at large.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who never misses an opportunity to paint himself as a peacemaker par excellence, chose to remain quiet about the murder. Make no mistake: his loud silence over the Halamish terror attack is being interpreted by many Palestinians as an act of condoning the murder of three Jews. Whether condoning the atrocity or terrified of his own people, one thing is certain: Abbas and most Palestinian leaders have trained the Palestinians well. When they smell Jewish blood, they attack.

This is precisely what is going on in the Temple Mount mayhem.

Now that Israel has complied with their demands regarding the security measures, Palestinians feel more emboldened than ever. Murder and incitement, in their case, does indeed pay. They got away with the murder of the two police officers at the Temple Mount; they got away with the murder of the three family members in Halamish, and, in their view, they also got away with the recent violent protests and incitement against Israel.

Buoyed by the Israeli “capitulation,” the Palestinians are now talking about a “historic victory” over Israel. They are boasting that they have twisted Israel’s arm and forced it to “retreat.” Palestinian cartoonists and commentators have expressed similar sentiments, arguing that the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras is largely the result of their violence, terrorism and threats.

Once again, an Israeli gesture is being misinterpreted by the Palestinians and other Arabs and Muslims as weakness. This sort of deliberate misreading is far from new. Yet every time it occurs, it sets the stage for another cycle of violence. The result of Israeli conciliation is invariably Palestinian violence.

The Palestinians have added it up just right. In their own words, they aim at an escalation of violence because they believe that what Israel did is the first step toward even more concessions and even further retreat.

Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.

Israel’s public diplomacy challenge

July 26, 2017

Israel’s public diplomacy challenge, Israel Hayom, Ariel Bolstein, July 26, 2017

Paradoxically, Israel’s willingness to look for compromise, to soothe and appease, does nothing to help shatter the lies. Sometimes the opposite is true.

We have conceded too much and we have shown that we are too willing to compromise. Of course, the world rightly assumes that no nation would willingly give up what is rightly theirs, and so millions watching from the sidelines throw their support behind the violent side that refuses to compromise.

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The Jewish state is facing a growing public diplomacy problem following the events of the past few days. The anti-Israel front is trying to alter global perception of the reality in the Middle East. They attack Israel on every front — canceling history in one fell swoop (with the stroke of a pen in the case of the U.N.’s anti-Israel resolutions). They distort actual events and whitewash Islamist terror.

Under the cover of extreme anti-Israel propaganda, incitement in the Muslim world is on the rise. All those who claim the crown among the believers of the religion of Muhammad are going out of their way to portray themselves as “defenders of the mosques” from the Zionists. As usual, facts are of no importance. There is no threat to the freedom of religion, including the religion of Islam, in areas under Israeli control. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan knows this, but he has mastered the art of propaganda and knows how to use it deviously and efficiently. What is the best way to distract public opinion at home from violations of human rights, from the purging of a country of all those with different opinions, from newspapers being shut down and Turkey’s transformation into a dictatorship? That’s right: Making false accusations against Israel to blind the believers and distract them from their real troubles.

Paradoxically, Israel’s willingness to look for compromise, to soothe and appease, does nothing to help shatter the lies. Sometimes the opposite is true. The world can accept one country or another’s insistence on a particular position, even if they don’t agree with it, but will find it difficult to accept a lack of clarity and changing positions. Hesitation is the greatest enemy of any public diplomacy campaign. We should therefore ask ourselves why Israel’s enemies — those who do not shy away from violence and murder; those who never concede and perceive every one of our concessions as a sign of weakness — are so good at convincing so many of their righteousness. The answer, or at least one of the answers, can be found in the question. We have conceded too much and we have shown that we are too willing to compromise. Of course, the world rightly assumes that no nation would willingly give up what is rightly theirs, and so millions watching from the sidelines throw their support behind the violent side that refuses to compromise.

We must refine our message and focus our efforts on emphasizing our rights and not the rights of others. Our right to the land of Israel, to Jerusalem and to the Temple Mount is indisputable, and the time has come to realize this right with the uncompromising implementation of Israeli sovereignty throughout the country. A hundred years ago, the Jews realized there could be no Zionism without Zion. Now we must realize there can be no Zionist public diplomacy without explaining Zion to the world.

There are situations when it is wise (or unavoidable) to make tactical concessions on the ground. But we must never backtrack on policies that we have clearly communicated to the world. We pay dearly for these types of concessions, losing entire populations that switch over to our enemies’ side. We must present the world with a firm position that actualizes our sovereignty throughout the country by what the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin called “the virtue of our right.” Our path to a public diplomacy victory is long, but determination and an insistence on our rights will take us there.

Ariel Bolstein is the founder of the Israel advocacy organization Faces of Israel.

Israel’s government under triple siege

July 26, 2017

Israel’s government under triple siege, DEBKAfile, July 26, 2017

Where the ministers went wrong was in failing to go after the perpetrators of the murders committed at one of the most sensitive world shrines. The killers belonged to the lawless Jabarin clan that rules the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. The ministers did not treat this clan as central to the crime, out of concern for the delicate relations with Israel’s Arab minority. Instead, Temple Mount, the lightening rod of Israel’s relations with the entire Muslim and Arab world, was treated as the core issue.

If Israel fails to draw a strong red line at this point in the standoff, a new crisis or terrorist outrage will be staged every few days to force the ministers to fall back step by step on measures pivotal to national security. Popular opnion at home, incensed over the Halamish terrorist outrage, was against the first concession and will oppose any more.

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Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is being forced back step by step on the Temple Mount standoff by a three-line siege imposed by the Palestinians, Sunni Arab governments, including Jordan, and public opinion at home.

The security cabinet can’t be faulted for approving its first rational steps for securing the worshippers and visitors frequenting Temple Mount, after three Israeli Arab gunmen desecrated the shrine on July 14 by shooting dead two Israeli police officers on guard at Lion’s Gate.

Metal detectors at the gates provided a quick fix for reopening the shrines the next day.

Where the ministers went wrong was in failing to go after the perpetrators of the murders committed at one of the most sensitive world shrines. The killers belonged to the lawless Jabarin clan that rules the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. The ministers did not treat this clan as central to the crime, out of concern for the delicate relations with Israel’s Arab minority. Instead, Temple Mount, the lightening rod of Israel’s relations with the entire Muslim and Arab world, was treated as the core issue.

The Jabarins felt safe enough to carry on breaking Israel’s laws. On Tuesday, July 25, a member was caught smuggling a truckload of illegal Palestinian workers from the Palestinian town of Jenin across into Israel. It was obvious that something is badly amiss in national homeland security policies.

In another example, the government finally, a year late, ordered the home of one of the Tel Aviv Sarona Market terrorists, who murdered four Israelis, to be knocked down. One story of a building in the Hebron village of Yata will be destroyed. At the same time, the Supreme Court of Justice in Jerusalem gave the police 30 hours to hand over the bodies of the three Temple Mount gunmen, members of the Jabarin tribe,  to their families for burial.

Razing the home of one of the Tel Aviv terrorists, who claimed to have been inspired by ISIS, in a timely fashion, a year ago, might have been some deterrent for the killers of Umm al-Fahm.

It now turns out that the shrine murders 12 days ago were the result of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians coming together for a joint terrorist conspiracy against Israel. The location was deliberately chosen as the catalyst for dragging moderate Arab rulers into a plot for compelling Israel to give up its sovereignty on Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem.

This conspiracy was insufficiently addressed by the ministers taking part in the security cabinet’s deliberations. The removal of the metal scanners, security cameras – or any other measures Israel was been forced to cede – will not satisfy the Palestinians and Israeli Arab leaders, including their members of parliament. They are intent on drawing their community of 1.5 million into the bloody brew they have cooked up for the entire Arab world to consume.

As this juncture, the Israeli government has no choice but to brake hard on concessions – even as street violence escalates – and draw a red line against caving in any further. The Palestinians and their clerics should be firmly informed that if they choose to continue to boycott Al Aqsa and hold prayers in the street outside the shrine, so be it. Israel will not budge any further on its responsibility to secure Temple Mount against more violence. And their dream of a victory parade on the holy compound to celebrate their humiliation of the Jewish State will never come true.

Very few Israelis are aware of the origins of the 180,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem today. Most of them originate in Hebron and migrated to Jerusalem over the years since 1967. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which ruled eastern Jerusalem and its shrines for 19 years up until the Six Day War, very carefully kept Hebron natives out of the city. Their extremist conduct over Temple Mount explains why.

If Israel fails to draw a strong red line at this point in the standoff, a new crisis or terrorist outrage will be staged every few days to force the ministers to fall back step by step on measures pivotal to national security. Popular opnion at home, incensed over the Halamish terrorist outrage, was against the first concession and will oppose any more.