Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Understand What The New York Times Calls a 'Leaderless' Palestinian Arab Revolt

Two catalysts appear to be driving the latest "leaderless" Palestinian uprising against Israel. 

First, popular fears among Palestinian Arabs that Israeli authorities will permit Jews to pray on the Temple Mount or Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem's Old City. 

Second, say Israeli authorities, are relentless messages in official Palestinian media outlets supervised by Mahmoud Abbas calling for the destruction of Israel.

Add to the mix calls by senior Fatah figures (Abbas is the head of Fatah) like Marwan Barghouti for a return to "armed resistance" and the differences between Fatah and Hamas evaporate. 

Convinced Muslim shrines are in imminent danger individual Palestinians like 18-year-old Sawsan Abu Hashieh have heeded calls to defend the Muslim holy place. On Monday he stabbed and killed an off-duty soldier near a busy Tel Aviv train station. Hashieh's Facebook page showed him holding a sign that read: "We are people who love death while our enemies love life," the New York Times reported.

Some history. Israel's then defense minister Moshe Dayan ceded day-to-day oversight of the mount, where Sunni Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven in 632, to Islamic religious authorities days after capturing the compound from Jordan in the 1967 war. 

In victory magnanimity and all that. 

Successive Israeli governments have maintained a policy prohibiting Jewish worship on the mount— though allowing tourists to visit— so as not to inflame Muslim sensibilities, as Shmuel Rosner explains in the Times.

The Palestinian street has taken to heart the desires of a small group of Jewish fanatics and messianics who want to construct a third temple at the site where the two temples of Bible times once stood.

The Palestinian media has played up the "threat" whipping up the street into the current violent frenzy.

Warning that Israelis would face a "devastating religious war" Abbas told a memorial rally in memory of Yasser Arafat that he will not permit the Jews to "contaminate" the mount, according to the Times. "Keep the settlers and the extremists away from al-Aksa and our holy places." He went on to say that "No one will accept that Jerusalem is the capital of anything but the state of Palestine," according to the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reiterated that he does not intend to change the status quo and accused Abbas of purposefully "inflaming" the situation, according to the New York Times.

Israeli experts maintain that steady drumbeating by Palestinian leaders and Muslim clergy that Jews are an alien presence in the Middle East helps stoke the violence, The Jerusalem Post reported. 

Arab social media is also feeding the uprising with songs and cartoons calling on Palestinians to use vehicles to "Run Over the Settler," according to the Times. Official Palestinian media inculcates the idea that all Israelis are settlers and all of Palestine is occupied.

I don't want to suggest that Netanyahu handled the increasing messianic traffic to the Mount well. 

The job of messianic fanatics is to create apocalyptic conflict. They believe God will intercede, save the Jews from the wrath of 1.6 billion Muslims allowing them to get down to animal sacrifice. 

Abbas and other Arab leaders are using the ravings of the Jewish fanatics as a pretext. By inflaming the situation they hope to get the U.S. to agree to a Security Council resolution that would give Israel a deadline for a withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice Lines.

Given that John Kerry thinks peace was at hand "and then poof" some Israeli added a toilet to his apartment in "occupied east Jerusalem" and given that a senior U.S. official close to Obama thinks Netanyahu is a chickenshit - the prospect of a U.S. betrayal of Israel at the UN can't be ruled out.

The Arabs can almost smell Washington's capitulation. They see Obama capitulating to Teheran on Iranian nuclear weapons and say: "What about us?"

Once the Palestinians force Israel back to the old armistice lines (what is euphemistically termed the 1967 boundaries) finishing Israel off will be the next step. 

What's Israel gonna do when "Palestine" in adjoining Israel by inches mortars Ben-Gurion Airport while Hamas in Gaza launches rockets and Hezbollah in Lebanon unleashes formerly Syrian missiles? 

What's Israel gonna do? Drop an atom bomb?

More likely it will come under EU and US pressure not to react disproportionately.  

This scenario is precisely what Arafat had in his diabolical mind when he spoke of the destruction of Israel is phases. It's what the 1993 Oslo Accords were supposed to have delivered (from the Arab viewpoint) before Hamas mucked things up with their suicide bombing campaign in the Yitzhak Rabin years.
So here we are.

Israeli authorities have been struggling to come up with an answer to the seemingly random violence which has taken six Israeli lives in the last month. 

"Someone gets up in the morning, goes out of the mosque at noon, and says, 'Today I will kill some Israelis' – no organization behind it, he doesn't have to prepare himself, he can take the knife from his kitchen," said Yaakov Amidror, an Israeli security analyst. "There is no stage where intelligence can intervene and stop it," the Times reported.

As for deterrence: The terrorists may "love" death but they don't want their families to be homeless.

Netanyahu has procrastinated -- he should have ordered the attorney general to cut through the red tape and deliver swift house demolitions for the families of the terrorists.

He should never have allowed the prisoner releases. 

Ever since the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and the release of 1,027 terrorists with blood on their hands (are there any other kind?) the enemy has been emboldened. 

Netanyahu could have at least refused more prisoner releases intended to entice Abbas to the negotiating table. But he didn't because he was under heavy pressure from President Barack Obama.

Prisoners are released at the end of a conflict (in appropriate cases) not during it.

Back to deterrence. What to do now?

Netanyahu could reimpose the security checkpoints removed up and down Judea and Samaria to appease the EU and the Obama administration.

Netanyahu could stop payments to the Palestinian Authority. 

He could end cooperation with the PA. 

Netanyahu could forbid Palestinians from working in Israel. 

If Hamas in Gaza acts up he could genuine blockade the Strip -- not provide electricity, medicine, and building materials.

He could invite any Israeli Arab who wants to renounce their citizenship to please do so. That opens up lots of possibilities.

He could hold Jerusalem and Israeli Arab parents financially responsible for the violence their underage young people commit.

He could put some of the most troublesome Jewish fanatics under house arrest.

At that's just for starters.

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