Ramadan and the Road to War…and Perdition Israel's escalation of violence against Palestinians makes another war near certain
If Israel wanted to provoke yet another war with Gaza, it couldn’t be doing any better than what it’s doing now. After four shocking terror attacks in the south and center of the country (Beersheva, Bnai Brak, and Tel Aviv), Israel flooded the West Bank with thousands of troops which rampaged through villages arresting hundreds during violent late-night raids. Even more provocative were the almost daily assaults by Border Police thugs armed to the teeth on the Haram al-Sharif. The desecration of the Muslim holy places elicited an angry response from worshippers who flocked to the compound to defend it. The security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades directly into the precinct causing panic.
Israel has no right to determine what does or doesn’t happen within the Muslim hole sites. They have no sovereignty there, any more than the Waqf has authority over the Kotel. Can you imagine riot police entering the Notre Dame Cathedral or St. Pauls and brandishing billy clubs and whaling on the worshippers? Can you imagine the uproar that would ensue? Yet no religious figures outside of Islam are denouncing these acts of desecration.
Gaza is currently under attack by Israel. With around 2 million Palestinians, half of them children, on some 362 square kilometers, Gaza, is considered one of the most densely populated cities in the world. #StandWithPalestine pic.twitter.com/qLW8UIPGLj
— Supporting Humanity (@SocialistAnyDay) April 19, 2022
Several days ago, the Police escorted nearly 750 settlers into the Al Aqsa courtyard, led by Kahanist extremist MK Itamar Ben Gvir. They arrested 400 and wounded 150 worshippers. Israeli media barely covered this outrage. Meanwhile, Arab governments expressed their displeasure. The normally go-along-to-get along King Abdullah expressed support for the defenders of the holy sites. Even Morocco, one of the signers of the Abraham Accords expressed its displeasure. Though Egypt reportedly pressured Hamas not to respond, as the Islamist group did before last year’s Israeli invasion, to the Israeli provocation, the first rocket fired from Gaza ( allegedly by Islamic Jihad) sounded air raid sirens in Israel for the first time in a year. Hamas followed this with a missile launch of its own. The IAF responded with its own attack on Gaza (see above tweet). So the fight is on.
We know where this is headed. If the Israelis aren’t warned and reined in by allies like the Biden administration, we are headed for yet another war. Last year’s invasion lasted 11 days and brought 250 Gazan dead, most of them women and children. The only reason the war didn’t last longer was a concerted intervention by Biden which, with stern warnings, brought the mayhem to a close.
Settlers’ goals: destroy the Noble Sanctuary, rebuild the Temple, and vanquish Islam
The overall goal of the security forces and their settler allies is to provoke a massive, final holy war between Jew and Muslims, in which Israel finally and unequivocally asserts dominance and control of all of Jerusalem including the holy sites. The more violence, the closer they get to achieving their largest aims. They intend not just to provoke rioting among worshippers. but to lay a Jewish claim to this Muslim sacred space.
The underlying subtext for this incitement is the goal of destroying the Haram al-Sharif and replacing it with a Third Temple. To this effect, settlers annually prepare to conduct the animal sacrifices prescribed in the ancient Biblical texts. They have also designated a priesthood to conduct these services. To some, this appears as the acts of wild-eyed extremists. They dismiss such extremism as marginal or that of outliers. The problem is that history offers numerous examples of such behavior becoming normalized in society; and then being embraced by an entire nation. This is how, to offer but one example, in ten short years the Nazis went from laughingstock perpetrators of a poorly organized putsch against the Bavarian government, to control of the entire state of Germany.
Kahanism itself has, over the past 50 years, transformed itself from the rantings of Meir Kahane, declared persona non grata by Israel, to state policy. It is but a few steps (albeit major ones) from where we are today to a full-fledged fascist Davidic monarchy-dictatorship prepared to engage in mass expulsion and even genocide.
I find this settler-messianists urge to wage holy war on behalf of a rebuilt Temple repulsive as a Jew. The Temple served as the center of Jewish worship for less than a millennium. But it has been a ruin for two millennia. Jews survived twice as long without a Temple as without one. Not only do we not need a Temple, the worship of what I call “stones and bones” is repugnant to my Jewish values. Our ancestors (the “bones”) may have trod these hills and lived in these valleys, but these places are stones. They are distant ruins, historical relics. And why do we need a priestly class? Why do we need religious authorities performing animal sacrifices on our behalf?
How do we even know these Biblical stories are true? How do we know whether or not Solomon’s Temple was a magnificent place of God or a glorified hut? Can we trust the Biblical narrative to describe historical reality? And do we wish to base life and death decisions today on such a weak historical foundation?
Jews don’t need relics. They shouldn’t worship objects. Doing so is a form of pagan idolatry. Judaism is a religion of values and vision. A religion of prophetic universalism. Not a religion whose insular vision is confined only to those infused with messianic fervor.
Equally disturbing is that neither rabbinic figures nor Diaspora communal leaders have clearly articulated their opposition to such outrageous distortion of Jewish values. Either they are too afraid to speak up, or they themselves share some of this messianic vision of restoration. As long as we don’t articulate our own vision, and declare that they are worshipping false idols, we are betraying our religious beliefs. And our religion will lapse into irrelevance.
Bennett: Why did he do it?
What a change a month makes. Back then, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was basking in his role as a newly moderate leader of a center-right coalition government. He appeared to be taking a different approach to the Palestinians than his Likud predecessor, Bibi Netanyahu. While Bennett refused outright to negotiate with the Palestinians or discuss a Palestinian state, he permitted his ministers to meet fairly regularly with PA leader, Mahmoud Abbas. The iron club had been replaced by the light touch of a feather.
But the terror attacks destroyed that delicate equilibrium. Bennett unleashed the full force of the police and army to root out not just terror or violence, but to show the Palestinians that Israel will grind their faces into the dirt should they dare to resist the boot heel. Bennett probably didn’t feel he had much choice. Violence has always been the Israeli response to acts of Palestinian resistance. Palestinian violence is met with even fiercer Israeli violence leaving both sides–as Martin Luther King said about the Biblical phrase “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”–toothless and blind.
Other reasons for Bennett’s policy about-face may be: as mentioned above, he must always look over his shoulder at the Likud Opposition, which watchfully seeks signs of weakness on security issues. In addition, amid the crisis a key MK abandoned the Coalition, leaving it with no majority and in danger of falling. Bennett then realized he needed a course correction, as he was losing the more militant members of his Yamina Party.
Further, the history of the past 20 years shows that a war against Gaza never hurt an Israeli leader’s popularity. It is Israel’s punching bag. An example of Michael Ledeen’s notorious saying:
“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business”
In Israel’s terms, to establish deterrence, it must do so every year or so. Bibi Netanyahu did it several times. Ehud Olmert before did it as well. The Palestinian enclave is small. Resistance is relatively weak compared to the force the IDF can muster. Israelis respond favorably to any security operation whose rationale is defending the homeland or exacting revenge on Palestinians for their militancy. World opposition to such Israeli aggression is fractured and disorganized. There is no coherent and long-lasting movement successfully lobbying international bodies like the UN or ICC to take urgent action. Over time, whatever outrage there is, is replaced by other crises to distract attention. This is an approach Israel has perfected to a “T.” As the saying goes, “it works for them.”
Israel shows no signs of backing down, no signs of calming the situation. The longer it maintains maximum repressive force, the closer we are to full-fledged Hamas retaliation in defense of the holy places. From there, the scenario demands direct attacks on Gaza. To dramatize Israeli power, the IDF will devise a shocking display of force as it did when it toppled the high-rise residential tower last year. The intention will be to invoke the Shock and Awe of NATO’s attack on Serbia. It will neither shock nor awe Gazans, who have seen every form of Israeli barbarity it can muster. It will disgust much of the world, which will mount a feeble response. Once the Israeli invasion ends, we will await the next cycle of violence.
Because neither side can land a knock-out blow and both sides maintain firm faith in the righteousness of their cause; and because the world refuses to intervene to stop it as it did in Serbia and Kosovo, Israel-Palestine is a Groundhog Day of blood and mayhem. No end in sight. No let-up. As James Taylor once sang: “It looks like it goes on like this forever.”
Please note, I have decided to adopt a new policy toward commenting here. Instead of the elaborate set of rules I’d developed and implemented over the past 20 years and 100,000 comments, mostly to moderate the large impact of pro-Israel apologists in the thread, I will no longer have rules. Despite repeated warnings to hasbara commenters to read and respect them, most ignored them. So instead, I will moderate comments without explicit rules. There will no longer be warnings or messages explaining editorial decisions. Comments may be deleted, moderated or banned based on my discretion and without explanation.
It was taking too much time away from writing the blog itself. It created stress and anxiety given the load it placed on me to respond to every gotcha and hasbara argument. While I will continue to respond to comments as I choose, I didn’t get into this to spend hours every week acting as the editorial police. This new approach will give me the freedom to do as I see fit without having to answer to anyone other than myself.
10 thoughts on “Ramadan and the Road to War…and Perdition – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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For a change, דברים של טעם.
If it were not for the threat of Boogie man Bibi, the thought of the likes of Bennett or Ayelet Shaked (the Fascist perfume model) in the government would have been nightmare.
The facts are that Palestinians started this latest Temple Mount violence.
“Israeli authorities said that before the unrest broke out they had negotiated with Muslim leaders to try to ensure calm. But the police say Palestinians stockpiled rocks and other objects inside the compound and hurled stones at the Mughrabi Gate, which leads to the Western Wall — a major Jewish holy site — triggering the violence. ”
And Palestinians themselves, are admitting that Palestinians started this flare up.
“Palestinian witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns, said a small group of Palestinians threw rocks at police, who then entered the compound in force, setting off a wider conflagration. Palestinians view any large deployment of police at Al-Aqsa as a provocation.”
Some are pointing the finger at Hamas as the instigators of this latest round of violence.
@ Becky: This isn’t a negotiation. This isn’t “you Muslims will behave the way we say or we riot and trash your holy site.” No Jewish authority or police thugs have any right to govern what happens on Haram al Sharif, any more than the Waqf has any right to govern what happens at the Kotel. This is not Israeli and not under Israeli sovereignty. But yet, if you want to send the army in & take it over and eliminate any Muslim worshippers you dislike. Be my guest. But get ready for a holy war the likes of which you’ve never seen.
Beware of any hasbarist who tells you “the facts are, or “some are saying.” These are meaningless phrases and should be treated as such. Propaganda is not fact.
Ben Gvir toured the Temple Mount for a full 15 minutes, and days before the beginning of Pesach and Ramadan.
I don’t know where 750 settlers came from, not from my source, Middle East Eye.
Ben Gvir is a thug, but let’s bear in mind that his visit to the Temple Mount came days after 11 Israelis were killed in three separate terror attacks.
@ Mynah: It would take about 15 minutes for a nuclear weapon to destroy the world. 15 minutes of Ben Gvir did the trick on a smaller scale.
ACTUALLY, your own source says the Waqf estimated 500 settlers invaded the Noble Sanctuary. Or did you miss that?
“Hundreds of Jews at the Temple Mount.”
I also see the Border Police as essentially settlers with guns. There were hundreds of those as well. So well over 1,000 Israeli goons, with and without uniforms.
So after every Palestinian is murdered in cold blood by Israeli forces, then Palestinians have a right to take over the Kotel and pray there? Or they have a right to gather in Jerusalem’s largest synagogue and offer prayers for its destruction?
I didn’t think so.
The Palestinian’s armed struggle against Zionism, began as ‘religious’, and remains so today.
“The national endeavour of the Arabs of Palestine was indeed a political struggle with political aims, but it was definitely religious in origin, its ultimate goal being the preservation of Islam’s holy places in Palestine and the demonstration of the faith’s superiority.”–ARAB REBELLION AND TERRORISM IN PALESTINE 1929–39: THE CASE OF SHEIKH Izz AL-DIN AL-QASSAM AND HIS MOVEMENT. Shai Lachman.
@ Shelly: Utter horseshit. You quote a statement from an obscure Israeli “historian,” known for his anti-Palestinian historical perspective, about some Palestinian from nearly 100 years ago to prove that Palestine’s struggle is “religious?” Really? And who cares if it is? Zionism’s struggle is religious and has been for the past 55 years. Big deal.
Have you ever heard of a national movement in the Middle East that doesn’t have a religious element? The key point is that Palestinian nationalism has never denied the Jewish element of Zionism (except if it was being exploited to deny Palestinian rights). Otherwise, Palestinians could care less about Judaism. With Israelis, especially those on the far right (who run the government), it is far different. They hate Islam. They hate Palestinian Muslims as much for their religion as for their being Palestinian (which explains the attacks on Haram al Sharf). Their goal, if possible would be to eliminate not just Palestinians, but Islam itself.
“There will no longer be warnings or messages explaining editorial decisions. Comments may be deleted, moderated or banned based on my discretion and without explanation. ”
Richard’s ‘iron fist’.
@ Stoney: “Iron Fist” is if I come fully armed to your house, bust down your door, throw a few tear gas grenades and stun grenades in your kid’s bedroom, and throw you out of it.
Leaving you butt-hurt you don’t get to spew hasbara here? Sorry, no comparison.
The scariest thing is that “neither rabbinic figures nor Diaspora communal leaders have clearly articulated their opposition to such outrageous distortion of Jewish values.” That is, Jewish elite seem to favor destroying the Haram al Sharif that might lead to a holy war and returning Judaism to animal sacrifice apparently rejecting a thousand years of intellectual inquiry.