A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
October 5, 2009 Temple Mount Riots- Again
Over the course of the past week there have been ever growing demonstrations by Palestinians in defense of “The Temple Mount”. The demonstrations have surprised most Israelis, since there has not been a change in Israeli policy toward the Temple Mount, nor any provocative visits by any Israeli officials, nor has there been a new archeological dig at the site. Instead, the demonstrations are an attempt by the Northern Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood to seize the moment and whip up some anti-Israel frenzy within the Palestinian community and beyond, in the Arab world.
The demonstrations began on the Friday before Yom Kippur, when the former Mufti of Jerusalem spoke at Friday prayers, claiming that Al Aqsa is threatened by an Israeli plot to destroy it and replace it with a Jewish prayer site. When Motti Kirshenbaum questioned Avi Sacharoff, the leading Arab affairs correspondent of Ha’aretz, if the average Muslim Brotherhood members actually believed the rhetoric, he was astounded to receive the answer – 'absolutely! ’ Very large numbers of Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and others in the Arab really believe these fantasies.
These fantasies need to be taken seriously, since it was a very similar set of claims and circumstances that started the Arab riots in 1929, that resulted in the destruction of the Jewish community of Hebron. Much more recently, similar claims, albeit using the pretense of a five-minute visit to the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon in 2000, triggered the start of the deadly second Intifada. Like so many other things in the Middle East, policy makers, as well as reporters, need not be guided by what is truly rational, but rather, the irrational claims that too many fundamentalists easily latch on to.
Talking about irrational stories…in the past several days, the Palestinian Authority, under strong pressure from the Obama administration, has dropped its support for the Goldstone report. The Obama administration has embraced Prime Minister Netanyahu’s view that the report was detrimental to the peace process, and pressured the Palestinian authority to dismiss the report accordingly. The explanation in the Arab press for the Palestinian decision to negate the report was that Israel agreed to give a company owned by Abu Mazen’s son the spectrum to operate a second cellular phone company in the West Bank. Never mind that Abu Mazen's son is not involved in the company.... also never mind the fact Israel has already given them the spectrum. But this false rumor is what is now widely being reported.