Jerusalem sees violence escalating again

Over the past three weeks we have been witnessing daily terrorist attacks of stones and firebombs against civilians, police and IDF in and around Jerusalem, with the epicenter being the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.
Palestinian youth are incited by their leaders to throw rocks, cinder blocks and firebombs at Jews who have come to pray at the Western Wall during the holidays. When the Israeli police go up to the Temple Mount to stop them, these terrorists draw them into an ambush inside the Dome of the Rock where, with full agreement of the Muslim clerics, there are stockpiled stones, bottles, iron bars, fireworks and other deadly projectiles.
With numerous cameras strategically placed both inside and outside the building, the Palestinian Authority uses the videos to show the world how the “heartless Jewish stormtroopers” desecrate the building by entering without taking off their boots.
In a speech Wednesday, Sept. 16, PA president Abu Mazen encouraged the rioters when he said: “We bless you, we bless the Murabitin (those carrying out Ribat, religious conflict/war to protect land claimed to be Islamic), we bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. Al-Quds (Jerusalem) is ours, the Al-Aqsa is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours, and they have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
Claim on Jerusalem
But is Jerusalem really theirs? While reasonable minds can debate exactly what the boundaries of Israel were during different historical periods, or the actual geographic footprint of Jerusalem in different times, some facts are undeniable.
In fact, probably the only three things that all Jews — regardless of political or religious conviction, synagogue affiliation, country of residence, citizenship, age, gender, social level, education, etc. — agree on, are the irrefutable and well-documented facts that:
The land of Israel is the historical, given homeland of our nation.
Since the arrival of Abraham and his extended family some 4,000 years ago, there has never been a day when there were no Hebrews or Jews living somewhere in the land of Israel.
Jerusalem, from the time King David captured it from the Jebusites around 3,000 years ago, has been, is and always will be the eternal (and now functional) capital of Israel, with an unbroken Jewish presence.
During 2,000 years of exile, Jews all over the world ended the Passover Seder with the pledge: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
These facts are indisputable. They are recorded not just in the Bible, but in archeological finds and historical documents from around the Middle East.
However, the Palestinian leadership consistently claims, and teaches in their schools, that the Jews never had a connection with the land of Israel or with Jerusalem, and that there never was a Temple. They claim that it was always “Palestine.”
But do the Palestinians have a comparable historical narrative and claim? Here are the documented facts:
“Palestine” never existed until the Roman Emperor Hadrian, after crushing the Jewish revolt led by Bar Kochba (132-135CE) renamed the combined Roman provinces of Syria and Judea: “Syria Palaestina,” in an attempt to suppress Jewish connection to the land.
This was the first time in history that any part of the region was called “Palaestina.” The population was mostly Jews, Syrians, Bedouin nomadic tribes, Greeks, Egyptians, Philistines (from whom the name derived) and Roman garrisons.
The name was later used, in various references, by successive rulers: Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mameluks, Turks and British.
There never was an independently sovereign country, kingdom, principality or even city-state called “Palestine.”
And the only time that Jerusalem served as a national capitol or seat of power after the Romans exiled the Jews 2,000 years ago and until the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 — was during the British mandate (1920-1948), mostly in the King David Hotel.
Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Quran (it’s mentioned 626 times in the Old Testament and 141 in the New Testament).
This brings me back to the current wave of deadly violence in Jerusalem, which is referred to by some analysts as the “Temple Mount” or “Third” Intifada.
Despite the deadly violence, and though the stone and firebomb throwing has expanded beyond Jerusalem, most analysts don’t think that this will evolve into a full-scale intifada or uprising.
The main reason is that by all accounts the Temple Mount violence is an attempt to change the 1967 status quo agreement that gives Jordan overall authority over the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, while the Palestinian Authority has religious control and Israel security control.
Jordan’s authority is now being challenged by Fatah and Hamas on one side, and by the radical “Islamic Movement in Israel,” of Sheikh Raed Salah, on the other. Both are paying and inciting the rioters to increase the violence in the hope that the U.N. will condemn Israel for violating the “sanctity” of the shrines and using “excessive force,” while simultaneously changing Jordan’s role.
Unfortunately the violence in and around Jerusalem may continue for a while. Israel will have to take any and all steps necessary to stop it. There is a debate now within the government whether to ease up the restrictions on security forces using deadly force.
The current wave of violence and terrorism will be stopped …at least until the next round. The question is — will it be another hit to Israel’s image? The next few weeks, or months, will tell.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.
Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is president and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email:
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DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.

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