Shavuot, the Six-Day War and the sorry ‘status quo’ on the Temple Mount

The tendency of mostly young male Palestinians to use any excuse to desecrate the site, the holiest in Judaism and third in Islam, has become commonplace.

Gaza City residents burn Israeli flags and pictures of Israeli officials after a Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled that Jews may pray on the Temple Mount. May 25, 2022.  Photo by Attia Muhammed/Flash90.
Gaza City residents burn Israeli flags and pictures of Israeli officials after a Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled that Jews may pray on the Temple Mount. May 25, 2022. Photo by Attia Muhammed/Flash90.
Ruthie Blum. Photo by Ariel Jerozolomski.
Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum, former adviser at the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is an award-winning columnist and senior contributing editor at JNS, as well as co-host, with Amb. Mark Regev, of "Israel Undiplomatic" on JNS-TV. She writes and lectures on Israeli politics and culture, and on U.S.-Israel relations. Originally from New York City, she moved to Israel in 1977 and is based in Tel Aviv.

Israeli and Diaspora Jews visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday to celebrate Shavuot—the holiday marking the revelation of the Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai—were greeted by angry Palestinians. The latter, mostly young men, have taken to rioting regularly on the compound where the Al-Aqsa mosque is located.

It would be easy to attribute the behavior of the Muslim troublemakers to the occasion when Jews make a festive pilgrimage to the site of the two temples. It would be equally simple to attach significance to the Gregorian date, which coincided with the 55th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War.

Though the two are indelibly linked, the tendency of mostly young male Palestinians to use any excuse to desecrate the site—the holiest in Judaism and third in Islam after Mecca and Medina—has become commonplace. And it’s no wonder.

Incited by the Palestinian Authority, with a little help from the king of Jordan, these guys get to cloak their violent energy in a veil of religious and political purity. The neat trick on the part of the leaders in Ramallah, Gaza and Amman to encourage terrorist activity is to perpetuate the bald-faced lie that Israel plans to storm the compound and destroy the mosque.

The mendacity doesn’t end there. The P.A. leadership also pretends that the presence of Jews in the ancient land of Israel is a myth, and that the story of the First and Second Temples is a fabrication.

That the Bible and archaeology say otherwise is of no consequence to P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, who determines what is published in the press that his people read and the curriculum in their schools. A central theme in the material that he disseminates is that the State of Israel is an illegitimate entity whose destiny is elimination.

While his rivals in the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad openly aim for this goal, Abbas puts on a charade for international consumption. The act involves talking peace while fomenting hostility against his alleged partner on the road to a “two-state solution.”

Here’s the rub. He insists that the stumbling block to this dream of Palestinian independence is Israel’s grip on the territories that it occupied in 1967. The fact that anyone in Israel or abroad still buys this hackneyed baloney is mysterious, to say the least.

In the first place, in all P.A. publications and ceremonies, the nakba, the “catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment in 1948, is the true culprit. This is a constant that hasn’t changed a single iota during the past decades, despite Israel’s many “land for peace” concessions, not to mention its complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Nor has Abbas curbed his “pay for slay” policy of stipends for Jew-killing terrorists and their families.

Secondly, it was precisely Israel’s attempt at reaching genuine coexistence after its victory in the Six-Day War that led then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to bestow control of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqf. Rather than calm tensions with the defeated Arabs and keep the site from becoming the source of a religious conflict with Muslims, the goodwill gesture has had the opposite effect.

It’s debatable whether Dayan could or should have anticipated the foolishness of the move. What is not a matter of controversy is the jubilation expressed by Mordechai (“Motta”) Gur, commander of the brigade that breached the Old City walls, when the mission was accomplished. “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” he shouted breathlessly.

These were famous last words, so to speak, as Dayan promptly reversed course. Not only did he order the army to remove the Israeli flag from the Dome of the Rock and exit the premises, but the government decreed that Jews would be forbidden from praying anywhere on the complex.

This situation is known as the “status quo” that radicals accuse Israel of violating. It’s a ridiculous assertion and everyone knows it, including Abbas. Even more preposterous is the prohibition of Jewish prayer, as though reciting the Shema in an open space is some kind of affront to Muslims reading the Koran in the mosque.

Furthermore, the only people defiling Al-Aqsa are Muslims themselves. Amassing rocks and firebombs to hurl at Jews and police—while kicking around soccer balls on the carpets of the house of worship—isn’t exactly religious observance at its finest.

It is precisely such paragons who instigated the chaos on Sunday, as they do on an ongoing basis, especially when a holiday or anniversary comes around, including their own. This is the true “status quo” that the Palestinians and outside instigators insist on preserving.

Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”

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