An Israeli family, including a 9-month-old child, was sleeping when they heard sirens warning of an imminent rocket attack; they fled to a shelter. Moments later, a rocket fired from Gaza slammed into their home. (WATCH)
As Jews were celebrating the Passover story of freedom and Muslims were praying for Ramadan at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, Israelis faced an orchestrated, multi-front rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria, and terrorism in Israel and the West Bank. Terrorists intensified their efforts to undermine peace and freedom for all Israelis and weaponized the Al-Aqsa mosque to direct hatred against Israel and kill Jews.
As far back as 1928, the Supreme Muslim Council spread a false and malicious rumor about a Zionist plot to destroy the Temple Mount, inciting rioters to massacre 67 Jews. The mosque, a symbol of Islamic power, is located on the Temple Mount—Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third holiest.
This year, Iranian-backed Hamas, Islamic leaders in Qatar and Gaza terrorist groups called on Palestinians to wage jihad from inside the mosque and claimed that Muslims have a duty to liberate Al-Aqsa by any means necessary, including jihad. Within days, hundreds of Palestinians violently barricaded themselves inside, armed with explosives, fireworks and stones. Israeli security forces responded to restore order and allow Muslims to pray in peace. Israel’s police chief expressed regret over some officers who used excessive force to quell rioters.
The campaign to spread the anti-Jewish blood libel that Jews are trying to destroy Islamic holy sites mobilizes terrorists. For days, Hamas fired dozens of rockets into Israel from Gaza and dozens more from Lebanon. Terrorists in Syria also launched rockets at Israel’s Golan Heights. The rockets fired from Lebanon did not distinguish between Arabs and Jews living in northern Israel. Some fell short, landing in Gaza, Syria and Jordan.
Terrorists also targeted Israeli civilians going about their daily lives. A Palestinian terrorist fired dozens of bullets at a family driving their car in the West Bank. Two British-Israeli sisters—ages 15 and 20—were killed instantly; their mother died three days later. The husband and father, a rabbi, mourned, “You dreamed of traveling the world, now you’re traveling to heaven.” Hours later, an Israeli-Arab terrorist purposefully drove his car into pedestrians enjoying a night out on the Tel Aviv promenade next to the Mediterranean Sea. The attacker killed a visiting Italian lawyer.
Rallies against Israel were held in America and Europe reinforcing the false narratives about Al-Aqsa. Hundreds demonstrated in New York, Boston and Chicago. Chants included “Free Palestine” (a euphemism for destroying Israel). Some protesters held signs that called to defend Al-Aqsa and supported terrorism against Israelis. Hundreds of German Muslims rallied in Berlin, calling for “Death to Israel” and “Death to Jews.” Newspapers, including The Harvard Crimson and The Boston Globe, used language that reinforced the false Palestinian narrative and did not include any reaction from Jewish or Israeli sources.
America voiced strong support for Israel. The U.S. State Department affirmed that Israel has the “legitimate right to defend itself.” “Every state has a right to defend itself against terror, and Israel should never be an exception to the rule,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) responded, saying, “Thank G-d for Iron Dome, which has intercepted missiles that would otherwise murder civilians.” On the other hand, the United Nations urged “restraint,” and its Palestinian rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, stated that Israel can’t invoke self-defense after terrorism and rocket attacks.
Palestinian and Islamic leaders have falsely claimed that Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque has been in danger since 1928. King Solomon built the Jewish Temple about 3,000 years ago before it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. It was rebuilt decades later before the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 C.E. About 700 years later, Islamic conquerors built two mosques on top of the ruins. The Western Wall wasn’t part of the Temple; it was a retaining wall.
The Jordanians prevented Jews from praying at the Western Wall from 1949 until 1967 when Israel reunified Jerusalem. Following the Six-Day War, Israel allowed the Jordanian Islamic Waqf (trust) to oversee civil control of the Islamic sites and Israel resolved to maintain security control. In the intervening years, invaluable Jewish archaeological artifacts that proved Jerusalem and Israel are the Jewish ancestral home were removed.
Only Muslims are allowed to pray on the Temple Mount; Jews are barred from praying and are only permitted to visit in small groups. The status quo of control and access to the Temple Mount remains in effect today.
Points to consider:
- Israelis cannot take their security for granted.
Can you imagine how you would feel if you heard that terrorists fired rockets into America from Canada and Mexico? What if at the same time that Americans were hunkering down in bomb shelters built into their homes, terrorists used their vehicles as weapons for running over pedestrians out for an evening stroll? Israelis don’t enjoy the luxury of going about their daily activities without fear. Israelis celebrated Passover in bomb shelters, checked their phones for Red Alert messages for rocket barrages and were forced to deal with acute anxiety from the rocket attacks. The onslaught forced military leaders to call up Border Police and Air Force reservists, taking them away from their families during Passover week.
- Israel welcomes all faiths to worship peacefully.
The Israeli Declaration of Independence states unequivocally that Israel “will guarantee freedom of religion” and “safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.” Israeli Muslims are free to practice Islam and can attend any of the country’s hundreds of mosques. Israel also facilitates the entry of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, including Palestinians, to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan. While the news media focuses on the violence, videos and photos show Muslims and Jews praying peacefully in Jerusalem, including Muslims worshipping inside and outside of Al-Aqsa. Israel’s prime minister emphasized that “Israel is committed to preserving freedom of worship” at the Temple Mount, and vowed to “not allow violent extremists to change this.” Despite false claims from the media and Islamic leaders, Israel provides stability on the Temple Mount.
- “The Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger” is a blatant anti-Jewish lie.
Every year, terrorists invoke “the big lie” calling to safeguard Al-Aqsa from Jewish invasion and defilement, particularly during Ramadan. This lie goes back a century and was crafted to unite Islamic extremists against Jews and Israel. Previous Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat stated in 2004 that Al-Aqsa was “in danger.” Notably, current Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas declared in 2015 that Jews “have no right to defile the Al-Aqsa mosque with their filthy feet,” and “We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem.” This year, Turkey’s president called Israel’s restoration of peace on the Temple Mount as crossing a “red line” and that the “Islamic world should be united against Israel’s attacks in Palestine.” This is pure anti-Jewish hatred.
- Misinformation: No “moral equivalence” or “cycle of violence.”
When one group targets civilians and the other targets terrorists, there is no moral equivalence. The father and husband of the three murdered Jews stated that “we will never blame the murder on the victims; there is no such thing as a moral equivalence between terrorists and victim.” Many news media and pundits incorrectly apply this term, while only focusing on a select snapshot of events. This serves to mislead and amplify hatred without taking the time to examine the full content. The attacks against Israel were planned in advance; they were not spontaneous. Terrorists use Israel’s response to ensure freedom of worship on the Temple Mount as a justification for launching rockets against Israel. This is not a “cycle of violence,” it is purposeful intent. This is the true timeline of events.
- The path to peace is through recognizing Jewish history, not erasing it.
Palestinian leaders continuously try to deny that Jews have any historical connection to Israel and Jerusalem. The most notable example was Yasser Arafat during the 2000 Camp David peace talks with President Bill Clinton. The Israeli prime minister shocked everyone when he offered the Palestinians control over the Temple Mount, with Israel retaining control of the underground tunnels with its Jewish Temple artifacts. Arafat responded: “There was never a Jewish Temple, so I cannot accept any Israeli presence. Not even underground.” For years, the Temple Mount’s Islamic guardians removed and destroyed invaluable Jewish archaeological remains. This is erasive antisemitism.
- Terrorist attacks do not happen in a vacuum.
Educating Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, especially children, to hate people who are different from them triggers a domino effect that can lead directly to terrorism. Too many people naively assume that terrorists are young, single men with bleak economic prospects. The Israeli Arab who used his car to mow down pedestrians was a 45-year-old father of six. He had worked as a janitor at a Tel Aviv middle school. Staff and students were shocked that he was the perpetrator. A student described him as “the happiest person he knew,” and the attacker would invite the school’s teachers to break the Ramadan fasts with him. The husband and father of the three murdered Jews addressed the terrorist: “What did you get out of this? What values are you passing on to your children when you murdered my family? You are pure evil.”