Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Some Muscular Talk About Israel's Holy Places

I was always against leaving Synagogues behind in Gaza, because it was patently clear, from events during the second Intifada and from the ongoing treatment of the Temple Mount, that they would soon be desecrated. In the end, though, the Israeli Government decided that desecration by Arabs would be more commensurate with the ethics and morale of the Jewish state than destruction by the IDF's troops. Although in this case, the Arab destruction of the synagogues -- and the media response that this was business as usual and nothing extraordinary -- came in record time.

Which, unfortunately, hardly surprises me.

Michael Freund, writing in the Jerusalem Post, suggests a response:
THEREIN LIES the "original sin" of various Israeli policymakers, who have consistently capitulated, retreated and withdrawn whenever the Palestinians have trampled on some of our most important national symbols. Instead of displaying some elementary Jewish pride and confronting the rioters to prevent them from torching what is holy to us, we prefer to shrug our collective shoulders, look away in shame, and hope for the best.

That may have made sense when the extent of our national power was limited to community councils in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, but surviving in the modern-day Middle East requires an entirely different approach.

For far too long we have inculcated in the Palestinians a sense of impunity when it comes to vandalizing or defiling Jewish holy sites, and it is time for this to change forthwith.

In light of the Palestinians' behavior in Gaza this week, it should be clear to all that they cannot, must not, be entrusted with safeguarding or administering Jewish religious sites under any circumstances whatsoever.

The Palestinians have once again failed to demonstrate even the modicum of decency and civility that calls for respecting houses of worship that belong to others.

And so Israel should not hesitate to do what should have been done already: take back Joseph's Tomb, reassert its sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and eject the PA-controlled Muslim Wakf from the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

These three sites, more than any others, symbolize our ties to this Land, and the abiding faith upon which they are based. It is time for all of them to return to sole Israeli control.

Such a step would send a clear and unequivocal message to the Palestinians that there is a price to be paid for treading on Jewish religious rights and assaulting our holy sites. It would also underline Israel's determination to retain these sacred spaces in any future arrangements that might be reached.

There is a limit to what a nation can be expected to tolerate when its most hallowed places repeatedly come under attack.
Personally, I don't disagree. In particular, where it comes to Temple Mount. The more we allow de facto policy to weaken our claim to these sites, the more our claims to them will be imperiled in a very real sense.

In addition, the Palestinians are currently busy arming themselves in Gaza with guns and sophisticated weaponry imported by the Beduins living in Egypt, presumably of the same stripe as those that helped perpetrate the recent Al Qaeda bombing in the Sinai. This, too, is not a surprise. Nor is the fact that current Gazan misconduct -- such as destroying the infrastructure that was purchased and left in place for their state to benefit, or that Hamas would blow a hole in the wall between Gaza and Egypt in order to import weaponry, and that Egypt would refuse to take a military stand in the matter. Nor is it surprising that all of this is the fault of Israel. This remarkable headline encapsulates in a nutshell everything that is wrong with Palestinian leadership.

Palestinian FM: Chaos at Gaza-Egypt border is Israel's fault

Yet here I thought the reason *the East* hates the nasty Imperialists is that the Imperialists infantalized them. But, gee. Seems they're doing a pretty damn good job all on their own...

Captain Ed points out the similarity of the looting to what occurred in flooded New Orleans. "Looting takes place in a power vacuum (as we saw in New Orleans), and the inability of the Palestinian Authority to protect its most vital economic assets in the region should demonstrate to everyone the empty shell that the PA has always been, especially in Gaza."

But that position assumes that the PA was doing at least as much as the hapless New Orleans police to act against the looters. My reading of the situation is that PA encouraged the looting and participated in it themselves. And afterward they claim, as per usual, that it is all Israel's fault. It seems absolutely endemic to their culture.

Soccer Dad has another perspective on the matter of the synagogues left behind. He also includes a link to Elder of Ziyon who has collected newspaper clippings of many Israeli synagogue desecrations last century.

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