This week, Monday July 24th to Sunday July 30th, was almost entirely consumed by the needless drama about prayers at Al Aqsa mosque. The story so far: on Friday July 14th three Israeli Palestinians emerged from the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound and, with home-made weapons, shot dead two Israeli Druze police officers.
Israel police quickly found the 3 gunmen and shot them dead, As a roughly eye-for-an-eye retaliation it could have ended there. But the Palestinian impudence and the desecration of their own holy place meant that Israeli superior power had to be demonstrated. On July 15th and 16th Israeli police closed Al Aqsa and the entry of Palestinians to the compound.
When it re-opened the Israeli Security Cabinet – which has no authority over the compound – had ordered the installation of a row of metal detector gates manned by Israeli security officers, through which all Palestinians wanting to worship would have to pass. At this point it became all confusion about who said what when. There were violent clashes between the border police and young Palestinians. What proved to be far more effective were spontaneous mass prayer sessions. Thus by the end of the second week the Palestinian presence was quiet, devout and non-violent, the Israeli presence as a threatening bid to gain control of the holy compound after having disrupted the status quo.
Dan Cohen names the many Israeli politicians guilty of ‘incitement’ to assert sovereignty over the compound:
Fight to the death for control over sacred site
PM Netanyahu’s constant accusation that Palestinian people only oppose the Israeli state because of ‘incitement’ by the PA (or Facebook posters) incites others to see the incitement by his own side. Edo Konrad identifies the violent hostility towards all Palestinians displayed by the Israeli right wing as inciting mass hatred:
Incitement to cast out Palestinians
In a powerful bit of analysis Yossie Verter homes in on the chaotic behaviour of the government during this crisis. The penalty for having treated every issue as a matter of ‘security’ means they are thrown into confusion when security is really not an issue:
‘Is this a state or a security company?’
Although the majority of Israelis thought PM Netanyahu had made a mess of the security gates, Gil Hoffman, JPost, they will not turn against him because the prospect of the Left gaining a victory is an anathema:
Israelis will not turn on U-turn Bibi
Nir Hasson and Jonathan Ofir in separate articles recount the history of the site, its symbolism and previous Israel incursions into it:
From a quiet religious site to one of noisy political violence
Harry Hagopian also reminds us of the history of Israeli incursions on the Noble Sanctuary which used to be defended by all Arab states but is no more. Plus Bibi, whose coterie uses religious arguments to make political gains, blames Al Jazeera for incitement:
Using religion to make political gains
Given the usual stereotype of Palestinian resistance (terrorist beasts) it is surprising that media in Israel and abroad made no comment on the non-violent nature of Palestinian protest at this interference in their religious lives by the Israeli state:
Victory for non-violent protest
So far there hasn’t been an article summing up all the extraordinary changes in Jerusalem’s political life in the last fortnight. The mass protest produced a sense of unity amongst the people of Jerusalem, not so much the Jerusalem intifada which some have dubbed it as the alternative Jerusalem model of inclusive resistance:
Warm embrace of Christians at Al Aqsa protest
Two very different Palestinian commentators, Daoud Kuttab and Inas Abbad, both note the new quality of resistance, and of self-making, in this conflict. It is not just the non-violence; not just the irrelevance of the Hamas/Fatah division; it is also the way in which Palestinians of any age or either gender felt they could contribute:
A new form of politics – no factions
Two articles in Al Jazeera, one pointing out how the famed security apparatus of the Israeli state could not stop, or corral, the Al Aqsa resistance,
Cracks in the security apparatus
the other recording the heady feeling amongst Jerusalem Palestinians of ‘We won’! This battle achieved the seemingly impossible (and probably temporary) – Palestinian unity:
Opposition unites on Al Aqsa
One of the few things that unites Americans – well, most of them – is that Israel is sacred and thus above criticism. No political party dares disrupt this so there has been no demand to use human right criteria and little opposition to a new bill which outlaws any boycott against buying Israeli products. It’s up to an NGO, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to question this on the basis of free speech and free choice:
Protecting Israel from principles of free speech
Akiva Eldar, like most sensible people, recognises that the BDS movement is not antisemitic. Rather, Israelis are deluded if they think that the Occupation and subjugation of Palestinians does them no harm:
It’s mad to pretend the Occupation does Israel no harm
Tzai Hanegbi (who he?) Israel’s ‘regional co-operation minister’ has made a bid for notoriety by posting on Facebook a statement which re-iterates ’48 and ’67, lie a bell tolling doom, to remind Palestinians that every time they fight back they are defeated and if they try again they will be subject to another Nakba:
Bow down or we’ll chuck you out – again
And more besides.