by Ruthie Blum
If anything proves the power of propaganda over truth, it is the Temple Mount issue.
On Sunday night, the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem was nearly empty. Though it was the eve of Simchat Torah, when thousands of Jew normally congregate at the holy site to celebrate the holiday by dancing with Torah scrolls, the Palestinian terrorist attack that took place in the area 24 hours earlier served to scare off even those people who believe that everything is in God's hands.
No one could possibly be blamed for such fear.
The stabbing of an Israeli family by a 19-year-old Ramallah resident and Jerusalem law student -- culminating in the death of 22-year-old Aharon Bennett and 41-year-old Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, who came to the rescue; the critical wounding of 21-year-old Adele Bennett; the injury to the couple's two-year-old boy and trauma to their physically unscathed baby daughter -- was not merely brutal. It was documented on the cellphones of Arab onlookers, who laughed and spit at the young mother covered in blood, begging for help as she tried to flee the scene with a knife wedged in her shoulder.
"You should die, too," they chanted, while she stumbled ahead in the direction of Israeli Border Police.
The horrifying event also came on the heels of Thursday night's slaying of Naama and Eitam Henkin, the parents of four children under the age of 10, among them a nursing baby, whose own lives were spared by a fluke accident that occurred, mid-slaughter, to one of the Hamas terrorists. Different neighborhood, same purpose: to kill Jews for being Jews, whenever and wherever possible.
The ostensible impetus for the current escalation in Palestinian violence, which is being touted as the start of the third intifada, is the Temple Mount. More specifically, according to a blood libel being spread by the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, it is a response to the Jewish "rape" of the Al-Aqsa mosque and attempt to prevent Muslims from praying there in peace.
That this is a bald-faced lie makes no difference. The fact that it is only Jews (and Christians) who are forbidden from praying on or around the holiest site in Judaism, while Muslims -- including members of the Israeli Knesset -- taunt and harass non-Muslim visitors to the Mount, is ignored internationally. If anything proves the power of propaganda over truth, it is this issue.
Abbas' response to the savagery, which continued early Sunday morning with the stabbing in Jerusalem of 15-year-old Moshe Malka, was to blame Israel for the death of two Palestinians. The ones he was referring to were the perpetrators of the latter attacks, killed while on their rampages. The five Nablus residents who shot the Henkins at point-blank range in front of their children were apprehended after the carnage. They are now alive and well, in custody.
Though the Western Wall has been relatively deserted, an estimated 10,000 people gathered outside of the Prime Minister's Residence on Monday night to demand that the government take action to stop the latest wave of terror. Ironically, some government ministers were among the protesters.
Later that night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that cabinet had approved a set of measures to confront the violence: expediting the demolitions of terrorists' houses; stronger police presence and operational latitude in Jerusalem; administrative detention for rioters; and fast-tracking plans for building roads to circumvent Palestinian areas.
However, Netanyahu also stressed that he intends to preserve the "status quo" on the Temple Mount -- which means the continued prohibition of Jewish prayer there. Since this egregious policy has remained constant, it is unclear how a statement of the obvious, other than from the Muslim-Arab world, will make a dent in the lies about it.
Meanwhile, a demonstration was held at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, also attended by some 10,000 people. This protest was against the violation of animal rights. According to a report in Haaretz, "Participants chanted and held up signs protesting consumption of meat and dairy products, as well as placards opposing animal experimentation. 'Justice, compassion, veganism' and 'Meat is murder' were chanted repeatedly. ... They also called for the cessation of shipments of live calves and lambs from Australia and Europe, stopping the poultry market reforms, increasing budgets for the sterilization or neutering of cats and dogs, as well as imposing criminal responsibility on directors of corporations found abusing animals."
Channel 10 morning-show host Orly Vilnai, who moderated the rally, said, "While we are here tonight, the conversation elsewhere is quite different. I imagine we'll be accused of being disconnected from reality, as part of the Tel Aviv bubble. [But] we must continue this conversation in order to remain sane."
Or insane, as the case may be, particularly in the current context. Still, the "Let the Animals Live" campaign probably has a better chance of achieving its goals in the foreseeable future than the "Let Israel Live" endeavor of the Jewish-state faithful, whose blood, sweat and tears continue to flow.
Ruthie Blum is a Tel Aviv-based author and journalist.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.