Monday, July 31, 2017

A Pyrrhic victory - Dr. Reuven Berko

by Dr. Reuven Berko

The demonstrators demanded and even accepted the restoration of the status quo, but they are now "hung over" after their "victory" in a reality where Israel continues to be sovereign.

The Islamic activists who systematically harass Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, and the mercenaries who rioted on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem's streets, rejoiced at the removal of the metal detectors. One of them said, "This is the Muslims' first victory in Jerusalem since Saladin," referring to the sultan who captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187. With their reaction, the "victors" have made a mountain out of a molehill.

The installation of the metal detectors was an immediate tactical response to the murder of two border policemen at the hands of terrorists from Umm al-Fahm. The aim of the measure was to protect Al-Aqsa mosque from itself. The Palestinian demand that they be removed was a declaration of intent to use Al-Aqsa as a weapon and as an arena of future terrorist attacks, with all the consequences that implies. As a possible alternative, Israel may want to consider moving the security fence to the west of Umm al-Fahm and installing the metal detectors at the entrance to the city.

In interviews with the media, Muslim Waqf officials in Jerusalem were euphoric and self-congratulatory. Jordan's trustees attributed the agreement to the Hashemite kingdom. Former Grand Mufti Sheikh Ekrima Sabri and his ilk in the Palestinian Authority claimed it was a dispute over sovereignty with implications for Islam, Arabs and Palestinians, and that it was the independent religious authority and the masses in Jerusalem, along with the influence of the Palestinian Authority, that ultimately delivered the "victory." As they told it, Jordan was merely a spectator.

However, bit by bit, doubts are cropping up about the resolution of the conflict. A sense is creeping in that this was nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory for the Palestinians. The demonstrators themselves demanded and even accepted the restoration of the status quo, but they are now "hung over" after their "victory" in a reality where Israel continues to be sovereign.

Did Israel really remove the metal detectors out of fear of the sheikhs or the protesters and rioters they incited? Israel did not give an inch in the face of two violent intifadas, so the answer is no. In the battle for the fate of Jerusalem, the metal detectors are nothing more than a tactical episode within a larger strategic move, comparable to a commander's decision to change the location of their tanks.

The status quo in Jerusalem is comparable to the Arab proverb "Do you want to eat the grapes or fight the guard?" The proverb, meaning don't make too big a deal out of things, is founded on the understanding that if a leader wants his subjects to follow his command, he must ask for things that are possible and realistic. As the pragmatic caliph Muawiyah I once said, "There is a hair between me and my people. If they pull, I let go, and if they let go, I pull."

Israel reevaluated the balance of power, agreed to Jordan's request, nullified the Palestinian Authority's illusions in Jerusalem, and thwarted radical Islam's plans to direct regional chaos at Israel. The Arab states, and even the Palestinian Authority, recognized the Islamist attempt to set in motion a wave of insurrection against them with the claim "Al-Aqsa is in danger." Indeed, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah called for a mass revolt against the "passive" Arab regimes in the name of Al-Aqsa.

The ambitions of an "Islamic caliphate" were recently illustrated in an image distributed on social media networks that featured an iconic image of then-Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Jerusalem Commander Uzi Narkis walking through the Lions' Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, only the figures were replaced with Turkish President Recep Tayyin Erdogan "the conqueror," Salah and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Hussein. After the Nakba and the Naksa (Palestinian mourning over the establishment of the State of Israel and the capture of east Jerusalem), the Islamists, the Arab MKs, the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee and the like are trying to turn Al-Aqsa into the source of the next Palestinian disaster and, again, expendable ammunition in the hands of others.

Dr. Reuven Berko


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