Just when you thought the world was getting a little too sane…

First, the politics part:

Latest news, compliments of the New York Times: The Israeli government has decided to open the temple mount to the general public, Jews, Christians and Muslims. (This is a change from the current de facto situation, where the Muslim waqf that runs the mosque basically controls access to the mount itself) Basically, it’s setting the place up as a tinderbox, apparently on the theory that the area doesn’t have enough of them. Both sides starting to act like they usually do in the vicinity of the heart of the old city, namely like frightening madmen; most of you have probably heard me try to explain this before.

(Actually, it’s more likely on the theory that establishing a status quo on the ground counts for everything in Middle Eastern politics, which is actually a pretty accurate theory, although it tends to only be applied to things that are likely to lead to bloodshed)

(For certain values of the word “amusing”)

Here are the last two paragraphs of the article. The man being interviewed is one of the members of a rabbinical group that’s very excited about the new developments. Yes, he is completely, dead serious.

Asked if he favored violent action to replace the Muslim holy places, Mr. Rogin replied: “We assume everything is being recorded. Officially, we only support legal activities.” He said rebuilding the temple was a project requiring the cooperation of “the Jewish people as a whole.”

For now, he held out a more modest goal, erecting an altar outside the Dome of the Rock. “If this broke into an open war, with people rioting in the streets,” he said, “then it would be possible to bring up a small truck with the altar, and start the sacrifice of animals.”

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Published in: on August 28, 2003 at 22:32  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. I just wanted to say, thanks for these posts. I’ve got family in Israel and these posts from you always make me think.
    I have to agree with you, it seems like opening up a new powderkeg.

  2. It is a powderkeg. Still, it begs the question to why the Muslims should maintain monopoly on a site holy to all three religions, especially where the Temple Mount is central to Judaism and not Islam?
    Status quo and avoiding bloodshed are not necessarily the best policy. In this situation, appeasement smacks of a double standard.

  3. But not all attempts to avoid bloodshed are appeasement. The old rule was that the waqf controlled the mosque area, but the whole area (apart from inside the mosque itself) was open to everyone. In happier days, I was even in the anteroom of the mosque; it’s very beautiful. What’s changed over the past few years aren’t official rules so much as a situation in which tensions between the three groups have grown so high that any simultaneous presence in the most sensitive areas is pretty certain to lead to major bloodshed. (Sharon’s little game of showing up there with 1,000 of his closest heavily armed friends did very little to help that) The new decision is to essentially try to forcibly end this by pushing a presence back on to the mountain.
    And… well, the rest of this is a bit harder to explain. All of Jerusalem triggers a certain sort of madness, and as you get closer to its center, the power gets a lot more intense. The guy quoted in that article with the plans for animal sacrifices wasn’t being facetious; there are several organizations with plans like those. And similarly there are Muslim and Christian organizations who are planning on using surprise attacks to kill everyone else in the area, seize the temple mount for themselves, and use it as the basis for [the Apocalypse | the new Empire | etc.] About all these groups have in common is that, if they ever got a chance to try it, it would bring about a world war. Putting everyone together in one place on a hill isn’t going to help much; the fact that this is going to imply a heavy IDF presence to guard against violence – which will certainly be perceived as an IDF presence trying to guard Israeli incursions into Muslim territory – is going to make things much worse.
    There are other reasons, basically more of the same – but this is just asking for trouble on a scale that the Middle East hasn’t seen in a very long time.

  4. Not an easy situation. In this clash of cultures/civilisations, Israel lies on the frontlines.
    Widespread, large-scale armed conflict, quite frankly, is inevitable. The only question is whether the Arab people will be able to reform themselves before the extremists plunge the world into war.


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