May 27, 2020

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J-Street demonizing Israel, whitewashing Muslim history and justifying violence over Temple Mount

Israel has done absolutely nothing wrong in regards to Israeli or Palestinian Muslims in this past week.

Muslims attacked Israeli police from their supposedly holy site using weapons that were hidden in the mosque itself. Muslims decided to riot instead of worshipping at that same site.

All of the moves Israel made (temporary closing of Temple Mount, setting up metal detectors, barring young Muslim men from Jerusalem) were defensive and in reaction to offensive actions or threats from Palestinians.

So J-Street decided to write a backgrounder for its fans so they can know how to spin the story as much as possible against Israel and for Muslims. To be “even-handed.” Because Allah-forbid “pro-Israel” J-Street ever finds anything nice to say about Israel or anything bad to say about her enemies.

Over the course of the last week, a new crisis has broken out over questions of control, access and security at the Holy Esplanade of Jerusalem’s Old City, known to Jews as the Temple Mount (formerly the site of the ancient Jewish Temple) and to Muslims as the Haram-al Sharif (site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock). For years, controversies involving the holy site, which is jointly controlled by Israel and Jordan and administered by the Islamic Religious Trust known as the Waqf, have generated major tension between Israeli and Palestinian leadership and between devout Muslims and Jews. Now, in the wake up of a shooting attack last week that killed two Israeli policemen at the site, those tensions are dangerously close to boiling over.

Look at this “even-handed” garbage. The Muslims are rioting and Israel is trying to save human lives, but to J-Street “tensions are dangerously close to boiling over.”

On Friday, July 14, two Israeli Border Policemen were shot and killed (and another wounded) inside the Holy Esplanade complex by three Palestinian citizens of Israel, who were then themselves shot and killed by police. 

To J-Street, there are no such things as Israeli Arabs. They are “Palestinian citizens of Israel.” If they are Palestinian, of course, it begs the question of why they don’t move to the territories. The implication is that all of Israel is still Palestine.

The most significant measure taken so far seems to be the decision to install metal detectors at the entrances to the site. While Israeli officials apparently viewed the move simply as a prudent security measure, many Palestinian leaders and clerics have denounced it as an attempt to transform the “status quo” at the site and as a continuation of what they see as a pattern of Israel tightening its control over the site and increasing restrictions on Muslim access.

J-Street’s “objectivity” is again shown to be a sham. Israel only “apparently” thinks metal detectors to stop Arabs from bringing more weapons to the Temple Mount is “prudent,” but Palestinians are quite justified in denouncing the move.

One side’s actions make perfect sense to save lives. The other side’s actions are literally a call to violence, using normal security measures as a pretext. “Pro-Peace” J-Street doesn’t take sides (in this case.)

Dating back to Ottoman rule in the 19th century, visitors of all religions were permitted to visit the site, while the Muslim holy places were administered by Muslim authorities, an arrangement that has broadly informed the status quo since then. 

This is knowingly deceptive. Jews were known to have prayed on the Temple Mount up until the Ottoman period, when they were banned altogether and were limited to worshiping at the Western wall. After the Crimean War, Great Britain insisted on non-Muslim access to the Mount, but Jews had to get specific permission from the governor and apparently had to pay high fees for the right to ascend. So in theory they were “permitted” but in fact they were effectively barred.

J-Street doesn’t say a word about how Jews were banned from the Old City altogether and synagogues razed under Jordanian rule.

J-Street is deliberately whitewashing the history of Muslim bigotry.

Since Israel captured the Old City, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan during 1967’s Six-Day War, it has maintained de facto overall control over the site, but allows the Jordanian Waqf to administer it for Muslim worshippers, a role that was formally recognized in Israel’s 1995 peace treaty with Jordan.

False. The peace treaty says “Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.” That is not at all saying that the Waqf has the legal right to administer the site; it is Israel’s decision to allow it and Israel’s right to take it away.

A key pillar of the generally accepted “status quo” was that the site would be fully open to both Muslims and non-Muslims for visits, but that only Muslims would be allowed to worship there. In recent years, however, Israeli Temple Mount activists who wish to secure greater Jewish access and rights to worship at the site have increasingly agitated for changes — greatly angering and unsettling the Waqf and other Palestinian and Muslim leaders. Israel has allowed increasingly large groups of these Jewish activists to visit the site — and to protect them, they have at times imposed major restrictions on which Muslims are allowed at the site. That includes sometimes barring all Muslims from the site, or barring all Muslim men under the age of 30 or even under the age of 50.

This  “status quo” is only since 2000. Jewish prayer on our holiest site is a human right that is protected by international law.  J-Street, instead of pushing for these basic human rights, is blaming Jews for wanting to exercise them – the exact opposite of its position towards Muslim worship. Muslim anger towards Jews is, to J-Street, a more important factor in determining what is right than the Jewish rights to worship.

And never has Israel barred “all Muslims from the site” except for the two cases where it banned all people from the site. J-Street is accusing Israel of anti-Muslim bigotry.

J-Street here is also implicitly blaming Israel for allowing Jews to visit the site – even though it (falsely)  claims that the Ottomans did exactly that. But when Muslims purportedly allow Jews to visit, it is tolerance; when Israel allows it, it is incitement.

J-Street tried to write this in a way that it would appear to be fair and balanced. But applying “balance” to a situation that is so one-sided as to who is right and wrong is not balance, it is bias. And when you look a little closer at their words, the anti-Israel bias and whitewashing of Muslim antisemitism is even clearer.

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