Monday, March 15, 2010

Day of Rage over the Hurva?

Apparently there's something truly offensive about Israel rebuilding a synagogue in the Jewish Quarter: Jerusalem on high alert after Hamas announces 'day of rage.'
Warnings of widespread violence in Jerusalem on Monday proved to be unneeded, but police say the real test will be Tuesday.

Hamas announced a "day of rage" in response to the dedication of the restored Hurva synagogue in the Old City's Jewish Quarter, police said. Large forces will continue to be deployed throughout the city, with 3,000 police and border police officers stationed in East Jerusalem and neighboring villages.

Police on Monday attributed the relative quiet to the limitations placed on entry to Temple Mount and to the extensive police work. Palestinian commentators said Monday the general Palestinian public seems to disapprove of the leadership's attempts to fan the flames.

The quiet does not appear to have been affected by attempts of senior Hamas and Fatah officials to ratchet up the violence. On Sunday, Fatah's Mahmoud Dahlan and Hatem Abdelkader called on residents of East Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs to arrive and defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee chairman Yasser Abed Rabo called on Israel to refrain from dedicating the Hurva synagogue. Hamas, too, warned of bloodshed if the synagogue is dedicated, and similar warnings have been made by Egyptian and Jordanian diplomats.
So let me get this - Hamas, Fatah, Egypt, and Jordan all say that if a synagogue is dedicated, it will lead to bloodshed. Why? Nobody pretends that the Hurva was anything but a synagogue, and that it was destroyed in the fighting in 1948. Why should its rebuilding and rededication cause anyone a problem? It's nowhere near Al-Aqsa, it's in the middle of the Jewish Quarter. Any final status agreement, regardless of what else it says, will give the Jewish Quarter to Israel. It won't be under Palestinian sovereignty.

I think that Jeffrey Goldberg is right:
The fact that Hamas -- and even some in Fatah -- are protesting this rededication means that we might still be at square one, which is to say, where Arafat was in 2000, when he denied the historical Jewish connection to Jerusalem. This is not about building apartments for Jews near Arab villages on the outskirts of Jerusalem. I think Arab East Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, and if the price of peace is turning over those apartment buildings to the Palestinian Authority, then so be it. But this is about denying the right of Judaism to exist in its holiest city.


  1. Rebecca,

    A serious question to you: were we really ever anyplace but square one so far as resolving the dispute is concerned?

    Another serious question: when Arafat denied the Jewish connection with the region, was he not being perfectly serious? Or, stating the question differently, was his view not really the dominant view of Palestinian Arabs? Or, to state the question slightly differently again: is not actually the dominant view among Palestinian Arabs towards Jews really that Jews are only tolerated as a protected group under, as Hamas says, the "wing of Islam"?

    If so: what is the actual basis for peace, other than as a mirror taken from our imagination?

  2. I think that Arafat was being perfectly serious - why else would he say it? I don't know what the dominant opinion is among Palestinian Arabs about Jews. The polls I've read indicate a majority still supports a two-state solution - but whether that includes conceding any Jewish right to Jerusalem, I do not know.

  3. Rebecca,

    I agree with you that Arafat meant what he said. I am pretty sure that his view is rather typical among Palestinian Arabs, both of educated people and the person on the street. This point of view runs through Palestinian Arab ideology and politics, both of the "secular" Fatah and the religious Hamas parties. And, it is what Arabs in the Middle East are taught from childhood. So, I can only assume that if the leaders believe such things, so do average people.

    I think that the most one can say, based on the polling data, is that the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs view a two state solution as an interim resting point.

    I cannot understand how smart people like Goldberg can hear the same things repeated again and again by people who themselves were taught, from early childhood, that Jews are contemptible and have no connection to the land and no right to be on the land, etc., etc., act and speak based on their upbringing, yet conclude that we are hearing a return to square one. No. We are not hearing a return. We are hearing people say what they have thought all along (and, I might add, have said repeatedly).