UPDATES 8 pm Israel time, Wednesday, May 21 2014:
**With all-consuming and nauseating gall, the U.S. State Department has demanded that Israel “immediately and transparently” investigate the terrorist incident at the Bethany crossing this past week in which two Palestinians were “apparently” killed.
John Kerry’s State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who has made a career of criticizing Israel at every turn, had this to rant: “[We call on] Israel to check the facts surrounding the case, including the question of whether the force used was disproportionate to the threat posed by the protesters. We are closely following this incident and another video – we are looking for more information from the government of Israel and certainly we were in contact with them.”
“Brave” words indeed coming from an American government that never says a word when Hamas executes civilians as it did last week, or Israeli soldiers are murdered, or Israeli citizens in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem are subjected to daily assaults. And especially “brave” words coming from an American government that never offers transparent investigations of incidents of civilian deaths caused by its own drone strikes.
By the way, the specious video that Psaki is referring to is a heavily edited one that was released by the virulently anti-Israel NGO B’Tselim that purports to show that the two Palestinians were not engaged in hostile activity at the time that they were shot (israelstreeters will recall that B”Tselim regularly hires Palestinians to provoke Israeli soldiers and then films the interactions).
One of many oddities about the video is that at least one of the supposed “victims” does not appear to be dead. In a scene reminiscent from the infamous Paliwood videos that Palestinians have regularly faked through the years, the dead person seems alive and then is quickly surrounded by bystanders that obscure any sight of the “dead person”. More than this there is abundant evidence that there were no Israeli soldiers shooting anything from the direction in which the Palestinians were supposedly shot.
**A striking report has been published today detailing what have been the costs to Israel of the Oslo Accords which were signed back in 1994.
On a monetary level, that cost has been almost one trillion shekels including but not limited to 88 billion shekels transfered to the PLO, 220 billion shekels to hire civilian security guards all over the country, almost 500 billion shekels in costs to the IDF and other security agencies–as well as additional billions in costs for the security barrier, evacuations of Israeli citizens, and the insurance costs of payments made to the victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks.
However the most devastating cost was the human one. In the 17 years preceding the Oslo agreement (from 1977 to 1993) 357 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks. In the aftermath of Oslo (from 1994 to 2012), 1159 Israelis were murdered by terrorists.
And this says nothing about the devastating emotional toll that was exacted–and continues to be exacted–on Israeli men, women, and children.
Yesterday, your humble servant left you in the year 960 CE. You will recall that evidence from Muslim sources indicates that Jews were regularly praying in the Dome of “the Rock” and that Jewish sources indicate that a synagogue had even been constructed on the Har HaBayit.
In the decade following 960 CE, the Fatimid dynasty conquered Jerusalem and took control of its holy places. At first they treated Jews with respect and even undertook to refurbish the synagogue on the Temple Mount, but in 1015 CE Caliph al-Hakim banished all Jews from the Mount. Upon al-Hakim’s death, his successor permitted Jews to pray on the Temple Mount again.
And so the situation remained, with bumps along the road, until the year 1099 when the Crusaders reached Jerusalem, broke through its defenses, and massacred virtually every Muslim and Jew.
The Temple Mount became the center of Crusader existence in Jerusalem as they converted the mosques and synagogue into churches. The Dome of “the Rock” was renamed Templum Domini (The Temple of God), and whatever Jews and Muslims survived were forbidden entrance. As was alluded to in a previous installment, the Foundation Stone itself was defaced with numerous cuts.
Yet a mere 66 years later–despite the Crusader prohibitions–we know that Jews were once again praying at what was now called Templum Domini. The great Maimonides himself records in a letter written in 1165 CE that he traveled to Jerusalem and “entered the Great and Holy House and prayed there”. Benjamin Tudela, another Jewish pilgrim, records in his travel journal (written sometime between 1159 and 1172 CE) that he saw Jews praying “in front of the Western Wall of the Templum Domini” (not to be confused with the current “Western Wall”)–the closest they could get to the Jewish Holy of Holies.
In October of 1187 CE, Saladin defeated the Crusaders, retook Jerusalem, encouraged Jews to return to the city, and permitted the continued prayer of Jews on the Mount (only to forbid it again shortly before his death). In 1211 CE, Rabbi Ishtori Haparchi records that he was one of 300 European rabbis who came to Jerusalem and visited what had become once again the Dome of “the Rock”. By the end of the Mamluk period (which featured extreme Islamic fanaticism), the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, David ben Shlomo Ibn Zimra, wrote that Jerusalem Jews regularly climbed the Temple Mount to pray.
All of which brings us to the year 1516 CE.–2,466 years since Solomon built the first Jewish Temple over the Foundation Stone.
The Ottoman conquest of Jerusalem is at hand.
But before the Turks enter the city, stop and think about the last 877 years. Through Muslim and Christian conquest and fanaticism, the only thing that has remained constant is that Jews have continued to make their way to the Har Habeyit to pray at the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples, the site that housed their Holy of Holies, the site that is the holiest in Judaism–the Foundation Stone.