The argument is about Jews, not metal detectors

July 22, 2017 by Jonathan S. Tobin -
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To an objective observer, the crisis that erupted in the aftermath of a bloody terror attack near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount makes no sense…writes Jonathan S. Tobin/

Palestinian rioters in eastern Jerusalem, near the Old City, protest Israel’s new Temple Mount metal detectors following Friday prayers July 21, 2017. Credit. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Three Arab terrorists used guns they had smuggled up to the compound July 14 to kill two Israeli policemen, both of whom happened to be Druze rather than Jewish. In response, Israeli authorities set up metal detectors to prevent a recurrence of the crime. The response to this from Palestinians was general outrage, violence and a promise of mass riots if the offending machines were not immediately removed. Upon Friday afternoon prayers July 21, with Israel facing the prospect of even more violence that might get out of control, the metal detectors remained in place.

How could putting metal detectors to protect a holy site be considered a casus belli for what might, if the conflict escalated in the way the Muslim rioters promised, lead to a new holy war?

The answer is that this isn’t about metal detectors. It’s about something much bigger: the right of Jews to be in Jerusalem.

This isn’t another variation on the usual theme sounded from Israel’s critics about the infringement of Palestinian rights. To the contrary, Israel didn’t change the status quo at the Temple Mount, which denies Jews the right to pray at the holiest place in Judaism. The Islamic Waqf was left in charge of Jerusalem’s mosques, including the Temple Mount’s Al-Aqsa, inviolate.

Nor was the new security measure discriminatory. Any Jew or non-Jew who wishes to enter the Western Wall plaza below the Temple Mount compound must also pass through security, including metal detectors. The same is true for Muslims who wish to enter the holy places in Mecca during their annual pilgrimages.

So what exactly is this all about?

Jonathan S. Tobin

For a century, Palestinian Arab leaders have been playing the “Al-Aqsa is in danger” card. The cries that Jews were seeking to destroy the mosques or in some way harm Muslim rights led to a series of pogroms against Jews, including the riots of 1929 in which Jews were massacred in Hebron. But the appeal to holy war isn’t only a vestige of the horrors of the distant past and the influence of the Nazi sympathizer Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem who incited those riots.

It was the supposedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose inflammatory statements helped incite the so-called “stabbing intifada” in recent years by also claiming Jews were going to harm the mosques. It was Abbas, not just his Hamas rivals or other violent Islamists, who called on Palestinians to resist the Jewish presence in Jerusalem. It was Abbas who said “stinking Jewish feet” should not profane the holy places.

Abbas’s motives were cynical, since he was waving the bloody banner of holy war to compete with his political foes. But the impact of his statements gave the lie to the notion—so prevalent on the Jewish left—that a peace agreement could be easily reached if Israel had the will to try for one. His rhetoric sought to remind Palestinians that the conflict wasn’t over borders or settlements, but something far more basic: a religious war that mandates Arab opposition to the Jewish presence.

This is also why the new security measures are merely the latest pretext for Arab violence intended to make the point that Jews should not merely have no say over the Temple Mount, but have no right to be there at all.

The demonstrations and threats of more violence are just one more power play intended to remind the world that the only solution Palestinians will ultimately accept is one in which the Jews are excluded. So long as this is their goal, it isn’t Al-Aqsa that is in danger, but any hope for peace.

Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of and a contributing writer for National Review. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.


7 Responses to “The argument is about Jews, not metal detectors”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    The metal detectors are gone following world political pressure on the Israel government.

  2. Ron Jontof-Hutter says:

    Correct, which is why conflict management is a colossal failure.Instead terrorists and their families need to be expelled, their homes sequestrated rather than razed and the money put into a fund for terror victims.

  3. Lynne Newington says:

    No where can I locate PM Netanyhu’s offer early this AM [BBC World News] to resolve the issue making it safe for the three faiths, Jewish, Muslims and Christians to have access.
    Maybe no-one’s really listening…….

    • Lynne Newington says:

      Probably in part with the conversation below with Major General Yoav Mordechai calling on the Muslim world to put forward other suggestions.

      Published on Jul 22, 2017
      Jerusalem: Metal detectors at holy site ‘could be removed’

      Jerusalem holy site security row explained
      Israel is willing to consider alternatives to controversial metal detectors it installed at a holy site in Jerusalem, a senior official says.
      Major General Yoav Mordechai called on the Muslim world to put forward other suggestions.
      Israel installed the detectors after two Israeli policemen were killed near there earlier this month.
      The measures angered the Palestinians, who accuse Israel of trying to take control over a sacred place.
      Tensions over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, have surged in the past couple of days.
      What makes Jerusalem so holy?
      “We hope that Jordan and other Arab nations can suggest another security solution for this (problem),” Maj-Gen Mordechai told BBC Arabic, referring to the metal detectors.
      “Any solution be it electronic, cyber or modern technology: Israel is ready for a solution. We need a security solution; not political or religious.”
      The BBC World Service’s Middle East editor Alan Johnston says it is the first sign of a softening of Israel’s position over the measures.
      Saturday saw fresh clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. At least four Palestinians have been killed in the last two day’s protests.
      On Friday, Three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death at a settlement near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
      The United Nations Security Council is to meet on Monday to discuss ways of defusing the violence

    • Lynne Newington says:

      A further update

      Operative words..*Palestinians view the move as Israel asserting further control over the site.

  4. Harry Rich says:

    Can I urge Mr. Jonathan Tobin to send this article or a similar one to the daily press and/or TV stations.I won’t hold my breath to see it published

  5. Erica Edelman says:

    You have summarized the situation succinctly Jonathon. But don’t expect
    The world to be anymore sympathetic than it has been to date !

    To “manage” the situation at hand one must look at the rules for
    Good, even-handed Parenting !

    1. Israel ( adult ) should NEVER reward bad behaviour from the child (Arabs)
    2. Never involve children (Arabs) in adult (Israel) conversations or decisions
    3. Adults (Israel ) should never tolerate abusive behaviors ie
    Back chat, insolence, arrogance, entitlement, violence etc from the child (Arabs)
    (Any of these occurrences will be dealt with previously stated punitive measures )
    4. ALWAYS (adult ) put VERY CLEAR guidelines and expectations
    in place – age appropriate – for the child (Arabs ) to understand
    5. The adult (Israel) NEVER EVER loses an argument with the child (Arabs)

    These are just a few guidelines. There are many.

    There is right and wrong in this world and Israel must continue
    On her path to setting good examples and leading in a positive way.
    Children either are recalcitrant for the remainder of their lives and end up
    Annihilating themselves OR they realize that to fit into society
    They must learn to start to THINK AND BEHAVE like adults in order to
    In the end, historically, good prevails over evil and so it
    Will be with Israel ; for as long as her childish and recalcitrant neighbors continue
    To behave the way they are doing Israel will and MUST continue to mete out
    Appropriate punitive measures

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