By Vic Rosenthal
Muslim protests about the repair work and excavation near the Mughrabi gate are not abating; indeed, they’re heating up.
Some people do not understand why it’s not possible to simply explain that this work is far from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and can’t possibly damage the Temple Mount in any way. Of course the reason is that Muslim authorities everywhere are saying that it’s a Zionist plot to destroy the mosque and replace it with a third temple; and if you were a Muslim, whom would you believe?
There are several reasons that they are doing this. One is to make the point that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount don’t belong to the Jews — Muslims decide what happens there. The Islamic Waqf’s recent excavations of the actual Temple Mount and construction of a huge underground mosque in the Solomon’s Stables area — which should have been protested by Israel for archaeological reasons but was not, for political ones — also made a statement of this kind.
Israel has so far resisted pressure to stop the work, apparently understanding that doing so would represent a weakening of her claim to sovereignty over the area. We can expect this pressure to increase, as worldwide reverence for Muslim sensitivity kicks in, and Muslims threaten sympathetic disruptions in other places. It’s the Danish cartoons all over again, except even more irrational.
Israel needs to defend her sovereignty and the world has to stand firm against blackmail. It has to be made clear that:
- Facts — in this case the fact that the work is harmless — must override agitation that trades on ignorance and prejudice.
- Israel is sovereign over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and her respect for the rights of all religious groups to worship in Jerusalem must not be interpreted as weakness.
- Muslim leaders must not be allowed to blackmail the world at will with threats of violence.