Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Arab Terror in the City of Peace

Eli E. Hertz

They understand Jerusalem's significance to Jews.

Palestinian Arabs have concentrated many of their terrorist attacks on Jews in Jerusalem, hoping to win the city by an onslaught of suicide bombers who will make life in the City of Peace unbearable. Unfortunately, Arab leaders often turn to violence to gain what they were unable to achieve at the negotiating table. When talks broke down at Camp David in 2000, Palestinian Arab leaders unleashed the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which has amounted to a full-blown guerrilla war against Israel.

It began the day before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when Arab mobs hurled rocks from the Temple Mount onto Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall below. That rock attack turned into a steady campaign of terrorist attacks. As the priming powder for the Intifada, Palestinian leaders incited Palestinians and Muslims throughout the world with fables that falsely suggested that Jews began an assault on Al-Aqsa Mosque when Ariel Sharon made a half-hour visit to the Temple Mount during tourist hours. The truth is that Palestinians' plans for warfare had begun immediately after Arafat walked out of the Camp David talks.

Why do Palestinians focus terrorist attacks on the City of Peace? Because Palestinians, despite their rhetoric, fully understand Jerusalem's symbolic and spiritual significance to the Jewish people.

Suicide attacks on public buses, cafes, malls, and other crowded sites in the heart of the city since the 1993 Oslo Accords were designed to make life hell for Jewish Jerusalemites. Atrocities like the February and March 1996 bombings of two no. 18 buses that killed 26 people and the August 2001 bombing of a Sbarro's pizzeria that killed 15 (including five members of one family), are part of an ongoing 120-year-old battle for Jerusalem that Arabs have waged in opposition to Zionism.

In April 1920, a three-day rampage by religiously incited anti-Zionist Arab mobs left six dead and 200 injured in the Jewish Quarter. The attackers gutted synagogues and yeshivas and ransacked homes. Arabs planted time bombs in public places as far back as February 1947, when they blasted Ben-Yehuda Street, Jerusalem's main thoroughfare, leaving 50 dead. This was all done before the establishment of the State of Israel.

In the 1950s, Jordanians periodically shot at Jewish neighborhoods from the walls of the Old City. After the city was united in 1967, Arabs renewed their battle for the city by planting bombs in cinemas and supermarkets. The first terrorist attack in that renewed battle came with the 1968 bombing of Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda, the open market, that left 12 dead. The plain facts about Palestinians' behavior clearly demonstrate that they have forfeited any claims - historical, religious or political - to the City of Peace.

When Arabs last controlled parts of Jerusalem, they exhibited no respect for the holy city. In 1948, when Jordan took control of the eastern part of Jerusalem, including the Old City, it divided the city for the first time in its 3,000-year history. After Jordan annexed the West Bank in the 1950s, it failed to make Jerusalem - a city that Arabs now claim as "the third most holy site of Islam" - its capital.

Under the 1949 armistice agreement with Israel, Jordan pledged to allow free access to all holy places, but failed to honor that commitment. From 1948 until the Six-Day War in 1967, the part of Jerusalem controlled by the Jordanians again became an isolated and underdeveloped provincial town, and its religious sites the target of religious intolerance.
When Arabs last controlled parts of Jerusalem, they exhibited no respect for the holy city.

The Old City was rendered devoid of Jews. Jewish sites such as the Mount of Olives were desecrated. Jordan destroyed more than 50 synagogues and erased all evidence of a Jewish presence. In addition, all Jews were forced out of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City adjacent to the Western Wall, an area where Jews had lived for generations.

For 19 years, Jews and Christians residing in Israel (and even Israeli Muslims) were barred from their holy places, despite Jordan's pledge to allow free access. Jews, for example, were unable to pray at the Western Wall; Christian Arabs living in Israel were denied access to churches and other religious sites in the Old City and nearby Bethlehem, also under Jordanian control. During Jordan's reign over part of Jerusalem, its restrictive laws on Christian institutions led to a dramatic decline in the holy city's Christian population by more than half - from 25,000 to 11,000. It is a pattern that characterized Christian Arabs in other Arab countries throughout the Middle East, where religious freedom is not honored.

It was only after the Six Day War that the Jewish Quarter was rebuilt and free access to holy places was reestablished. .

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