Really, the last thing any of us wants to do on a day like this is write.
All we want to do is grieve — for the loss of innocent lives, and over the mind-numbing, vicious, brutal, bloody evidence of the depths to which human beings can sink.
We want to mourn for the families, the worlds torn apart.
We want to scream at the injustice.
We want to fume at the way the murder of Jews at prayer by Palestinian terrorists somehow gets misrepresented, in some cases flatly misreported, as an Israeli sin — as death that we brought upon ourselves. We struggle to follow the “logic” of such false reporting, but it seems to revolve around the “crime” of some Jewish activists provoking the Muslim world by seeking the right for Jews to pray at the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount — a demand that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has clarified almost daily he has no intention of accepting.
That “crime,” and the fact that a Palestinian bus driver for the Egged Israeli cooperative was found hanged in a bus on Sunday night. The police ruled out foul play, and an autopsy pointed to suicide, but why would the facts get in the way of a good pretext for further anti-Jewish incitement?
Nobody wants to write on a terrible day like this, but there are some points that have to be made, nevertheless.
There has been much criticism of the Israeli leadership in recent weeks for pointing the finger of blame at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the terror wave has risen in Jerusalem, when it is argued that Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups are the primary terrorism-inflamers. But Abbas and his loyalists have emphatically swung to the extremes in the last few weeks — the relative moderates legitimizing terrorism. The PA chief accused Israel of “genocide” in Gaza from the UN General Assembly podium less than two months ago. Last week, he warned against settlers and extremists “contaminating” Al-Aqsa Mosque. His Fatah loyalists have published cartoons and Facebook posts hailing and encouraging terrorism, and encouraged “days of rage” to defend the purportedly threatened Al-Aqsa. He hailed the would-be assassin of Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a prime advocate of Jewish and Muslim prayer on the sacred mount, as a martyr.
Abbas, who swore in an Israeli television interview two years ago that there would be no new armed intifada against Israel so long as he led the Palestinian Authority, and insisted that he had no demands on pre-1967 Israel, has thus helped foster the climate for a new armed intifada which on Tuesday saw despicable, premeditated Palestinian murder of Jews at prayer inside pre-1967 Israel.
“Jerusalem is starting to burn. Religious fervor is intensifying,” I wrote here less than two weeks ago. On a day when Palestinian terrorists chose to target Jews at prayer in a synagogue, the centrality of religious dispute to this latest iteration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now unmistakable.
And at the core of this new iteration, Tuesday’s attack made murderously clear, is Muslim intolerance — of the very notion that Jews have a religious connection to the Temple Mount, and by extension to Jerusalem and to Israel.
Appallingly in the last few weeks, Abbas made himself a party to this intolerance. Unlike Hamas, he does not openly call for Israel’s destruction. He may not, in his heart of hearts, even seek it. But he has allied himself to the extremists in castigating as “contamination” the Jewish desire to express the link to the site of the Biblical temples, the site that roots our historical legitimacy here.
Adding to the overwhelming feeling of sheer awfulness pervading the city today is the dismal sense of déjà vu. We’ve been through all of this before, in the Second Intifada terror war — the relentless attacks, the blood, the sirens, the heart-rending funerals, the families ripped apart, the effort to maintain some kind of normality when nowhere is truly safe from terrorism, the international indifference, criticism and misrepresentation.
And the sheer pointlessness of it all.
Because the final thing that has to be put in writing, even on a horrible, evil day like this, when the fingers loathe the necessity to tap the keyboard, is that it’s not going to work. Palestinian terrorists, and those who incite them and support them, should know: We are not going to be shot and stabbed and bludgeoned out of here by your brutality and the false justifications you invoke to legitimate it.
We stood firm during year upon year of Second Intifada terrorism, when you were blowing up our buses, malls, restaurants and supermarkets, and pragmatism could have dictated that we do what the terrorism was designed to make us do: flee. We do not insist on maintaining our majority Jewish state to the exclusion of your rights. Anything but. We seek co-existence. But your rights cannot be achieved by denying us ours.
For this is the homeland of the Jewish nation, the only place we have ever been sovereign or sought sovereignty. And what needs writing and saying, most especially on a terrible day like today, is that we will not be driven from it.