Israeli good-guy image hides terrorist tactics

Earlier this month, Eric Weiner reported on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” about Israel gearing up to deal with millenialists gathering in Jerusalem. Weiner did a good job of portraying the Israeli authorities as responsible people, preparing to prevent any criminal acts by some of the millenialists, such as those bent on destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque and replacing it with a reconstructed Jewish Temple.
This is exactly the image that the Israeli authorities would like to convey to the world, but unfortunately it is quite at odds with the truth. The fact is, the Israeli government and the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem actively aid and abet these same extremists. The real danger from them is not theoretical: In 1969, Jewish extremists set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque causing extensive damage, which took years to repair, and prompting a resolution by the United Nations Security Council condemning Israel’s efforts to change Jerusalem and its failure to protect the holy sites.
In 1982, an American Jewish extremist named Alan Goodman entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and opened fire on worshipers, killing one Palestinian and wounding a number of others. Another was killed by Israeli police in ensuing protests. In November 1997, the Israeli government released Goodman from jail on the condition that he not return to Israel for eight years. An unrepentant Goodman told journalists, “I’ve fulfilled my mission in life. I attacked the center of the world. I fought for a Jewish nation. I fought for Israel. I fought for Jerusalem. There’s nothing more I can do. There are other actions that should be taken against guilty Arabs, but it will have to be somebody else.”
Was Goodman not released by the same Israeli government that professes it will not release Palestinians with “blood on their hands” or who incite violence, and which now professes to be guarding against extremist violence?
More recently, the extremist group Ateret Cohanim, funded in part by Miami millionaire Irving Moskowitz, which supports the construction of a Jewish “Third Temple,” has taken over certain properties in occupied east Jerusalem, with the aid and protection of the Israeli authorities. Ateret Cohanim says that they will reach their goal of “reclaiming” Jerusalem exclusively for Jews as they believe God ordained — through non-violent means — though some of their tactics include middle-of-the-night seizures of houses in Palestinian neighborhoods.
The group, whose name means “Crown of the Priests,” was also behind the nighttime opening of the tunnel in September 1996, which runs the length of the Al-Aqsa complex. That incident sparked intense fighting in the occupied territories which claimed the lives of about 15 Israeli soldiers and 60 Palestinians. The group also carries out “archaeological” excavations around the complex, which many Palestinians fear are designed to undermine the foundations of Al-Aqsa and hasten its collapse.
In 1994, a former senior official of Ateret Cohanim, Meir Davidson, was appointed as a municipal advisor on “eastern Jerusalem affairs.” Since then, the group’s relationship to the Israeli government and Israeli Jerusalem municipality has been close and well-documented, and they have often worked in concert.
Also earlier this month, another Palestinian was stabbed and seriously injured in Jerusalem, allegedly by a Jewish extremist. Just over a month ago, the same extremist, who reportedly stabs his or her victims with knives inscribed with religious edicts, is suspected of killing another Palestinian in the same neighborhood. Since November 1997, eight Palestinians have been stabbed in this way, and two have died.
The Israeli government has shown none of the urgency and used none of the tactics — such as closures, curfews, mass arrests and ambushes on private houses — that it employs routinely against those suspected of harming Jews.
All of this adds up to a very different picture than the one which the Israeli government wants us to see, and the one which Weiner on NPR presented in the afternoon’s 11-minute report. And that’s without even mentioning Hebron.
Fedwa Wazwaz is a graduate student in computer science.