Tag Archives: Temple Mount


BLOG 424 March 10, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

How the Israeli government system works

While I was in Israel a few weeks ago, I ask a friend about the upcoming elections. He made an interesting comment saying, “I am more worried about the cabinet than who gets elected Prime Minister. What did he mean?

In Israel whoever is elected Prime Minister must form a cabinet, a government in order to preside. The nature of that cabinet will determine what the government does. This means that the winner of an election must make deals with a wide-range of political parties in order to garner enough support to govern. This means that small margin groups can actually end up in the cabinet and exert an influence far beyond their numbers.

For extra, the ultra-orthodox religious groups that are a minority in the country have been in previous cabinets and wielded a major influence on decisions. Prime Ministers who needed their involvement agreed to deals that majority of Israelis would never have affirmed.

Israel has many, many political parties. Some go out of existence after losing an election and others are created for a special cause during election season. These groups usually have only two or three seats in the Knesset. In some instances, they support causes that are almost laughable.

Last week I reported the alarm sounded both inside Israel and among the Diaspora when Prime Minister Netanyahu began courting the anti-Arab party Otzma Yehudit. These extremist followers of Meir Kahane favor radical military actions such as seizing the Temple Mount and destroying the Mosques there. In order to garner votes, Netanyahu has begun to make a deal with them. Should Netanyahu be re-elected, these extremists could be in the government, swinging a frightening position of power. The Prime Minister’s pursuit of such an extremist group conveys his fear of not having enough votes to make a government even if he wins the election.

A footnote: Tzipi Livni ended her political career this past week. While she may be unknown to many, Livni is a brilliant woman who once worked for Mossad. She was unable to develop a mega-block coalition of the Center Left and had experienced betrayal by people she thought were her friends. In 2008, Livni came close to becoming prime minister. In the 2009 election, she nearly took the day, but Netanyahu prevailed because he was seen as having the better chance of forming a majority coalition. So goes Israeli politics!

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BLOG 361 August 14, 2017

            Hey! Before we go any further … got a special word for you. After today I’ll be in Alaska up there close to the Arctic Circle and hiking through Denali National Park. Sorry, there will not be a blog next week. I’ll finish the summer in one of the most beautiful and restful places in the world.

Now on to today!

My last two blogs on the Western Wall in Jerusalem turned out to be somewhat prophetic. Now, we have a different and dangerous new chapter. For the second time in under a month, terrorist carried out a deadly attack in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Arab assailants were shot in the Temple Mount complex.

In the exchange of gunfire, two Arabs killed two Israeli policemen.  The police report states that the attackers came from the Temple Mount and shot the Israeli’s next to the Lion Gate before returning to the Temple Mount where they were killed by the police. The terrorists used knives, a submachine gun as well as hand guns.

The two police officers killed were Kamil Shinaan and Haiel Stawi who are now remembered as patriots. Prime Minister Netanyahu and other government officials publically mourned the killing of these two men.  They are being remembered in numerous expressions of the media.

Muslims call such attacks part of a holy war that grants the martyrs a free pass to heaven with all the benefits. For them, getting killed is a worthwhile objective. A deadly mindset indeed!

In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu convened a security briefing and a re-evaluation of security. The government will consider harsher measures in protecting the entry gates into the Old City. The incident is far from over. Since October 2015, an undeclared war has gone on between Arabs and Israelis that also hit some tourists during the wave of violence. At least 280 Palestinians have been killed. The Israel Defense Force has seized approximately 150 firearms and raided 20 workshops.  More than 500 illegal weapons were seized.

A couple of years ago, I was in Jerusalem during one of these outbreaks at the Temple Mount. Young men ran out of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulted non-Muslim tourists and then ran back inside. As I was walking through the Jewish sector, I came upon a squad of around 50 young women fully dressed in uniforms and carrying rifles. They were hiding in an archeological site.  I stopped and asked their leader what they were doing.

“If these thugs come out again,” she said. “We’re here to stop them.”

“Your troops are ready to shoot? To Kill?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” the leader said.

I walked away knowing that the Israeli response to these attacks would be more than adequate. A squad of young women could stop the terrorists.

See you on August 21!

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BLOG 277 November 2, 2015

Another Intifada coming in Israel? Maybe not.

Since October 1, seven Israelis were killed and dozens wounded in more than 24 incidents. Palestinian terrorism has continued to spread across the country but most of the violence has been centered in east Jerusalem and specific neighborhoods as well as in the Old City. Unfortunately, you have probably heard little of this situation reported on local television.

Palestinian terrorist organizations like Hamas have warned that an Intifada is coming. The flames were fanned by PLO President Abbas’s call for Israel to stop contaminating the Temple Mount. Jordan’s King Abdullah added to the chaos by blaming Israel for disturbing the status quo. Young radicals found those declarations to be catalysts for street riots and attempts to wound Israelis. However, they have not produced the fighting the Arabs hoped for and the results have not escalated.

What now appears to be occurring in Israel might better be labeled a “terrorist outbreak.” No question that violence is continuing but at this moment it does not appear to be gaining the momentum necessary to explode into a massive rebellion. Most of the attacks are by single individuals with “cold” weapons such as knives, vehicles, and weaponry-like axes. Certainly, these weapons are serious enough, but come short of rifles, machine guns, etc. Usually there are no accomplices working with the attackers. The attackers may be getting the message that unless they want to die, they better stay home.

One of the problems that has surfaced is that Palestinian social media activists are doctoring photos and videos to make it appear that innocent Palestinian children are being killed when these individuals are actually initiators in assaults. In addition, the charges of shifts in the status quo on the Temple Mount are actually disinformation. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the accusations made by Abbas and King Abdullah.

Who’s responsible for this chaos? Boaz Ganor, founder and director of The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, asserts that both Abbas and Netanyahu bear responsibility for the current chaos. The failure of both leaders to come to a negotiated settlement of the West Bank issue has set the stage for the terrorist epidemic. No matter what each man claims, they both are intransigent in their positions that negate any settlement.

Ganor believes the installation of closed-circuit cameras on the Temple Mount that would be monitored by Jordan would settle the claims that have fired up the recent attacks. Seems like an easy and long overdue solution to ease tensions. Why not?

The truth is that each side uses every opportunity to propagate their positions. In the situation of the Palestinians, the result is more death.

Let’s hope we’re watching only a temporary terrorism outbreak.

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BLOG 275 October 19, 2015

With stabbings and shootings filling the streets of Jerusalem, is another war with the Palestinians underway? The volcano of Palestinian anxiety and anger is certainly rumbling and could erupt explosively. Blood shed in the streets of Jerusalem is a frightening omen for the future.

Why would people armed only with knives risk their lives against people with guns? What is going on?

Last year I was in East Jerusalem and talked with some of the Arab citizens who live there. They complain of prejudicial treatment, check-points in and out of their area, and although some are citizens of Israel, they are treated with prejudice. Equally bad, the PLO offices in Ramallah do nothing to help their citizens who claim East Jerusalem as their capital city.

The issue is personal and profound. The Palestinians Center for Public Opinion found that 61% of Palestinians living in Jerusalem support an armed struggle against Israel. Surprisingly, at the same time 52% would rather be Israelis citizens than part of a Palestinian state. Arabs in East Jerusalem live with this strange contradiction.

On the other hand, with knife attacks in their streets and rockets flying out of Gaza, the Israelis don’t believe anything they hear coming out of the West Bank. This week the mayor of Jerusalem called on citizens to visibly carry guns. Sounds like Jerusalem, the city of peace, is turning into Dodge City in 1880!

However, there is more to this story. In the midst of their despair and frustration, the Palestinians know their attacks have a potential to bring international pressure to bear on Israel. For example, the French have just submitted a proposal to the United Nations to bring international observers to the Temple Mount. Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected the idea as “absurd.” Still, it reflects a strategy beyond the knife attacks.

To complicate matters for the Palestinians, Israel has been in secret talks with Hamas to declare a 10-year truce. The truth is that the Gaza strip is a rumbled mess of broken cement one-year after the war and Hamas is in bad shape militarily. Hamas badly needs a breather. On the other hand, PLO leader Abbas doesn’t trust Hamas and believes they are trying to create a separate state in Gaza. Of course, the weak PLO government is no challenge for the Israeli military.

So who negotiates with who? The quagmire continues to rumble along going nowhere while the citizens suffer. In 2000, US president Bill Clinton had Israel and the PLO were on the verge of an agreement when Yasser Arafat simply walked out. Why? His true ultimate object was the entire destruction of Israel. He actually didn’t want a settlement.

Consequently, today no one really wants to talk with anyone else. The frustration boils over in knife attacks in the streets of Jerusalem. No compromises or settlements are even beyond the horizon.

Let us hope the situation doesn’t continue to deteriorate this week. Death doesn’t need another walk down the streets of Jerusalem once more.


Filed under Arabs, Israel, middle east, Palestinians