On Sept. 28, 2000, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Because of the political controversy over the holy site, Sharon’s ascent to the holy site had to be coordinated in advance.
And so it was. Then Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami gave the green light to Sharon, after receiving assurances from Palestinian Authority security chief Jibril Rajoub that this would not be cause for trouble. Rajoub gave his consent on condition that Sharon not enter Al-Aqsa mosque during his visit; but warned that if any problems were to arise, the Palestinian police would not intervene to protect Sharon. As a result, the Israeli police had to be on alert.
Sharon followed the rules. He went to the site during normal visiting hours for tourists and did not enter the mosque. He was there for half an hour.
For the remainder of the day, Palestinians came out to cause a stir, shouting and throwing rocks from the Temple Mount at security forces below. By nightfall, 28 policemen had been wounded.
The next day, the official Palestinian Authority media called on all Palestinians to “defend Al-Aqsa mosque,” and buses were organized to take Palestinian teenagers to the Temple Mount so that they could participate in the riots.
The day after that was the eve of Rosh Hashana. Palestinians gathered on the Temple Mount to throw rocks at Jews praying at the Western Wall. That Sept. 30 marked the official beginning of what the Palestinians named the “Al-Aqsa Intifada,” which began with violent rioting in Arab cities throughout Israel and the Palestinian-controlled territories, and mushroomed into a full-blown five-year suicide-bombing war against the Jewish state and its inhabitants.
The real impetus for that war was not Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, but rather PLO chief Yasser Arafat’s response to the breakdown of the Camp David Summit in July of that year — a breakdown that he himself orchestrated. This was not merely proven by the Mitchell Report, published in April 2001, but was subsequently — albeit indirectly — acknowledged by the Palestinian leadership through its state-run press.
None of the above stopped the Israeli Left and its amen corner in the local and foreign media from attributing the incessant blowing up of buses, shopping malls and cafes across the country to Sharon’s Temple Mount “provocation," however. Indeed, to this day, one still hears people mentioning that event as the catalyst for what non-Arabs call the “Second Intifada.” Only those who call it by its most accurate name — the “Oslo War” — are under no illusions.
The same kind of phenomenon is unfolding before our very eyes today in the Arab world. Interestingly, it too began on the eve of the Jewish New Year. But it was not connected to Israel. Instead, it was a “gift” to the United States on the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings.
It began in Libya, with the brutal murder of the U.S. ambassador and three other innocent Americans. It quickly spread like wildfire to every Muslim community in the world.
The ostensible cause of this continuing carnage — including yesterday’s suicide bombing in Afghanistan that killed at least a dozen employees of an American aviation firm working for the U.S. government — was a YouTube clip portraying the Prophet Muhammad as a sexual deviant.
All evidence suggests that the Libyan attacks that spurred on the rest of the region were carefully planned in advance, without regard to the third-rate film that had been around for a long time before anyone picked up on it.
This, however, has not prevented the Obama administration and the Clinton State Department from perpetuating the myth that the mass anti-American frenzy is due to “provocation” on the part of the Los Angeles-based pornographic filmmaker. Nor has it lessened Washington’s apologetic stance in relation to the poor Muslims who were offended by the short movie — nor altered the way the media have been reporting on the daily abominations.
In this case, as in that of Sharon and the Temple Mount, the motive of Western leftists to perpetuate a similar type of falsehood is the same. As long as they can blame America and Israel for radical Islamist behavior, they can remain true to their belief in conflict resolution through goodwill gestures.
No matter how many times this idea literally and figuratively blows up in their faces, they refuse to let it go.
Luckily for the rest of us — who would rather live in the real world than be slaughtered in la-la-land — the Islamists make no bones about their hatred or intentions.
Post script: In my last column, I relied on press reports claiming that U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson forbid marines stationed at her embassy from having live ammunition in their rifles. The following day, other reports emerged claiming that this was not true. I apologize for the inaccuracy.
Ruthie Blum is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring,’ now available on Amazon and in bookstores in Europe and North America.
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