THE CLAREMONT INSTITUTE – BEN WEINGARTEN
Israel’s recent actions at the Temple Mount are a microcosm of what ails the West, reflecting a profound lack of confidence about moral legitimacy, sovereignty, and the right to defend against aggression. After jihadists used weapons stashed in a mosque to ambush and kill two Israeli security guards, Israel, one of the most “hawkish” Western nations, took measures to improve mosque security. Palestinian and Israeli Arabs responded with fury, refusing to enter the mosque and threatening more violence if the security measures were not immediately reversed. When Gulf States including Jordan and Saudi Arabia pressured Israel to capitulate, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intimated that the Gulf States had a legitimate right to make these demands. Israel relented, removing metal detectors, and reportedly opting for installing a “less provocative” hi-tech security system.
Some will say that the site controversy means that Israel must walk on egg shells, lest security measures affecting the Temple Mount “status quo” incite Arab violence, similar to the second intifada after Ariel Sharon visited the site in September 2000. Yet the key to deterring Islamic supremacist violence is practical strength rooted in moral confidence. Israel’s conciliatory measures strengthen its opponents while weakening its viability. Israel’s land concessions have emboldened, not mollified, jihadists who call for “Palestine from the river to the sea,” i.e. Israel’s destruction.
The Temple Mount, which sits on Mount Moriah, is the holiest Jewish religious site. On it, Abraham offered to sacrifice Isaac, and the First and Second Temples were built. The al-Aqsa mosque was constructed only after Muslim conquest. Following Israel’s War of Independence, Transjordan (now Jordan) retained the Old City of Jerusalem and prevented Jews from entering the area.
All this changed in 1967’s Six Day War, in which Israel defeated the Arab aggressors who sought its destruction. This war saw Israel reclaim Temple Mount from Transjordan, as part and parcel of the liberation of Jerusalem, Israel’s historic and current capital.