We Israelis face a libel—the Palestinian proclamation and belief that the Jews are trying to take over the Temple Mount.
As Netanyahu remarked, it is not the first time that the Arabs have incited the killing of Jews based on a supposed takeover of the Temple Mount. The mufti of Jerusalem said something similar, igniting the 1929 massacre of scores of Jews in Hebron.
Abbas and the Palestinian leadership continue with this heritage of poisonous indoctrination. Jews have a legitimate claim to the Temple Mount. But nobody is conquering it from the Arabs. Jews can’t even pray there, or bring a prayer book there. And when they visit, until very recently, they were harassed by groups of Arab women who were hired to surround them and shout at them.
Unfortunately, Jews have historical experience with the terrible repercussions of the lies of libel. In the 12th century, Christians in Europe and England began to accuse Jews of killing Christian children in order to bake their blood into matzah as part of a Jewish religious obligation for Passover. This preposterous and primitive blood libel continued for centuries and resulted in the massacre of Jews in England and Europe. Most recently, in Syria, Jews were accused of killing Arab children to put their blood in matzah.
What is new about this latest permutation of libel is the ease with which incitement can spread and morph. On social media, Arabs are now encouraging the murder of Jews to prevent them from taking over the Temple Mount. On Facebook, the Palestinians are inciting each other to murder Jews with knives—but not only that–to soak their knives with poison so that if the Jews they stab are not immediately killed or maimed, they will die because of infection from the poison.
Poison may serve here not only as a terrible means of murder but also as a metaphor. For too many years, a poison has been injected into the hearts and minds of the Palestinian public–from their schools, their mosques, their TV shows, and their leadership. The populace is trained to hate the Jewish state, the Jewish people. Schools are named after suicide murderers. Children are educated for war, not peace.
Now with the ease of social media, the poison of unbridled hatred, tragically, becomes more potent. It spreads more quickly, more thoroughly and lethally. And instead of trying to lessen the incitement, Palestinian leaders ignite it with their declaration to visit the Temple Mount, which is temporarily closed to all government ministers. They ignite it with their denial of responsibility.
The fact that it is Palestinian youth and young adults who are now the main killers in this wave of terror may be because they are the ones who spend most of their time on Facebook and Twitter, imbibing a potent cocktail of malice and evil, a tragedy not only for the Jewish people, but for these Palestinian youth–and their elders– as well. For the prospects of peace are poisoned. And there is no ready antidote.