Ismail Haniyeh, chief of Hamas’ political bureau, and Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan appeared like two leaders advocating violent revolution yesterday: the mystical rage with which they express themselves, the religious imprint they convey in their speeches by insisting that the Al Aqsa Mosque is in danger, their anti-American and anti-Israeli hatred, and their proclamations of a violent and therefore terrorist reaction are nothing new. It’s the same old tune: threatening war, terrorist attacks, and hurling attacks based on lies and de-legitimatization haven’t unsettled – for the time being – the quiet joy of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Now there is also the likelihood that countries such as the Philippines and the Czech Republic, along with others, will also follow in Trump’s footsteps and move their embassies to Jerusalem.
The rain has stopped and this is a bad thing. When it rains in Israel, particularly in Jerusalem, people are so surprised that they prefer to stay at home, but the Israeli police can’t count on this today: so Friday has been a day of rage as Hamas has called it, as it promises a violent explosion in reaction to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem will, a call for a new intifada. Yesterday, there already was strong reaction, but it was contained. In Ramallah and Jenin, many youths took to the streets to demonstrate, dozens suffered different kind of wounds, which were minor, and one person was killed; in Jerusalem people were arrested in connection with disturbances near Damascus Gate, and even if Israel deployed extra security and military troops those numbers weren’t remotely comparable to those of an Intifada.
Today, we will understand better: King Abdullah of Jordan and Abu Mazen, together, continued to hold up the great banner of the Mosques. They repeat that they must be defended, even if Israel certainly doesn’t intend to disturb the status quo of the city’s holy sites, which are in the hands of their respective religions. Trump explicitly said this: Don’t upset the status quo; a final agreement will take place only through negotiations between the two parties. Therefore, it’s difficult to really understand the Arab world’s unbalanced reaction that is unfortunately supported by the European Union, and driven by a Pavlovian instinct that is truly regrettable now that there’s a new possibility to restart the peace process.
Meanwhile, the fury, the rage, and the opening of “the gates of hell”, as Hamas said, seem to be the only language that the Palestinians know. But it was precisely their continuous strategy of these threats both at home and abroad, along with their continual support for terrorism and denying Israel’s right to exist, which finally led to the decision of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
There always comes a time when exaggerations become too much. A very loud alarm bell must have rung for Trump when UNESCO declared that Jerusalem belonged to the Islamic world, that the city’s cultural heritage was solely Muslim and the Jewish intruders have nothing to do with Jerusalem (not even, perhaps, Jesus Christ?). The U.S.’s decision to abandon UNESCO was the first step towards reaching a common understanding grounded in truth in order to establish a new relationship with all members of the international community, as well as to dissuade the Palestinians from perpetuating violence and lies.
Also their BDS strategy didn’t work: boycotting Israel as if it were like apartheid South Africa, it didn’t pay off: Roger Walters aside, it’s a practice used by those playing (as the Jerusalem Post wrote) on a B-series team, while those in A such as Paul McCartney, Madonna, The Rolling Stones, Rihanna, Rod Stewart, and Elton Jones all came to give concerts in Israel. In addition, many European states such as Germany and England have banned the BDS movement.
The strategy of threats and violence has worsened in the face of the spread of mass terrorism, which by now is unfortunately known not only by Israel, but also by the entire world.
Trump proposes a new strategy: dialogue based on reality, something that seems surprising and unacceptable for many throughout the world and by the media, but that may eventually be the only possible way to bring about a more balanced Middle East.
Translation by Amy Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (December 8, 2017)