As shouts of “intifada, intifada” echo through the campus grounds of UC Berkeley, we ought to take a moment to think about how we came to this juncture. The nauseating casualty list and the conversion of Jerusalem into a virtual battleground did not materialize in a vacuum. Recall Abbas’ speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 30th in which he asserted that, “The Israeli government is acting to implement this program [i.e. changing the status quo of the Temple Mount] in violation of the situation before and since 1967”. Furthermore, the “Palestinian people will not accept the implementation of this plan, which inflames the feelings of the Palestinians and the Muslims everywhere.”
Referencing the pre-1967 Jordanian control of the holy sites in Jerusalem is telling. Apart from restricting Jewish access to holy sites, the Jordanians desecrated tombstones from the Mount of Olives, destroyed synagogues, and transformed the Western Wall “into an exclusively Muslim holy site.” The well-documented historical neglect of the Jewish people’s right to visit the Temple Mount is specifically a product of the status quo Abbas is reminiscent of.
By contrast, following the reconstitution of Jerusalem in 1967, in a political maneuver deemed equally magnanimous and amateurish, Moshe Dayan conferred stewardship of the Temple Mount to Muslim religious authorities (the waqf). Despite the discriminatory religious policies pursued by their predecessors, the Israeli administration respected both Islamic and Christian holy sites.
The recent surge in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians inextricably emanates from a shared mindset exemplified by Abbas. Erasing millenniums of Jewish history is a reflection of the unwillingness to confront the historical claims of the Jews: a method of excising their historical presence. Not until the seventh-century, well after Jewish roots were planted, did Islam finally arrive at the gates of Jerusalem. This is not a matter of denying the Islamic heritage of Jerusalem, but, rather, of highlighting the cognitive dissonance of the Palestinian Authority. Recognizing the historical realities of the previous century must go hand-in-hand with the complete historical narrative; the Jewish, the Christian, and the Muslim, together. Inciting hatred has never achieved a sustainable compromise, nor will it ever.