Since Monday night Hamas has fired over 1,000 missiles at Israel, all aimed at civilians. For some inexplicable reason, the authorities allowed an outdoor concert to take place last night at the Israel Museum here in Jerusalem, usually a beautiful night time venue. And for some stupid reason, my wife and I went.
Besides the usual police tactics, decisions, and overreactions, unfortunate occurrences that are endemic to policing everywhere but that can be particularly combustible in this region, there is a combination of causes. Among them:
--Final days of Ramadan, a reflective, community-minded month-long holiday that also brings with it heightened religious fervor and intensity, coinciding with Yom Yerushalayim, a day marking the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem after 19 years of illegal Jordanian rule during which Jews were prohibited from entering the Old City and during which many Jewish holy sites were desecrated and destroyed. Unfortunately, some intentionally celebrate this day in a highly provocative, in-your-face manner.
Many in Israel's security agencies urged that Yom Yerushalayim Day activities be greatly curtailed or cancelled. While there has been an effort in recent years by people with a more moderate political orientation to engage in activities promoting coexistence and goodwill, the day is still dominated by activities and people that are often obnoxious, overly nationalistic, and unnecessarily provocative. Still, people, even ones I don't care for, have the right to gather and parade as long as they are not violent. In the meantime, 90,000 people came to Al Aqsa for Ramadan. We wouldn’t dare cancel that.
--Mahmoud Abbas, the 85 year-old President of the Palestinian Authority now in the 17th year of his four year term, cancelling the elections he had called. He laid the blame on a dispute with Israel over the participation in the election of Jerusalem's Arab population, but it is doubtful that even his immediate family believed that was the real reason. Everyone, particularly the Palestinian "street," knows that the real reason is that he feared losing the election.
Smelling an opportunity, Hamas capitalized on this embarrassment by stepping up its West Bank activities, particularly in "defending" the Al Aqsa Mosque from non-existent Israeli "aggression" and in supporting some Arab residents of Sheikh Jarrah who are fighting eviction by a right-wing Jewish group intent on reclaiming houses owned and occupied by Jews prior to 1948.
--Iran. The region's major exporter of terror and destabilization, supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas, never misses an opportunity to stir the pot. It has upped its hateful anti-Israel rhetoric and its trading in false accusations.
--Sheikh Jarrah. If this happened in any other country, few would care. Almost no one would know about it. It involves about 100 people. It’s wound its way through the Israeli court system for years.
But, because it’s Israel and the Palestinians, because it involves Jews trying to resettle in a neighborhood where Jews lived with Arabs prior to 1948, because it's a right-wing group with an agenda asserting the property rights, because Israel has more Western journalists than any other country in the region, because the story ties in nicely with the far left's fiction that we are nothing but colonizers in the land in which we are an indigenous people, it’s a big deal. The EU, the UN, the U.S. and a host of NGO's, have to get involved.
In the meantime, a million Uighurs in China are imprisoned and everyone is planning for the 2022 Winter Olympics there, and Qatar, a dictatorship built on slave labor is getting ready to host the 2022 World Cup in stadiums built by slave labor, and no one cares. Perhaps that's the key. Perhaps we need to host a world sporting event.