Four Terror Stabbing Attacks in One Day in Jerusalem: Is 'ISIS Intifada' Here?
Not for the first time in this country’s history, the spark that may yet be fanned into a fire is set on the area of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. This is the site of the Jewish Temples, the second of which was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. Today, it hosts the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, symbols of the many centuries of Muslim domination of the area.
The issue which is fanning the flames of the current events, repeated endlessly in Palestinian media, social media, and public discourse, is the supposed "threat" to al-Aqsa. Naïve Western commentary, predictably, is convinced that this religious fury and fervor must be concealing something else, inevitably socio-economic and secular in essence. But examples from the rest of the region show that religious and sectarian identity need to be taken seriously as forces in their own right.
If the people involved say, again and again, that its about religion, then it's worth listening to them. Thus it is in Syria. Thus it is in Iraq, and in Lebanon. And thus it is among the Palestinians.
The desire of a small group of Jews to have the right to pray on the Temple Mount, far from the mosques and without troubling them, is producing the wave of murderous fury which is currently gripping Jerusalem and its environs. Popular Palestinian newspapers such as al-Quds and al-Ayyam have been leading for months with details of this supposed threat. Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel reference it constantly in their propaganda. Social media sites affiliated with Fatah or Hamas such as the Shehab "news agency" keep up the drumbeat of propaganda.
Thus a non-existent threat becomes the trigger for violence. Then, when Israel’s efforts to combat this violence produce deaths among the Palestinians, these too are added fuel to the flames.
We are not quite beyond the point of no return.
The PA leadership is trying now belatedly to turn back from the course of confrontation. The factors listed above have not vanished. But the Palestinian Arab Muslim population of the West Bank is closer to a new uprising than at any time over the last ten years.
This time around, the "uprising" has so far taken the form of nihilistic and barbaric attacks on individual Jews (including a small child in the case of the attack in Jerusalem’s Old City).
In 2000, the model for Palestinian armed activity was Hizballah. This time, the current model of local successful "resistance" is obvious. It is the Islamic State. There is still time for the Palestinians to turn back from the course of collision. Hopefully they will choose to do so. The monsters likely to surface west of the Jordan River in the course of a new Intifada will serve the interests of neither people.