Bad News from NY Times

Bad News from NY Times

It’s been a bad weekend for NY Times articles that provide hope rather than gloom regarding prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  First, there was an op-ed piece by Danny Danon (“Israel Should Annul the Oslo Accords,”) a right-wing Likud Member of Knesset who serves in the current Israeli government as deputy defense minister.  
This idea (not written in the constructive spirit of a call, one year ago, by Zehava Gal-Onto replace Oslo) not only runs against Israel’s long-term interest for peace, but also would undermine its current security, as the Palestinian Authority (a creation of Oslo) has cooperated with Israel in recent years to counter terrorism.  Danon’s article indicates that if Prime Minister Netanyahu is sincere in wanting to negotiate peace, he must repudiate people in his own government, beginning with Danon.  As long as he is beholden to such elements in his own Likud party and in the pro-settler Jewish Home party in his coalition, it’s hard to take Netanyahu seriously as a seeker of peace. 
Mourning Sgt. Tomer Hazan (Photo by Rina Castelnuovo)

And then there’s this tragic news of a 20 year-old Israeli soldier, who worked part-time at a restaurant in the coastal town of Bat Yam, being murdered by a Palestinian co-worker, “Israeli Soldier Is Lured to West Bank and Killed.”  The Times summary is that A Palestinian man had hoped to use the soldier’s body as leverage to lobby for the release of his brother from an Israeli prison, military officials said on Saturday.”  According to the restaurant owner, both employees were liked.  Predictably, this event incited demonstrators shouting “death to Arabs” by way of response.  (More on reactions to this incident, and news of the sniper killing of another soldier, is reported in today’s [Monday’s] paper, “An Israeli Sergeant Is Shot Dead in the West Bank as a Second Is Remembered.”)  

Perhaps most incendiary is “Conflict Grows Over Temple Mount,” 
summarized as: “More mainstream Jews are seeking to enter and pray at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, one of the most contested religious sites in the world, which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary.”

When Israel captured the Old City of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War, it was scrupulous in respecting Islamic authority over the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary site.  But there was a plot in the 1980s, thwarted by the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service), of Jewish religious extremists intending to blow up the mosque complex and replace it with a third temple successor to the First and Second Temples, which inhabited that space from Solomon’s time until the Roman destruction in the year 70 C.E.  Some of these same people, and a growing number of Jews who have been more mainstream, still aspire to somehow replace the Al-Aqsa Mosque with a third temple.  

There is also a ruling of the Chief Rabbis, still in place and increasingly ignored, that Jews should not walk on the Temple Mount, because they might accidently step into the Holy of Holies, the site of God’s immanent presence, allowed entry only to the High Priest on Yom Kippur, to intercede with Hashem for the welfare of the Jewish people in the coming year.  

On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon ostentatiously entered the Temple Mount with other Likud politicians and hundreds of Israeli police.  This is understood to have triggered the Second Intifada beginning with violent protests by Palestinian worshippers the very next day.  

As the article mentions, there is also a rule that Israeli police attempt to enforce, not to permit Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount, even during the restricted hours that Jews and other non-Muslims are permitted to visit the site by its Muslim overseers.  It may strike defenders of the freedom to worship as odd, even wrong, that Jewish visitors are admonished not to pray (not even to be seen moving their lips hinting at silent prayer).  It would likely better fit our liberal values if this prohibition were not enforced, but it exists to guard against a new provocation that could ignite a religious war with Muslims worldwide, infinitely deepening the stakes and the dangers inherent within the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

As if this wan’t enough bad news, there’s this story today of Netanyahu’s plan to warn the United Nations General Assembly against trusting Iran’s new president in negotiating a deal to avert further conflict over Iran’s nuclear program: “Netanyahu Is Said to View Iran Deal as a Possible Trap.”

By | 2013-09-23T10:13:00-04:00 September 23rd, 2013|Blog|2 Comments


  1. Anonymous September 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Dear Blogmaster,

    Obvious suggestion is that you consider getting your news from media outlets other than the NY Times.

    I note that amongst the bad news you left out was the Israeli army attack on EU diplomats providing humanitarian aid to a demolished Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley. Too bad the destruction of a small Palestinian village and its reverberations did not make your list of news from the last few days causing despair. Of course its understandable if you get all your news from the NY Times, as the Times barely managed to report on the story, choosing instead to shorten, neuter and bury a much stronger Reuters account:

    But I guess that’s likely only because Meretz/Partners will be publishing a larger piece on Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley shortly, as a follow-up to all your other posts on that topic.


  2. Blogmaster September 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Ted’s right that this was apiece with the other bad news stories reported on. This article should have been included; its exclusion was an unintentional oversight.

Leave A Comment