The tragic bombing this morning in a synagogue in the Har Nof section of Jerusalem underscored again the seriousness of the apparent escalating conflict between Israelis and Arabs, between Jews and Palestinians. Whether this is another intifada or not, the confrontation is getting uglier and more serious daily. While it may be attributable in part to the issue of Jewish access to the Temple Mount or not, the underlying hostility is far more fundamental. Is the Arab world moving farther away from accepting Jewish presence in the Middle East? There is also a question of whether the Israelis—coming from their position of strength–are prepared to dare the Palestinians to move constructively towards peace.
This morning, despite a proper statement of condemnation and regret from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, there was celebration and exaltation not only among terrorist Hamas supporters but also in some Palestinian towns and village in praise of the events on Har Nof. Abbas can’t control his own minions from celebrating the death of Jews, presumably for fear for his own life.
At the same time the Netanyahu Government’s pledge to protect the citizens of Israel and to insure proper retribution against all opponents of the Jewish State was filled with rhetorical hyperbole. Bibi clearly wanted to reassure a very nervous, enraged, and exasperated Israeli public that his Government was fully in control of the situation. Unfortunately, as has been the case too frequently of late, Netanyahu’s pronouncement was also very much a political sideshow. He needed to exploit the tragic moment with a display of rhetoric, and mistaken posturing just to stay ahead or at least abreast of those on his political right. Even at a moment of tragedy the Prime Minister could not control himself lest his rivals blow more fire at the Palestinians than he does.
Meanwhile the world community issued all the proper messages of condemnation of the senseless attack and sorrow at the tragic loss of innocent civilians at prayer; and then they called for restraint. One wonders if the U.S. and its friends in the Western world will ever be willing to truly push Arab leaders to demonstrate courage out front against the joyful pleasure filling many in their streets. Condemnation of occupation, settlements, and separation walls may all be justifiable charges against Israel; but can’t the West take a chance also at enraging some Arab leaders who consistently fail to call out their own people in public, in Arabic for their persistent violence?