'Intifada'? More like The Empire Strikes Back

The latest wave of Arab terrorism is all about reestablishing Arab-Islamic hegemony in the Middle East, starting with the Temple Mount. If we give them that, they have won.

Ari Soffer

OpEds Ari Soffer
Ari Soffer
Ari Soffer

One month on since the current escalation in Arab terrorist attacks began, it seems clear that the latest "intifada" has been a spectacular failure.

Far from cowing Israelis into submission or even utterly annihilating every Jew - down to the last man, woman and child - as its advocates vow repeatedly to do, a stoically resilient Israel has thumbed its nose at the "knife intifada." Yes, it has hurt at times, and yes people are more wary, but a nation that withstood the horrific suicide bombings and mass-shootings of 2000-2005 are not about to be defeated by a few suicidal thugs wielding knives, axes and sharpened rulers, intoxicated by social media incitement and a misplaced sense of Arab-Islamic supremacy.

That Israeli resilience is pointedly (if somewhat crudely) summed-up in a recent satirical video mocking threats by ISIS to join the fray, featuring lyrics such as: "You don't get it? Here we aren't afraid of terrorist attacks. Ten of you dead for every one of us injured!"

Even the very Palestinian groups inciting this latest convulsion of terrorism - Hamas, Fatah and co - quite clearly do not buy their own bravado.

In spite of his typically bellicose calls for Gaza to "join the intifada," Ismail Haniyeh's Hamas regime has continued to do everything in its power not to get sucked in, fearing the repercussions - both immediate and long-term - of yet another Israeli military onslaught if it resumes its rocket attacks on Israel. Fatah, meanwhile, plays a double-game: constantly inciting young Arabs to murder Jews while simultaneously seeking to preserve its own Oslo-given fiefdom by ensuring things don't get "too out of hand" in Judea and Samaria, and continuing to cooperate with Israeli security forces against major terrorist networks belonging to rivals such as Hamas.

On a tactical level, the Israeli government also deserves much credit. The mobilization of thousands more border police and soldiers to trouble spots, increased monitoring of extremists to catch them before they set out to kill, tougher penalties for rock-throwers and firebombers, punitive house demolitions (albeit now stalled thanks to the High Court) - all of these and more have gone some way to curbing the attacks. That is why for the most part the young terrorists have ended up impaling themselves immediately on border police officers or IDF soldiers, before reaching the women, children and elderly civilians they would ideally target. 

The fact that the usual suspects are screaming about "excessive force" is a good indication that such actions are having a positive effect on the ground.

Add to that the remarkable bravery and professionalism of the security forces themselves - particularly the border police - and the finely-honed vigilance and grim determination of ordinary Israeli citizens, and it is clear why all the desperate fantasies of Israel's demise will continue to remain precisely that.

And yet, even as it is clearly winning on a tactical level, Israel is in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, by forgetting ourselves and granting our adversaries ground they have no right - or might - to claim themselves.

The Temple Mount and the return of the Islamic Empire?

The "Palestinian national movement" - with its roots in the genocidal designs of a certain pro-Nazi cleric we are not supposed to mention - has from its inception acted as the vanguard of Arab-Islamic imperialism, seeking to reinstate the Arab-Islamic hegemony in the Levant and wider Middle East so rudely broken by the Zionist project.

In the age of post-colonialism, it was built on the false premise that the Jews of this land - its indigenous people - are foreign interlopers with no more courage or will to fight than the European colonialists who broke and ran from this region, whereas they - the descendants of Arab and Ottoman conquerers or the foreign laborers they imported and migrants they attracted - are its true owners.

Of course, just dig beneath the surface, beyond the carefully-polished English-language statements, and the imperialist essence of their cause becomes all too apparent. Calls to genocide or ethnic cleansing, and baying mobs invoking the imperial armies of Mohammed in their most popular chant (Khaybar Khaybar ya-Yahud, jaysh il-Mohammed saufa yaud!//Remember (the battle of) Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Mohammed is coming!) belie the narrative of "oppression" we are force-fed daily. Never mind the regular, open calls for Jerusalem to be turned into the capital of a global Islamic Empire, or Mahmoud Abbas's shameless appeals to western powers to revive their own colonialist presence here on his behalf.

This is the rump of a defeated imperialist project dreaming of resurrection, not the cry of an oppressed people.

And they are equally, fatally wrong in their estimation of the Jewish nation. The children of this land have returned and no quantity of rockets, bombs, bullets or knives will dislodge us from here - that is what Zionism is all about.

But the moment we lose track of why we are struggling in this land, we become the architects of our own defeat.

The utterly craven open letter published today by the haredi Mishpacha magazine, one day after the pathetic adoption of Islamist talking points by certain a populist haredi MK, provides a stark - almost self-parodying - illustration of what such a self-inflicted defeat might look like. But it is only the latest in a series of similar gestures which have by no means been confined to the haredi establishment.

Consider, for example, how amidst all the tough security measures taken by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, his underlying political policy can be summed up in one word: appeasement.

Islamists demand their hegemony on the Temple Mount (aka "the status quo") be further bolstered? Israel installs CCTV cameras to further humiliate Jewish visitors and empower the supremacist Waqf regime.

Never mind that in the Israel-Jordan alliance, with one nervous Hashemite eye on ISIS at their eastern border, it is the Jewish state which is clearly the stronger partner; the moment the midget king has a tantrum, our prime minister will hastily rush to appease him, even flying to Amman (because God-forbid he should come to us) to assure his majesty's continued control over Judaism's holiest site.

The continued abandonment of the Temple Mount - and with it, Jewish dignity - is as self-inflicted a defeat as can be imagined.

On the one hand, as one expert here recently noted, abandoning Jewish claims to our holiest site directly encourages Palestinian intransigence, by essentially legitimizing their own false narrative. After all, if the Jews really belong here, why on earth would they cede their rights to what they claim is their holiest place? It is high time Israel learned that in the Middle East "gestures of goodwill" are more often than not translated as signs of weakness or desperation.

It is also the case that, far from satisfying the Palestinians' lust for more concessions, cementing Muslim control over the Temple Mount merely increases their ambitions, as illustrated by the recent UNESCO saga. The Palestinian Authority may have overreached (just slightly) in claiming the Western Wall, but the UN body tasked with preserving foreign antiquities from what its own Director General recently referred to as "cultural cleansing" was all too happy to add Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs to the steadily-growing list of pre-Islamic sites claimed in the name of Islam.

But it is about more than that. It is about rescuing the Zionist dream from the mediocre vision of "just surviving." 

We did not return to this land merely to survive in a fortified ghetto, but to take back what is rightfully ours, to liberate our people and reclaim Jewish land, dignity and liberty.

If we surrender those things - on the Temple Mount, in Judea and Samaria or anywhere else - we are perversely ceding the very thing we have been fighting, and dying, to keep. Instead, Israel must exercise its rights, on behalf of the Jewish people, to be sovereign in our own homeland, and end the unjust regime banning Jews from praying at their holiest site - not in reaction to the violence, but despite it.

Although in the short-term it is the simpler, less complicated option - a convenient stopgap solution - maintaining the absurdly-named "status quo," whereby the holiest site in Judaism is gradually Islamized via archaeological vandalism and incrementally-increasing restrictions on Jewish visits, merely guarantees the next round of violence.

Which brings us full circle. Because, in the short-term at least, by the terrorists' own admission this current wave of violence is all about "redeeming Al Aqsa" - that is, solidifying Islamic control on the Temple Mount. If we let them do that, they have won.

It's as simple as that.