A great darkness hangs over the holy city of Jerusalem since Tuesday's massacre. And like most American Jews (save for those “peace” activists openly shilling for terrorist groups), I was...outraged? That doesn't feel like the right word. More like: filled with a primal, inchoate rage that eats away at the soul and defies written or verbal expression. Of course, as a writer, I often find myself in the awkward position of having to articulate the inarticulable, and this time is no different.
This wasn't an attack against a military occupation. With all the celebration and dancing in the streets of Gaza, you'd think it was September 11th, or something. The slaughter wasn't on an army base, but in a house of worship. So let us be absolutely clear, this wasn't a victory against Zionism. As the media are so fond of pointing out, Har Nof is an “ultra-Orthodox” enclave. While adding the qualifier “ultra-Orthodox” certainly helps readers distance themselves from the victims and sympathize with the politically-disenfranchised freedom fighters (or “genocidal maniacs,” depending on your perspective and whether or not it's based on reality), it should be pointed out that the it is on the fringes of Israeli society—that is, the zealously secular liberal humanists, and devoutly religious Jews being referred to here—that you find the highest concentrations of non- and anti-Zionist individuals.
The attackers had one goal, as expressed by their actions: To murder as many Jews as possible. This atrocity might also be reasonably construed as an attack on the West. Because while it may come as a surprise to readers halfway around the world that the murder victims happened to be American and British, anyone who has spent time in Jerusalem knows that Har Nof serves as the city's “Anglotown,” where Americans, Brits, and other English-speakers take up residence. From my own experience there, it's actually a lovely (and up until now, peaceful) neighborhood with some of the nicest people you could ever meet.
Also worth noting: These alleged “lone wolves” may have operated without the knowledge or direction of the Palestinian leadership, but not without their tacit approval. As a general rule, whether the Palestinian Authority condemns or praises a terror attack depends on whether you read the media releases issued in English, or the ones in Arabic. (See for instance, the work of the non-partisan Middle East Media Research Institute at MEMRI.org.)
So again, this horrific crime wasn't a victory for freedom fighters against the occupation of the West Bank. This was a massacre against Jews, plain and simple. It is an affront to Israelis, Westerners, and anyone who believes that all people have the right to gather for worship—be it in synagogue, church, temple, or mosque—free from fear. Yet, according to the latest reports, Palestinian leaders are endorsing the attack as fitting retaliation against Israel's encroachment on the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque. And that's why I feel the time has come for Israel to annex the Temple Mount.
Unfortunately, by their own words and deeds, the Palestinian regime has forced Israel's hand. Thanks to them, returning the status quo to the Temple Mount now means rewarding terror. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, they were imparting the lesson that terrorism works. And rather than serving as a starting point of a legitimate Palestinian state, the village of Gush Katif served as a launch pad for an ongoing, indiscriminate barrage of missiles, because if that strategy works, what motivation do the Palestinians have to abandon it? So, for the sake of peace, Israel must reclaim Judaism's holiest site.
None of this is to say that Palestinians need to be banished from their mosques. Rather, Israelis must have their civil rights restored, including the right to worship on the Temple Mount (whether one chooses to exercise that right is a personal matter and depends on which rabbinic opinion one subscribes to). No more arrests for Israelis caught praying at Jewish holy sites. Israel must correct the erroneous lessons of the past, and assert her own sovereignty—the Palestinians can learn to deal with it. And for those who can't, we'll blow up that bridge when we get to it.
Daniel Perez is a freelance writer based in New York City. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Jewish Voice, and his work has appeared in dozens of Jewish publications and media outlets in North America and Israel. Mr. Perez can be reached at Daniel@PerezConsulting.org.