Yesterday in New York there was a gathering of settlers and their supporters at a synagogue on the Upper West side. Many speakers made intolerant statements about Muslims and Palestinians.
The above speech was given by Ken Abramowitz, of American Friends of Likud and American Friends of Hebrew University, inside the West Side Institutional Synagogue on W. 76th Street. Alas, my video-recorder stopped before his last line, which was:
It [Judea and Samaria] protects all of us in the U.S. And without Judea and Samaria, the fall of western civilization will not be far behind.
Abramowitz was followed by Steven Goldberg of the Zionist Organization of America, who said:
I’m mad as hell that if any Jew tries to go up to the Temple Mount, we’re not allowed to walk there. That is very symbolic!… That [walking on the Temple mount] is the beginning of saying, This belongs to us.
Goldberg’s statement was one of many at the conference about the Jewish “right” to the Temple Mount in occupied East Jerusalem, the site of the Al Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam. Aharon Pulver, an Israeli who heads the rightwing Israel Independence Fund, said that it was the “depth of humiliation” that Hashemite religious authorities from Jordan have the right to call for the arrests of Jews who seek to pray on the Temple Mount.
Pulver’s cause is shared by rightwing religious members of Israeli Knesset, who are also challenging Jordanian control over worship at the site. And there have been violent clashes at the site in recent months, pushed by religious zealots.
“We have to address the issue of Jewish control over the land,” Pulver said, and the heart of the matter is the Temple Mount:
The heartland of the land of Israel and the true heart of the Jewish people… of the cosmic universe… is the Temple Mount. We all know, we feel it in our bones… We know that the sacred space is… at the heart of who we are as a people… It is the heart and soul of all our dreams… it is everything we strive for.Today unfortunately in the land of Israel, we have squandered grace..We’ve squandered the grace of the God-given victory of 1967. We’ve squandered the grace given us on a silver platter by the heroes of Israel who fought and died to liberate the Temple Mount in 1967… when we allow others to dictate to us whether we can pray, where we can walk, where we can stand… whether we can use the facilities or not…
We’re not willing to see our rights… squandered…
If there cannot be shared sacred space on the Temple Mount then no one should be allowed to pray there. If the Jews cannot pray on their holy mount, no one should be allowed to pray there.
We don’t come to dispossess. We say very simply that there are existing circumstances on the Temple Mount. There’s a mosque there….Al Aqsa. Muslims pray there on a daily basis. And we don’t come to deny anybody the right to pray at an existing facility.
What we do say is simple and clear to the Israeli government, to the Israeli people and to anyone who will listen to us. The time has come to put an end to the humiliation of the Jewish people and the disregard for Jewish and civil rights in our own country… when it comes to the heart of the issue and the heart of the issue is in fact our holy mount.
An anonymous leaflet that was handed out at the conference sounded a similar theme to Pulver’s but went further, calling for the removal of the Al Aqsa mosque (the same statement is ascribed at a Zionist site to a commenter called Yoel Larry):
[I]n 1967 … the Israeli Forces reclaimed all of Jerusalem but in a moment of weakness and misguided secular-Jewish largesse decided to allow the Muslim’s Al Aksa Mosque to remain undisturbed on Temple Mount…
Since 1967 the cancer of Radical Islam has metastasized world-wide, threatening every civilization with physical and spiritual destruction….The truth is that nothing can stop this Cancer from spreading. Not Armed forces, Drone assassinations, Civil laws or security checkpoints. These are nothing but band-aids on soon-to-be terminal cancer. Unless…The Jewish Nation will do what should have been done in 1967. Remove the Al Aksa from Temple Mount.
Thankfully, there was a robust demonstration against the settlers conference outside, and many of the speakers inside were jarred by the protest, and referred to it angrily.
Here are a couple of photographs of that demo, by Bud Korotzer.
Donna Nevel from Jews Say No!, one of the protest’s co-sponsoring groups, stressed to me that several of the speakers have ties to government– including US Congressman Michael Grimm (who was scheduled to appear; I missed him), Aharon Pulver, Gershon Mesika of the West Bank’s regional governing body, and David Ha’Ivri, master of ceremonies, who heads a tax-deductible charitable foundation. Nevel:
The settler movement cannot be viewed in isolation from the Israeli government. The Israeli government funds the settlements, supports their growth and their seizure of additional Palestinian land, protects them, and provides them with infrastructure. The government also stands by and watches while settlers carry out violent attacks, and then shields them from prosecution.