The crisis on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is just the latest of a series of conflicts between Israel and Palestinian Arabs. The justification for this conflict (as with all of the previous conflicts) is premised on the latest step taken by Israel to protect its interests and the security of its people.
Bear in mind that the event that preceded the metal detectors was the murder of two Israeli policemen on the third holiest site in Islam.
The violent murder of three Jews a few days after the metal detectors were installed was justified as a response to the security upgrades at the entrance to the Temple Mount. These security upgrades are now being used as the justification for further escalations in the tension between Israel, Palestinians and the broader Muslim world.
None of this is new. Each conflict seems to follow the same pattern.
The focus of all of this conflict is Israel’s so-called occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria).
The Palestinians rejected a plan that the nascent State of Israel accepted, and that would have established Palestinian autonomy back in the 1940s. If they had accepted this and worked sincerely towards establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, we probably wouldn’t be in this position.
That said, this mess didn’t start there. Jews didn’t arrive in this land in the late 1800s and simply seize land that belonged to the Arabs living there at the time.
To use the language of occupation, Jews returned to this land after being forced out thousands of years ago. Jews have been trying to return to this land to re-establish a Jewish state for all of that time.
There are Jews whose families have lived in this land for much of that time. However, they have been living on land that has been occupied by a series of nations, the latest of which were Arabs who came to be known as Palestinians.
The premise of the Israel-Palestine conflict seems to be Israel’s apparent occupation of Palestinian land. That perspective is far too narrow in historical terms.
The real occupiers have been the various population groups that moved in after Jews were evicted from their lands and dispersed across the globe. Palestinian Arabs are the last group who were living on this land when Jews finally returned to our ancestral home.
My biggest frustration with all of these conflicts is that everyone’s focus is on the events of the last century or so. That is just a sliver of time in a more complete history of this land.
In the broader historical context, this land has been our ancestral home for millennia. Despite more than a few blunders and missteps, the struggle to build the State of Israel and preserve it has been the struggle to fulfill the promise that we will return to our home after thousands of years of exile.
Unfortunately, this is not the reality that the world tends to see because we don’t think in such historical terms. The world is focused on the flare-up of the day and the current crisis on the Temple Mount plays better for the cameras than dusty relics and historical narratives.