December 10, 2019

The week Israel won Jerusalem

It’s easy to see the latest brouhaha over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as a defeat for Israel. After all, Israel caved to Arab and Muslim pressure and took down the metal detectors it installed after Arab terrorists smuggled weapons into the compound and killed two Israeli security guards.

Israel takes action. Arabs protest. Israel caves. Arabs win — right? Wrong.

The Middle East is a complex jungle where what counts, above all, is power. Israel’s enemies know this. They know that yelling and getting angry doesn’t confer real power. It’s like the power of a kid throwing a hissy fit. The real power belongs to the party that has ultimate control — that has, in other words, the power to install and take down metal detectors.

This view was why Palestinian leaders continued maligning Israel and calling for protests even after Israel took down the detectors. They were angry that Israel flexed its power so blatantly at a holy place that they considered theirs and theirs alone. They were humiliated by a “status quo” that had Jews guarding their mosque. So they continued to lash out because, well, that’s all they could do.

But protests or no protests, the world saw clearly last week who was in charge of guarding the holy sites of Jerusalem, and it was Israel.

Why does Israel have such power? Because it knows how to get power and maintain it.

It was the strength and savvy of the Israeli army that enabled Israel to take full control of Jerusalem after Arab armies tried to destroy Israel in 1967. Forget the fancy arguments about who has rights to what in Jerusalem. Forget the pipe dream of dividing the city under a peace process that doesn’t exist. For now and the foreseeable future, Israel controls all of Jerusalem.

That hard fact must drive Palestinian leaders nuts, because they know the value of raw power. They practice it all the time. If they could, they would do to Israel what Israel did to Jordan in 1967 and take complete control of Jerusalem. But they can’t. They’re too weak.

So, devoid of real power, they’re forced to fall back on the pathetic power of the blustering bully — lies, incitement and rage.

This lashing out has an effect. Among other things, it demonizes Israel and exacerbates the mutual animosity between the two sides. The Palestinians are great at playing the victim and winning public relations battles, but their leaders know that PR victories can’t compete with real power on the ground. They know that after the screaming stops, Israel is still on top.

Israel takes action. Arabs protest. Israel caves. Arabs win — right? Wrong.

It is Israel that has the most powerful army, the most successful economy, the most advanced technology and the most democratic and vibrant civil society in the Middle East. And it is Israel that controls all of Jerusalem.

The “days of rage” against the Zionist enemy will surely continue, but Israel has proven its resilience, even in the face of terror. If anything, the evil of terror only strengthens Israeli resolve never to relinquish power to those who seek to destroy their country.

After seeing the vile hatred directed at Israel over something as innocuous and reasonable as metal detectors designed to protect all visitors — including Muslims! — why would Israelis risk giving up even one inch of Jerusalem to its enemies?

What’s extraordinary about this situation is that Israel has used its power in Jerusalem for good. Instead of oppressing other religions, as is common in the region, it has done the opposite. Israel has turned Jerusalem into an open international city where tourism is thriving and all religions are honored and protected.

This also must drive Israel’s enemies nuts — they are victims who can’t even claim the moral high ground. They know very well that when an Arab country (Jordan) controlled the Old City of Jerusalem, it didn’t protect Jewish synagogues and holy sites — it destroyed them.

So, I’m not buying the conventional narrative that Israel lost last week. It didn’t. It tried to protect a holy site with a security measure that is ubiquitous around the world, and Arab Muslims went into a frenzy. Their rage was not directed at the use of metal detectors but at the Jews who had the power to put them there.

Arabs know real power when they see it. The more anger and frustration they direct toward the Israeli security forces guarding the Temple Mount, the more they remind us that Israel is in control of the world’s holiest city. For anyone who values freedom of religion, that control is a very good thing.

David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at