(1) Misleading Headlines; (2) Populism; (3) “Words=Violence?”; (4) Jewish Federation of New Mexico

  1.  Misleading Headlines and the Temple Mount:  “3 Palestinians and 3 Israelis die in new violence.”

We’ve seen it before in the Santa Fe New Mexicanheadlines that attempt equivalency when none really exists.  The text in this article from July 21 was reasonably accurate, but the headline was clearly misleading, pairing two events as if they were of equal circumstances.

Three Palestinians were killed in violent protests that threatened the safety of Israeli civilians and security forces in Jerusalem.  As the article stated, “Israeli police said rioters threw rocks and firebombs and set off fireworks in the direction of the security forces, endangering them.”  On the other hand, 3 Israeli family members engaged in a Sabbath meal died by the hands of a Palestinian murderer intruder in the town of Halamish, far from the Temple Mount-related violence.  Why the equivalence in the headline?

The Temple Mount violence began with three Arabs smuggling weapons onto the Temple Mount, and then purposefully killing two security guards, who happened to be Druze, from the top of the Mount.  Israeli security forces killed the Arab-Israeli terrorists before they could do more damage.  Israeli security leaders then decided to install metal detectors to prevent future similar incidents.

Instead of reasonable Arab reaction, conspiracy theories were disseminated by agitators, claiming Israel was trying to change the “status quo” of the area.  They also proclaimed metal detectors to be discriminatory, and “intrusive and dehumanizing…”   Of course, this is nonsense – the Waqf is still in charge of the Al-Aqsa mosque, and any Jew who has visited the Temple Mount in recent memory has had to be screened through metal detectors already – intrusive and dehumanizing?   If you are a Muslim making pilgrimage (Haj) to Mecca you also go through metal detectors and wear a monitoring bracelet.  In addition, Mecca has 5,000 closed-circuit television cameras recording all movements, monitored by a British company.

Unfortunately the Palestinian leadership has again proven itself incapable of being reasonable.  The conspiracy theory/discrimination claims have been fomented by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.  If he were the “moderate” leader the media proclaim him to be, he’d be tamping down the emotional discord and disputing the conspiracy theories, not stoking it by declaring all contact with Israeli authorities off limits for now.

We agree with Commentary magazine’s senior online editor, Jonathan Tobin‘s, analysis of the Temple Mount “controversy” in his Algemeiner commentary, “The Argument is About Jews, Not Metal Detectors.”  Tobin states:

How could putting metal detectors to protect a holy site be considered a casus belli for what might, if the conflict escalated in the way the Muslim rioters promised, lead to a new holy war?

The answer is that this isnʼt about metal detectors. Itʼs about something much bigger: the right of Jews to be in Jerusalem…the new security measures are merely the latest pretext for Arab violence intended to make the point that Jews should not merely have no say over the Temple Mount, but have no right to be there at all.

The demonstrations and threats of more violence are just one more power play intended to remind the world that the only solution Palestinians will ultimately accept is one in which the Jews are excluded. So long as this is their goal, it isnʼt Al-Aqsa that is in danger, but any hope for peace.

An excellent short video explaining the situation is available by HonestReporting:


Update 7/25/17:

Shortly after this item was posted on the SFMEW website a deal between Israel and Jordan was announced that included Israel’s removal of the metal detectors and use of high definition cameras for surveillance.  Part of this deal was related to an Israeli security man’s having killed two Palestinian-Jordanians in Amman after the security official was attacked by one of the men with a screwdriver in a stabbing attempt.  More can be found here.

You might also be interested in this interview with Harold Rhode, PhD, an expert in the Middle East and Islamic Terrorism.  Start listening at about the 6th minute of the interview.

2.  Populism

If you have a few minutes, we recommend Walter Russell Mead‘s Wall Street Journal Review Section article, “What Truman Can Teach Trump.”  If you don’t have a WSJ subscription you can also see the article by clicking on this link: What Truman Can Teach Trump – WSJ.  While not specifically focused on the Middle East, it is worthwhile regarding US foreign policy and the concept of populism.

[What is a Populist?  See this article in The Atlantic from February.]

3.  In Colleges, “Words = Violence”?

Jonathan Haidt is a professor of psychology and ethics at New York University.  His studies in social psychology and moral psychology have been quoted widely, and his scientifically-valid (and non-partisan) surveys of the values-driven components of political affiliation provide important understanding of underlying voting patterns.  You may have seen his 2012 best selling book The Righteous Mind:  Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

SFMEW espouses balance.  We tend to be centrist generally.  If you are like us you decry the current movement on many college campuses of one-sided viewpoints, allowing (usually) only liberal speakers, and often disrupting speakers who provide a more conservative viewpoint.  This also plays out regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:  anti-Zionists are welcomed to campus while Zionists or even moderate speakers are rejected with threats of violence.

Now Haidt and co-author Greg Lukianoff have penned a scholarly essay in the AtlanticWhy It’s a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence.”  They provide a logical explanation of why equating opposing speech with violence is detrimental to young adults’ minds.  It’s a good read.

4.  Jewish Federation of New Mexico

SFMEW is a beneficiary organization of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.  We thank JFNM for again including SFMEW in its allocations for the upcoming fiscal year, and urge our members to contribute generously to the Federation’s fundraising efforts.  JFNM’s allocation will support SFMEW’s efforts to bring in highly respected, balanced speakers – like last year’s Bassem Eid and Dennis Ross – and for our developing media education program, the first ad of which was in the New Mexican earlier this year.  If you haven’t seen the ad and the website, click on the ad:

Mark on your calendar:  next SFMEW general meeting is Monday, September 18, 7:15 pm at the home of Marcia Torobin.  Please rsvp to info@sfmew.org for further information.

The next Speakers Committee meeting is Thursday, July 27, 4:30 pm at Caffe Greco, 233 Canyon Road.  Come help us decide our speaker line-up for the 2017-2018 year.