Friday, February 16, 2007

All Wrong in Jerusalem

The whole fiasco over the construction of a bridge near the Mughrabim gate in the Old City of Jerusalem is one of those rare cases where everybody is wrong and nobody is right. The government should have never started the project, because it should have predicted it would be used by extremist Muslims as an excuse for anti-Israel protests. They could have put a different kind of bridge, which can be constructed quickly and without need for any digging in sensitive places.

The extremist Muslims, and others who have played along, are now saying Israel is digging beneath Al-Aqsa with the intention to topple it and construct the third Jewish temple. That's bullshit and they probably know it. Now Sheikh Raad Salakh, an Israeli citizen who is the head of the Northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, has called for an Intifada against Israel. The man should be put in jail for the rest of his life for treason and incitement of violence against the state.

Now Jewish religious leaders, including the ultra-Orthodox mayor of Jerusalem, are trying to stop the construction of the bridge. Their main concern isn't safety or Muslim sensitivities. Their problem with the bridge is the fact that it will be used by Jews to enter the Temple Mount, an area where Jews are not allowed to enter according to Halacha (Jewish religious law).

I think the construction should never have started, but now it is too late. We should not give in to religious extremists. The only acceptable way out would be to declare that we accept the requests of Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, and therefore have decided to stop all construction at the Mughrabim Gate. But I don't see Olmert doing that any time soon.

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