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Tisha B’Av (translated as the Ninth of Av) is the day in the Hebrew calendar where many tragedies have befallen us.  The First and Second Temples were both destroyed on this day – the First Temple by the Babylonians while the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.  On Tisha B’Av 135CE the Bar Kochba revolt was crushed at the Battle of Betar. On Tisha B’Av in 1290 the Edict of Expulsion was issued demanding that all Jews leave England.  On Tisha B’Av in 1492 the Alhambra Decree was issued expelling the Jews from Spain.  So many tragedies on this one day and even now, two-thousand years later though we have renewed the land of Israel and govern over Jerusalem we are still incomplete.

Today our separation is enforced by the Waqf which retained authority over the Temple Mount after the Six-Day War at the suggestion of then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.  And today the Waqf uses every means and effort, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, to undermine Israel’s rightful claim to the Temple Mount and the rights of Jews to visit there – whether they pray or not.

Yet it’s not enough that the Waqf, supported by the Palestinian Authority, does everything it can to negate and erase any claim or archaeological trace of Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.  Today they now are working to extend their authority to the Western Wall (what they call the “Al-Buraq Wall”).  In October of 2015 the Palestinian Authority tried to get UNESCO to declare the Western Wall plaza an official Muslim holy site.  That effort was criticized widely by western organizations.  In April of 2016, UNESCO’s executive council passed a resolution that referred to the Western Wall plaza only by its Arabic name (“Al-Buraq”) and relegated the Hebrew terms to quotations after the term “Al-Buraq Plaza thereby placing a stake in the ground proclaiming UNESCO’s illegitimate position.

In July 2017 three Israeli Arabs from Umm Al-Fahm used weapons smuggled into the Al-Aqsa mosque to attack and kill two Israeli border policemen of Druze heritage.  In response the Israeli government closed the Temple Mount to Muslim prayer for several days before reopening the Mount with enhanced security through the use of metal detectors at the gates to the Mount and security cameras.  After a standoff between the Waqf and the government the security measures came down and the status quo prior to the murder of the two Israeli border policemen returned.

Now the Waqf as well as the Palestinian Authority and their supporters among Israeli Arabs are setting their sights on the Western Wall plaza again.  After the metal detectors came down, the Palestinians rejoiced and celebrated.  Israeli MK Taleb Abu Arar (Joint List) declared that “Jews have no rights at al-Aqsa Mosque,” and “some people are trying to re-write history in order to strengthen their mistaken claim to legitimacy over al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as to the occupied al-Buraq Wall (the Western Wall), which Muslims demand to be returned to our sovereignty [Emphasis Added].”

Now, on Tisha B’Av 2017 the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, WAFA, claimed that thousands of settlers “raided the courtyard of the Al-Buraq Wall, the Western Wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and organized events, prayers and ceremonies on the occasion of the so-called 9th of Av”  (the Al-Aqsa Foundation did something similar in 2012 when thousands of Jews went to the Western Wall Plaza as Yom Kippur approached that year). In addition the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi decried the visit of over 1000 Jews to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av 2017 by claiming that “the number of extremists who stormed Al-Aqsa today stands at a record number that has not been recorded since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967.”

These efforts are not new.  It was Yasser Arafat who pushed the concept of Temple Denial to new heights when he used it as an excuse to scuttle the Camp David peace talks in 2000.  The Palestinians have for years been exclaiming the false narrative that Jews have no connection to the Land of Israel, to Jerusalem and that if the Temples existed at all then they were somewhere either near Bethlehem or in Shechem. Combined with the increasing political machinations of the Palestinians through the United Nations and its sub-organizations the Palestinians are making a full effort to deny our Jewish history, our Jewish heritage, our Jewish connections to Israel and our Jewish connections and rights to Jerusalem.  The goal of their effort is to paint the picture that the Jewish claim to Jerusalem is a fabrication when, in fact, recent archaeological evidence continues to strengthen our claim to not just Jerusalem but to Israel as a whole.  The Jewish claim to Israel, Jerusalem, and Israel as whole is historical and without doubt.  The Palestinians desire to wash away our connections to these places is ridiculous at best and, at worst, scurrilous.

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If you’re going to make a policy then you need to provide the documentation and the framework by which people can be compliant to that policy.

I’m an Israeli citizen…and I’m proud of that.  I’m proud that my son is serving in the IDF in an elite unit and that my daughters have expressed their desire to do likewise.  This story starts when my younger daughter and I went to the consular section of the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. to register her as an Israeli citizen.  By law, you’re supposed to register a child born to an Israeli parent (I’m Israeli…my wife isn’t – though we’re both Jewish) within 30 days of the birth.  Well…suffice it to say I didn’t know about that until recently and it’s been 14 some-odd years since my younger daughter’s birth.

Anyway – back to the story…we went to the consular section of the embassy to register her as an Israeli citizen and to apply for her Israeli passport.  There was an earlier visit the same week where we were told that the birth certificate which we brought needs an apostille (it’s a document that should accompany official documentation like birth certificates based on a treaty that a whole bunch of countries signed on to – if you’re really interested in the nitty-gritty details, see here).  I got the apostille for the birth certificate and, confident that I had everything we needed to get the paperwork done, we went back to the embassy.  We get to the embassy early (first in line) and go inside.

While reviewing the paperwork the consulate staff member asks me “Do you have the confirmation from the hospital?”

I look at her a bit dumbfounded and ask “What?”

She then repeats the question: “Do you have the confirmation from the hospital that your daughter was born there and that she is indeed your child?”

I still not quite sure I understand her.  I replied “Isn’t that what the birth certificate is for?”

To which she replies “Yes, but we also require confirmation from the hospital or the doctor that your wife actually gave birth and that this is the child of that birth.”

Ok – I’m still not quite grokking what she’s saying…I mean, why doesn’t the birth certificate suffice in that regard?  She continues by saying that people might come with the appropriate documentation (birth certificate, passports, forms, etc.) and the child is not actually their child but is actually the child of someone else.

I’m still not sure why the birth certificate isn’t sufficient.  It has my daughter’s name, my name, my wife’s name – isn’t that sufficient?  No…apparently not to the Israeli government.  Now, in their infinite bureaucratic wisdom, they also want confirmation from the hospital or my wife’s doctor (in this case the OB/GYN) to provide additional documentation attesting to the fact that my wife actually did give birth and that the child is actually our offspring.  As the embassy’s website states, they now require (emphasis added):

The original birth certificate, verified with an apostille stamp in countries that are signatories to the 1961 Hague Convention, or presentation of a certificate verified by the relevant authority in that country, as well as documentation from the hospital or maternity ward that the mother in fact gave birth and that the said child is in fact her offspring.

Given that this occurred 14 years ago – I’m guessing that the hospital may not be so helpful in getting this documentation to me and I can only hope that the doctor is still alive and actually remembers this specific birth.  Also, what format should said documentation take?  A letter?  A form to be filled out? If it’s a form, what relevant information is necessary?

What we have here is a failure to create a working policy (see how I slid in my Cool-Hand Luke reference 🙂 ).  Given that I work as an Information Security Manager for a large organization (a very large organization) I am well familiar with the idea of creating a policy and all of the supporting materials that need to go along with it: a framework for compliance (that’s called governance), exceptions, documentation…small things like that.

What has happened here, though, is that the someone, somewhere in the Israeli government, has created a policy but failed to provide the governance framework or the documentation that should go along with that policy.  In other words, this was probably a knee-jerk reaction to a specific issue and the policy formulated but nothing more than that.  This is a case of a policy that has no details regarding compliance.  If you’re going to do that then you should expect this kind of failure.

Now, admittedly, I could easily be a corner case.  I mean, yes, I waited 14 years before trying to register her with the Interior Ministry.  But, to be fair, I did this very thing two years ago for my older daughter – back when this policy was not in place – with nary a problem.  Sometime in the past two years the Israeli government decided that Israeli citizens registering children for citizenship without actually having given birth to those children was a serious enough problem that they needed to enact this policy.  And that they enacted this globally.  I could understand if they had chosen to enact this policy in Russia, Eastern European countries, and third-world countries, but they chose to do so even here in the United States where I would suspect this problem doesn’t really occur that often.

So, now, to meet the requirements of a policy that I think is a) pretty stupid and b) so badly implemented because there are no governance controls around it, I am calling the hospital records office and trying to get them to understand what I need.  My wife is calling her OB/GYN and trying to get them to understand what we need.  Hopefully one of us will succeed and our daughter will be able to claim her Israeli citizenship.

In their continuing effort to rewrite human history and to deny the truth of the connection of the Jewish people to Israel the Arab allies of the Palestinians – Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Kuwait, the UAE, and Morroco – have introduced a proposal to UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – that the Western Wall, a remnant of the supporting wall of the Temple Mount, be considered as part of the Al Aqsa Mosque and be designated as the Buraq Plaza.  This is nothing new obviously.  It started quite a while ago when the Palestinians wanted UNESCO to designate the Tomb of the Jewish matriach, Rachel, (known in Hebrew as Kever Rachel) as well as the Cave of the Patriarchs (which Abraham – the father of the Jewish people – bought – and where he, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah – all of whom are the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people – are buried) as mosques.  In addition to these two items, the proposal asks that the countries of the world condemn Israel for calling on its citizens to bear arms (as the Mayor of Jerusalem and Ashdod have done) in light of the recent terror wave; condemnation of “Israeli aggression and illegal measures taken against the freedom of worship and access of Muslim to al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel’s attempts to break the status quo since 1967”; condemnation of the continued attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque by right-wing Jewish extremists;Israel’s prevention of clerics, sheikhs and preachers from accessing the mosque;  condemnation of Israel for the continued excavations near the Temple Mount and the Old City; condemnation of Israel’s decision to build a cable car in East Jerusalem and an office building and a museum near the Western Wall, as well as a few other buildings and an elevator near the wall.[1]

Let’s take a look at the details of this proposal more closely.  First, the Palestinians want to have UNESCO deny any cultural or historical connection of the Western Wall as part of the Jewish Temple that existed on the Temple Mount before the Romans destroyed it about 2000 years ago.  On the surface this looks like an attempt to attack Israel but in essence, what they are asking UNESCO to do is to declare Judaism’s connection to the Western Wall and to the Temple Mount itself (and further by extension to all of Jerusalem) null and void .  What they are really asking for is not a declaration against Israel – but against Judaism itself. This also is nothing really that new – the Palestinians have been seeking to deny Jewish history and authenticity for a long time now.  Their approach now is to do so through the UN and it’s satellite organizations – specifically UNSECO.   Not content with denying that Israel has a right to exist the Palestinians and their Arab allies are now determined to start a campaign of denying Judaism’s legitimacy and it’s right to exist.

Next the proposal calls for the condemnation of the calls by the Mayors of Jerusalem and Ashdod for Israelis to carry guns in order to defend themselves against knife-wielding terrorists.  Sure, it’s easier for a Palestinian wielding a knife to find a ready target if they don’t have to worry about the possibility that their target may kill them before the can strike.  In fact the Palestinians have been producing videos (see here, here, and here) explicitly encouraging and teaching exactly how to strike.  It’s much easier if you know that your prey is unarmed and incapable of striking back.  And the Palestinians want the world to condemn Israeli politicians for suggesting to their constituents that they should be able to defend themselves.  And this message is lapped up by non other than the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who deplores the Israeli killings of Palestinians (without making ANY mention of the fact that the Palestinians who were killed were all terrorists) and proclaims that he “looks to the Government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation into the incidents, including whether the use of force was proportional”[2].  Is he serious?  He wants the Israelis to use “proportional” force when defending themselves against knife and meat-cleaver wielding terrorists?  So Israelis should go around with knives and meat cleavers attached to their belts in case they need to defend themselves?  Oh wait, the Palestinians would still ask for the countries of the world to condemn them for that – what they want is for the Israelis to be sheep who can be slaughtered at will and not resists.  Sorry – we did that once with the Nazis – don’t think we’re going to give an encore performance of that one.

The Palestinians also want condemnation of Israel for its “aggression and illegal measures taken against the freedom of worship and access of Muslim to al-Aqsa Mosque and Israel’s attempts to break the status quo since 1967”.  Let’s look at the facts.  The status quo since 1967 has been that the Jordanian Waqf has had control of the Temple Mount ever since Israel freed it from Jordanian control during the Six-Day War.    During that time the Waqf has had the ability to pretty much do whatever they wanted up there except for security which is Israel’s responsibility (if Israel did not maintain a security presence on the Temple Mount the Muslim worshipers there would attack the Jewish worshipers below at the Western Wall [3]).  Now, the Palestinians want the international community to provide security on the Temple Mount in order to provide protection for the Al Aqsa mosque [4].  All the while Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the maintenance of the status quo [5].  So, in truth, it is THE PALESTINIANS who are trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount – not the Israelis!

Another condemnation request in this proposal by the Palestinians and their Arab allies is the demand that UNESCO condemn of continued attacks on al-Aqsa Mosque by right-wing Jewish extremists.  What is the basis for this claim of attack?  That’s hard to tell.  As I have pointed out in another blog post the number of Jews who have gone up to visit the Temple Mount accounts for only 0.3% of the total number of visitors to the Temple Mount (about 10,000 – 12,000 Jews compared to 200,000 Christians and 4,000,000 Muslim visitors).  If that is the basis for their claim of attack then it is spurious at best and a flat-out lie at worst. The Palestinians definition of “right-wing Jewish extremists” is unknown – it could be settlers living in the West Bank or it could be any Jew.  On top of that there are no statistics as to how many of the Jewish settlers who go up to the Temple Mount are “right-wing” or “left-wing” much less extremists.  This claim is a red-herring.  The fact is that Palestinians don’t want non-Muslims in what they consider as their exclusive holy site – and as Abu Mazen has stated previously they certainly don’t want Jews with “their filthy feet”.[6]

On top of all of the above the Palestinians want UNESCO to condemn Israel preventing sheikhs and preachers from accessing the Al Aqsa mosque.  Their claim seems to center around the fact that Israel is trying to prevent preachers like this guy and this guy from being able to preach their hate and lies at the Temple Mount.  And why shouldn’t they prevent this?  If ever there was a chance for peace between Israelis and Palestinians these guys are ready and willing to kill it.  On top of that the lies and hate that they preach incites those who hear it to go out and commit murder and mayhem at will.  While Israel does have freedom of religion for all faiths that does not mean that that freedom may be abused to promulgate ancient blood libels in an attempt to foment anarchy and murder and mayhem if it can be prevented.  As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. pointed out freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you can also falsely shout fire in a crowded theater.  And that’s basically what Israel is trying to prevent by denying such preachers and sheikhs the opportunity to do on top of the Temple Mount.  This is no different.

The Palestinians also want UNSECO to condemn Israel for the continued excavations near the Temple Mount and the Old City.  Why is that?  They claim it’s because the excavations are meant to undermine the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque.  However, when you look more closely you realize that the real reason you see that they are trying to distract attention from their own illegal archaeological digging in and under the Temple Mount and their destruction of archaeological evidence of Jewish history and the existence of the Temple on the Temple Mount.[7]  By erasing any trace of previous civilizations and their ties to lands conquered by the Arabs during and immediately after the Mohammedan period, the Arabs can make claims that they were the original inhabitants of the land and that no evidence exists of any earlier inhabitants.  Look at what happened in to the statues of the Buddhas in Bamiyan in Afghanistan and what is happening today in Syria and Iraq where ISIS holds sway.   If anything, UNESCO should condemn the Palestinians and the Jordanian Waqf for the excavation and construction they have been conducting on and under the Temple Mount which is itself changing the status quo.

Why does the Palestinian leadership and their allies want to see this proposal passed? Because they need to continue the fabrication of their narrative in order to feed the incitement of their people and to direct their ire and anger against Israel and away from the leaders.  The Palestinians have a deep investment in the narrative of them as victims and of Israel as the aggressor and if they had to face the truth of the situation their world would fall apart.  By getting UNESCO to add its approbation to that narrative the Palestinian leadership will continue to dupe their people and the rest of the world that their lie is the truth.

[1] “Palestinians to UNESCO: Western Wall is Part of Al Aqsa”, Itamar Eichner, YNetNews, found at http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4712189,00.html

[2] “Ban Ki-moon says he is ‘profoundly alarmed by the growing number of deadly incidents in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem.'”, Danielle Ziri, Jerusalem Post, found at http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/UNs-Ban-condemns-recent-killings-of-Palestinians-without-mention-of-Israeli-terror-victims-421104

[3] “Temple Mount Erupts in Violence”, Israel Today Staff, Israel Today, found at http://www.israeltoday.co.il/NewsItem/tabid/178/nid/27056/Default.aspx

[4] “Israel rejects any international intervention at Temple Mount”, Times of Israel Staff, Times of Israel, found at http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-rejects-any-international-intervention-at-temple-mount/

[5] “Netanyahu: We will preserve status quo on Temple Mount”, Noam Dvir, YNetNews, found at http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4587022,00.html

[6] “Abbas: Israelis have no right to desecrate our holy sites with their filthy feet”, Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, found at http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Abbas-Israelis-have-no-right-to-desecrate-our-holy-sites-with-their-filthy-feet-416307

[7] “The Destruction of the Temple Mount Antiquities”, Mark Ami-El, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, found at http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp483.htm

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