by Rabbi Yaakov Menken in The Federalist
While Hamas, the openly genocidal terror organization ruling the Gaza Strip, launches missiles at Israeli civilians in hospitals, schools, and homes, even closing its airport, the members of “The Squad” are hard at work pointing fingers at the “real” culprit: the Jews.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., announced what “precipitated this cycle of violence” was “the expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al Aqsa.” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., castigated the White House for failing to refer to “Sheikh Jarrah … the al-Aqsa raid … the 13 innocent children killed.” Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., likewise protests “forcing Palestinians out of their homes,” the “root causes of violence,” and “violence and oppression.”
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A joint statement by Omar, Tlaib, and fellow Rep. Andre Carson brought these themes together, with references to “forced evictions in the predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah,” “the violent assault by Israeli forces on the Al Aqsa mosque,” and “the Israeli military [having] launched airstrikes into Gaza” — appending “Hamas fired rockets into Israel,” as if this unprovoked attack on kindergartens, hospitals and homes were the response, rather than the cause, of the neutralization of the terrorists behind it.
As is typical for the “Squad,” reality is rather different.
When the Jordanian Army occupied Judea and Samaria in 1948, it forced all Jews from their homes at gunpoint. That is how the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood, named after the holy Jewish teacher buried there 1,800 years ago, became “the predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah”: via antisemitic violence and ethnic cleansing. The Squad omits all of this, claiming instead that it is a “violation of international law” for Jewish property owners to go to court to reclaim property (purchased in 1875) from those who squatted on it after the Jewish owners were expelled.
In Rabbinic literature, the counterfactual accusation that Jewish property is somehow “stolen” is identified as the first hallmark of antisemitic bias. Put it this way: has the Squad — or anyone else — omitted such salient details when the rightful owners were not Jews?
The truth of the “attacks on Al Aqsa” is no more subtle. Israeli control of the Old City of Jerusalem, beginning in 1967, brought with it freedom of worship for all three major religions that revere the Holy City for the first time in 2,000 years. After the Jordanian Army rendered the Old City Judenrein, do we imagine they let Jews back in to pray at their holiest site?
Although Al-Aqsa Mosque was deliberately constructed upon the site of the two Holy Jewish Temples, the Temple Mount, Jews commonly worship today at the base of the Western Wall of the Mount, while Muslims worship on the Mount 100 feet above them — the mosques being under the administration of the Islamic Waqf. It is Jews and Christians who are often denied access to the Temple Mount, as happened this past Monday on Jerusalem Unification Day.
As a seminary student in Israel, I prayed at the Western Wall many times, including special occasions during the year when tens of thousands flock to the site. On one such occasion, about 15 minutes after the crowds had left, there was a rainfall of large stones onto the empty Western Wall plaza from the Mount 100 feet above.
Rioters on the Temple Mount had attempted mass murder, and I, as a Jew, was one of the targets. Had they not mistimed their barrage (I don’t call this “coincidence”), hundreds of innocent worshipers would have been injured or killed, and I might not be here to write this.
We are told not to rely on miracles. Al-Aqsa Mosque has been repeatedly misused as a repository for stones, Molotov cocktails, and other weaponry, and rioters have repeatedly thrown those stones down at Jewish worshipers 100 feet below. That is why Israeli police must maintain peace at the site, confronting rioters before they launch another bloodthirsty attack upon innocents.
The blame for the conflict on the Temple Mount lies with those who bring in weaponry, attack police, and attempt to get past them to kill Jews praying 100 feet below. The Squad demonizes Israeli police for preventing a massacre. Jews are quite familiar with this sort of inversion of reality: the Jews were blamed for the violence of Kristallnacht, the Nazi rampage against Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues, and forced to clean up the damage.
Any true humanitarian would decry bringing weapons onto the Temple Mount, a religious sacrilege that also violates the laws of armed conflict, and initiating race riots at holy sites. The Squad is interested in one thing, and one thing only: blaming Jews.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims to be very concerned about antisemitism, there seems to be a grave disconnect between Pelosi’s statements and her true commitment to expunging antisemitic bias from the chamber she leads. Congress, and the American people, deserve better.