Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Jerusalem synagogue attack should not be the tipping point

World leaders, including US President Barack Obama, have condemned Tuesday’s attack in the Kehilat Bnei Torah, at Har Nof, in West Jerusalem where two Palestinian cousins killed five people — four Jews who were praying and a police officer — and injured eight others.
Daniel Carmon, Israeli ambassador to India, too condemned the attack saying: “Incitement and the glorification of terrorists by the Palestinian leadership is a fast track to violence and terror itself...We must take every effort to delink religion and terrorism, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said himself in the Australian Parliament on Tuesday.”
This spike in attacks against Jews in Israel should be of concern to all who hope to see an end to the tension in the region. Tension has been brewing for some time now after news spread that Israel had plans of altering the present arrangement of prayers at the Temple Mount, revered by both the Muslims and Jews. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied any such plans and said that Hamas has been spreading these “lies”.
It is encouraging that Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine and chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), has condemned the “acts of violence no matter their source”, but as Netanyahu has said it “is not enough”. To bring any semblance of peace back to the region Abbas has to do more than express shock and regret, especially at a time when such acts of terror are pushing the holy city to the brink. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is the second largest PLO member, has claimed credit for Tuesday’s attack further putting pressure on Abbas.
If the recent attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem can be attributed to lone wolf attacks by disgruntled Palestinians, Tuesday’s attack stands out for the planning that seems to have gone behind it. The Kehilat Bnei Torah in Har Nof is in a Jewish locality and unless there was extensive planning the cousins could not have attacked the synagogue.
While Netanyahu has promised to “settle the score with every terrorist” both sides must be careful to not let Tuesday’s attack set off a string of attacks on worshippers — as in February 1994, when a US-born Jewish doctor killed 30 Palestinians in a mosque in Hebron and in March 2002, when a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 30 civilians and injured more than 140 during a Passover seder in Netanya.
(This appeared in the Hindustan Times on November 20)