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Kahanist Leader Is Scolded While the United Arab List Is in Government

עקיבא נוביק
Akiva Novick
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Masked Palestinians carry Palestinian and Hamas flags during Eid al-Fitr celebrations in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, last week.
Masked Palestinians carry Palestinian and Hamas flags during Eid al-Fitr celebrations in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, last week.Credit: Mahmoud Illean/AP
עקיבא נוביק
Akiva Novick

When a wound becomes too painful, it’s natural to prefer treating its symptoms and side effects. This is the way the left relates to Jews visiting the Temple Mount, or to unruly lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir. It’s difficult to talk about the wound itself – the unfathomably cruel attacks on Israel’s city streets. This is an immense hatred that doesn’t square with the excuses made to explain it – it is not directed at settlers or visitors to the Temple Mount this time, but at random Israelis, in supposedly undisputed places.

And then Ben-Gvir appears. His screaming at sites of terror attacks and exasperating campaigns are the froth above the waves, a side effect of the real illness. Accordingly, his removal from the sites of terror attacks, from the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem or anywhere else, is nothing more than putting a band-aid on a deep, severe wound. The wound is the Palestinian hope of vanquishing us, with all of Palestine being liberated, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Only the triggers change, from time to time. The current trigger is the libel that “the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger.” This libel is incurring a cost in human lives. Key Knesset members are partners to it.

It’s convenient to deal with oppositionist Ben-Gvir and not with the United Arab List, which is stoking lies about Israel from within the coalition. “The continued assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a red line,” said UAL leader Mansour Abbas last month to his coalition partners and the police, after policemen entered the mosque to arrest rioters. MK Mazen Ghanayim, the party’s No. 2, had his photo taken in December with the “Al-Aqsa sheikh,” Raed Salah, a well-known inciter who was convicted of calling for terror attacks against Jews.

At a time when Jews are murdered while walking in a park, the UAL isn’t even staying on the sidelines. Key figures in the party participate in the web of lies that lead to terror attacks. When the UAL demands that policemen be restrained when facing stones and other objects that are thrown at them, it is assisting the rioters. When a senior coalition member endorses and disseminates the claim that “Al-Aqsa is in danger,” he provides valuable fuel to the rioters. True, Abbas also makes other kinds of statements, including condemning the torching of Lod synagogues, and he visited one of them last year. He has also confronted Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, as well as taking a more conciliatory and statesmanlike tone in comparison to members of the Joint List. But sitting in a coalition has its price. It brings higher expectations than those facing opposition members, and Abbas is not meeting these expectations.

Perhaps opponents of this government were right all along, and an Islamist Arab party cannot sit in a Jewish government, regardless of its nature. Perhaps people were right in predicting that this experiment would crash as soon as the ultra-nationalist element started to surface. Because of many people’s great hope that this government would survive, the UAL is given a lot of slack, which becomes conspicuous when compared to the treatment of Ben-Gvir and those bringing goats to slaughter on the Temple Mount. Ben-Gvir certainly doesn’t seek calm. Noise and commotion are central elements of his operation. But he is among the opposition. He is on the sidelines, yelling and putting up outdoor Knesset offices. UAL members are sitting where decisions are made, which makes their conduct more grave.

The reactions to visits to the Temple Mount by Jews and the limits placed on the rituals they can perform there carries the whiff of blaming the victim and the denial of rights. It’s not the visitors to the compound who trigger the violence, but the mendacious Muslim campaign about harm caused to the Al-Aqsa mosque. But when it’s inconvenient to deal with the people posing as victims, or their abettors, all you have to do is take the easy route. It’s always easier to blame the victims, or those presuming to cry out in their name.

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