Israelis and Palestinians can learn about religious tolerance from Indonesia
"They did not take this decision after a serious examination of the consequences and the alternatives. It was done in fast, discussion over phone, unprofessional and in a very amateur way."26 Juli 2017 09:11
Menachem Klein, professor in political sciences at Bar Ilan University, Israel, poses with the background of the image of Al-Aqsa in Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta, December 15, 2015. (Faisal Assegaf/Albalad.co)
The Al-Aqsa crisis began when three Palestinians killed two Israeli policemen andinjured another one. Those perpetrators were also killed by the Israeli policemen on the incident that happened on 14 July.
The Israeli authorities then closed the Al-Aqsa compound for two days and reopened with the placement of the metal detectors at the entrances of Al-Aqsa. The Palestinians protested that new security measure and refused to pray inside of the mosque.
The conflict has escalated since last Friday after thousands of Palestinians took to streets and the violences between Palestinians and Israeli security forces spread over the East Jerusalem, West Bank and the Gaza Strip border.
Dr Menachem Klein, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, emphasizes that Israeli government took a wrong decision by put metal detectors at the entrances of Al-Aqsa.
"They did not take this decision after a serious examination of the consequences and the alternatives. It was done in fast, discussion over phone, unprofessional and in a very amateur way," he said yesterday, during the interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp.
Do you think it was a mistake that Israeli authorities decided to close Al-Aqsa coumpound after the killing of two Israeli policemen on 14 July?
I agree it was a wrong decision that Israeli government made to close Al-Aqsa first, and then to put there metal detectors that created a huge regional problem for the State of Israel.
Do you think the Israeli govenrment realized the consequences of their decisions to close Al-Aqsa and then put metal detectors at its gates?
In my view, the Israeli government did not take the decision to put the metal detectors in place at the entrances of Al-Aqsa mosque. They did not take this decision after a serious examination of the consequences and the alternatives. It was done in fast, discussion over phone, unprofessional and in a very amateur way.
And then Israeli faces the consenquences and the international crisis. At least, the government was forced to withdraw from its decisions making face that they are finding the alternatives. It could be even worse without the help of Jordan.
Israeli already removed the metal detectors today (yesterday) and replaced by surveillance cameras. Do you think it is a good decision while Palestinians any security means at the entrances of Al-Aqsa?
The Israeli decision to put cameras is the latter to get down where the government was and makes face that they did not surrender. Actually, the Old City of Jerusalem is full of detecting cameras. So, if the new cameras are put in the Old City itself is one thing, if they are at the entrances of Temple Mount is very different and much depend on where they are based and how the operation will take place.
When someone is viewed in the camera and the operator decides that he or she are suspicious where excatly this person is asked to identify or the policemen search him or her. So, if it is at the entrances and then immediately the person enters, it would be impossible for the police to get the person inside the mosque.
If it is on the entrances and the checkpoints of the entrances then the troubles reopen. So, if it is just to make face no problem.
What I read now in Israeli media is that the cameras that were put by the Israeli police at the entrances to the Temple Mount, these cameras are also removed. More cameras on the streets of the Old City I think no problem for the Palestinians. There are enough cameras on the Old City streets.
The Al-Aqsa crisis has killed five Palestinians and three Israelis, and also injured more than 900 Palestinians. According to you, how to end soon these violences?
At the time being now, it seems the crisis is over, but lets wait and see this evening and maybe also on Friday to see if it is over. The Palestinians can claim the victory, Israel destroyed the detectors and took of the cameras.
So, it seems that this crisis is over but in the last 10, 17 years, every couple of years there is a new crisis regarding the Temple Mount. Temple Mount became the focus of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which sometimes spread over to the Israeli muslim conflict, which is very dangerous, holy war may open.
So, for the long run, if the Israeli government wants to prevent the next conflict which I actually doubt, Israel must do two things. First, to restrain the Jewish extremists and along the promises and the commitments made by Netanyahu to King Abdullah of Jordan and State Secretary John Kerry.
Second, to open or go back to peace negotiations on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular if Israel wants to prevent the next round. I highly doubt if this is indeed the Israeli government policy.
I am afraid that now the Israeli cabinet which is a very right wing cabinet, and the prime minister will find ways to appease the religious nationalists, those who claim and want to exercise forcefully the Israeli sovereignity of the Temple Mount, the settlers.
Netanyahu will try showing that he did not leave them in the desert and try to appease and compensate them for taking off metal detectors and cameras.
So, without dramatic shift, u turn in the Israeli policy that I don't expect, the next crisis is just the matter of time.
By flaming the current conflict, do you think Netanyahu has gained a lot of supports from the Israelis? Or he wants to move the public attention form several corruption cases in his government?
You are right that Netanyahu wanted to move away the public attention from corruptions and police investigations to the conflict. Unfortunately, from his perspective, he failed and was frced to withdraw. However, he can argue he was forced to withdraw in order to preserve a good diplomatic realtion with Jordan, not because of the Palestinians. So, this is an argument he can raise.
You are also right that Israeli public supported him in confronting the Palestinians. But when the troubles were gathering and it became also conflict with King Abdullah, the Israeli public started rethinking.
I doubt if Netanyahu lost so much in Israeli public but still something yes. Lets wait a few days to see the weekend public opinion polls.
Many sides were desperately to seek the solution on the issue of Jerusalem. Every tine a new conflict erupts then end and just go back to the previous situation. What is your comment about this?
It is right but is not excatly the same. Its crisis eaken the Israeli argument, the Israeli sovereignity. The Palestinians without a state and just public protesting to get rid of the Israeli occupation getting more supports and each conflict showing the Israeli limit of the occupation with the help of Jordan.
So, the Israeli right wing government's argument that Jerusalem and Temple Mount under Israeli sovereignity, this becomes empty words by each conflict.
Actually, if the Israeli government continue its policy as I expect, then the troubles in Jerusalem and Temple Mount will just escalate. The Israeli polices will seek to take revenge from the Palestinians use more harsh measures, then the next conflict is just the matter of time.
What is needed is a total shift in the Israeli policy which I don't expect this right wing government to take.
I would also suggest in order to prepare the ground for change, civil society activists, religious leaders in muslim countries, not only in Arab countries, will take part in a dialogue with moderate Israelis in order to prepare the ground for another government and for the next time when negotiation opens in order to have a reservoir of moderate approaches of Jews and muslims Israelis, and muslims all over the world, particular Arab countries, those who cares on Jerusalem and holy sites.
What do you think about the position of the Indonesian government on the current Al-Aqsa crisis?
I do think that Indonesia can have a great contribution to find solution or relaxation to the conflict in Jerusalem. Indonesia is a country that has enjoyed freedom of worship and openness to different religions.
Israeli Jews and Palestinian muslims, we can learn much from Indonesia on tolerance co-religious, and how to share holy sites and common public spaces, multireligious area.
Do you think there is a need for international forces to protect Al-Aqsa?
Actually, there is an international protection of Al-Aqsa from Jordanian. More than that at the moment is not needed, but if Israel will escalate much more seriously the conflict, I do think that international muslim protection forces will be needed.