Jewish Journal


September 6, 2001

Israel Under Siege


On the news it's easy to find sickening evidence of the terrorist war being waged against Israel; harder to find, but no less real, are other insidious assaults that are growing in number and venom. This week, the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, which convened in South Africa, was transformed into a forum for vicious anti-Israel accusations. And in Israel itself, the Temple Mount is the focus of a relentless archaeological attack designed to rewrite history.

Months ago no one anticipated that Arab nations would hijack the Racism Conference and use it to defame Israel. But by just last month, delegates were busy debating language that equated Zionism and racism. Although that language has now been rejected,provocative new proposals emerged that are just as damaging.Arab countries, for instance, want the Conference to find that Israel has committed "crimes against humanity." If the Conference made this ludicrous finding, the next step could be to convene war crime tribunals.

Israel is also accused of perpetrating a new "kind of apartheid." And while Sudan, Afghanistan, and Serbia have well documented records of violent human rights abuses, Israel is the only country singled out as an aggressor state. Other proposals include insisting that the Holocaust be written with a lower case "h" to lessen the magnitude of the tragedy, and condemning Israel's Law of Return. Arab nations have abused the Racism Conference as a platform for denigrating Israel and eviscerating its moral standing in the world.These attacks must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

At the same time, the historical integrity of the Temple Mount is facing a dire threat. Over the past year, the Palestinian Waqf,the Muslim religious trust that oversees the area, has dug a gaping hole more than 164 feet long, 82 feet wide, and 40 feet deep in the southeast corner of the Temple Mount. Recent tests by the Israeli Antiquities Authority suggest that the excavations may have damaged the foundation of the southern wall of Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is at the crossroads of world religion. It is outrageous that the Waqf and the Palestinian Authority have not been held accountable for this desecration. The Kidron Valley garbage dump, which is now filled with over 1,500 tons of earth from the site, is reportedly strewn with artifacts from the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Temple periods dating back to the 6th century. The world's indifference to this devastation resembles the unwillingness to denounce Palestinian destruction of Joseph's Tomb last October. It is also in stark contrast to the valiant international effort to deplore the destruction of ancient Buddhist statues by Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are engaged in an effort to undermine the founding principles of Israel's establishment and existence. They seek to dehumanize the Israeli people and make them legitimate targets for terrorism.

The United States and the world Jewish community cannot be silent in the face of these threats. Israel is by far America's closest ally in the Middle East and the tragic murder of American visitors and residents of Israel throughout this conflict only underscores our vested interest in Israel's stability and security.

We must lead the fight to condemn anti-Semitic vitriol unleashed at the U.N. World Conference. We must bring an end to the Palestinian Authority's degradation of the holy sites in world religion. We must stand in solidarity with the Israeli people and support Israel's right as a sovereign nation to defend its vital interests.

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