Temple Mount crisis: Moderates have the upper hand, for now
Op-ed: The interfaith dialogue has proved itself. That doesn’t mean it will last. Turkey's Erdogan, Hamas and Sheikh Raed Salah will search for any way to sabotage the agreements and renew the riots. It just means that, sometimes, it’s better to think about less political channels of dialogue.
The past two weeks were embarrassing. In these two weeks, the radicals prospered. If there had been a little more incitement, if a little more fuel had been added to the fire, we would have seen a great conflagration here.
Everyone is a Monday-morning quarterback. In real time, the number of opinions the government heard equals the number of security officials who addressed the government. No, it isn’t easy to make decisions under these circumstances. And in a country where every conduct which turns into an affair reaches a commission of inquiry, there’s a concern that decisions will be made in accordance with the future investigation rather than in accordance with the real interests.
So it’s good to know that when the voices on the ground radicalized, along with the embarrassment, a dialogue was held on a quiet channel. For years now, a group of Jewish and Muslim religious leaders have been engaged in a dialogue. They aren’t the “usual suspects,” who belong to the Reform or liberal stream. On the contrary, it’s a dialogue shared by rabbis from the national Haredi and settler movement. The Israeli side is led by Rabbi Michael Melchior and includes Avi Gisser, the rabbi of the settlement of Ofra, and Ramat Gan’s Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel. On the Palestinian side, participants include Sheikh Imad Falouji of Gaza and Dr. Nasser al-Din al-Shaer of Nablus, who are both graduates of the Israeli prison and former Palestinian Authority ministers on behalf of Hamas.
“Anyone who accepts the principle that opposes violence can be part of the dialogue,” says Melchior. “We have formed a significant coalition to advance peace on a religious basis, not in order to weaken the political leadership but in order to change the atmosphere.”
During the embarrassing days, Melchior and his partners on the Palestinian side worked to stop the crisis from turning into a major conflagration. One could say that the Israeli side caved completely. That’s inaccurate, because things are much more complicated. In the past two years, the Waqf people have been working to get rid of the strife mongers, including Sheikh Raed Salah, who were actually encouraged by the murderous terror attack two week. They resumed their activities on the ground. Without the outline that was formed Wednesday night, they would have become the leaders of the battle. The outline helps those who support the dialogue regain control.
Talking about a firm hand and stubbornness is irresponsible. We already have Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hamas and Salah, who are adding fuel. We don’t have to provide them with more of it. In the background, there is also a rift in the Sunni camp. On one side, the Saudi-Egyptian-Jordanian axis, and on the other side, the Turkish-Qatari-Hamas axis, which is connected to Iran on a certain level.
The outline is also a victory for the slightly more moderate axis. It isn’t over. Erdogan, Hamas and Salah will search for any way to sabotage the outline and renew the riots. There are supporters of a religious war on the Israeli side as well.
At the moment, the moderates have the upper hand. The interfaith dialogue has proved itself. That doesn’t mean it will last. It just means that, sometimes, it’s better to think about less political channels of dialogue. This time, they proved themselves. Perhaps, who knows, they hold a pleasant surprise in much heavier missions too.