The arab violence was not spontaneous
Whatever one thinks about the advisability of Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount, the Palestinian response was not "spontaneous," but highly orchestrated by the PA. On Wednesday, students of all ages were told that classes would be canceled for Thursday and they were exhorted by PA radio and TV to go to Jerusalem to "defend the Al Aqsa mosque." They were subjected to nationalist, inflammatory rhetoric on the TV and radio throughout the day, and on Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, the incitement escalated. The sermon given at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday incited the worshippers with fabricated rumors that there was a new plot by the Jews to destroy the mosque to make way for a new Jewish Temple. Muslims were encouraged to "eradicate the Jews from Palestine." Muslims streamed out of the Friday service and a melee began that soon included hurling stones and bricks at the Jewish worshippers who were praying at the Western Wall below the Temple Mount. The Israeli police were compelled to intervene to put a stop to the potentially lethal stone throwing.
"A senior Palestinian official acknowledged that yesterday's protest was orchestrated. The rockthrowing youths... quit the protest quickly after a request to do so by the same Palestinian official who encouraged them to demonstrate... After the [Sabbath mosque] service, Israeli police had a normal presence around the mosque and appeared to be showing restraint. But hundreds of Palestinian youths -- at the direct encouragement of Faisal Husseini, the Palestinian Authority's Minister for Jerusalem Affairs -- began throwing rocks on Israeli police near the plaza of the Western Wall... The cycle was in motion."
More importantly, why should a visit to a site holy to both Jews and Muslims be a provocation at all? Why is the press not pointing a finger at the Palestinians for their lack of religious tolerance? Contrary to many reports, Sharon was not there to visit the two mosques (Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock) on Haram al Sharif, Islam's third holiest site and the Muslim name for the Temple Mount. He was there to visit Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount. The two mosques sit atop the Temple Mount, but do not encompass the entire site. So if reports look back at the alleged "start" of the violence, and describe Sharon's visit as a wish to visit or intrude upon the mosques, this is inaccurate and prejudicial.
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