View from Netanya

Israel today is a sober sad and angry place. The conflict between Israelis and Arabs, Jews and Palestinians, appears to be escalating and becoming uglier every day. The attack on the synagogue in Har Nof plumbs new depths of savagery.

Political commentators are attempting to ascribe this latest round of attacks to Muslim reactions to Jews visiting the Temple Mount. There are no leaders in the Arab world who admit Jewish rights to this holiest of places, and no one in the Western world is prepared to stand up and state Israel’s position. The Temple Mount was Jewish one and a half millennia before Islam began.

The position has not been helped by the rabbinical ruling telling Jews that they could not go there in case they accidentally strayed into an area that required a state of ritual purity. In 1967, with the consent of the rabbinate, Moshe Dayan handed the Temple Mount back to the Waqf, the Muslim religious Council, without attempting to establish Jewish rights of access.

President Abbas, after two phone calls from John Kerry, issued a condemnation of yesterday’s murders while his followers rejoiced. The idea that this was a spontaneous attack is somewhat diminished by the fact that pictures of the two attackers appeared very rapidly at the mob celebrations.

The Israeli public is nervous, enraged, and exasperated. Despite assurances from the Prime Minister the government does not seem to be in control of the situation and the world community yet again refrained from telling the Arabs that if they want a state they have to show that they are capable of controlling extremists.

At the same time recent events have led some Israeli commentators to claim that there is no possibility of compromise with the Palestinians, that Arab democracy is a pipe dream (Abbas is now in the tenth year of his four-year term as president), and that the only way forward is to put guards on everything and fight the Palestinians.