Last week, the festival of lights [properly interpreted festival of dedication--ed], or Hanukkah, began on December 1. And what did the Palestinian Authority do to coincide with the Jewish holiday? They published a report that attempted to deny the Jewish connection to the Western Wall. It is actions like this from the Palestinians [sic] that continue to stall progress in the Middle East.
The Western Wall is located in the Old City, or eastern Jerusalem. The Wall surrounds the Temple Mount, a revered site for all the Abrahamic religions, but particularly Judaism. They [the Jews] believe that this is the site where God created Adam and where the biblical patriarch Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son, Isaac [Genesis 22.1-19]. The Wall surrounded the second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by Rome in 70 CE, according to The Jerusalem Post. Today the Wall—where visitors often pray and place notes of prayer—is considered the second holiest site in Judaism. A visit to the Wall is considered a very somber and sacred experience. The Palestinian Authority should respect this sort of reverence but instead they take another, inflammatory route.
Knowing that Hanukkah was about to begin, the Palestinian Ministry of Information released a study claiming that Jews had no historical connection to the Western Wall. In fact, according to Reuters, the report made the incredulous claim that the Wall was actually part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, which happens to be the third holiest site in Islam. [See "The Moslem Claim to Jerusalem is False"] This claim is demonstrably false and represents a blatant propaganda effort by the Palestinians to convince people that Jewish claims to the Wall are illegitimate, thus showing that Israel's existence is historically unfounded.
This report was counterproductive to the already fragile peace process, so much so that after condemnation from Israel and the United States, the Palestinian Authority pulled the report and asserted that the report is not the position of the Authority. If this is the case, why was the report published at all? The answer is that there are a lot of individuals within the Authority who remain committed to hindering any chance for peace. The Palestinians have, for years, attempted to stake claim to traditionally Jewish holy sites on the West Bank [e.g., Judea and Samaria] and in East Jerusalem. And to further inflame the situation, Palestine recently petitioned the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] to declare Jewish burial sites in Bethlehem and Hebron as Palestinian sites, according to The Jerusalem Post.
This revisionist propaganda isn't the only obstacle being thrown up by anti-Israel forces. Hamas, the terrorist organization, along with 12 other radical Islamic groups, have banded together with the intent of derailing the peace process. This terrorist umbrella organization has engaged in drive-by shootings and murders of Jews who have returned to land that is considered by some to be illegally settled. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas deserves some credit because he did use his [US-trained/Western-equipped] security force to crack down on this gang of terrorists. Those of us who wish for a settlement to this age-old dispute only hope that Abbas continues to do so.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been with us for years, and no one is expecting these problems to go away overnight. But what we should expect is for the Palestinians to behave as if they truly want peace. They shouldn't be publishing reports, especially on the eve of Hanukkah, that attempt to delegitimize Jews and the state of Israel. The Palestinians and the Israelis should be engaging in good faith negotiations. If not, 10 years from now we will still be talking about this matter. Israelis will still live behind walls and have to pass through metal detectors to go shopping, while the Palestinians will still be stuck in poverty. It is important, not just for the Middle East, but for the entire global community that we all work towards a peaceful settlement. However, for this to be done, the Palestinian Authority must decide whether they want true peace or to continue go on hating Israelis.