“Israeli law also restricted the ability of Israeli Jews to reach places of worship in areas under Palestinian control.” This was perhaps the biggest howler of the U.S. State Department’s annual exercise in Israel-bashing, under the guise of a “Religious Freedom Report.” For the record, this is identical to the language used last year. [Correction — the quote above is from 2009, whereas this year the word “law” was replaced with “policies,” and “limited” took the place of “restricted.” Does it make a difference? I don’t think so.]
Set aside for the moment Israel’s mandate to protect its citizens from harm, and the fact that unrestricted visits to “areas under Palestinian control” have resulted in Israelis being ripped literally limb from limb by the peaceful denizens of the Palestinian Authority. The other major reason why Israel does not permit Israeli Jews to “reach places of worship in areas under Palestinian control” is because were it to do otherwise, Israel would be blamed for the “provocation” of permitting Israeli Jews to pray at Jewish holy sites. Does or does not the international community blame the peaceful visit by Ariel Sharon, at the time a member of the Knesset with the same voting power as Ahmad Tibi, for the “provocation” of visiting the Temple Mount that “triggered” the intifada for which the PA had prepared for months? Did or did not UNESCO call upon Israel just last month to rescind its undeniable statement of fact that Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are in fact part of our national heritage?
To blame Israel for limiting the ability of Israeli Jews to reach these sites is both grotesque hypocrisy as well as blaming the victim. It is anti-Semitic tripe, and the fact that it emerges from the U.S. State Department on an annual basis merely gives further grounds to question whether the State Department can be a positive force for advancing peace in the Middle East.