A few days ago I blogged about various sorts of fundamentalists, including the really scary ones that think blowing up the Dome of the Rock would be a nifty idea.
By way of Juan Cole, I discover that this is not how the West reported the events of last weekend. Evidently the mainstream coverage played it as a case of dueling protests.
So an issue that stirred Muslim fundamentalists to fury and might be a recruitment tool for al-Qaeda was surely intensively covered by the Western press, right?
The Washington Post said that the Palestinians were protesting plans by the Jewish fundamentalists to "rally at the site." That wasn't what they were afraid of at all. They were afraid that the extremists were bringing dynamite to blow up the mosque (a widespread rumor).
Now, maybe Revava never threatened to destroy the mosque. I don't know. They don't appear to be humane, level-headed people, so maybe they did make the threat. But it is a gross dereliction of duty for the US press to neglect to even report that this threat is what had alarmed the Muslims around the world.
I can assure you that, from my perspective over here, everyone thought that Revava was threatening Al-Aqsa. The Shin Bet issued warnings, the Temple Mount was closed to non-Palestinians, and thousands of police turned out to prevent Revava from holding its rally anywhere near the Mount.
The protesters were practically a no-show; I read there were only 100 or so. However, the weekend also featured a couple of high-profile highway blockages (in which demonstrators block a highway during rush hour, roll out lots of tires and set them on fire, and see for how long they can clog traffic), and a bizarre stunt in which settler activists chained shut the entrances to 167 schools.
This suggests that this weekend was not so much a real threat against Al-Aqsa, but a dress rehersal of the radicals' strategy to sabotage the disengagement. As their activists have stated on several occasions, they hope to exhaust the military and police forces with coordinated acts of civil disobedience. Combined with the number of soldiers they hope will refuse to show up during the pullout (yes, some rabbis are openly calling for mutiny in the IDF), this could in theory leave the government with too few troops to actually carry out the evacuations.
Seems like a decidedly treasonous game to play in a nation that is officially at war with two of its neighbors and a significant fraction of its own populace. Sharon certainly sees it that way; his rhetoric on the rabbis' "refusenik" calls is best described as apoplectic.