JNS, July 21, 2022
“Israel has no plans or intentions to interfere with, let alone destroy or desecrate, the mosques that exist on the Temple Mount. That said, any prohibition on Jews on the sacred plateau is an insult to Judaism, not respect for Islam.”
It turns out that there are some stunts in the era of clickbait journalism that really do go too far. When news reporter Gil Tamary of Israeli TV Channel 13 snuck into the city of Mecca earlier this month, he may have taught fellow Israelis a lesson about how difficult it may be to make the final steps from the current tacit alliance with the Saudis to full normalization.
Tamary was apparently part of the Israeli delegation that went to Saudi Arabia when President Joe Biden flew there after his visit to Israel. Much was made in Jerusalem about the historic nature of the direct flight and the Saudis’ willingness to make a few other concessions that further solidified its now strong ties with the Jewish state. Still, this aspect of an otherwise largely unproductive summit was enough to embolden at least one of the Israelis there to flout the country’s customs.
Tamary’s grasp of how far the Saudi state and the Muslim world are willing to go towards normalization is as tenuous as his understanding of what is considered acceptable in what remains, despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to liberalize the country’s government, a still rigid theocratic society. Using a local guide, he drove into the city that contains Islam’s holiest shrine, past signs clearly stating that it is forbidden for non-Muslims to enter. But he soon beat a hasty retreat when it appeared that he might be caught by the local authorities.