Jews to build new bridge. Guardian characterizes it as a provocation.

If there’s one story to help you understand how unhinged Israel’s critics really are, it’s this recent Guardian report by Phoebe Greenwood, “Row over Jerusalem plan to close Mughrabi bridge“, Dec. 8.

Mughrabi bridge

The Mughrabi Bridge in Jerusalem’s Old City, which leads from the Western Wall Plaza to the Temple Mount, is in danger of collapse, which poses a serious danger to the  public, the municipality’s engineers have warned.  The engineers added that the wooden bridge (which replaced the Mughrabi Ramp which was damaged in a 2004 storm) is also highly flammable and if a fire breaks out it could spread to the Temple Mount.

So, an unsafe bridge which could collapse is to be taken down and replace by a new, safer bridge.

And, the controversy?

The Guardian’s Phoebe Greenwood explains:

“Officials in Jerusalem are set to close a footbridge connecting the region’s most sensitive Jewish and Muslim sites, inflaming religious tensions”

Though Greenwood doesn’t dispute the fact that the bridge is unsafe, and acknowledges that most Muslims reach the mosque through a separate gate from the Old City’s Muslim quarter, Greenwood asserts that such construction will inflame tensions.  

How so?

Greenwood adds:

“Some fear a newer, stronger bridge could be used by Israeli soldiers to enter the site.”

It’s unclear precisely what this means as thousands (including soldiers) have used the current bridge.  

But, Greenwood’s story becomes a bit more clear:

“Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, has made the bridge’s fate a critical issue in the Egyptian elections. On Thursday he called on Jordan’s King Abdullah to convince Israel not to replace it.”

So, concerns about plans to rebuild a bridge to Judaism’s holiest site, expressed by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who has previously used his authority as  Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader to call on his followers to literally “kill every last Jew on earth”, is of value to the Guardian reporter.

However, Greenwood’s penultimate paragraph may provide some insight into why precisely the mundane act of rebuilding a structurally unsound bridge is seen as a provocation, and will serve to “increase tensions”.

“Isra, a 20-year-old Palestinian woman, said: “We don’t mind about the bridge itself. Muslims are concerned about the whole site and the mosque in particular. What we don’t want is for many Jewish people to come here.” [emphasis]

Of course, it is simply inconceivable that the Guardian could ever characterize Palestinian “objections” to Israeli plans to rebuild the bridge as evidence of profound cynicism, and religious intolerance.

As I noted when Jerusalem’s light rail project went into service – a transportation system characterized as a violation of international law by an anti-Israel activist in Harriet Sherwood’s report – the obsessive coverage of Israel by the Western media includes a stunning capacity to frame even the most routine, banal Israeli move as an act of aggression.

Guardian reporters are so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause that even the most ludicrous criticism of Israel, and the most specious arguments, are granted license and moral credibility. 

Their fierce skepticism regarding every Israeli explanation (no matter how sober, thoughtful and intuitive) stands in stark contrast with their credulousness in the face of the even the most surreal Palestinian narrative. 

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