The Palestinians won the 2017 battle for Temple Mount. That’s good for Israel

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My day job is as a Professor of Israel Studies at the University of Maryland; every fall I teach a large course entitled “Fundamental Questions of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.”  A few years ago I was lecturing about the 1973 Yom Kippur War and explained that, as I see it, the war was essentially as a draw, in which Egypt and Israel both lost and won.

After class, an Egyptian student came up to me and, very respectfully and politely, informed me that I was wrong, that Egypt unquestionably won that war.

I use that incident (which didn’t surprise me; I also know that many Israelis are equally convinced Israel won that war) as a template for understanding Israel’s retreat (or capitulation) with regard to the metal detectors it was installing at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound in response to the brutal killing of two Israeli policemen. 

Israelis largely regarded it as an appropriate technical response to the incident and most were taken aback at the widespread fury among Palestinians and Muslims worldwide. They regarded the anger as purely political and even hypocritical (apparently mosques in Mecca and Medina already have metal detectors and security cameras).  Doubtless, last Friday’s announcement that they have been removed was seen by many as a humiliating defeat, a capitulation to threats and violence for which Israel will have to pay heavily.

On the contrary. It may be a humiliation for the Prime Minister, but it is a clear (if rare) victory for peace, which is a victory for Israel.