Channel 2 managed a great and unique scoop in its interview with Palestinian Authority ChairmanYasser Arafat last Monday: Arafat brought the good news to the Jews that he would permit them to pray at the Western Wall according to the rules made by the Shaw Committee. In other words, in accordance with the decrees of the British mandatory rule over the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Yisrael 70 years ago.
You didn't notice Arafat's sensational announcement? This isn't your fault: the Channel 2 reporter, Emmanuel Rosen, either because of his ignorance of history or because of his desire to present Arafat as a moderate, charming person, didn't question the PA chairman further about this matter.
After all, this interview was designed to serve Arafat's interests.
On Sunday Arafat made a terrifying appearance in Davos, where he spat in Israel's face and vilified Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz by saying that "Israel is conducting a fascist and barbaric war against the Palestinians," and lied that Israel was firing depleted uranium shells.
Regional Cooperation Minister Shimon Peres made no attempt to deny Arafat's accusations. Even Yediot Aharonot economic columnist Sever Plotzker, a strong supporter of the Peres-Arafat alliance, felt insulted: "Nothing like this has ever taken place in Davos," he lamented.
When Arafat's advisers discovered the extent of the damage caused to the Palestinians (and also to Barak) by the exposure of their leader's real face, they hurriedly recommended that he give an interview to Channel 2 and sing a lullaby to the Israelis so that they would fall asleep again on the way to disaster.
Rosen, the interviewer, did indeed act like a good boy and conducted a friendly interview with Arafat, as if with "one of the boys."
Arafat naturally boasted about how the Temple Mount ("Haram-a-Sharif" as he called it) belongs solely to the Moslems. The Jews would be permitted to pray there in accordance with the rules of the Shaw Committee.
The Israeli media, which oscillates between ignorance and Leftism, naturally failed to notice Arafat's code words, that meant that Arafat is prepared to allow the Jews to return to the Wailing Wall, as the Western Wall was once called, and pray according to the decrees of the British Mandate.
According to the 1930 regulations, the Jews were permitted to come to the Western Wall in small groups only and were forbidden to pray there on Moslem festivals and on Fridays. On page 358 of the Encyclopedia of Social Sciences there appear the other decrees of the British mandatory authorities regarding worshipers at the Wailing Wall: "They are forbidden to bring Sifrei Torah to the place, they may not place chairs in the open space and they are not permitted to blow a Shofar there."
The British Government appointed a committee of inquiry, headed by Sir Walter Shaw, in order to investigate the causes of the acts of violence perpetrated by the Arabs against the Jews, after the Jews made a quiet procession to the Western Wall.
The Hebrew Encyclopedia describes how, in the 1929 Arab riots, 133 Jews were killed and 339 were injured by armed Arabs in Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and other places.
The Shaw Committee caused the imposition of regulations regarding prayers by Jews at the Wailing Wall that outraged the Yishuv, until young Jews came and blew the shofar at the Wall, even though they were subsequently arrested by the British police.
If Rosen did not understand what Arafat was telling the Jews through him, this is not surprising. But when Barak hurriedly canceled his previous decision, and once again requested to meet with Arafat saying that the interview seemed to him to be satisfactory, this proves once again that Barak is living in a virtual world. Or perhaps it doesn't worry him in the least. Since he is willing to hand over the Temple Mount to foreigners, he is also ready to return the Western Wall to its former status as the Wailing Wall.
And so next Tuesday Barak will finally go home.
©2001 Jerusalem Post