Work on the “Western Wall Tunnel” began shortly after the Six Day War in 1967. A group of orthodox rabbis dug a narrow horizontal mine, starting from the area of the Western Wall plaza (also known as the “Wailing Wall”), and running north along the outside of the western wall of the Temple Mount compound. (The Temple Mount now houses the Muslim shrines of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.) By the late 1980′s, the rabbis reached the north end of the Temple Mount compound. The project was finished in 1988, when the tunnel was stabilized and opened to tourists. The only problem with the tour was that after walking the 400 yards of the tunnel to the north end, you had to retrace your steps back to the entrance to get out. For years, the Israeli government had considered opening an exit on the north end, but fear of the Palestinian reaction kept that idea on the shelf.
Then came the new government under Prime Minister Netanyahu. At that point in time, half a million tourists a year were going through the tunnel, coming to the end, touching the Via Dolorosa (the “Way of Sorrows”—the traditional road Jesus took to the Cross) in the Muslim quarter of the Old City, and instead of going out onto it, they had to go back, make a U-turn and go back almost half a mile from where they came. He was approached by Palestinian merchants in the Via Dolorosa who wanted him to open the tunnel wall so they could get the benefit of all the tourist traffic. He conferred with Israel’s security forces who said he could open the door. And he did. That was in 1996. For 48 hours, nothing happened, all was quiet, and then Netanyahu left Israel for a meeting with then Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Germany.
By the time he arrived in Germany, he heard that there was general fighting going on everywhere—in Nablus, throughout Judea, Samaria, the West Bank, in Gaza. He apologized to Chancellor Kohl, got on a plane, and flew back to Israel immediately.
When Netanyahu landed in Tel Aviv Airport he was told there was a siege in Joseph’s Tomb, that more than a dozen Israeli soldiers had been killed by Arafat’s soldiers, that Israel had killed over 80 of Arafat’s soldiers. Netanyahu gave an order then and there to move Israeli tank forces into striking positions all across the fronts, everywhere.
Then he personally called Arafat and said, “Mr. Chairman, we are in a time of crisis, so I want to be very brief and to the point. You have very little time to effect a complete cease fire. And if you don’t, I’ll send the tanks.” And Arafat responded by saying, “Your Excellency, I understand.” Within the time benchmark that Netanyahu set to stop, Arafat stopped completely.
Parallel to this, Netanyahu also asked Yitzhak Molcho (an Israeli lawyer and chief negotiator in the Israeli negotiating team with the Palestinians on behalf of Netanyahu) to call one of Arafat’s deputies to explain that what Netanyahu would do is not merely go in with tanks, but that he would bring down Arafat’s regime because he (Netanyahu) could not accept this kind of breach, and that weapons Israel had given Arafat to fight terrorists were being used to shoot at Israeli soldiers.
As Netanyahu said, “I gave him a very, very stern warning, and I was going to act on it. Arafat believed it, and therefore he stopped the violence.”
Fast forward to the last two days. Rather than expose the phony excuse for the demonstrations and condemn the Egyptian and Libyan governments behavior at not protecting our citizens, the U.S. government groveled. Obama apologized for the fact that someone had exercised his right of free speech within his (our) own country. Not only were there the pathetic verbal apologies, but the tweets our government sent out were even worse—pitiful pleas of the we-are-on-your-side-against-this-terrible-Islamophobia variety.
And there you have it, folks … the difference between a lightweight (that would be Obama) and a leader (and that IS Netanyahu).