Wednesday, May 28, 2014

28-May-14: Rocks, blood-libels and Jerusalem Day

Temple Mount, February 2012: Masked rock throwing "protestors"
are a constant feature of life at the Jewish people's
holiest (and shared) site [Image Source]
Israeli police entered the Temple Mount compound this morning here in Jerusalem and, after an assessment based on the rock-hurling attacks carried out against Jewish visitors to the site over the previous hours, closed it to public access.

Times of Israel reports that
Police entered the compound Wednesday morning after rocks were thrown as the Mughrabi gate opened to visitors. One policeman was lightly injured by a stone... It was the second straight day that clashes were reported on the Temple Mount. On Tuesday, an Israeli police officer was injured when Arabs threw stones at a group of Jews visiting the holy site. Wednesday is Jerusalem Day, when Israeli Jews mark the capture of the Old City from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War... The Waqf Foundation, which administrates the Temple Mount, charged Tuesday that Israeli nationalists were planning to march through the al-Aqsa compound to mark the holiday. However, the parade will not enter the Temple Mount compound, but rather end at the Western Wall.
An Israel National News report says the rock-throwers wore masks, not an unusual tactic. It says about a thousand non-Israeli tourists visited the site this morning, about four times the number of Israeli visitors, prior to the area's closure.

The Arabic-language website of the Waqf (religious foundation) that claims authority over the Temple Mount in the name of Islam gives prominent coverage at this hour to a report headlined "Occupation besieging al-Aqsa mosque, preventing the entry of worshipers". The Waqf's report avoids all mention of rock-throwing, and shows no photographs of violence other than focusing on the presence of Israeli security forces. It offers this explanation (loosely translated to English) for why there is turmoil on the Temple Mount on this particular day:
Apparently, this blockade and restrictions on the al-Aqsa mosque come in order to create conditions to enable breaking into and desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque. A group of 30 settlers has already moved in this morning, guarded by the occupation forces. They were confronted by the presence of worshipers at Al-Aqsa, and the situation is very tense. []
That's what concerned Arabic-language readers will know. A more likely, less manipulative explanation for today's rock throwing and the general agitation among segments of Jerusalem's Moslem resident population and visitors comes in a Waqf article from yesterday. There the headline refers, in time-honored fashion, to "settlers" "storming and desecrating" the mosque on Tuesday. 

Inside Al Aqsa Mosque, April 17, 2014 [Image Source: Getty Images]
The rocks have been ready and prepared for some time.
In reality, there was neither storming nor desecrating. Nor was there any breaking in. But there is a long history to provocations like this one emanating from parts of the Arab media.

A 2012 study by Nadav Shragai for the the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, entitled "The 'Al-Aksa Is in Danger' Libel: The History of a Lie" [online here and downloadable in PDF and ebook form] shows how deep its roots are. 

Israel and its institutions, according to the practitioners of this hateful technique
are scheming and striving to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount and build in their stead the Third Temple. The longer the libel lives, its delusive variants striking root, the more its blind and misled devotees proliferate. The libel is ramifying, taking hold of the academic, religious, and public discourse of the Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim world as if it were pure truth. Absurdly, it strikes at the Jewish people and the State of Israel precisely in the place where the Jewish state has made the most generous gesture, the greatest concession, ever made by one religion to another – on the Temple Mount, the holiest place of the Jewish people and only the third place in importance for the Muslim religion. The libel greatly intensifies fear and hatred between the State of Israel and the Arab world, and between Jews and Muslims all over the world. It also well serves those who initiated it, or in recent decades have carefully cultivated it, and it seems also to offer the best proof of the well-known adage that if a lie is repeated often enough, it is accepted as truth. [Shragai
The malicious inventiveness of those pushing the "Al Aqsa is in danger" mantra has covered a broad range of strategies over the decades, starting with the notorious mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, an associate and honored guest of Adof Hitler, an apostle of the Nazis, an advocate of their extermination plans for the Jews, the man they called “Fuhrer of the Arabic World”, and an uncle of Arafat. Shragai assembles documents, maps, photos and reports covering the past century to throw light on aspects that, if the stakes were not so life-and-death high. might seem funny. 

For instance, the saga of one Mahmoud Abu Samra, described a little improbably as an intelligence officer in one of Yasir Arafat's numerous armed groups, and head of something called the Jerusalem Center for Information, Research and Documentation, ominously warned Arafat in December 2000, very shortly after the Arafat War (aka Second Intifada) was declared, that the nefarious Israelis were working on something really scary. A committee made up of senior scientists from the Technion, the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot and other prominent Israeli centres of research and development, had come up with a plan to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque. So evil was this plot that it would operate  
without leaving a fingerprint by means of creating an artificial earthquake; using colliding sound waves (which come from outside a wall and push it inward); using the creation of an aerial vacuum; creating artificial local lightning storms... Most of the experiments were conducted already in 1999 under the waters of the Dead Sea and also in the Negev desert. The reports point to the fact that the underground foundation of the mosque has been hollowed out by the Israeli [archeological] excavations. The Zionist experts expect the structure to collapse as a result of damage to the balance between the external air pressure and the internal pressure. I request your guidance and instructions.
In reality, it was the Waqf people who presided over a massive engineering project in 1996-1999 in which the area of the ancient temple site known as Solomon’s Stables was repurposed into a mosque. Their workers excavated an enormous pit in the soil of the Temple Mount causing irreversible archaeological damage. Shragai has pictures.

As we celebrate Jerusalem Day today, the anniversary according to the Jewish people's lunar calendar of the day the city was captured from the occupying Kingdom of Jordan forces in 1967, most Israelis take pride not only at the city's huge progress in those 47 years, but also at the deep commitment in evidence to the protection of religious sites and religious rights for all who come here to worship. 

For anyone with an open-minded standpoint, it's a dramatic contrast to the anti-Jewish exclusionism and narrowness of today's Waqf and of the Jordanite Hashemites who, when they could demonstrate their open-mindedness in the years (1949-1967) in which this city languished under their illegal rule, took every possible measure to prevent Jewish worship and Jewish access, and systematically demolished and desecrated some of Judaism's most sacred objects and places.

We get our share of hostile comments from people unmoved by our views. So for them, we close with some photos of Palestinian Arabs and other Moslem faithful worshiping on the Temple Mount under the watchful protection of Israel's government and military. 
When we pray, Jews face toward the Temple Mount. For Moslems, as important as
Al Aqsa may be to them, the part of their bodies that points toward their holy site
when they prostrate during prayer says something.
Photo taken during month of Ramadan 2009 [Image Source]
Praying on Temple Mount during Ramadan 2012... and facing away
from it [Image Source]
Perhaps it's not paradise. But religious freedom, along with protection of and respect for diverging
religious viewpoints, is a daily reality here in our home city of Jerusalem [Image Source]

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