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August 23, 2016 1

Arab Media Outlets Falsely Label 1969 Al-Aqsa Mosque Arsonist as “Jewish”

August 21st marked the 47th anniver­sary of the arson attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque com­pound by Aus­tralian Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist Denis Michael Rohan. Rohan said that God had asked him to set fire to the site, say­ing he would be made a “king of Jerusalem.” The Mosque was seri­ously dam­aged by the fire, and Rohan was tried, found insane, and com­mit­ted to a men­tal institution. Temple Mount

While it has been well-documented that Rohan was a Chris­t­ian, some Arab media out­lets have described him as Jew­ish and an Israeli set­tler, seem­ingly in an effort to blame Jews for being behind the arson attack.

Here are some examples:

Al-Quds, edi­to­r­ial, August 22, 2016 (Pales­tin­ian Authority)

“Yes­ter­day was the 47th anniver­sary of the crime of the arson of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by Aus­tralian Jew Denis Michael (Rohan). He had the audac­ity to carry out his loath­some act under the cover of the Israeli occu­pa­tion author­i­ties, in an attempt on their part to try to find out the Pales­tin­ian reac­tion, as well as that of the Arab and Islamic Worlds. This, as a step in a series of sub­se­quent steps over the course of years — no, decades — lead­ing to its destruc­tion and the build­ing of the alleged Tem­ple in its place.”

Filastin, “Arson of Al-Aqsa No. 47”, by Yus­suf Rizqa, August 22, 2016 (Gaza)

“Yes­ter­day was the 47th anniver­sary of Denis Michael’s arson of the Al-Qibli (Chapel) part of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. Denis Michael was a fanatic Aus­tralian Jew, who had come from Aus­tralia to occu­pied Pales­tine with the objec­tive of delib­er­ately set­ting Al-Aqsa Mosque on fire.”

Al-Masriyun, August 21, 2016 “The Al-Aqsa Fire … the Fire is Still Burn­ing” (Egypt)

“On the morn­ing of August 21st 1969, two years of the occu­pa­tion of Jerusalem, Aus­tralian Jew Michael Denis Rohan set fire to the Qibli Chapel on the Tem­ple Mount…”.

Al-Jazeera, August 21, 2016 (Qatar)

On the sec­tion ded­i­cated to The Arab Real­ity show on Al-Jazeera, it says the following:

“It should be noted that The Arab Real­ity episode coin­cided with the 47th anniver­sary of  the burn­ing of Al-Aqsa Mosque at the hand of an Israeli set­tler who car­ried out his act, leav­ing the suc­ces­sive Israeli gov­ern­ments the task of com­plet­ing the Judaiza­tion of the holy city.”

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December 22, 2015 1

Israel’s Choice: Incitement or Civility

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in the Times of Israel.

As we see in Amer­ica these days, when peo­ple are feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble and inse­cure, politi­cians and dem­a­gogues play on those fears to offer solu­tions that are often anti-democratic and that will ulti­mately weaken, rather than strengthen society.

 So it is in Israel. The coun­try faces con­tin­ual ter­ror­ist vio­lence against its cit­i­zens — more fright­en­ing in some ways than intifadas because of the ran­dom and inti­mate nature of the attacks. And as hos­tile anti-Israel cam­paigns grow around the world, some Israelis turn to sim­plis­tic solu­tions. Those include blam­ing ter­ror on those who dis­agree with them polit­i­cally and engag­ing in behav­ior that verges into incite­ment. Such trends risk sti­fling the cul­ture of free expres­sion that Israel can be so proud of.

In recent days, this phe­nom­e­non has man­i­fested itself in the con­tin­ued attacks on Pres­i­dent Reuven Rivlin for his insis­tence on speak­ing to all seg­ments of Israel’s diverse soci­ety. It has shown up in an ugly video cre­ated by Im Tirtzu, a right-wing advo­cacy group, to name and dele­git­imize left-wing Israeli activists as “for­eign agents” in what can only be con­sid­ered an act of hate­ful incite­ment. It also appears in a broader Knes­set bill that would bar non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions funded by for­eign gov­ern­ments from any con­tact with gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary authorities.

All of these together rep­re­sent a seri­ous threat to Israel’s robust demo­c­ra­tic tradition.

Let’s be clear: when a group like Break­ing the Silence airs alleged atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by Israeli sol­diers abroad — instead of through the estab­lished legal chan­nels for deal­ing with such alle­ga­tions — it under­stand­ably raises the ire of Israelis who are proud of the Israel Defense Forces, the force that stands in the way of Israel’s destruc­tion at the hands of its ene­mies. And it is fair to raise ques­tions about whether such groups play a con­struc­tive role or con­tribute to Israel’s iso­la­tion in the world.

There is, how­ever, a line that should not be crossed. And of late, there are too many cross­ings of that line.

Pres­i­dent Rivlin has been a par­tic­u­lar tar­get of these attacks. Already dur­ing last sum­mer, when Rivlin harshly con­demned the arson attack in Duma, he was widely con­demned on social media for speak­ing out. This included the post­ing of pic­tures of him wear­ing a kef­fiyeh and a Nazi uni­form. Incite­ment of this nature is rem­i­nis­cent of the attacks against for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Yitzhak Rabin that pre­ceded his assas­si­na­tion 20 years ago.

 More recently, when the Israeli pres­i­dent spoke before the Haaretz con­fer­ence in New York, which also fea­tured a panel dis­cus­sion with Break­ing the Silence, Israel’s Chan­nel 20 harshly crit­i­cized him on their Face­book page say­ing the pres­i­dent “mustn’t spit in the face of the sol­diers,” and that his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the same con­fer­ence with Break­ing the Silence is “con­tempt of the presidency.”

The pres­i­dent used his podium to high­light the impor­tance of speak­ing with groups with whom he stren­u­ously dis­agreed, a prin­ci­pled exam­ple of the type of plu­ral­ism that define open soci­eties. Indeed, he specif­i­cally called out his com­plaints against groups such as Break­ing the Silence, as did for­mer Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Knes­set law­maker Tzipi Livni.

 A trou­bling inci­dent in the effort to dele­git­imize and sti­fle left-wing crit­i­cism of Israel was the egre­gious video pro­duced by Im Tirtzu paint­ing left wing activists as com­plicit in Pales­tin­ian stabbings.

 An orga­ni­za­tion has every right to be crit­i­cal of polit­i­cal activ­i­ties it deems harm­ful to the nation. But this kind of fear tac­tic — of blam­ing left-wing groups for the ongo­ing wave of Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism in order to dele­git­imize them — is a form of incite­ment that crosses over into hate speech. Whether one agrees or dis­agrees with the work of the non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions men­tioned — and ADL strongly dis­agrees with groups like Break­ing the Silence, which refuse to con­tex­tu­al­ize Israeli mil­i­tary actions and to con­sider the hos­tile cli­mate to which they con­tribute — accus­ing them of sup­port­ing Pales­tin­ian ter­ror is poten­tially libelous, and cer­tainly unde­mo­c­ra­tic and dangerous.

This kind of incite­ment against Pres­i­dent Rivlin or against left-wing orga­ni­za­tions and activists should be rejected and con­demned. Israel has trag­i­cally expe­ri­enced what such incite­ment can lead to. Luck­ily, many have spo­ken up.

At the same time, respon­si­bil­ity for how one deals with del­i­cate issues, par­tic­u­larly at a time of great vul­ner­a­bil­ity in soci­ety, falls on all sec­tors of soci­ety. Those on the left who are crit­i­cal of Israeli poli­cies have a right to offer those crit­i­cisms. But they also should be mind­ful of the impact of those crit­i­cisms on the aver­age Israeli and on embold­en­ing forces around the world who are hos­tile to Israel.

For civil soci­ety to work in a demo­c­ra­tic coun­try, civil lib­er­ties must be pro­tected. The right to voice one’s views must be guar­an­teed, and one’s secu­rity in doing so must be reassured.

If civil lib­er­ties are dimin­ished in Israel, Israel will be diminished.

But out­side of Israel, it is essen­tial to rec­og­nize that, in any soci­ety, if a citizenry’s sense of vul­ner­a­bil­ity and inse­cu­rity reaches a break­ing point, pub­lic sup­port for civil lib­er­ties dimin­ishes accord­ingly, while calls for secu­rity increase. In fact, it is worth reflect­ing on the remark­able resilience of Israeli democ­racy in the face of the unre­lent­ing exter­nal threats that it has faced since its establishment.

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January 13, 2015 1

Israelis Gather to Bury Victims of Terror in France, Killed Because They Were Jews

(ADL Israel Staff attended the funer­als of the four French Jews ear­lier today in Jerusalem. Below is a per­sonal account from Phyl­lis Ger­ably and Car­ole Nuriel of ADL’s Israel Office)

Today, mak­ing the way to the Har HaMenu­chot (Mount of the Rest­ing) ceme­tery, there were flags and signs put up by the Jerusalem Munic­i­pal­ity embrac­ing the French. The Israel National Police and secu­rity were in place in prepa­ra­tion of the expected large crowds, and the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu, Pres­i­dent Reuven Rivlin, Oppo­si­tion head Isaac Her­zog, rab­bis, min­is­ters, ambas­sadors and the French Min­is­ter of Envi­ron­ment Ségolène Royal, rep­re­sent­ing the French government.

An impres­sive crowd of thou­sands came out on a cold sunny day to pay final respects to four peo­ple they never met, who were trag­i­cally killed sim­ply because they were Jew­ish. The crowd brought together, in a feel­ing of com­mon des­tiny, fam­ily, friends, mem­bers of the French com­mu­nity in Israel and native Israelis. At the entrance to the ceme­tery a small crowd of French Jews held signs say­ing, “I am Char­lie; I am a Jew; I am an Israeli; I am French; We’ve had Enough.”  ADL Condolence France

In his mov­ing eulogy for the four vic­tims, Pres­i­dent Rivlin put it elo­quently: “This is not how we wanted to wel­come you to Israel. This is not how we wanted you to arrive in the Land of Israel, this is not how we wanted to see you come home, to the State of Israel, and to Jerusalem, its cap­i­tal. We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life.”

Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu spoke about Israel being the safe haven for the Jew­ish peo­ple, and that the threat against the Jew­ish peo­ple is, in fact, a threat against all of human­ity. Oppo­si­tion Head Yitzhak Her­zog spoke of his great-grandfather who was the rabbi of Paris one hun­dred years ago, and rec­og­nized the roots and strength of the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in France.

The vic­tims’ fam­i­lies each spoke about their loved ones and how they yearned to be in Israel. Their dig­nity and love for Israel was very mov­ing. Look­ing out at the crowd of mourn­ers — Ashke­nazi and Sephardic Jews joined in sor­row by this hor­rific act — was a quiet reminder to all of us that we are respon­si­ble for one another, no mat­ter where we are.

French Min­is­ter of Envi­ron­men­tRoyal spoke about threats to Jews being a threat to all the French peo­ple, and that France with­out its Jew­ish com­mu­nity just isn’t France.  Min­is­ter Royal also said that com­bat­ing anti-Semitism and racism is going to be the num­ber one pri­or­ity for France in 2015. When she announced that the four mur­dered Jews were going to receive the French Legion of Hon­our medal, a few in the crowd broke out in applause.

It was very hard to avoid the feel­ing that this mes­sage was too lit­tle, too late.

The funeral ended with the singing of Israel’s national anthem, HaTikva, of which the words “We did not lose our hope” (“Od lo avda Tik­vateinu”) had, this time, the addi­tional mean­ing that while a tragic event had occurred, Israelis have hope for a bet­ter future for all.

 

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