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Posts Tagged ‘Judaisation of Jerusalem’
April 20, 2016

As Passover Approaches Temple Mount Tensions Remain

With Passover approaching, Israeli authorities are gearing up for potential tensions over the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary.

The sacred space has long been the focal point of religious and political tensions and conflicts. The responsibility for the site is shared by Israel, which has sovereignty over the site, and Jor­dan, whose Cus­to­dian Min­istry has man­aged the site since the 1994 peace treaty between Jor­dan and Israel. The agreement includes a clause restricting Jews from praying on the Mount, known informally as the “status-quo.” The Waqf, an Islamic religious trust, overseas the day-to-day operations at the site.

Credit: Andrew Shiva

Credit: Andrew Shiva

There have been many flashpoints.  For years, there have been accusations among Palestinians and across the region of a conspiracy by Israel to “Judaize” Jerusalem, particularly when it comes to this shared holy site. In 2000, then-Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the site, which the Palestinians used as an excuse to launch the Second Intifada. Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group, even praised the recent bus bombing in Jerusalem as a “natural reaction” to Israel’s “desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” located on the site.

In recent years tensions relating to the site have intensified, with a noticeable increase in the number of Jews visiting and secretly praying on the Mount, a violation of the status-quo. Among them, Israeli government ministers and politicians, some of whom have called for Jews to be allowed to pray on the Mount.

And over the past week, other incidents have focused attention on the sacred space.  Last week, the Temple Mount Institute, a Jewish messianic organization, conducted a secret Jewish wedding on the Mount, which was filmed and posted on social media. While it may sound strange to condemn a Jewish wedding at a holy Jewish site, the incident was part of the larger, potentially explosive effort by some on the religious right, to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.

And from the Palestinian side, there was the adoption by the UNESCO executive board of a highly-biased, one-sided resolution on Jerusalem which ignored the Jewish connection to holy sites like the Temple Mount and Western Wall. The resolution described both sites only in their Muslim/Arabic names, alleged Israel was planting fake Jewish graves, and criticized, on political grounds, a recent Israeli decision to build an egalitarian prayer area in the Western Wall Plaza. Shockingly, a number of Western countries voted to support the resolution, including France, Spain and Sweden.

The Israeli government, much to its credit, has taken steps to reduce tensions, including banning all government ministers and Knesset members from visiting the Mount. They have also worked closely with US and Jordanian governments on a plan to install surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount, which would help refute claims that Israel is violating the status quo. In an unfortunate development however, Jordan announced this week that it was dropping this plan due to objections from the Palestinians who were “skeptical” about the initiative. Palestinians had also placed notices on the Mount threatening to smash any security cameras which were installed. This is not an encouraging development.

In the ancient tradition of Passover, Jews were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and bring a special Passover sacrifice to the Jewish Temple. While the sacrifice is no longer practiced, the next week will bring many tens of thousands of Jews to the Old City of Jerusalem and Western Wall area adjacent to the Temple Mount for prayers, blessings and celebrations.

While Israel must continue efforts to ensure the status-quo remain unchanged, the Palestinians must refrain from further escalating the tensions by using the Mount as a political issue to attack Israel. Any serious escalation of tensions over the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary – over Passover and beyond – could turn into a potentially explosive and violent situation.


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October 13, 2015

Caricatures and Images Incite Violence Against Israelis

As Palestinian terrorism continues in Israel, media outlets from across the Arab and Muslim world are publishing cartoons which glorify the killing of Israelis and Jews. These violent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic caricatures are being reposted on social media, and are being used to incite further terror attacks against Israelis.

A prominent theme of these cartoons and social media posts relate to the daily spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks of Israelis. Among the cartoons are depictions of a Palestinian with a large knife being used to stab Israeli soldiers, Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Jews, and some glorify specific terror attacks including the October 3rd killing of Nehemia Lavi in Jerusalem’s Old City. Some of these cartoons are circulating on social media with messages advocating violence against Jews and Israelis. Others, which do not appear to have originated from media sources, are tagged with statements like “Happy International Stab a Jew Day” and “stab a Jew today.”  Also circulating widely are photos and videos of Gaza Imam Sheikh Muhammad Sallah who, in his sermon this past Friday, held a knife in a stabbing motion, and expressed support for stabbing Israelis.

Another ongoing theme is the conspiracy theory that Israel and Jews are seeking to take over the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary and “Judaize” Jerusalem by removing the Muslim connection to the city. A number of Palestinian leaders have in recent weeks fueled this conspiracy with false and outlandish statements, including President Mahmoud Abbas who last month accused Jews of “desecrating” the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary area “with their filthy feet.” This theme, which has been prevalent for years across the region, is often represented by an Israeli or Jewish caricature – often in the form of an animal or insect – stealing, uprooting or destroying the Dome of the Rock mosque.

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September 18, 2015

Violence on the Temple Mount in the Arab Media

For the past couple of months, the Temple Mount has been the focus of confrontations between Muslim worshipers and Jewish visitors. Encouraged by anti-Semitic invective in public statements by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in recent days this has escalated to violence by Muslim worshipers who have hurled stones, fireworks and metal bars at Israeli security forces. The Mount is the holiest site for Jews, and the third holiest Muslim site (after Mecca and Medina) known as Al-Haram Ash-Sharif. The responsibility for the Temple Mount is shared by Israel, which has sovereignty over the site, and Jordan, whose Custodian Ministry has managed the site since the 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.

The ongoing turmoil on the Temple Mount has escalated partly in reaction to an increase in Jewish visitation to the site and to highly politicized efforts by some Israeli politicians agitating to change the status quo and allow Jews to pray on the Mount (which is forbidden by the agreement with Jordan). In spite of these developments, nothing justifies the extreme reaction and violence on the part of the Palestinians.

In recent years, events on the Temple Mount have caused tensions between Jerusalem and Amman, which resulted in the recalling of the Jordanian ambassador to Israel and  populist calls within Jordan to expel the Israeli ambassador to Amman. The Jordanians claim Israel is attempting to change the status-quo on the Temple Mount by “Judaizing” the site. In response, an initiative was launched by the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement (Israel) called the Murabitat/Murabitun – a civil protest group whose goal is to provoke Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. Their significance is mainly symbolic in that they peacefully demonstrate Muslim presence on the Temple Mount. Their name, derived from the Arabic root Rabata meaning “to station and stay in place”, testifies to their defiance against the Israeli sovereignty.

The charge that Israel is conspiring to take over the site has been a constant in Arab media for years, particularly in cartoons published in Arab newspapers and website.   Palestinian Authority leaders often issue incendiary statements alleging nefarious Israeli action, while also diminishing or even refuting the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. Yet the imagery and language used in recent weeks represents an escalation of tensions over the Temple Mount. In an interview earlier this week with Palestinian TV and Sky News in Arabic, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Jews of defiling the Temple Mount: “Al-Aqsa is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours, it is all ours. They have no right to defile them with their filthy feet, and we will not allow them,” he said.

There have also been a number of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel cartoons published which depict Israel as animals attempting to devour Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the invocation of classic anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews as thieves and using money to Judaize Jerusalem.

Here are some examples:

A cartoon published on September 14th in the Palestinian Authority’s Al-Quds newspaper depicts Israel as an alligator attempting to devour Jerusalem, represented by a woman, while a figure representing the Arab World says “We express our concern”.

alligatorAnother published on September 14th in Jordan’s Al-Ghad, shows Jerusalem being devoured by a giant bird representing Israel.

birdA cartoon published on September 12th in Qatar’s Ar-Raya newspaper, implies that Jews use money to Judaize Jerusalem.

Written on the right: “Rich Zionists’ expenditures.” Written on the left: “Rich Muslims’ expenditures.”

money in hatOn Twitter, under the hashtag of #al-aqsaisindanger, a cartoon was published on September 15th depicting a Jew stealing the Mosque behind the back of the Arab World. The cartoon’s headline: “The Israeli Military Rabbinate Published Pictures of Al-Aqsa Mosque without the Dome of the Rock”. And as the Jew is stealing the Mosque, the Arab figure is saying: “Don’t be afraid, we have the original picture!”

stealing temple mountUnder the same hashtag, another cartoon was published showing Israel stealing Al-Aqsa Mosque under a US umbrella.

stealing temple mount2Other hashtags include #alaqsaisburning and #shallnotbedivided (referring to an initiative to divide the time and place of the Temple Mount between Jewish and Muslim worshipers).

Some cartoons described ways in which Al-Aqsa is victimized by Israel, including one cartoon published (Sep. 16) in Jordan’s Ammon news site, which shows the bleeding Mosque sawed in two by Israeli soldiers, under the title “Storming the Temple Mount.”

cutting up JM

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