by: Joshua Spurlock, The Mideast Update
The Palestinian presentation of their conflict with Israel as being about statehood and political rights has downplayed the religious overtones that have resided beneath the surface. Perhaps it’s because the Palestinians thought Westerners would identify more with a fight falsely presented as a reprise of Ghandi’s political struggle in India, rather than Al-Qaeda’s jihad against America. Yet in 2015, that tone appeared to change.
The latest Palestinian terror campaign has centered heavily around the Temple Mount, which was not only once home to two Jewish Temples, but today houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque—two of modern Islam’s holiest sites. Regardless of the reasons for marketing the battle as one of religion (is it desperation for a Palestinian leadership unwilling to compromise with Israel?), the idea that somehow it’s Israel who is changing the “status quo” of the Temple Mount is a myth. Same with the claim that the conflict wasn’t already religious and that Israel is transforming it. It has long been an unholy “holy war”—and it wasn’t Israel that made it one.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) is an organization committed to showing the world what’s really being said in the Arabic Palestinian media—much of which is run or managed by the official government and leadership. The historical records on their website show that the official Palestinian media has been presenting the fight with Israel as religious for years.
PMW noted that back in May 2010, the official Palestinian Authority TV—run by the supposedly moderate government of President Mahmoud Abbas—quoted the government’s Minister of Religious Affairs about the fight over the Land of Israel. Referring to the 1917 Balfour Declaration that promised the return of Israel to Jewish control he said, “Since that date, resolute people, fighters and Ribat (religious war) fighters have not ceased upon our blessed land… This conflict is explicit in the Quran and our obligation with regard to it is clarified by the Quran.”
And that’s just one example. When I visited the Palestinian city of Ramallah in 2007, I found a large banner showing two men holding rifles posing in front of an image of the Dome of the Rock. The link between the violent weapons in their hands and the holy site behind them was abundantly obvious.
Then there are the names of some of the Palestinian organizations. Hamas is an acronym that stands for “Islamic Resistance Movement.” Notice the absence of Palestinian political ideals. It’s strictly a religious name. What about the supposedly moderate Fatah? The terror group commonly associated with them is known as the “Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade”—as in the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop the Temple Mount.
Speaking of the Temple Mount, a quick recap of the long-standing situation there helps to put the current tensions into perspective. Outrageous claims that Israel’s government is working to destroy the mosques there have been proven demonstrably false by 48 years of Israeli control of the site. Furthermore, the Israelis have given caretaker status of the site to the Waqf, an Islamic religious group backed by the nation of Jordan. So, rather than remove Muslim influence from the Temple Mount, Israel has voluntarily enabled it.
Incredibly, the outrageous lies by the Palestinians that Israel wishes to wipe away the Muslim presence on the Temple Mount are actually not the most shocking concerns by the Palestinians. The Israelis have long enforced a “no Jewish prayer” restriction atop the Temple Mount in an effort to keep tensions low. In other words, it’s disturbing to the Palestinians for Jews to simply worship anyplace atop the mountain—even outside the mosques. A recent article in the official WAFA Palestinian news agency article cited fears of a bizarre “slippery slope” in which Jews simply praying atop the Mount would somehow lead to a ban on Islamic prayer there. That’s not religious sensitivity on the part of the Palestinians—it’s self-justifying religious discrimination.
And yet the latest Palestinian angst can be even more egregious. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, as highlighted by The Mideast Update, reported that the Palestinians were upset because religious Jews simply visited the Temple Mount compound. The article termed the Ultra-Orthodox Jews as “unwanted” at the site. Note that the article did not say the Jews were protesting or vandalizing the site, or even praying atop the mount.
Another report by WAFA noted “provocative” visits by Jewish settler “fanatics” to the site—again without describing any provocative or fanatical or even religious actions done by the Jews.
Judging by the lack of description of any actions by the Jews in the reports, it appears that Jewish visits to the Temple Mount are enough to be “provocative.” That’s worse than religious prejudice, it is pure anti-Semitic racism.
One of the best displays of that racist, unholy jihadi rhetoric was actually expressed by President Abbas himself, as quoted in the PA newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and translated by PMW: “Every drop of blood that has been spilled in Jerusalem is holy blood as long as it was for Allah,” said Abbas. He later stated, “The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
This religious war is not a new development because of supposed Israeli actions. Beneath the façade of Palestinian nationalism lies a troubling blend of religious warfare and shocking racism that’s been present for years. And despite its spiritual tone, it’s unholy in every way.
(Palestinian Media Watch citations courtesy of © Palestinian Media Watch – www.palwatch.org)
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