Opinion

The 'Temple Mount' Belongs to the Muslims

The next Jewish attack on the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem's Old City is liable to spark a great war, which will primarily be a religious one

Palestinian men praying as Israeli security forces stand outside the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, July 26, 2017.
RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

Don’t fool yourselves, Israeli decision-makers. The next round of violence related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is already brewing. The atmosphere is heating up and it’s only a matter of time before it erupts. It will be more violent than the round that’s just ended with the humiliating capitulation of the Israeli government to Muslim demands to remove the metal detectors – humiliating from the perspective of the inflated egos of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and the other fascists surrounding them.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens declared in Haaretz on Tuesday (“Israel’s Inciter-in-chief”) that “if there is a single individual responsible for the unrest, the riots and the killings these past two weeks it is Ra’ad Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.”

He argued that the call “Al-Aqsa is in danger,” which Salah issues every year in Umm al-Fahm, has influence not just in that city but throughout the world. He calls Salah the great inciter.

Let me begin by clarifying that my identification with Salah and the ideology he represents is next to nil at best. I could even go further and say there is a total contradiction between our ideologies. His ideals stem from Islamic religious fundamentalism, and mine from secularism and leftist-humanist values. Still, think for a moment, Arens: If Salah’s battle cry is so effective, perhaps it has some basis in fact? Perhaps the Al-Aqsa compound is in danger? Perhaps, in this case, you are the one inciting?

For me, the Al-Aqsa compound is one of the most important Arab heritage sites. It is holy to more than a billion people, some of whom are close and very dear to me. It is absolutely forbidden to do it any harm, but Israeli governments over the generations have damaged and continue to do harm to the mosque. This harm is expressed on several levels.

First, there is a concern that the archaeological excavations taking place in the area will undermine the foundations of the mosque. Historical scientific research is, of course, very important, but if the excavations threaten the stability of the structure, they must be stopped immediately.

The second issue is the attempt by successive Israeli governments to “improve positions” on the “Temple Mount” [the Jewish term for the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif]. This is a violation of the status quo and the peace treaty with Jordan, under which it is the guardian of the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem. These Israeli government efforts are total provocations, whose results we’ve experienced in recent days.

Israeli security forces removing metal detectors at an entrance to the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, July 25, 2017.
AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

The third and most serious aspect, which is indeed putting Al-Aqsa in danger, are the efforts by the Israeli rights to portray it as the “Temple Mount” – with all that entails.

Jews have no rights at all to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. It’s ours, and ours alone. Even if you had some historic rights there, they expired from lack of use for over 1,4000 years, and the continuous use of the area by Muslims for the exact same period.

I am not denying Jewish rights in what is known as “Palestine-Eretz Yisrael.” I also recognize their right to a state within the 1967 borders, with the establishment of the State of Palestine alongside it. The one-state solution is also acceptable, but that’s not the subject of this article.

The constant, insufferable provocations by the Israeli right from the school of Bennett and his ilk, who enter the compound with government approval, are a declaration of war – with all that implies. Jews have nothing to look for there from a religious perspective. They are, of course, more than welcome to visit the site as tourists.

The history of Jewish provocations at the Al-Aqsa compound is drenched in blood. We recall in dreadful disgrace the provocation of Ariel Sharon and Ayoub Kara, who invaded the compound in September 2000 and sparked the following month’s events in which 13 young Arabs were shot to death.

The murderous Messianic zeal of Bezalel Smotrich and Bennett are threatening to spark a conflagration that will lead to a war against the entire Arab-Muslim world. The miserable way the current crisis was resolved – following the intervention of the treasonous Arab axis, represented by King Abdullah II of Jordan – was aimed at providing the Israeli government with a way out of the mess, especially in the eyes of the Israeli public. No one in the Arab or Muslim world was particularly impressed. The Israeli government was brought to its knees.

To conclude, it is worth Netanyahu, Bennett and their supporters in the fascist camp remembering that while some of the leaders of the “moderate” Arab states (the treasonous axis) may stand beside you, overtly or covertly, you are only deceiving yourselves if you think the peoples they lead through murderous oppression also support you. It doesn’t pay for you to rely on the hollow and false declarations of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who condemned and froze the security coordination with Israel. There’s not a single Palestinian who believes him.

The next Jewish attack on the Al-Aqsa compound is liable to spark a great war, which will primarily be a religious war, but not only. True, it’s the fantasy of Bennett and Smotrich to return the world to the days of Joshua bin Nun. But it’s also the fantasy of most of the Arab and Muslim peoples to overthrow, once and for all, the treacherous leaders of Saudi Arabia and its satellite states. So don’t you dare.