For over 10 years Raed Salah has held an annual demonstration in the city of Umm al-Fahm under the banner of “Al-Aqsa is in danger.” At these demonstrations there is blatant incitement against the State of Israel, accusing it of planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Initially these demonstrations were attended by hundreds, then by thousands and in recent years by several tens of thousands.
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Slowly but surely, Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, succeeded in getting his message across. It was a message that reverberated in the hearts of Muslims around the world: One of the most holy sites of Islam, the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, was in danger of being destroyed by Israel. The message is a lie.
This lie has been spread throughout the Islamic world very effectively, and is lighting a fire that will be difficult to extinguish. It is arousing anger in Arab capitals. The talk of Israeli changes in the status quo on the Temple Mount is just icing on the propaganda cake, an attempt to stop Jews from praying on the Temple Mount, as a first step to really changing the status quo there and keeping Jews off the Temple Mount. It is a minor charge compared to the real thrust of Salah’s attack on Israel, that it intends to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque, an allegation which has led to the daily violence in Jerusalem and protests from around the world. Salah has succeeded.
Why has the northern branch of the Islamic Movement been allowed to grow and spread its tentacles throughout Israel’s Islamic community? Why has Salah been allowed to promote his nefarious scheme for years? Why has he been handed this victory?
Twelve years ago the Or Commission, headed by Justice Theodor Or, appointed by the government to investigate the causes of the rioting in October 2000 that took the lives of 12 Arabs and one Jew, issued its report and accused Salah of having contributed substantially to the rioting.
In its report it stated: “It was proven that Raed Salah was responsible for the transmission of repeated messages encouraging the use of violence ... to incite the public and create an inflammatory atmosphere regarding the Al-Aqsa mosque ... He had a substantial contribution to provoking tempers and violent and widespread outbursts that took place in the Arab sector at the beginning of October 2000.”
These conclusions of the Or Commission were ignored. Twelve years have gone by and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, under Salah’s leadership, has grown and spread its tentacles throughout the Israeli Muslim community, including into the Bedouin towns and encampments in the Negev. It is the Israeli version of Hamas, and an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, now outlawed in Egypt. It is a subversive, seditious movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In recent weeks it has succeeded in causing rioting and bloodshed in Jerusalem on an unprecedented scale. Why has this movement not been outlawed?
So far the government’s efforts to put an end to the violence that daily endangers lives have had little effect. Now, in its attempt to put an end to the violence in Jerusalem, it is considering far-reaching means, including changing the rules for opening fire against rioters and imposing harsher sentences on those convicted of committing acts of violence. But it seems to ignore the root cause of the problem – the northern branch of the Islamic Movement and its leader, Raed Salah.
This movement should not continue to exist in a society in which the law prevails and human lives are valued. It has to be outlawed. But until now the government has avoided taking the key step required to take control of a situation that is getting worse from day to day – outlawing the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. A democracy must know how to defend itself if it is going to survive.