Sheren Falah Saab, what do you have to do with Mecca? What do you have to do with Islam? What do you have to do with us, the Arabs? You are only slightly less alien to all of the above than Gil Tamari, since you speak Arabic. Aside from that, let us handle our own affairs. And what Tamari did was admirable.
He entered a holy city? He defiled its sanctity? What nonsense. Let’s start from afar and circle in slowly.
Arab and Muslim readers should imagine the offense they would feel if a woman wearing a hijab was denied entry to an Italian church. Muslims would scream gevalt, after having received written permission from their Jewish cousins, or perhaps the Arabic equivalent – “Oh, the wars of vengeance for Kulaib!” (Jewish readers may not know that this is one of the most famous cries in Arab history, after King Kulaib of the Thalabi tribe was murdered by one of his relatives, who threw a spear at his back.)
I have been a young man and an old one. I have visited the Western Wall twice in my life. I wore a kippa, and nobody asked me who I was. I have visited all of the country’s historic churches, and nobody ever checked who I was. I derived great pleasure from these holy sites (which aren’t mine). They are simply stunningly beautiful.
When I traveled around the Western world, I visited its most beautiful churches – including the one in Turin, where the shroud in which Jesus was wrapped after his crucifixion is housed.
Wait, don’t shoot. I won’t get into an argument with Muslims who don’t believe that Jesus was crucified, nor will I get into an argument with the scientific community, which rightly says (based on isotopes) that the shroud belongs to a man crucified 400 years after Jesus. Incidentally, one person who greatly facilitated Christians’ belief that this is Jesus’ shroud is Prof. Avinoam Danin, one of the greatest botanists in Israel’s history, who found gundelia seeds in the shroud.
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When I was in the United States, I was invited to a Buddhist temple in Virginia where they even shaved my head. I underwent a conversion and became Buddhist for a few hours. In all of these visits, did I desecrate other religious’ holy sites?
That’s nonsense. Utter rot. We Arabs in particular and Muslims in general are in love with the feeling of eternal victimhood. We blame the whole world and its neighbor for every bad thing that happens to us, but we never blame ourselves, even though our finger is the one that pulls the trigger and murders our own people. We have an obsession with feeling hurt and oppressed.
We’re also one of the most racist peoples on the face of the Earth. Wait, don’t shoot. Do you remember the fuss Muslims kicked up when the great Lebanese Christian singer Wadih El Safi sang, “Get out of the pit, Joseph”? Yes, that old story about the dreamer thrown into a pit by his brothers.
Muslims claimed he had desecrated a Koranic story, forgetting that Joseph lived before Islam even existed. If anyone, it’s the Jews who should have made the fuss. The outrage was almost of the same magnitude as that over the magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of Mohammed. Luckily, it ended without bloodshed.
In contrast, the divine singer Sabah Fakhri and the master, Sheikh Saleh Abdel Hai, both wrote songs based on verses from the Koran that contradicted their original meaning. When these two giants came out openly against axioms of the Muslim faith, did anyone dare say a word?
Calm down, my friends. If there’s going to be normalization, it should go all the way. And I would continue in this vein by saying Jews should be allowed to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque, except that the Jews go there for the sake of occupation and destruction. Consequently, they shouldn’t be allowed near it.
Gil Tamari went to Mecca in his capacity as a journalist. And that is laudable work.