Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israeli Political Prophecies:
Al-Aqsa Mosque or Partitioning it?
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, November 11, 2014
Israel's decision to shut down al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday, 30
October, is not just a gross violation of the religious rights of
In fact, the rights of Palestinian Muslims and
Christians have been routinely violated under the Israeli occupation for
decades, especially in Jerusalem, and more recently in Gaza. During the
51-day war on the Gaza Strip, a reported 73 mosques were destroyed, while
205 were partially destroyed,
according to a Palestinian government report.
Sanctuary located in Jerusalem’s Old City, is known as Haram al-Sharif in
Arabic and is home to the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It serves
as much more than a religious role in Palestinian society because it is a
unifying national force and symbol as well. Thus, unsurprisingly, it has
been a target of numerous Israeli raids, including attempts to burn it down,
or conduct excavations under it to seek the fulfilment of biblical prophecy.
In response, “Defending al-Aqsa” has been an unswerving rallying cry
for Palestinians throughout the years. Several Palestinian uprisings were
unleashed as a reaction to Israeli political or military plans to alter the
status quo over the mosque. The Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 was one such
uprising. It lasted for nearly five years, during which thousands of
Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis were killed in clashes that were
provoked by late Israeli leader, Ariel Sharon.
That context should
be remembered if the current coverage of the very worrying situation in and
around Jerusalem is to be meaningful in any way. The war on Al-Aqsa
Mosque, which is central to the spirituality of hundreds of millions of
Muslims around the world, is not simply the work of a few Jewish extremists.
It is part and parcel of an Israeli government agenda which has been
crystalizing in recent years and months. Next
month, for example, the Israeli Knesset will vote on a motion calling for
the partitioning of
One of the leading
advocates of that partition, at least in terms of a first step towards a
complete takeover, is the Temple Mount Faithful organisation,
headed by Yehuda Glick.
Founded by Gershon Salomon, Temple Mount
according to its website, is dedicated to the “the vision of
consecrating the Temple Mount to the Name of G‑d, to removing the Muslim
shrines placed there as a symbol of Muslim conquest, to the rebuilding of
the Third Temple on the Temple Mount, and the godly redemption of the People
and the Land of Israel.”
This messianic vision is not entirely alien
to the discourse of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. His logic in defence of
illegal settlements in occupied Jerusalem is such: "The French build in
Paris, the English build in London and the Israelis build in Jerusalem. To
come and tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem - why?"
seems to be little conflict between the vision of the Temple Mount Faithful
Movement-like organisations, the political attitude of Tel Aviv or the many
steps underway to terminate Palestinian properties, demolish homes, and
expand Jewish settlements.
Yehuda Glick, the well-funded US-Israeli
“activist”, whose obsession with destroying al-Aqsa knows no bounds, and who
frequenting the mosque in provocative visits under Israeli police cover
for years, has been the face of the Israeli designs against al Aqsa.
On Wednesday, 29 October,
a suspected Palestinian assailant shot and wounded him as
he stepped out of a Jerusalem conference focused
on building the Temple Mount on the ruins of al-Aqsa. His alleged
attacker, Mu'ataz Hejazi was killed by Israeli police. His sister told
Al-Jazeera on 30 October that her brother was badly beaten, then taken to
the roof of a nearby building and shot.
The decision to shut down
Al-Aqsa Mosque took place after the incident. Some in the media and in
Israel see Glick - who has been a notorious figure for many Palestinian
Jerusalemites throughout the years - as a victim of wanton Palestinian
violence. He was “part of a growing movement among religiously militant Jews
demanding more prayer rights at the Al-Aqsa compound,”
ABC News casualty reported.
But Glick demanded more. His group’s mission was to ethnically cleanse
the Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem. His actions testify to this.
The shooting of Glick is reminiscent of a similar episode in the blood
stained history of the region, one that had dreadful consequences. On
25 February, 1994, the US-born Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein
stormed into the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil
(Hebron) and opened fire.
The aim was to kill as many people as he
could, and that he did, by killing up to 30 people and wounding over 120.
It was not enough that Israeli soldiers within the vicinity of the
Ibrahimi Mosque allowed Goldstein - armed with a Galil rifle and other
weapons - access to the mosque, but they opened fire on worshippers as they
tried to flee the scene. Israeli soldiers killed 24 more and injured others.
Goldstein was a member of the Jewish Defence League (JDL), a racist party
of Jewish extremists founded by Meir Kahane. The Temple Mount Faithful, like
other such extremists groups, consider Goldstein, a hero. Like Glick,
Goldstein was also American and lived in an illegal Al-Khalil settlement.
While Goldstein’s mass murder was condemned by many, including many
Israelis, there is no denial that Jewish extremists, who are mostly
populating the illegal settlements of the West Bank and Jerusalem, are part
of a larger Israeli government plan aimed at ethnically cleansing
While Israeli bulldozers dig into Palestinian land
during the day, leveling mounds of ground and destroying olive groves for
settlement expansion, heavy machinery burrows beneath the Old City of
al-Quds - Jerusalem - at night. The Israelis are looking for evidence of
what they believe to be ancient Jewish temples, presumably destroyed in
586BC and 70AD.
To fulfill the "prophecy," Jewish extremists believe
that a third temple must be built. But of course, there is the inconvenient
fact that on that particular spot exists one of Islam's holiest sites:
The Noble Sanctuary. It has
been an exclusively Muslim prayer site for the last 1,300 years.
combination of right-wing politicians allied with religious zealots is now
defining the Israeli attitude towards Palestinians, particularly in
Jerusalem. They are eyeing al-Aqsa for
the same way the Israeli government is labouring to permanently annex large
swathes of the occupied West Bank.
In fact, last February, the
Israeli Knesset chose the 20th anniversary of the Goldstein massacre of
Palestinians in al-Khalil, to begin a debate concerning the status of the
al-Aqsa compound. Powerful right-wingers want the government to enforce its
"sovereignty" over the Muslim site, which is administered by Jordan per the
Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty of 1994. Israeli MP, Moshe Feiglin, is the
man behind the move, but he is not alone.
Feiglin is a member of
Netanyahu's Likud party, and has strong backing within the party, the
government and the Knesset. His supporters include Yehuda Glick, the
It remains unclear what fate awaits Al-Aqsa
Mosque. Caught between Israeli annexation plans, raids of Jewish extremists,
international silence and a
history of bloodshed, Al-Aqsa is facing difficult days ahead, as indeed
are the people of Jerusalem, whose suffering, like their city, seems
- Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People's History at the
University of Exeter. He is a consultant at Middle East Eye. Baroud is an
internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the
founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a
Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).
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