Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oh Jerusalem! Oh al-Quds!

All of Israel (except the Israelitische burghers um-Mosaische glaubens at Haaretz) are in shock over the declaration by PA presidential advisor Sheikh Adnan al-Husseini (from the people who brought you Mufti Haj Amin 'Itbah al Yahud' al-Husseini, Abdel Khader al-Husseini, Faisel 'Trojan Horse' al-Husseini and Yassir 'There was Never a Jewish Temple on Haram a Sharif' Arafat al-Husseini) that the Palestinians will never cede sovereignty over the Al-Buraq Wall, which is an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Never heard of the Al-Buraq Wall? Well, Jews know it as the Kotel Ha-Ma'aravi. In other words, after Haim Ramon and Co. have abdicated the Temple Mount, the Palestinians want the Kotel.
This is not surprising. The overwhelmingly dominant Muslim belief (irrespective of history, which is irrelevant in this context) is that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and that the Jews have absolutely no rights to pray there or nearby (just as they have no rights to the Cave of Machpelah or Kever Rachel). For infidels to pray at Muslim holy places is a blasphemy against God and Muhammad. Thus, it is a non-negotiable item.

What do the Israelis respond? Well, the so veddy veddy sophisticated are saying good riddance to a piece of architecture that stands in the way of progress. Others, like the genius on the mid-day news, in their typically myopic and blatantly paternalistically racist fashion, refuse to take this claim seriously. It must be a negotiating stance, they say. Why? Well, in my opinion, since they don't believe in anything, they can't imagine that anyone else does.

Anyone who knows anything about Islam (just watch Hoda TV), however, is well aware that Muslims are profoundly and militantly loyal to their fundamental beliefs. They will, mirabile dictu, sacrifice their lives in order to defend and advance those beliefs. No amount of money will get them to abandon those beliefs.

The nullification of Judaism, the Islamic character of Jerusalem, and the irrevocable right of Muslims to rule every square inch of what ever was the Dar al Islam are esential components of Muslim belief and policy. Sheikh Adnan al-Husseini just stated the obvious.

Are we listening? In a recent review of Shmuel Berkowitz' book on the Temple Mount, in Azure, Emmanuel Navon writes:

In the end, Israeli Jews must make a choice between claiming their Jewish past and relinquishing it altogether. Throughout recent history, some have believed that by choosing the latter option, they would finally be left in peace. But as history has shown, the opposite is true: Denying our past, as well as our historical mission as a people, is as hopeless an act in our own land as it was in exile. Instead, the time has come to reclaim our past--indeed, to fight for it.


Nachum said...

Well said. I have a few reflections based on my most recent visits to the Mount:

1. As you go up, especially on Chol Ha'Moed, you see huge crowds at the Kotel. If just some of that huge crowd- religous, secular, visiting Conservative tourists, whatever- bothered going a few feet to the right and up, this wouldn't be as big an issue.

While waiting to go up, a Charedi kid started yelling at us that it was assur. "Assur *Lecha*!" someone yelled back. "Assur l'daber sheker!" someone else said. The kid then asked if we could daven for him when we were up there; we took his name.

2. The Mount is a mess. Food is lying on the walls, bottles on the sidewalk, falling apart shacks, kids playing soccer, and more. When the Arabs talk about how much they love "Al-Aqsa," they're full of it. They love to attack Israel, nothing more.

3. I wonder where the Charedim who riot when some Neanderthal's bones are disturbed are when destruction and digging goes on in the Makom HaMikdash itself. Lots of politics there, too.

Yaeli said...

Nu, I have no feelings of personal connection to the Kotel. I don't pray there (well I don't go pray anywhere). I enjoy playing tour guide and showing it off when family and friends arrive from abroad about once a year but that is pretty much it. Yet, we will give up the Kotel over my cold, dead body. The vast majority of (Jewish) Israelis also feel this way, whether they are religious or not. I think the deal is right now that no one is really much paying attention to any of the demands being made by the Palestinian side or talk on our side of what we might or might not be willing to give up, simply because no one thinks this negotiation thing is going to come to anything. A recent poll found that only something like 20% of the public is paying any attention at all. Personally, I think that is a mistake because of the, albeit slim, possibility that some binding agreements might actually happen out of this to the shock of the general public who have not been paying attention.

YMedad said...

In 2000, I published a monograph on the Temple Mount referring to it as a flashpoint and dealing with the same message, as I wrote then:

"The issue of the Temple Mount is but one front in a major effort by the Palestinians and other Arabs to facilitate an erasing of Jewish historical identity with the Land of Israel...The fall of Joseph’s Tomb in October 2000 to Arab mobs, against the terms of the Oslo Process agreements, is a negative indication for other holy sites.

The current reawakened dispute over the Temple Mount, could possibly, even probably, develop into even a greater flashpoint of heightened political tensions. Ever since the Mandate period, the Temple Mount and its perceived ramifications by Arab Moslems have been a hidden agenda item in the clash of Zionism with the local Arab population. A recent commentary pointed out that,

The Jerusalem is not religious; it is a national conflict that is sustained by religious symbols. And the prize is an icon, the Dome [of the Rock] is a perfect fusion of religion and nationalism, since it is strongly associated, in Muslim minds, with Saladin’s chivalrous liberation of Jerusalem from the Crusaders in gain sovereignty over Jerusalem...would mean that the Arabs have scored an important victory over the Zionist crusaders.59

Israel's illogical policy of prohibiting any overt Jewish connection to the site, with the secular executive and judicial institutions acting in tandem with the Rabbinical establishment, is still a blatant infraction of the law and a distortion of the Jewish character of the State of Israel. This distortion, even corruption, of the State’s Jewish values is even obvious to the Arabs.

As in the parallel case of the restrictions placed on the reopening of the Machpela Cave, the Rabin government placed Israel on a collision course with elements of the Jewish populace which are becoming more dissatisfied with its policies, not only on the basis that they are dangerous from a security, economical and ecological standpoint but that they are threatening elements of Jewish meta-historical importance.

This policy, unaltered by the Netanyahu government, has lead to a more ominous situation whereby the Palestinian Authority has adopted a counter-policy to strip from Israel additional holy sites. During the recent riots, Joseph’s Tomb in Shchem fell to Arabs who immediately attempted to turn it into a mosque after destroying previous Jewish elements. The 7th century synagogue in Jericho was torched twice and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem has been the target of repeated gun attacks. The latter has been awarded an Arabic name, Masjd Billal ibn-Rabah, and Fatah literature is quite open about intentions to drive Jews away from this and other sacred locations. Not only is this in direct opposition to the signed Oslo pact, but it highlights the folly of Israel’s establishment to its actions to ignore the potency of holy sites.

The issue of the Temple Mount, thrust to the fore at the Camp David II deliberations, and this only because of the Muslim onslaught to destroy any Jewish remnant there through their massive construction program, is at a point where the Israeli establishment is forced to choose: to either ignore its importance to the fabric of Jewish historical and political self-identification or to capitulate, in the name of compromise and self-abnegation.

Margalit, Avishai, “The Odds Against Barak” in The New York Review of Books, September 21, 2000, pp. 6-10, and see also Sason, M., “Jerusalem - The Battle Over Sovereignty”, (in Hebrew), Maariv, Hayom section, July 8, 1994, p.

You can read it here