Sunday, October 25, 2015

Weep, Beloved Country - by Uri Avnery

As to sensitivity around the Haram al-Sharif, Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery writes, "After the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans some 1945 years ago, the place was desecrated by the Christians who turned it into a dunghill. When it was conquered by the Muslims in 635, the humane Khalif Omar ordered it cleaned. Two holy Muslim buildings were erected – the beautiful Dome of the Rock, with its conspicuous golden dome, and the even holier al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam.
If one wants to cause trouble, this is the place to start. The cry that al-Aqsa is in danger arouses every Palestinian, and every Muslim around the world. It excites moderately religious Muslims (as most Arabs are) as well as religious fanatics. It is a call to arms, to self-sacrifice.
This has happened several times in the past. The terrible "events" of 1929, in which the ancient Jewish community in Hebron was massacred, were started by a Jewish provocation at the Western Wall, part of the wall that encloses the Mount. The second intifada broke out because Ariel Sharon led a provocative demonstration on the Mount, with the express permission of the then Labor Party Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.
The present trouble started with visits by Jewish extreme right-wing leaders, including a minister and members of the Knesset, to the Temple Mount. This in itself is not forbidden. (Except by Orthodox Jewish law, because ordinary Jews are not allowed to tread were once the Holy of Holies was located.) The mount is a paramount tourist attraction.
To regulate things, something called the Status Quo is in place. When the Israeli army occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-day war, it was decided that the Temple Mount enclosure, though now under Israeli rule, would be run by Muslims under Jordanian jurisdiction. (Why Jordanian? Because Israel did not agree to Palestinian jurisdiction.) Jews were allowed to enter the enclosure, but not to pray there.
Binyamin Netanyahu maintains that the Status Quo was not broken. But lately groups of fanatical right-wing Israelis have entered the enclosure, protected by the Israeli police, and prayed. For the Muslims, that was a breach of the status.
Moreover, much publicity has been given to Jewish groups who are preparing to rebuild the Jewish Temple after destroying the Muslim shrines. The clothes and instruments prescribed by the Bible are being prepared by fanatics.
In normal times, at a normal place, this could be settled peacefully. But not on the Temple Mount, and not now, with Jewish settlers starting to secure footholds in the Arab villages surrounding the Shrines. All over the occupied territories and among the Arab citizens of Israel the cry went up: the Holy Places are in danger. The Israeli leaders shouted back that this was all a pack of lies.
Young Palestinians took up the knives and started stabbing Israelis, knowing full well that they would probably be shot dead on the spot. Israeli leaders called upon Jewish citizens to bear arms at all times and shoot at once when they see an attack. "
You can read the full text by clicking here.

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