Op-Ed: Libel: Israel Intends to Destroy the Al-Aksa Mosque
Dr. Manfred GerstenfeldThe writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
’Israel intends to destroy the Al Aksa mosque’ on the Temple Mount is a major lie promoted by leading Palestinian, Arab and Muslim groups and individuals. Haj Amin al Husseini, the pre-war Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was the first to promote this slander in the 1920s. It was part of the vast anti-Semitic activities of this ally of Hitler.
"During the Second World War, Husseini planned to build an Auschwitz-like crematorium near Nablus. He intended to have Jews from Palestine and Arab countries gassed there. Husseini also helped create Muslim SS units in Bosnia and Kossovo.
“The ‘Al Aksa is in danger’ lie has expanded greatly since 1967. It is propagated by official Iranian sources - Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. Akrama Sabri, former Mufti of Jerusalem appointed by the Palestinian Authority is another leading disseminator of the Al-Aksa libel.”
Nadav Shragai is a senior journalist with the Israel HaYom daily and a Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He specializes in the history of the conflict concerning Jerusalem. His latest book is titled, The“Al-Aksa is in Danger” Libel: The History of a Lie.
“In Israel, the main propagator of the ‘Al Aksa is in danger’ lie is Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. He has often in the past called for ‘sacrificing lives to defend Al-Aksa.’ In 1996, Salah organized the first mass rally under the ‘Al Aksa is in danger’ slogan followed by many others. Saleh shares many views with Iran’s leaders including striving toward a worldwide caliphate.
“The ‘Al-Aksa is in danger’ libel has been revived in particular during Israeli archaeological excavations or construction close to the Temple Mount. This incitement has ignited violence by Muslims on several occasions. The reality is, Israeli excavations have only taken place alongside the walls of the Mount, or hundreds of meters away from it.
“These Arab claims are an inversion of the truth. The main danger of collapse of the Temple Mount and parts of the Al-Aksa mosque came from Muslim building on its southeastern part, and in particular from the renovation of Solomon’s Stable there to serve as an underground mosque 15 years ago.
“The ‘Al-Aksa is in danger’ claim is part of a wider Arab campaign to re-write Jerusalem’s history. This narrative includes lies such as the Arabs ruled Jerusalem for many years before the Jewish people arrived in ancient times. In fact, very few Arabs were present in this part of the Middle East then. Another lie is that the Al-Aksa mosque was built before the establishment of the Jewish Temple. However, Islam did not even exist at that time.
"A terrorist gang planned to set up an infrastructure for Al Qaeda in the mosque. They also wanted to shoot down President Bush’s helicopter during his 2008 visit to Jerusalem."
"At the beginning of this century, Yasser Arafat publicly claimed that there was never a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. Yet before 1967, Muslim sources going back centuries affirmed the existence of the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.
“The Temple Mount mosques have also occasionally been used for terror purposes. Some groups have planned in them – though not departing from there for terrorist acts – to carry out deadly attacks such as in 1986 when the ‘Silwan Squad’ threw grenades at Israeli soldiers in the Old City. Another terrorist group which used the mosque was the abductors and murderers of three Israeli policemen in 1992 and 1993. Yet another gang planned to set up an infrastructure for Al Qaeda in the mosque. They also wanted to shoot down President Bush’s helicopter during his 2008 visit to Jerusalem.
“The mosques were also utilized for major incitement to terror and violence during the first and second intifadas. Using mosques for military purposes has been declared legal by senior religious authorities in the Muslim world, including Sunni Sheikh Yussuf al Qaradawi and the Shiite Ayatollah Khomeini.
“The United States and the United Kingdom, as well as Muslim states such as Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have taken measures against incitement in mosques. The most far-reaching action was undertaken by Pakistan in 2007. That country’s army broke into the main mosque of Islamabad, killing deputy Imam Abd al-Aziz Ayazi and hundred of his followers. Ayazi’s supporters had carried out many terror attacks.
“In view of all this, Israel’s course of action in dealing with Muslim hate-mongering in Temple Mount mosques is extremely liberal. This, while several of its preachers strongly incite against the Jewish people, the Zionist movement and the State of Israel.
“Historically, the religions and people who conquered Jerusalem destroyed many houses of worship of the defeated, or converted them into their own houses of worship. Israel, to the contrary, left the management of the Temple Mount to the Muslim religious endowment authorities when it conquered the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967. This is the third holiest place for Muslims after Mekka and Medina, while for Jews it is the holiest. The only change was that Jews and members of other religions could finally access it. Israel has made major efforts to protect the Temple Mount mosques. This makes the claim that Israel wants to destroy them, even more absurd.
“Israel has effectively relinquished the Jewish right to pray on the Temple Mount. Israel’s policy thus contrasts greatly with that of all other religions. Through this decision, the State of Israel has made the greatest concession ever of one religion to another.”