In recent weeks, Muslim leaders have been heavily focusing their efforts on inciting the their followers over alleged Jewish "threats" to the al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The incitement has come from the Palestinian Authority - both Fatah and Hamas - as well as from the Arab League, from within Israel's Arab minority, from Muslim organizations abroad, and from the al-Qaeda terrorist group. An Israeli Muslim radical has even taken the show on the virtual road, for consumption among English-speaking Muslim masses. In the past, Muslim incitement over fictional Jewish "attacks" on al-Aksa Mosque has been a prelude to significant, coordinated physical violence.
The head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Raed Salah, held an annual fundraising rally earlier this month in Umm el-Fahm under the heading "Al-Aksa is in Danger." Attended by tens of thousands, including guests from other countries, the gathering was a platform for incitement to the effect that Jews were "defiling" the Muslim house of worship and planning to build a new Temple on the Temple Mount.
With the traditional chants of "With blood and spirit, we'll redeem Jerusalem" from the crowd, Salah repeatedly called on Muslims and Arabs to confront Israel and the "occupation" of Jerusalem. He claimed that he and his organization "exposed... your dream to destroy the mosque," and that Jews drank alcohol and engaged in sexual acts on the Temple Mount. He added that, one day, "we will have the [al-Aksa] festival in the mosque itself under a banner of victory."
In 2003, Salah was imprisoned for his part in raising millions of dollars for the Hamas terrorist organization, and in May of this year, the State Prosecution filed yet another indictment against him for inciting a riot. Salah, along
His organization "exposed... your dream to destroy the mosque," and that Jews drank alcohol and engaged in sexual acts on the Temple Mount.
with several others, led a Muslim mob in Jerusalem in March 2007 that attempted to halt archaeological digs near the Temple Mount.
Incitement From Muslims Abroad
At the August rally, Salah also addressed the Arab world: "Where is your manliness?" he mocked. "For 40 years the Al-Aksa Mosque calls to you and asks: Where are you? Do you accept that we, who are under siege, must ask permission from the Israeli occupation to enter the mosque?"
And the Arab world replied, in the form of a message read to the crowd in Umm El-Fahm from Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa of Egypt. He said, "Jerusalem is at the center of the Arab League's agenda, and the Arab media should focus on what is being done in the city and in the mosque."
A spokesman from the Islamic Movement in South Africa also addressed the "Al-Aksa is in Danger" festival, saying: "Be patient, in the end victory will belong to Islam. We hope that soon we will pray together in Jerusalem, in Al-Aksa."
In April of this year, al-Qaeda's second-in-command also turned to the Jerusalem theme in a recording he released on jihadist websites worldwide. "Soon, Iraq will become a fortress of Islam," he said, "from whence the squadrons and regiments tasked with liberating the Al-Aksa mosque will burst forth, with the help of Allah."
Raed Saleh Takes Incitment to the Internet
On Tuesday, September 2, Raed Salah took his message that Jerusalem is under attack by the Jews to the Islamic Internet, answering questions during a live session on the English-language IslamOnline.net website.
When asked by a reader what Muslims worldwide can do for the sake of Jerusalem, Salah replied, in part: "We are required to show to the world so that enemies of Al-Aksa would know that their attack on Al-Aksa means the attack on one billion and a half Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian in the same time. Surely, putting pressures of the decision-makers in the Arab and Muslim countries will make them take some courageous actions internally and internationally for the sake of defending the Holy Quds and the Aksa Mosque. We welcome any blessed action that would act to free Al-Quds and Al-Aksa Mosque."
Regarding the Islamic Movement activity, Salah said: "On the media level, I think we have exerted good and continuous efforts to uncover the plots of the Israeli occupation that target Al-Quds and the Al-Aksa mosque."
Salah went on to repeat the claims he propagated in Israel that "the Zionist scheme" is "building their Temple on the rubble of Al-Aksa Mosque." He added, "We will go on persistently in exposing the Israeli plots worldwide and we believe that we have to do our best to stop Judaizing Al-Quds...."
Palestinian Authority Doing Its Part to Incite As Well
According to Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), "The PA under Fatah, which has also been promoting such anti-Israeli propaganda for years, has recently increased the frequency and intensity of its messages. ...This campaign aims to incite religious and national fury against Israel by presenting Israel as a threat to Islam's holy site, with plans to topple the Al-Aksa Mosque. To accomplish this, the PA does not hesitate to use vicious terminology and libels, and recruit religious leaders to deliver inflammatory sermons."
The Hamas half of the PA has also been pouring fuel on the fire, as can be seen in the following video clip from Al-Aksa TV.
Can't see the video? Click here to see the Al-Aksa incitement on Al-Aksa TV.
The clip, aired last week, shows Israelis digging under the mosque in an attempt to topple it, while the Muslim and Arab world "slumbers." Driving home the point, the video concludes with the familiar phrase "al-Aksa is in danger" splashed across a full frame.
Earlier this month, Hamas issued calls for the Muslim masses to go on "angry massive marches and organize popular events to express their solidarity with al-Aksa Mosque and occupied Jerusalem." They also called on their jihad fighters to prepare for an assault on the Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, in order "to cleanse it of Israeli desecration."
An Ominous Precedent
Such widespread calls to "defend Al-Aksa" from Jewish "desecration" have figured prominently in several past instances of mass Arab violence against Jews.
In 2000, PLO leader Yasser Arafat launched a planned terrorist campaign against Israel, calling it "the Al-Aksa Intifada." He chose the name carefully, exploiting an coordinated visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount for propaganda purposes in support of PA attacks, which had begun several days earlier.
The exploitation of Jerusalem and al-Aksa as a tool to incite Muslims to join or support attacks on Jews has b
A staple of Arab propaganda even from before there was a State of Israel.
een a staple of Arab propaganda even from before there was a State of Israel.
According to the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper of October 30, 1928, "The Jews are continuing their assault on the wall of Al-Aksa Mosque... in their attempts to obtain rights that would give them a foothold in this purely Islamic holy place before taking possession of it and wresting it from the hands of the Muslim people. In so doing, they will have seized a part of Al-Aksa Mosque, God forbid."
In 1929, the Arabs of the Palestine Mandate responded to the incitement of the Arab press and especially that of fascist leader Amin al-Husseini and carried out a series of massacres of Jews in Jerusalem, Motza, Hevron, Tzfat, Jaffa and elsewhere. A total of 133 Jews were murdered and more than 300 were injured in the riots, which a current columnist for Al-Ahram called "the first al-Aksa Intifada."