'Peace and Dialogue' Muslim Group Angered by Jewish Kotel
The pan-national Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) is holding a meeting this week to plan how to fight Jewish rights at the Western Wall. The conference, to be held in Jordan, follows shortly on the heels of the group's participation in the High Panel on Peace and Dialogue Among Cultures, which was hosted by the United Nations.
Speaking at the UN, ISESCO Director-general Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri said the organization he heads, which has 50 member states, strives to promote dialogue among cultures and to “disseminate the justice and peace culture.”
Days later, Altwaijri was planning to fight “attempts by the Israeli occupation authorities to Judaize Al-Quds Al-Sharif... as well as Israeli plans to Judaize the Al-Boraq Wall.”
The site known to Muslims as Al-Quds Al-Sharif is known to Jews and to many Christians as the Temple Mount, the site of the First and Second Temples described in the Bible. It is Judaism's most holy site.
For centuries, Muslims barred Jews from the Mount, and the closest they could get to the holy site was a retaining wall around the Temple. The wall became a site of Jewish prayer, widely known as the Kotel, the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall. Jews were banned from the site briefly following the Jordanian takeover of Jerusalem in 1949, but regained control of the area in 1967 and have been praying at the Wall ever since. The Wall is open to followers of all religions.
ISESCO is planning an international campaign to term Israel's presence at the Wall, and efforts to renovate the area for worshipers' convenience, as illegal. The group also accuses Israel of putting the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in danger with its renovations.
At the meeting this week, archaeologists belonging to ISESCO will be called to testify in support of the group's claims, and to write reports for submission to “relevant international bodies.”
The Palestinian Authority issued a report in 2010 denying any Jewish connection to the Kotel. In a program broadcast on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, PA television termed Jewish prayer at the site "filth and sin."