There are many photos of Israeli police attacking Palestinian women yesterday at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Media has chosen to call them “scuffles” when the photos clearly depict assaults. The Israeli account of what happened is garbled–in the way all fictitious song-&-dance stories are–but the incident yesterday was a replay of many other provocations by right-wing Zionist thugs protected by Israeli cops who try to reclaim the site of the mosque as sacred to Judaism. That’s why it’s not believable. Even the logistics don’t add up.
Israel claims masked Palestinian “rioters” stockpiled explosives, Molotov cocktails, & other weapons inside the mosque to attack thousands of “Jewish worshippers gathered for prayers at the Western Wall for Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the first & second Jewish Temples.” Reports conflict on where the worshipper/thugs were–at the Western Wall or inside the mosque compound. The Western Wall is a section of the enclosure around the Al-Aqsa compound known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims & the Temple Mount to Zionists & is located in East Jerusalem under illegal occupation by Israel since 1967.
The Noble Sanctuary is 35 acres of fountains, gardens, museums, as well as the Al-Aqsa Mosque & the Dome of the Rock (which has sacred meaning to Muslims). The entire area is regarded as sacred space & is an educational center as well as religious sanctuary. It’s existed in various reconstructions for over 1,300 years. The fallacious media mantra is that the Noble Sanctuary is the holiest site for Judaism but only the third holiest site to Islam. The reason offered for why it’s sacred to Judaism is that it’s the original site of Solomon’s Temple said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant & destroyed in 586 BCE (for which there isn’t a shred of archaeological evidence). There was an actual temple on the site between 516 BCE & 70 CE when the Romans destroyed it. It was renovated by Herod (of Biblical notoriety) & the supposed remnants of the Herodian wall make up the Western Wall (known also as the Wailing Wall) heralded by Israel as the most sacred place of Judaism.
Millions of people make pilgrimage & fetishistic homage to the old stone wall, the altar of the Israeli state. One would never ridicule even the most absurd religious practice but there is no need to feign respect for a narrative fabricated solely to serve Zionist nationalism & not religious commitment. It’s not inconceivable that there’s a mystique around that pile of stones. But a mystique is not the same as a religious tradition or historic claim.
Far from being an ancient tradition, there is little evidence that Jews, most of whom lived outside Palestine until the late 19th century, held the wall as sacred. Jewish immigration to Palestine was part of the great wave of emigration from Eastern Europe during that time–some driven by economic desperation, some to escape pogroms & persecution, & many as evangelists of Zionism goaded by Zionist organizations as advance guard for setting up a Jewish-only state. And that’s when trouble began in Palestine around Islam’s holy sites, with Zionists creating historic narratives & fabricating religious traditions that did not exist.
In 1948 when Israel was founded on the violent expulsion of Palestinians with the collusion of colonial regimes (especially the UK), East Jerusalem came under the jurisdiction of Jordan through negotiations with the UN; West Jerusalem was under Israeli control. The Noble Sanctuary is in East Jerusalem. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel occupied East Jerusalem & within a matter of three days had flattened the Palestinian neighborhood (called the Moroccan Quarter) adjacent to the Western Wall & Noble Sanctuary & forcibly cleared out the residents. Their property was expropriated for public use & eventually turned into a plaza to receive thousands of born-again Zionists laying claim to a land that wasn’t theirs. That “ancient tradition” of placing messages in the Western Wall doesn’t go back to Herod but began with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan when they marched into East Jerusalem & he inserted a written prayer into the cracks of the wall.
After the 1967 war, Zionists under the leadership of right-wing Rabbi Shlomo Goren (chief rabbi of the Israeli military & later chief rabbi of Israel) began claiming the Noble Sanctuary for building a third temple. Non-Muslims were forbidden to pray within the compound & so the Western Wall served for a long while as an outdoor & surrogate temple but Zionists have always had their eye on the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque & erecting their temple there. Palestinians frequently claim Israeli excavations under Al-Aqsa are threatening the foundations making it liable to collapse. Israeli rabbis are divided on Jews praying within the compound. Traditional rabbinical scholars regard it as antithetical to Judaism. Right-wing Zionist rabbis are much more flexible with religious principles in service to their rabid nationalism.
This explains the constant harassment & storm trooper tactics by Zionist extremists, police agents, & Israeli troops within the Al-Aqsa compound. This also explains why there is relentless political pressure to reverse the prohibition on non-Muslims worshipping there & why Palestinian males under 50 are barred access to the mosque & must pray in the public streets. In November, Israel ordered the mosque closed down after the shooting of an ultranationalist Zionist who campaigned aggressively for Jewish prayer rights at the site. The entire purpose is to usurp & deny Palestinian religious rights & traditions.
Support Palestinian justice by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); by supporting the cultural boycott of Israel; by demanding “No US aid to Israel!”
(Photo by Mahmoud Illean/AP)
(This post is a slightly edited version of one I posted in December 2014; I’m reposting to clarify why there are constant Israeli attacks & ongoing conflict around the Al-Aqsa mosque.)