What’s behind conflict over Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem?

The mantric explanation for conflict between Palestinians & Israel over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem is religious: that is, that the site is the third holiest in Islamic tradition & the holiest in Judaic tradition since it is thought to be the original site of Solomon’s Temple said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. It also plays a role in Christian tradition since the Mosque was taken over by Crusaders (1099) & used as horse stables & headquarters for Templar Knights.

Let’s get real here! There is no archaeological evidence it was the site of Solomon’s Temple from 3,000 years ago despite repeated excavations. They once found a few shards & animal bones dated to the 8th century BCE but this would hardly be evidence of anything other than human life. Even if it was the site of the temple, this would not give Judaism a historic or religious claim any more than those of Celtic heritage can lay claim to Austria or the Rhineland where they originated 3,000 years ago.

There was an actual temple on the site between 516 BCE & 70 CE, when the Romans destroyed it. The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been there since 705 CE–nearly 700 years prior to the Vatican city state in Rome. The dispute around Al-Aqsa is part of Zionist attempts to create a religious heritage that does not exist to justify destruction of the mosque.

When Israel was established in 1948, East Jerusalem (where Al-Aqsa is located) came under the control of Jordan but was annexed & occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. After the 1967 war, Zionism appropriated Biblical prophecies about the building of a third temple under the leadership of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the Israeli military & later chief rabbi of Israel. In 1983, Goren & several other rabbis claimed to have seen the Ark of the Covenant in an excavation under the mosque. The Zionist regime had the good sense to seal the chamber with cement so no further inspections could make fools of their right-wing rabbinical ideologues.

Constructing a third temple requires the destruction of Al-Aqsa but the real intention of course is to destroy all Palestinian claims to Jerusalem. To accomplish this, Zionist myth-makers began courting allies among right-wing Christian dispensational Evangelicals with an Apocalyptic theology. This religious tradition takes literally Biblical prophecies that the second coming of Jesus will be heralded by the reestablishment of Israel & the construction of a third temple.

After the 1967 war, Evangelicals fiction writers began speculating how Al-Aqsa could be destroyed: Hal Lindsey wrote “Late Great Planet Earth” (in 1973), an end-time prophecy of famines, wars, earthquakes, Antichrist rule, & Armageddon war preceding the second coming; Salem Kirgan wrote “666” (in 1970), where the Antichrist vaporizes Al-Aqsa with a ruby laser ring; Charles Colson wrote “Kingdoms in Conflict” (in 1987), where American Evangelicals bankroll Israeli Zionists in blowing up the mosque. This is where fiction & right-wing politics shade into derangement.

As a result of Zionist collaboration with dispensationalist Evangelicals, many Zionist Christian groups have been formed in the US & elsewhere; many members of the Lost Tribes of Israel have been identified by Evangelical missionaries in Peru, India, & elsewhere to promote settlements in the West Bank (here fiction shades into folly); sister-city relationships have been forged with Zionist settlements; thousands of Evangelicals pilgrimage & march in Jerusalem every year; in 1969, one Australian Evangelical attempted to torch the mosque. Most importantly, AIPAC has developed strong religious allies.

The profound sarcasm of this alliance is that the religious vision of dispensational Evangelicals requires the mass conversion of Jews to Christianity–or their annihilation in the battle of Armageddon. It doesn’t get more anti-semitic than that. Or more repugnant. What the hell would Jesus say!?

And those are the reasons why Israel continues to prevent Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa but still allows right-wing Zionists to guide tours of the mosque; why they militarily attack Palestinians defending their rights to the mosque; & why defense of the mosque is a part of the struggle against Israeli apartheid.

Here Palestinian Muslims pray outside East Jerusalem since Israeli riot cops are blocking access to Al Aqsa after several days of militarily attacking worshippers.

Support Palestinian justice by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); by supporting the cultural boycotts of Israel; by demanding “No US aid to Israel!”

(Photo by Thomas Coex/AFP)

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