JERUSALEM — There is a story about the Khalifa Umar bin al-Khattab, the Muslim leader who conquered Jerusalem in 637 C.E. It is said that upon entering the city he asked to see the site of the temple built by King Solomon, but could find no one who knew where it was. According to the story, he then came across a poor Jewish beggar sitting in the street. The beggar told the Kalifa that he could take him to the site where the temple once stood. When they arrived at the site Umar realized that the site had been used as the city trash dump. He then went down on his knees and, together with the Jewish beggar, cleaned the site and vowed to build a sanctuary that would for all eternity protect the holy site.
This sanctuary is the Dome of the Rock and with its golden dome it has become the most iconic symbol of Jerusalem. Today, Zionists in Israel plan to destroy it and replace it with what amounts to no more than a slaughterhouse where Jewish fanatics will sacrifice animals in rituals whose time has long past.
The Zionist system of takeovers
If we observe what is happening at the Haram Al-Sharif — the Holy Sanctuary in Jerusalem, where the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock are situated — and compare it to the history of Zionist takeovers of land, towns, neighborhoods and homes elsewhere in Palestine, the only possible conclusion that can be reached is that Israel is intending to push Palestinians and Muslims out and allow more Zionist zealots in. In case it is not abundantly clear at the outset, all people should treat this issue with the gravest concern.
From the earliest days of the Zionist takeover of Palestine, the method employed to take over land has been to send young zealots to confront the Arab population, while the establishment maintains a pretense that this is just a prank by youthful enthusiasts. Then the Zionist establishment allows these young zealots to create what they call “facts on the ground;” and then, gradually, services like water, electricity, roads, and of course security are provided, until this “youthful prank” becomes a Zionist settlement.
This was true in the pre-1948 years; then, after 1967, this system was revived, initially with settlements like the ones in Hebron and Sebastia. Today the system is used to take over areas that are slightly more controversial and in which the state officially does not want to get involved. These are what Israel calls “illegal outposts” — which eventually become “legal,” and then full-fledged settlements.
According to Peace Now: “Under Netanyahu’s government, we have seen intensive activity to restore the widespread phenomenon of illegal outposts deep inside the West Bank.”
Peace Now goes on to say:
The history of the settlements shows that many times an agricultural farm is actually the basis of the establishment of a whole new settlement. At the beginning, the settlers receive an approval to farm the land, then to build a house, and then, with or without an approval, they establish a neighborhood.”
Knesset member Yehuda Glick is an Israeli politician who made the building of a Jewish temple in place of the Islamic monuments that have existed in Jerusalem for over a thousand years his life’s mission. According to Glick, 30 years ago when zealots like himself began to enter the compound — which they call “Har Habayit,” or the Temple Mount — there were about a hundred who went. In 2018 there were some 30,000 and this year they expect 50,000 Jewish zealots to enter the compound.
In an interview with an Israeli television program about the Temple Mount faithful, “Rabbi” Yoel Elitzur, another zealot leader of this group, states: “We will advance one step at a time, we will do what they allow us and we will advance. This has proven itself.”
“You mean a slow confiscation?” the reporter asked him. “Yes.”
The Israeli provocations into the Haram Al-Sharif are very well organized and documented. They are done in coordination with the Israeli security forces and are more like a march of force than an innocent tour. From time to time the boys who give the tours and who go to the sanctuary to create a provocation will drop to the ground and prostrate themselves and get arrested. In a tweet by “Hozrim La’Har” (Returning to the Mount), one can see young men doing this on video.
It is not only about access
Over the years there has been a growing movement of messianic Jewish fanatics who have been holding seminars and practice sessions on how to build the temple and how to conduct animal sacrifices. Priests dressed in costume and all the paraphernalia required are present and hundreds of participants attend the events, which are growing in popularity. Classes and camps for children are also held so as to educate a new generation of Israelis who will want to eliminate all signs of Muslims from Jerusalem, a city that has been Muslim and tolerant of other religions for over a thousand years. Having listened to interviews with members of the Temple Mount Faithful, it seems they have an obsession with burning a red cow and slaughtering young goats and then covering the place with blood pouring from the ritual slaughter. A practice hardly compatible with the quiet spirituality one finds at the Holy Sanctuary today.
Ne’emani Har Ha’bait, or the Temple Mount Faithful, have been financing these events and for the past eight years have been financing an architect in order to make this maniacal, destructive hallucination into a reality. The architect, Yoram Ginzburg, is an Israeli secular Jew who seems to be as enthusiastic about this vision as are all the others. His plan includes creation of a “Greater Jerusalem” that includes the cities of Ramallah and Al-Bire in the north and Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala in the south. “As for the Arabs” who live in these areas, he offers what he calls “two interesting options:” one is expulsion, or, as he calls it, “Evacuation-Compensation;” and the other mass conversion — that all the Palestinians will convert to Judaism. Non-Jews may remain as long as they are loyal to this “Jewish project.”
A serious threat
Jared Kushner’s Deal of the Century is one in which Israel takes all and Palestinians are denied any rights. The Neo-Nazi thugs like Betsalel Smutritch and Michael Ben-Ari, with whom Netanyahu made a pact prior to the April 2019 elections, seem likely to be his coalition partners. Under these circumstances, the dream that the “Temple Mount” loyalists hope to see materialize no longer seems far-fetched.
The history of the past seven decades shows that the masters of the land — the most vicious, violent and racist elements within Israel — always get their way. Unless action is taken swiftly — and Israel with its anti-Arab, anti-Islamic policies is forced to stop — the world risks losing the most iconic symbol of Jerusalem, and one of the oldest and most beautiful religious structures ever created.
Feature photo | The Dome of the Rock Mosque in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City is seen while Jewish orthodox men pray in a cemetery in Jerusalem, Dec. 7, 2017, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Ariel Schalit | AP
Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”