Latest update: May 24th, 2013
Who said Arabs lack imagination? Take the one who is in charge of thinking up new ways to perpetuate anti-Jewish sentiment, especially regarding Jerusalem. Here’s what he came up with just last month: Accusing Israel of planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop the Temple Mount via artificial earthquakes.
The mouthpiece for this particular invention was the head of the Quds Supreme Court, apparently located in Iran, named Yusuf Ade’is. A quick Google search for both the Quds Supreme Court and Ade’is turns up nothing more than this very accusation itself, and so it is not clear what prominence they actually carry. However, this alleged warning of a Zionist plot to quake the mosque made headlines all over the world.
“[Creating artificial earthquakes] is not difficult for the Zionist regime,” Ade’is reportedly said, “since the drilling operations around the Mosque have worn away the foundations of the building.” He did not elaborate on precisely how the quakes would be executed. He did add that Israel’s Defense Ministry had coordinated meetings to “work out plans to destroy the mosque.”
Amusing as the accusations are, we once again must ask: Why? Why do the anti-Zionist Arabs aim their arrows specifically against Jerusalem? Why do they constantly blame Israel for striving to “Judaize” the holy city – the most natural thing for a Jewish state to do?
As we have written previously in this series, Jewish tenets such as the Sabbath, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and even monotheism have all been adapted by other religions as if they were their own – and Jerusalem is no different: The original Bible-mandated “place chosen by Gd,” the seat of the first national Jewish government, the site of the Holy of Holies, and the object of Jewish longing for nearly 2,000 years – is it any wonder that Islam ended up jumping on the bandwagon to discover Jerusalem’s inherent sanctity and claim it for itself?
The Muslims, in fact, maintain not only that Jerusalem is their third-holiest site, and that they will never abandon it, etc. – but also that it has no holiness or historic significance for Jews. Talk about chutzpah; the sole reason it was ever ascribed any Muslim holiness is because of its Jewish history, which they now seek to rebuff.
But it’s actually worse than just chutzpah. When the Muslim-Arab world claims “spiritual” bonds with Yerushalayim, it is downright dangerous – because it disguises a long-term, strategic, nationalist plot to take full control over Jerusalem and rid its Old City of Jewish presence.
We, and the world, must not be fooled: Historically, Muslim ties to Jerusalem have always been based on little more than political expediency disguised as religious fervor. We are now experiencing the fourth wave in Muslims’ aggrandizement of Jerusalem – at our expense – for their own political, not religious, purposes.
The first time Islam artificially enhanced Jerusalem was during Muhammad’s own lifetime. In a barefaced attempt to win over the Jews living near his hometown of Medina, he announced that prayers would be directed toward Jerusalem. When the Jews expressed no interest in his advances, he turned against them, slaughtering many and directing prayers toward Mecca instead.
Muhammad’s abandonment of Jerusalem was so total, writes Dr. Mordechai Kedar, that not only did he not mention the city even once in the Koran, but later, when Muslims conquered the Holy Land, they totally ignored Jerusalem and established their capital in Ramle.
Some decades after Muhammad’s death, Islam again felt the political need to aggrandize Jerusalem. Caliph Abdel Malik, who reigned among Umayyad Muslims from 684 to 705, lost Mecca and Medina to a rival Muslim leader – and he responded by renewing Jerusalem as “top holy city” in their stead. To cement his new policy, he built the impressive Dome of the Rock precisely on the site of the Beit HaMikdash. The number 1 recognized Muslim symbol around the world thus came about as a result of internal Muslim politics and interests.
Not surprisingly, therefore, for the Shiite Muslims – inheritors of those who captured Mecca and Medina, and championed today by Iran – Jerusalem was never an important issue. Even for the others, however, after Jerusalem was no longer needed to buttress the Muslim leaders, its importance once again waned proportionately.
The third Muslim infatuation with Jerusalem occurred during the 12th-century Crusades. Muslim leader Salah a-Din needed to inflame his warriors against the Christian Crusaders – and again, Jerusalem briefly became the focus of jihad and religious longing. Interestingly enough, the Arabic inscriptions that so impressively adorn the Dome of the Rock, written by Salah a-Din and other Islamic conquerors, make no mention of Jerusalem per se; only the triumphant refurbishing of the dome is described.
For centuries thereafter, Jerusalem remained well in the background for the Muslim world, which focused instead on Mecca and Medina as its holy cities.
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.
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