Tuesday’s Temple Mount “pilot” program, the title Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used for his one-day permit for Knesset members to ascend to the holiest site for Jews, offered a glimpse at the way Muslims are viewing the entire affair. The story on this experiment in coexistence was headlined by the Ma’an news agency: “Religious and National Figures: the Storming of the Aqsa Mosque is Rejected and Provocative.”
A screenshot of the illustration of said “storming” appears here, showing about a dozen Jewish visitors, including MK Shuli Mualem (Habayit Hayehudi) strolling leisurely along the periphery of the compound. If they have storming on their mind, they are certainly quite adept at hiding their nefarious intentions.
And yet, the Ma’an report read: “The two deputies of the Israeli Knesset, Yehuda Glick and Shuli Mualem, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Mugrabi Gate, guarded by the Israeli occupation forces.”
In the picture there’s only one occupying force, way back, behind the nice storming lady in the green shirt. All the other occupying forces were probably having lunch at the time.
According to Ma’an, Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director general of Jerusalem’s Wqaf, told Agence France-Presse that allowing members of the Knesset to break into the Aqsa Mosque is a provocative decision against the blessed mosque, and a political decision to appease extremists at the expense of al-Aqsa and Muslims. Members are provocative and unjustified, and are rejected by the Islamic Endowments Department and all Muslims.
So, let’s reexamine the group of supposedly provocative group for signs of provocation. MK Mualem is wearing a red skirt, and red is considered highly provocative, but mostly in coridas on the Iberian peninsula and in Mexico. Other than that, it’s difficult to depict any sign of provocation in this small group, except, of course for the fact that all of them, especially the men, appear Jewish.
And on that count Sheikh al-Khatib is absolutely right, Jews have been provoking the entire world for millennia by being and, even worse, looking Jewish. Muslims, like so many other gentiles throughout history, have tried countless times to alleviate this provocation by radically reducing the number of Jews in the world, but those of us who survive these corrective efforts just continue being Jewish, without consideration for the hurt feelings of human society.
Firas al-Dibs, Public Relations and Information Officer at the Islamic Endowments Department, told Agence France-Presse: “Permitting Knesset members to break into Al-Aqsa today is unacceptable, and we believe that extreme rightwing parties are the ones who control the decisions of the occupation government.”
The part about MKs breaking into al-Aksa is hard to understand, seeing as they appear to be walking upright, accompanied by a security officer. The part about extreme rightwing parties controlling the government, well, these include Likud, the largest party in the Knesset – if they are the extremists, then the role of the non-extremist majority must be relegated to the opposition parties, the Knesset minority, making a mockery out of Math and logic.
Hatem Abdel Qader, a PLO official in charge of the Jerusalem portfolio, told Agence France-Presse: “We do not differentiate between storming by a settler or by a Knesset member. These attacks are unacceptable and bear the same objective, but we see that allowing a number of MKs to break into the Aqsa Mosque in this tense situation will have serious repercussions if it continues.”
Qader’s note is founded on a terminological convention in the Arab marketplace of ideas, whereby any Israeli who is not leftwing is by definition a “settler.” Settler is no longer a reference to Jews living in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem or even the Golan Heights. Settler is a state of mind. By that logic, any Israeli who visit the Temple Mount is a settler, even if he or she live in Givatayim.
Which finally redeems this beautiful, biblical word, “mitnachel,” which has always been a positive term in the annals of the Zionist movement and became a bad word some time after Israel conquered the West Bank. Yes, these are also beautiful, positive terms. Jews have been conquering their land since the days of Joshua, nothing negative there, and the West Bank of the Jordan River is an excellent term to describe where Joshua’s conquest took place: we all stood on the eastern bank of the river, Joshua gave the command and we crossed over to the west bank.
All of which brings us to an inevitable conclusion: since no matter how gently and carefully we pace along the perimeter of the Temple Mount compound, the other side will always accuse us of storming – let’s storm the place, once and for all, and hang an Israeli flag right where it once flew, for one day, on June 7, 1967.