As Turkey’s new ambassador to Israel presented his credentials to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday, a Turkish charity continues operating in eastern Jerusalem to prevent what it calls the city’s “Judaization.”
The Turkish Heritage Association, “Miratna” provides food packages and financial assistance to needy families, renovates houses, offers educational programs, works to preserve Islamic heritage sites, and even plants olive trees. But the association is also part of the Muslim Brotherhood and is one of several Turkish charity groups working to undermine Israeli sovereignty in eastern Jerusalem.
Details of Miratna’s activities were revealed at a November conference in Istanbul, where the charity is based.
During the conference, the head of the charity, Muhammad Demirji, claimed that there was a 100% increase in “attacks by the Jews” on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and on the Muslim residents of eastern Jerusalem. He also said Miratna monitored Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, claiming that 51,000 “extremist Jews,” as he defined them, “attacked the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
According to Demirji, Israel shut down 818 Islamic and Palestinian institutions throughout the city.
“Israel’s activity is directed mainly against Al-Aqsa and it is intended to dispossess the Muslim Jerusalemites of their homes,” Demirji insisted. “The association will continue to work to prevent the Judaization of the city by Israel.”
Miratna began operating as a non-profit organization in 2008. Documents state that its goals are “to protect the Ottoman heritage in Jerusalem, to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque and carry out projects to preserve the material and moral heritage in the city and in the mosques while supporting the Jerusalem community, assisting and development and to allow future generations to enjoy this heritage.”
In recent years, Miratna has promoted, among other things, a Temple Mount campaign initiated by Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Northern Faction of the Islamic Movement, which was outlawed by Israel in 2015. The Northern Faction is also branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another Miratna initiative is the “Caravan Project.” This program transports Arab-Israeli worshippers to the Temple Mount free of charge to ensure a Muslim presence on the holy sites. The charity claims that, “every day tens of buses transport hundreds of Muslim worshipers from all over Israel.”
Turkey’s ruling AKP Party is ideologically close to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Hamas, which is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian affiliate. A number of senior Hamas operatives are based in Turkey with the blessings of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.