[News] Palestine - Destruction of al-Aqsa is no conspiracy theory
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 10 14:09:43 EST 2015
Destruction of al-Aqsa is no conspiracy theory
Ilan Pappe <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ilan-pappe>
10 November 2015
“It is useless,” asserts the colonizer in Albert Memmi’s classical
tract, /The Colonizer and the Colonized
“to try and forecast the colonized’s actions (‘they are unpredictable!
‘With them, you never know!).” It seems to the colonizer that “strange
and disturbing impulsiveness controls the colonized.”
The only explanation official Israel and its supporters could give for
why Palestinians have risen up lately is that they were influenced by
Islamic propaganda. That propaganda so easily incited the “impulsive and
unpredictable” Palestinians in recent weeks, according to Israeli spin.
Generally speaking, Western commentators have been more willing to place
the resistance in the wider context of the oppression faced by Palestinians.
Yet this Western approach, articulated mainly by liberal academics and
journalists, has something in common with the Israeli one: it regards as
baseless and irrelevant the allegations that Israel plans to demolish
al-Aqsa mosque <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/al-aqsa-mosque> in
Jerusalem or build a “Third Temple
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/third-temple>” on the Haram
al-Sharif <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/haram-al-sharif>, the
surrounding compound. The allegations appear in the western media as a
mere pretext which have only incidentally triggered Palestinians to rise up.
There is no denying that after nearly 50 years of brutal colonization
one does not have to look too far to understand the depths of despair
and levels of rage felt by Palestinians.
However, this understandable impulse to act against oppression should
not lead us to ignore Israel’s plans towards Haram al-Sharif. Nor should
we accept that Arab and Palestinian apprehensions about Israel are
figments of the oriental imagination and not rooted in reality. In fact,
they can be substantiated.
It is, therefore, crucial to ask, whether you are religious or secular:
is al-Aqsa in danger? If it is, then its precarious future is not just
an offense to Islam but also a further indication of how far Israel’s
settler-colonial project could go.
Demolishing Arab and Islamic sites in Jerusalem is not unknown in
Israeli policy and attitudes. In 1967, Israel razed
<http://www.palestine-studies.org/jq/fulltext/78159> the Moroccan
Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem
This was an architectural gem of Islamic civilization dating back to the
late 12th century and had hosted some of the most important Islamic
When Zionism <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/zionism> appeared in
Palestine, its leaders were not only trying to purchase land for
settlement but also to buy what they considered to be Jewish Jerusalem.
Baron Edmond Rothschild attempted
to buy the quarter at the end of the 19th century, as did the Zionist
leadership under the British Mandate
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/british-mandate> — to no avail.
When purchasing did not work, it was taken by force during the 1967 War
The demolition included the destruction of the Sheikh Eid mosque built
by a son of Salah al-Din al-Ayubi, who liberated Jerusalem from the
Crusaders. When learning about the destruction years later, Benjamin
Kedar, a historian and vice president of the Israeli National Academy of
to the Israeli newspaper /Haaretz/ that “it was an archaeological crime.”
The destruction of mosques was not a new practice, or one limited to
Jerusalem. Zionist forces left intact only very few mosques in the
destroyed Palestinian villages and towns during the Nakba
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/nakba> — the ethnic cleansing
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ethnic-cleansing> operation of
1948. The Israeli authorities then turned many of the remaining mosques
into clubs, restaurants and animal enclosures.
Geography of destruction
Thus, neither historical monuments in Jerusalem nor mosques around
Palestine were immune from the destructive policies of the colonizer.
This ruination of the country’s Islamic heritage is deeply engraved in
the Palestinian collective memory.
Palestinians also freqeuently witness Israel destroying buildings with
armored D-9 bulldozers, supplied by the US firm Caterpillar
However, it is not only this vivid memory of the Israeli geography of
destruction that plants fears among many about the future of al-Aqsa. It
is a realistic analysis of the ideology of some of the potent political
forces today in Israel, who are represented in Benjamin Netanyahu’s
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/benjamin-netanyahu> current government.
The most important of them is the ever-growing religious nationalist
movement. It used to be a marginal force, but today it is part of the
As Or Kashti of /Haaretz/ revealed
<http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.683333> recently, part of
the curriculum of that movement’s school system (Israel runs three
systems: a secular Jewish one, a national religious one and the “Arab”
system) is a program that advocates the building of the “Third Temple.”
Building the temple is the ambition of humanity as a whole, pupils are
told. Kashti talked to experts who read the program and although he
stresses that the program does not have a direct reference to blowing up
al-Aqsa, the pupils are inoculated with the idea that they are on the
verge of the Jewish redemption (/Geula/) of the mount.
This program is supported by Naftali Bennet
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/naftali-bennett>, the education
minister. Along with his colleague, Uri Ariel
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/uri-ariel>, Bennett is part of the
Jewish Home <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/habayit-hayehudi>
party, which is committed to replacing al-Aqsa with a Jewish temple.
Following the election earlier this year, Ariel was appointed
agriculture minister. In his previous role as housing minister, he
explicitly to build the new temple over al-Aqsa. He is not a marginal
politician, and neither is his party.
The Israeli government supports
with money and other means several organizations that call openly for a
similar plan. The most important of them is The Temple Institute in
Jerusalem, founded by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/yisrael-ariel>. Its funding has
been investigated <http://www.haaretz.co.il/misc/1.1182476> by the
/Haaretz/ reporter Uri Blau.
The institute’s main goal, according to its website
<https://www.templeinstitute.org>, is “to see Israel rebuild the Holy
Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem [al-Aqsa mosque compound], in
accordance with the Biblical commandments.”
There is nothing ludicrous or unimaginable in assuming that a zealot
Zionist will one day carry out such plans.
/The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and
director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University
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