[News] Palestine - Destruction of al-Aqsa is no conspiracy theory

Anti-Imperialist News 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>
*https://electronicintifada.net/content/destruction-al-aqsa-no-conspiracy-theory/14991*
10 November 2015

“It is useless,” asserts the colonizer in Albert Memmi’s classical 
tract, /The Colonizer and the Colonized 
<https://books.google.be/books?id=ee1TEf25qicC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Colonizer+and+the+Colonized&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Colonizer%20and%20the%20Colonized&f=false>/, 
“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.


    Archaeological crime

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 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/old-city-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 
religious orders.

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 
<https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zhdp9btWGWQC&pg=PP10&lpg=PP10&dq=ISBN+0-87306-879-3.&source=bl&ots=k1M_Dy2Zee&sig=6cz83Jjiugjav-Sr4tZsKnG_kA8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAGoVChMI4eW9_uqDyQIVCNYeCh0S9QHX#v=onepage&q=Rothschild&f=false> 
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 
and demolished.

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 
Sciences, declared 
<http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/rare-photograph-reveals-ancient-jerusalem-mosque-destroyed-in-1967.premium-1.436593> 
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 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/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 
establishment.

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 
called 
<http://www.timesofisrael.com/minister-calls-for-third-temple-to-be-built/> 
explicitly to build the new temple over al-Aqsa. He is not a marginal 
politician, and neither is his party.

The Israeli government supports 
<http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Report-State-funds-groups-that-advocate-building-Third-Temple-321990> 
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 
of Exeter./

-- 
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