January 28, 2020

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19-Jul-17: The Al-Aqsa factor: Rats, snakes and chickens

Jerusalem: Al Aqsa, Old City walls and new Jerusalem [Image Source: AP]

The police helicopter flying over our home as we type this is a reminder of where the attention of the security services here in Jerusalem is focused tonight.

We’re in the middle of another official Palestinian Arab temper tantrum. They call it something else, of course. And while foreign news media are paying scant attention, the reality on the ground here as well as throughout Israeli and Jews news media is heavy enough to cause a rising sense of anxiety about where the Palestinian Arabs want to take this.

Here’s what we knew last night:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party called for a “day of rage” to take place in eastern Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories on Wednesday.
Additionally, Fatah’s military branch, Tanzim, determined that Friday prayers this week would be conducted in Palestinian public squares, and that sermons would be devoted to supporting the Al-Aqsa Mosque and protesting Israel’s bolstered security at the Temple Mount. The calls follow clashes that broke out in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday when Muslim worshipers blocked a road in protest of new metal detectors placed by Israel at the entrance gates to the Temple Mount, three days after Arab terrorists killed two Israeli police officers near the flashpoint holy site. The protest was prompted by the Islamic Waqf, which together with other Muslim groups issued a statement calling on Muslims “to reject and boycott all the Israeli aggression measures, including changing the historical status quo including imposing the metal detectors.” [“Fatah Incites ‘Day of Rage’ in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories” | Algemeiner/JNS.org | July 18, 2017]

From the same source, reports during the day today speak of serious disturbances and a rising drumbeat of officially-instigated Arab-on-Israeli violence:

Clashes erupted between Muslim rioters and Israeli police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday for the fourth consecutive day. Around 200 protesters convened near the Old City’s Lions’ Gate and performed Islamic prayers to protest the bolstered security implemented at the Temple Mount following last Friday’s terror attack that killed two Israeli police officers near the holy site.
Several of the protesters began shouting chants in support of the Temple Mount complex’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, and were asked by police to leave the area. When one of the protesters refused to comply with the police order, several other protesters began rioting and throwing water bottles at the officers. The police responded by implementing crowd control measures and arresting the man who defied the police order.
Wednesday’s protests came after Muslim rioters clashed with police in the Old City Tuesday night, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party called for a “day of rage” to take place in eastern Jerusalem and the disputed territories. Riots also broke out in Jerusalem’s Old City Sunday when Muslim worshipers blocked…[Riots Continue in Jerusalem Amid Heightened Temple Mount Tensions“, Algemeiner/JNS.org | July 19, 2017]

It’s not hard for an observant bystander to detect just how calculated the current violence actually is. The larger challenge is in seeing how it’s part of a much longer narrative – an effort over generations to depict the Palestinian Arabs, and the Islamic world in general, as being under attack by Israel and its Jews.

We tweeted earlier today about the importance of looking at history and understanding the deep old roots of this week’s violence. It may have been triggered by three Mohammeds from the Jabarin clan traveling up to Jerusalem to have themselves a shooting attack. But it started a lot earlier:

Making that point more concisely is one specific caricature – this one:

Evidently posted by Fatah during 2014 and still online here

The website hosting it is an official one: the Fatah Information and Culture” website and snapshotted for an analytical piece [here] on November 16, 2014 by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Most of the people we know probably see the drawing as a hideous piece of work: Al Aqsa under attack by ravenous rats. Jewish rats. It’s done by a Palestinian Arab cartoonist, Mousa Ajoa, an artist who has a degree in history (yes!) and whose work and career are profiled here on the Arab Cartoon Award website.

But the malevolence is deep. The fact it’s still online three years later indicates this cartoon touches a responsive, angry and – above all – useful spot in the Palestinian Arab psyche. (If they do take it down for some reason, we took the precaution of perma-archiving it here for future reference.) Cartoons have a way of serving as fuel for the fires that ignite wars [see this archive that illustrates the point.]

Many thanks to Gregg Mashberg for alerting us to the existence of this hideous piece of agit-prop. (There’s Palestinian Media Watch commentary on it here.) Gregg downloaded the screenshot himself from the Fatah site in November 2014 and noted that, in his words, “It covers all the bases”:

  • Published by Fatah, not Hamas
  • With the “moderate” Abu Mazen’s face on it side-by-side with that of the ultimate Palestinian hero
  • Depicts Jews as rats, as vermin, clearly marked with Stars of David for ease of identification as they swarm around, gnawing hungily away at the religious site’s foundations
  • And, by the way, what is it that people do with vermin?
  • Particularly with vermin eating away at your key religious symbol?
  • This is Fatah and its leader Mahmoud Abbas calling for an “exterminator” to stop the Jews from destroying the Muslim shrine.
Not fake news – just ask the editors [Source: Al Jazeera]

Given what’s happening now – along with the reality that a picture often is worth 1,000 loud and vicious words – the conscious, systematic resort to inflammatory messaging and imagery like this is not an encouraging sign.

That’s especially true given the long history that Al Aqsa’s “defenders” have of warning it’s about to be defiled or destroyed or worse.

On that point, we recommend reading Nadav Shragai’s comprehensive review of a century of “Al Aqsa is in danger” lies, libels and incitement to murder. It’s online and downloadable from the JCPA site. It will help many readers get a better understanding of the scurrilous process that lies behind Al Jazeera’s signature articles blaming Israel and warning against Israeli plots. When confronted with malicious witch-hunts and lethal journalism, as we all are at this moment, being equipped with facts and factual analysis can be its own reward.

Interestingly, we see, and you might have noticed, that there don’t seem to be too many foreign leaders or leading figures in the peace-making movement or analysts of complicated world situations who are turning to the Palestinian Arab civic and religious leaders with appeals to tone down the fury and rage.

You might imagine that at least some of those deeply-concerned public personages who in the past decried Israel’s indiscriminate,” heavy-handed and intentional measures, might have had something equally helpful to offer Abbas and his raging cronies. Evidently not.

Perhaps they have learned not to mix in when the subject is, you know, about religion and sensitive matters. Or maybe they just lack the courage and the backbone.

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