Palestinians are again repeating the lie that al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is in danger because the Jews are planning to "storm" and "desecrate" it.
Some Palestinians and Muslims have gone so far as to accuse the Jews of plotting to destroy the mosque. The latest campaign of lies and misinformation arrived as Jews, on May 18, were preparing to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem by holding a flag parade in the city.
For days, the hashtag "al-Aqsa Mosque is in Danger" was trending on various social media platforms, evidently as part of a concerted campaign to smear Jews and rally Muslims against them.
Notably, participants in the Jerusalem flag parade -- which is held every year -- never enter either the premises of al-Aqsa Mosque or the Temple Mount compound. Like all non-Muslims, however, Jews do visit the Temple Mount on other days of the year. There is no ban on such visits. Jewish visitors, however, contrary to claims by some Palestinians, do not set foot inside any mosque on the Temple Mount. They tour only outdoor parts of the Temple Mount compound, and under heavy police protection.
If anyone has been desecrating al-Aqsa Mosque, it is Muslims who have been rioting and using rocks and fireworks to attack police officers and Jewish visitors. Muslim rioters -- not peaceful Jewish visitors -- are the real threat to the sanctity of the mosque.
Israeli authorities have clarified that the route of the "flag parade" absolutely does not include entry into any mosque. According to a statement published by the Israel Police on May 18:
"In recent hours, we have witnessed the continuation of incitement attempts on social networks, along with old videos and documents that are out of context
"This morning the prayers of the Muslims on Temple Mount are held as usual and so is the movement in and to the Old City. In addition, the visitations [by non-Muslims, including Jews] are held as usual on the Temple Mount in accordance with the rules of the holy site"
Assurances by the Israeli authorities, however, have not stopped Palestinians and other Muslims from spreading fake news and libels against Jews.
Sheikh Abdel Hai Yusef, described as a Muslim "scholar," posted a video on Twitter in which he called on Muslims to converge on al-Aqsa Mosque to "defend" it against attempts by "the Zionists to desecrate the mosque during the so-called flag march." He added: "This is the duty of all Muslims. Anyone who can arrive at the mosque should do so out of loyalty to God and his prophet, Mohammed."
Egyptian Muslim "scholar" Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sughayyar called on Muslims to barricade themselves inside al-Aqsa Mosque. According to the cleric, it is the "duty" of all Muslims to converge on the mosque on the pretext that is "in danger."
Iran's terror proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have also used the celebrations in Jerusalem to spread the libel that Jews are planning to "desecrate" al-Aqsa Mosque.
Hassan Ezaddin, a Hezbollah member of the Lebanese parliament, also urged Muslims to "assume their responsibility to defend al-Aqsa Mosque."
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said that the Palestinians will not allow Israel to "tamper" with al-Aqsa Mosque. As far as Hamas and other Palestinians are concerned, the very presence of Jews at their holy site and in Israel is supposedly a "provocation."
Hamas and several terror groups in the Gaza Strip, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also repeated the lie that "al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger." The groups published a statement in which they said that the Israeli "aggression on al-Aqsa Mosque requires an escalation of resistance activities." When the terror groups talk about "resistance," they are referring to the need for terrorism against Israel, including firing rockets from the Gaza Strip, and attacks by stabbing, shooting and car-ramming.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank also joined the campaign of incitement against Israel and Jews ahead of the celebrations in Jerusalem. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, echoed the threats by the Iranian-backed terror groups and Muslim "scholars" and also warned that the "flag parade" was a "provocation that would lead to tension and an explosion." He, too, repeated the lie that Jews were planning to "storm" al-Aqsa Mosque – a reference to totally peaceful tours by Jews to the Temple Mount.
The PA's involvement in the campaign of incitement against Israel and Jews is not new. In the past, the Palestinian Authority issued a number of statements propagating the false slogan that the Jews are planning to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque.
Abbas has, on a number of occasions, even denied any connection of Jews to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, despite vast archeological and documentary evidence that incontrovertibly demonstrate the opposite. The Western Wall, for instance, sacred to Jews, is a retaining wall: all that is left of the Temple of Solomon, destroyed for a second time, by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia had already destroyed it before, in 586 BCE. Additionally, the Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of Josephus Flavius and the name of the area Judea, all massively attest to the presence of Jews throughout the region, dating back more than 3,500 years.
This view, that the Jews do indeed have a deeply-rooted connection to the land of Israel, known previously as Canaan, was reaffirmed once again on April 14 -- inside al-Aqsa Mosque -- by the Palestinian Islamic scholar Issam Amira:
"The people of Palestine have no historical rights to Palestine. They have no right that dates back 2,000, 3,000, or 4,000 years. The right of the Canaanites to Palestine is equal to the pharaohs' right to Egypt. Is it conceivable that any Muslim in Egypt would say: 'I am Pharaonic and proud of it?' Well, it is the same if a Muslim in Palestine said, 'I am a Canaanite and proud of it.' To hell with your Canaanite identity and to his Pharaonic identity. People, our history is simple and it is not ancient. It must not be said that the Palestinians have Canaanite roots. Our history dates back only 1,440 years. 1,440 years ago we had no rights of any kind. Absolutely none. ..... The only thing you are allowed to say is: Oh Palestinians, you are Muslims."
Nevertheless, in a speech at the United Nations on May 15, Abbas again claimed there is no proof of Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and its adjacent Western Wall. "They [Israel] dug under al-Aqsa Mosque... they dug everywhere, and they could not find anything," Abbas said. He also claimed that "ownership of Al-Buraq Wall [the Western Wall] and Haram Al-Sharif [Temple Mount] belongs exclusively and only to Muslims alone."
The lie that Jews are planning to destroy the mosque is also not new.
For the past century, Palestinian leaders have used the lie that "al-Aqsa is in danger" to incite their people to attack Jews. Palestinian leaders, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, an ally of Hitler and Nazi collaborator, as well as former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, have denied the existence of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accused Israel of planning attacks on the mosque.
According to Nadav Shragai, a veteran journalist and expert on Jerusalem:
"The archaeological digs that Israel has conducted over the years near the Temple Mount, far from the mosques, are a laudable scientific and cultural endeavor. Since liberating Jerusalem in 1967 from Jordanian occupation, Israel has protected religious sites of all faiths and ensured freedom of worship for all peoples."
The revival of the "al-Aqsa is in danger" libel is part of an ongoing effort by Palestinians and other Muslims to delegitimize and eliminate Israel. Palestinian leaders and Muslim "scholars" spread lies about Israel and Jews to encourage and justify terrorism.
Moreover, this libel is part of a longtime effort to deny Judaism's 3,000-year-long connection to the Temple Mount. The mosque is by no means under threat by Jews, who since 1967 have allowed Muslims to manage the affairs of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the authorities of the Islamic Waqf.
The real threat to the mosque and other holy sites in Jerusalem is posed by those Palestinians and Muslims who use battle cries to incite violence, terrorism and Jew-hate.
Incomprehensibly, much of the international community (here, here, here and here), the media (here, here and here), and even prominent self-declared "human rights" organizations (here, here and here) persist in defaming Israel and ignoring this fabricated, toxic incitement by Palestinian and Muslim leaders.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.