In recent years the Muslim Waqf responsible for administering the Temple Mount has removed piles of earth from the site dumping precious Jewish antiquities into the municipal trash, deliberately erasing the physical connections between the Jewish people and their holiest site.
Only last year there was an incident of vandalism by Palestinian Muslims of sacred Jewish objects at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs.
But who is really threatening the sanctity of religious sites in the Holy Land? According to The Economist, it’s Israel.
The hook on which to hang this absurd charge is one incident of vandalism of David’s Tomb in Jerusalem by Jewish extremists and recent debates on allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount.
In fact, while the desecration of Jewish holy sites is, in the example of the Temple Mount, an officially sanctioned Palestinian activity, Israel has anchored in law the protection of all religious holy sites since 1967 and prosecutes those who are caught violating the law:
The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.
The Economist, however, writes:
A struggle over holy sites is as old as the land itself and today mirrors the divides between the predominantly Jewish Israelis and the mainly Muslim Palestinians as well as Israel’s 1.4m Muslim citizens. It has intensified of late. On February 25th Israeli police clashed with Palestinians on Temple Mount, a site in Jerusalem revered by all faiths. At the same time, the parliament debated—but did not vote on—a bill to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the site. The bill defies a tradition, dating to the 13th century, that says Jews should not tread on the hallowed ground. Although some Jews do not observe the tradition, the authorities ban them from praying there.
In stark contrast, Khaled Abu Toameh says:
There is nothing new about Jews visiting the holy site: this has been taking place since 1967.
The visits, which are being held in coordination with the Israeli authorities, have triggered many confrontations between the Israeli police and Palestinian protesters.
Palestinians claim that the mere presence of Jewish visitors is a “desecration” of the holy site.
That is why some Palestinians have been resorting to violence to stop Jews from visiting the holy site.
The Palestinians say they are only trying to prevent Jews from destroying the mosques and rebuilding the Third Holy Temple.
But the truth is that the vast majority of Jews visiting the holy site are no different from other non-Muslim tourists who come to the area every day.
The Israeli authorities, in fact, require all visitors to the holy site to respect the feelings of Muslims by appearing in modest dress and without weapons.
Moreover, Jews visiting the compound are not allowed to bring sacred Jewish objects [prayer shawls, prayer books, etc].
Some Palestinians, however, are now exploiting these visits to incite the Arabs and Muslims against Israel.
Throwing stones, empty bottles, shoes and petrol bombs at the Jewish visitors and the policemen accompanying them has become almost a daily practice.
This, in addition to regular demonstrations that are staged at the holy site, where protesters chant slogans against Israel, Jews, the US and even some “moderate” Muslims.
The protests are primarily aimed at dragging Arabs and Muslims into war with Israel under the pretext that the Jews are plotting to destroy the Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The ultimate goal is to turn the conflict into a religious war between Jews and Muslims.
With this article, The Economist has evidently bought into this Palestinian strategy. Hardly a surprise when you consider this statement from an accompanying video interview with The Economist’s Middle East correspondent Nicholas Pelham:
One of the key demands of the Israeli government is for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state but I think that one of the key concerns the Palestinians have and Muslims per se is that this would actually allow Israel to further erode what’s historically a Muslim country with many Muslim holy sites and I think that it of great concern not just to Palestinians but Muslims around the world.
So, according to Pelham, Israel is “historically a Muslim country.” Small wonder that The Economist takes such a one-sided and backwards view of Jewish control over religious holy sites.
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