One of the most enduring anti-Israel slanders is the charge that it is persecuting non-Jews and destroying Muslim and Christian holy sites. These dubious claims continue to be made not only by international organizations, but by U.S. groups like American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Coming at a time when Christians are under direct attack from Muslims in Egypt, Nigeria and in other Muslim states, promulgating such fantasies serves only to incite hatred and violence against Jews.
Palestinian Muslims and Christians “are living basically in an outdoor prison, in refugee camps,” CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid said in a May speech to the Islamic Organization of North America. “Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is our property for us to defend. This is the land that Allah guided us to … and it should be free” (i.e., not under Israeli jurisdiction).
CAIR-Michigan’s Lena Masri last month tweeted an op-ed from a pro-Hizballah Lebanese newspaper accusing Israel of destroying Palestinian mosques. In 2010, CAIR-Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush wrote that a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court rejecting claims that authorities desecrated a Muslim cemetery was illegitimate: “This is the same court that has long excused internationally condemned apartheid-like policies and human rights violations against Palestinians, including occupation, settlement construction and denying refugees the right to return.”
In 2010, Israel added two of the most holy sites in Judaism – the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem – to its historic registry list, drawing an angry reaction from AMP Chairman Hatem Bazian, who said the designation “proves Israel does not want peace.” Bazian claimed that the move is “just the latest in a series of actions aimed at separating Palestinians from their land.”
Both Hamas and the more “moderate” Palestinian Fatah organization have accused Israel of a laundry list of crimes against non-Jews, ranging from drinking Muslim blood to attempting to steal Jerusalem’s “Islamic-Christian religious history.”
Perhaps no falsehood has been recycled more often than the claim that Israel seeks to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque.
On Aug. 21, 1969, a deranged Australian Christian named Michael Dennis Rohan set fire to the mosque. Although Israeli firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and Rohan confessed to setting it, Islamists and others have spent more than four decades propagating the falsehood that Jews and Israelis were behind the attack.
Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes writes that many Muslims around the world became convinced that Israel had paid Rohan (some claimed his actual name was Cohen) up to $100 million to torch the mosque.
As Palestinian Media Watch has documented, the al-Aqsa slander has become a staple of Palestinian Authority propaganda, with its media organs claiming that Jews seek to invade al Aqsa, and that Israel plans to destroy the mosque and build the Jewish Temple in its place. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has declared that Israel seeks to destroy that shrine.
“Israel’s policies and schemes have never stopped and will never stop in al-Aqsa courtyards in order to harm [the mosque’s] Arabness and holiness,” PA television told viewers August 3. “What is new this time is the discovery of traces of dangerous chemicals in the al-Aqsa foundations and [the discovery of] other solvents used to cause the foundations to crumble and collapse.” That same day, the official PA daily al-Hayat al-Jadida claimed the Israeli chemical plot was part of “a dramatic offensive to Judaize the city and utterly erase its original [Arab] landmarks.”
In June, Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie exhorted Muslims to make their “sole goal” the “recovery of al-Aqsa Mosque, freeing it from the filth of the Zionists, and imposing Muslim rule throughout beloved Palestine.”
Badie added that “The Lord of Glory has threatened these murdering Zionists criminals with a penalty of a kind which operates in this world before the Hereafter.”
The website of Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood cleric based in Qatar, recently featured a statement from the International Union of Muslim Scholars accusing “armed Zionists” of committing “aggression” against Muslim worshippers at al-Aqsa and declaring Jerusalem “the holy city for Muslims and Christians.” The same statement denounced Israel for insisting that Arab peace negotiators recognize it as a Jewish state.
Hizballah boss Hassan Nasrallah has accused Israel of attempting to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque. The Iranian regime’s Fars News Agency published a story quoting without rebuttal a “Palestinian activist” warning that Israel may order the mosque’s destruction “through an artificial (earth) quake.” After Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian rioters at the mosque compound in October 2009, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal claimed the incident was “the first step towards dividing the mosque, and demolishing it and building a temple in its place.
“Jerusalem belongs to its Arab inhabitants, Muslims and Christians. The future (of the city) will not be settled at the negotiating table, but on the ground of confrontation and resistance,” Meshaal added.