Abbas’ Religious Incitement

The PA intensifies its appeals to Islam in its war against Israel.

Since its independence, the Jewish state has been under siege by the Arab states.  The secular, nationalist, Arab dictatorships waged three major wars on Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973.  Alongside the wars that meant to destroy the Jewish state and drive its inhabitants into the sea, was an Arab League economic boycott.  Since the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964, a terror war against Israel has ensued.  The First Palestinian Intifada (uprising) occurred in 1987, the Second intifada, much bloodier, began in September, 2000.  Both ran out of steam and failed to break the spirit of Jewish Israel, just as the Arab nationalist wars and the economic boycotts failed to dismantle the Jewish state. In 1979, Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, and Jordan followed in 1994.  The Palestinians continued to employ terror against Jews but added law-fare to the menu, and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, which seeks to delegitimize, demonize, and ultimately destroy the Jewish state.

In the last few months a far more insidious campaign was launched by the Palestinians, aided by Islamist elements in the Arab and Muslim world - to damage the Jewish state. It is a religious incitement campaign which seeks to awaken anti-Jewish religious grievances against the Jews of Israel, with worldwide implications for Jews everywhere. 

The Islamic Wakf (endowment) Ministry, under the Palestinian Authority (PA), in charge of the mosques on Temple Mount or the Noble Sanctuary (Haram el Sharif), has claimed that the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has altered the status quo (Mahmoud Abbas incited Palestinians by repeating the false charge) that existed since 1967 when Israel gained control over all of Jerusalem.  The status quo gave Jews the right to visit the Temple Mount but not to pray there.  The Western Wall was and remains the Jewish place of prayer.

Palestinians additionally contend that the Western Wall, a remnant of the Jewish Temple, is an Islamic shrine, as is the Machpela caves in Hebron, the burial places of the biblical Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah, and the burial place of Rachel in Bethlehem.  All of these biblical and Jewish historical monuments are now being coopted by the PA and the Wakf as Islamic shrines.  Ancient and precious Temple artifacts discovered by the Wakf officials while doing renovations on the Temple Mount mosques were discarded lest they prove Jewish claims to the Temple Mount.  

Jerusalem Post reported (October 27, 2015) that, “The UNESCO director-general and the U.S. bashed as incitement to violence the draft text of a resolution that seeks to reclassify the Western Wall as a holy Muslim site.”  Israel slammed the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization on Tuesday (October 27, 2015) for adopting a “completely one-sided resolution” on the Old City of Jerusalem that “deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital.”

The Heritage Committee of UNESCO (Algeria, Colombia, Croatia, Finland, Germany, India, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Serbia, Turkey, Viet Nam), chaired by Islamic Turkey while meeting in Bonn, Germany, adopted a resolution that accused Israel of engaging in “Illegal excavations” in the Old City; causing damage to structures on Temple Mount; impeding restoration work on Temple Mount ; and damaging the visual integrity of the Old City with the Jerusalem light rail. It also deplores various Israeli projects in and around the Old City and the Western Wall Plaza it (the committee) referred to as the “Buraq Plaza” (the Islamists and their western lackeys named the plaza after the Prophet Mohammad’s horse Buraq).  It is another way to mock and insult the Jews.

Dore Gold, Director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry attacked the resolution, which he said “glossed over any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, (and) it also failed to acknowledge Christianity’s ties to Jerusalem, and refers to the Temple Mount as a “Muslim holy site of worship.”  Gold added, “In fact, the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem has survived from ancient times to modern times. The Jewish people restored their majority in Jerusalem in the mid-19th century.  Their ancient synagogues were destroyed and desecrated by a coalition of invading armies in 1948 (actually by the Jordanian Arab Legion-JP), who ethnically cleansed the Old City of any Jewish presence.” Gold went on to say that it is Israel that defends religious freedom “against the tide of intolerance,” sweeping the Middle East.

Dore Gold concluded by saying: “As the historical heritage sites of this area are being systematically destroyed by jihadist forces, such as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, UNESCO’s adoption of utterly false allegations about Israeli archeological practices is misplaced and hypocritical, at best. The (UNESCO) resolution is full of distortion and is totally disconnected from reality on the ground.”

In an interview on November 18, 2014 on Palestinian State TV with Mahmoud al-Habbash, Supreme Sharia Judge and advisor to PA Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, openly admitted that Abbas was inciting terror.  He used the term “Ribat,” which means a religious war or conflict to reclaim land defined as Islamic.  This was in connection with the Palestinian terrorist attack in the Har Nof section of Jerusalem in which four Jews were murdered while praying in a synagogue.  More recently, on October 13, 2015, Abbas referred to the knife-and-gun wielding pair who killed one Israeli and injured several others on a Jerusalem city bus as “martyrs” who carried out a shooting and stabbing operation.  In a recent post, Abbas justified the current wave of violence.  Another post by a Fatah official claimed that killing “settlers,” (Israeli Jews living in Judea and Samaria,) is both legal and a national duty.

Last October, much like this one, Mahmoud Abbas had aggressively incited violence against Jews on the Temple Mount.  Last year he called on Palestinians to stop Jews from visiting the Temple Mount “using all means.” Arab and Islamic groups regularly call the Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount “settlers, and invaders.”  Arutz Sheva reported (September 2, 2015) that the PA government issued a statement in its official mouthpiece, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida calling on Palestinians to protect Muslim control over Jerusalem and “carry out Ribat,” while at the same time blaming Israel for any violence that might occur. The PA statement warned that if the Israeli government continues its current policy regarding Jerusalem and its holy sites, it would definitely cause the entire region to go up in flames, and drag it into a religious war.

It is apparent that with world attention focused elsewhere in the Middle East, especially on Syria and Iraq, the Palestinian issue has been pushed aside.  Abbas, essentially becoming irrelevant and possibly deprived of a large portion of western aid to sustain his regime, needed to incite violence in order to get international attention, regardless of the consequences in terms of human lives lost.  With Hamas trying to ‘steal his thunder’ by besting him in promoting Jihad, Abbas sought to encourage the current strife as a way to become relevant and garner financial support for his insolvent regime.

With the UN membership ploy now behind him and no concrete results to show, and all other means of damaging Israel have not succeeded, Abbas has resorted to a dangerous game.  He has turned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a land dispute into a Jewish-Muslim conflict with strong religious overtones, which threatens to destroy any possible peaceful resolution of the conflict.