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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Followup on Saudi preacher and Jerusalem

Asharq Al Awsat has an op-ed by Hamad Al-Majid from which we can piece together what happened after the Saudi TV preacher, Mohammed al-Arifi, apparently changed his mind about visiting Jerusalem under pressure from Saudi clerics.

After all the criticism, Al-Arifi claimed that he was misunderstood - he never intended to broadcast his show from Jerusalem to show solidarity with Palestinian Arabs. Oh, no. He was just going to go to the Jordanian border and look at Jerusalem from afar.

In fact, al-Arifi said, it was all merely a misunderstanding and he could never visit Jerusalem as long as it remains under Zionist occupation and that he would never appeal to or beg the Israeli consulates to grant him an entry visa. He added that he would never enter Jerusalem except by the sword "just as the Zionists seized it by the sword."

The columnist, a seemingly moderate Saudi who is active in human rights and has received degrees from universities in the US and the UK, says that he was surprised at the number of young people who supported the idea of al-Arifi visiting the city. He finds a silver lining in the episode:
Dozens of Arab satellite television channels dedicated hours of live broadcast to cover the issue of the Jerusalem visit and to explain its broad impact, danger and [potential] repercussions on the Arab-Israeli conflict. A number of Muslim sheikhs and scholars appeared on television and warned against this. It was one rare occasion where the entire intellectual and political spectrum including Islamists and liberals shared the same view and criticized the idea of a Muslim scholar visiting Jerusalem.

Though the statement made by Sheikh al Arifi about visiting Jerusalem caused unease, discontent, confusion and strong reactions, it must be stated that it was not all bad. The question ‘what’s wrong with visiting Jerusalem’ was finally answered in a detailed and comprehensive manner through debate, discussions, articles and fatwa shows in response to Sheikh al Arifi’s proposed visit to Jerusalem. It was a good opportunity to shed light once again on the issue of anti-normalization with our Zionist enemy and to revive the idea among the younger generations that are sadly unaware of the significance of the anti-normalization campaign and the necessity of keeping it alive.
Sadly, I was not privy to the many hours of debates he mentions, so I do not know the Islamic legal issues involved in banning Muslims from visiting Islam's supposedly third-holiest site.

But the question must be asked: If there is such a consensus that Muslims may not visit Jerusalem - even to help boost the morale of their poor, oppressed Palestinian Arab brethren - then why are Palestinian Muslims allowed to visit the city? If the only way to visit is "by the sword," then shouldn't they also withdraw as soon as possible until that glorious day arrives?

In fact, wouldn't the same logic apply to the entire West Bank and Gaza? After all, the PalArabs must suffer humiliation daily from the Zionist occupiers, and they must show their dependence on the Jewish state for travel and other daily activities. Wouldn't it be better if they joined the "anti-normalization" movement and refused to even live in an area that is under occupation until the Muslim world awakens from its slumber and pushes the Jews into the sea?

Obviously, maintaining hatred for Israel is much more important than showing love for Jerusalem and love for Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs themselves do not seem to be showing the correct levels of hatred by continuing to live under the oppressive Zionists, as opposed to the lucky ones who live under the benevolent Lebanese or remain stateless after being in Syria for three generations. Isn't it time for them to do something about it and eliminate their ties to Jewish-occupied territory altogether until they could enter it "by the sword?"

I must be missing something.