Thursday, October 07, 2010

Al Azhar sheikh's weird logic in banning Arabs from visiting Jerusalem

From a Q&A with the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar University in Egypt, Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb, in Asharq al-Awsat:

Q) This leads us on to talk about inter-faith dialogue. What does it mean? And what does the future hold, in terms of engaging in dialogue with the Vatican and Christian institutions around the world? Would this dialogue be restricted to Christians, thus dismissing the Jews? And would holding dialogue with Jews be considered a kind of normalization?

A) ...We have not ruled out the idea of holding dialogue with the followers of Judaism, but we refuse to have such dialogue taken as a pretext for normalization. Therefore we abstain from engaging in any dialogue with the Zionists who deny the collective rights of Arabs and Muslims and persist in occupying Arab territories, violating sanctums and inflicting injustice, aggression and blockades.

Q) This leads us to question the call made by the Minister of Religious Endowments, Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, urging all Muslims to visit Jerusalem. What is your personal and professional opinion of this call?

A) ...In my own opinion, visiting Jerusalem whilst it is under Israeli occupation does not serve any interest, nor does it help to protect the sanctum. What proves my point is that Israel does not allow the actual Arab residents of Jerusalem, or those from the 1948 Arab population who hold Israeli nationality, to visit Jerusalem except under stated terms. And since Israel has the power to permit or refuse visits to Jerusalem, it is inconceivable it would allow an influx of Arabs and Muslims from across the world to visit al-Aqsah Mosque. That would undermine Israel’s attempt to Judaize Jerusalem, and change the dynamics of al-Aqsah Mosque. However, Israel would try and capitalize on the idea of Arabs and Muslims visiting al-Aqsah Mosque, by advocating further steps toward normalization. It would claim that no one is prevented from visiting al-Aqsah Mosque, and would state that visiting al-Aqsah Mosque, with an Israeli entry visa, is completely a natural occurrence. This would encourage Arabs and Muslims to gradually become familiar with such a situation, without disapproving of it, and that in itself constitutes great harm.
So first he says that there is no way Israel would allow many Muslims to visit Jerusalem, and then he say that Israel would allow many Muslims to visit Jerusalem, and that this is the worst possible thing for Arabs.

It amazes me how religious leaders actively discourage their people from visiting their own holy sites if there is even a perception that Israel might benefit, perhaps from a PR perspective. Can anyone imagine an Israeli rabbi prohibiting any visits to Joseph's Tomb because there is a possibility that the PA could use it as a propaganda victory?

Indeed, hatred for Israel trumps love of the Al Aqsa Mosque in today's mainstream Arab/Muslim thought (influential cleric Yusuf Qaradawi has issued a similar ruling.)

But one thing is correct. Israel does indeed trumpet freedom of worship in Jerusalem, for good reason. As Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Wednesday: (h/t My Right Word)

The only limitation on religion in Jerusalem today is that Jews are not allowed to pray at the Temple Mount. Over 200,000 Muslims came during Ramadan to pray at the Temple Mount. This was strategically important for us in the future. Israel proved, both practically and ideologically, that we can share this wonderful city with the world.
Al-Tayeb hates, with a passion, the idea that Jerusalem's Jewish mayor can make such a statement. Because Barkat's accurate description of freedom of worship in Jerusalem makes Israel look less than totally evil, and that is simply not acceptable. Better to forbid the entire Arab Muslim world from visiting a Muslim holy site than give the chance for a Jewish politician to make a statement like Barkat's.

Beyond that, Zionist Jews are by definition selfish,  so when they say they want to share Jerusalem's holy sites, they are denying the Muslim imperative to close them off to Jews!

In case you don't see the obvious logic in the Arab position vis a vis Jerusalem, here's a handy guide:

"Sharing" is a keyword for "normalization" which means "Judaization" which means "apartheid" which means "ethnic cleansing" which means "genocide."

When Jews talk about having Jerusalem open to all people, what they really mean is that they want to kick all the Arabs out. Therefore, Muslims must boycott visiting Jerusalem so that Israel cannot have the satisfaction of sharing it with Muslims which is phase one of its Judaization plan. As long as Muslims keep away from the city, the Jews cannot take it over.

This is what al-Tayeb is saying. And it makes perfect sense, if you at first assume a seething hatred for everything Israeli, where having Israel "win" is to be avoided at all costs, your own people be damned.