Thursday, April 04, 2019

What freedom of religion looks like - and what it doesn't look like - courtesy of Saeb Erakat @ErakatSaeb

Israel's Foreign Affairs Ministry Arabic Twitter account sent out this message about a huge $5 million mosque built in Abu Ghosh, Israel that can accommodate 3000 worshipers. It was completed in 2014.

The land for the mosque was donated by the Israel Lands Authority.

Someone tweeted this to the PLO's Saeb Erekat, sarcastically asking if there were any synagogues in Palestinian Arab ruled areas. Erekat responded back:

It is funny that Erekat called it the "Shalom synagogue" because the Palestinians call it the "Shahwan synagogue" after the Arab family whose land it was discovered in. the actual name, "Shalom al Yisrael," literally "Peace unto Israel,"  is apparently too controversial.

More importantly, the Jericho synagogue is a 6th century CE ruin. If Jews want to worship there, they have to go on special protected tours so they won't be attacked by Palestinians - just as they have to do when they visit Joseph's Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) or a number of other important Jewish historic and religious sites under Palestinian Arab control. 

A Jew, or a quorum of Jews, who want to worship in any Jewish holy place under Palestinian Authority control can't simply go without endangering their life. Non-Jewish tourists can and do visit, but Jews praying need IDF protection.

Erekat's example doesn't show that Palestinians respect Judaism. Quite the opposite. He proves the point - that they hate Jews practicing their religion and do not protect those tourists from harm the way they protect non-Jewish tourists.

The contrast between Israel giving land to Muslims to allow them to worship, today, and the Palestinian Authority not protecting Jews who want to pray in ancient holy sites, is as stark as can be.

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