Sunday, February 10, 2008

Israeli Government To Demolish 700-Year-Old Al-Omari Mosque In Occupied Palestine Because It Was "Built Without A License"

Talk about chutzpah. The Israelis are their own worst enemy at times. How can they expect to win hearts and minds when they behave like this? Then again, perhaps the Israelis subscribe to the notion that "if you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow". And the Israelis have had the Palestinians by the balls since 1967 (although the first wave started in 1948).

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, has condemned a decision by Israeli authorities to demolish the Al-Omari mosque (pictured at left, with an Israeli flag contemptuously draped over it) in the village of Umm Tuba near Jerusalem under the pretext that the building had been built without a license.

Sheikh Hussein told the Ma'an News Agency that the mosque was built more than 700 years ago, and it was last restored in 1963. It is the only mosque in Umm Tuba. The Mufti also claimed that Israeli authorities have been attempting to wipe out historic Islamic sites in Palestine which is violation of all religious values and international treaties.

He warned of the repercussions and called on the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which is charged with protecting human cultural heritage around the world, and other international organizations to prevent the demolition of the mosque.

In addition, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) issued a statement on February 2nd condemning the proposed decision to demolish the Al-Omari Mosque. ISESCO faulted the pretexts used by the "Al Quds Municipality under Israeli jurisdiction" [known by the rest of the world as Jerusalem] to justify its decision to demolish the Mosque as being manifestly unfounded.

ISESCO also called on the international community to bring pressure to bear on Israel to reverse its decision to destroy the mosque, considering it an open offence against Islamic sanctities and a grave breach of international law, especially the Geneva Convention and the decisions of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. ISESCO also called upon OIC member states to immediately interfere to stop this aggressive act and protect Islamic historical monuments in the occupied Palestinian territories.

ISESCO also appealed to UNESCO, with which it has a cooperation agreement, to apply pressure on Israel to refrain from implementing its decision. It also called on the United Nations Human Rights Committee to denounce Israel's violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are manifest in the tight restrictions it puts on Palestinian Muslims' right to worship and the acts of aggression it perpetrates against Muslim sanctities.

This issue has also been discussed on the Truthseeker website and on the PalestineFreeVoice blog. The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs is the one Western mainstream media outlet which covers events from the area from a balanced perspective.

Commentary: There has been no response from the Israeli government or the Israeli media. Not surprisingly, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has not issued one of his customary statements "deploring" the proposed Israeli action.

If Israel is allowed to implement this decision, it will further embolden those who want to take more radical steps, such as demolishing the mosques on the Temple Mount to create more room for the prospective Jewish Third Temple. One study I read at one time indicated that there was sufficient room to build the Third Temple on the Mount without removing the Muslim shrines. Since Jerusalem is holy to the three major monotheistic faiths, the Temple Mount area and adjacent parts of the Old City should be "Vaticanized" to ensure equal protection of and access for all three faiths.

The Islamic media doesn't help the Palestinian cause by referring to Jerusalem as "Al-Quds" which, loosely translated, means "the fartherest mosque". How does Islam support their claim of Jerusalem being holy to them when they give the city such a common, ordinary name? The Islamic establishment would increase their credibility by swallowing their pride and referring to Jerusalem as "Jerusalem".

By the way, the Israelis have yet to reveal who had the authority to grant building permits 700 years ago!

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