Syed Qamar A Rizvi
WHILE Muslims across the globe have observed the Al-Quds day on June 23, the Israeli institutions and organizations are reportedly awaiting the Netanyahu government’s go-ahead for the construction of a so-called ‘Third Temple’ in place of al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in the Israeli-occupied Jerusalem al-Quds. ‘Wall politics’ have been a part of the ongoing antagonism between ‘occupier and occupied’. Ironically, the Zionist-backed propaganda move is being covertly and overtly supported by Israeli premier’s cabinet ministers who harbour Jewish fundamentalism.
Since the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli governments in power— the Likud or Labour have been intermittently trying to divert the global attention from the simmering issue of Arab-Israeli conflict via propaganda or political treachery. Today, the Likud government under Netanyahu is sponsoring a Zionist project via propaganda strategy— under the Temple Movement— to build a third Temple in the Al-Aqsa compound. Speaking to a recently held Knesset session, Netanyahu said he wanted to make one thing clear: “The Temple Mount and the Western Wall will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty. The correction of a historical injustice that was achieved by the heroism of our fighters 50 years ago will stand forever.”
Israeli Zionists claim they have had the right to build a third temple— in line with ‘scriptural prophecies’ to follow the tradition of the first and second ones built in ancient times. In addition to Israeli government funding for extremist Temple Mount groups and sponsorship of their events, public schools in Israel indoctrinate Jewish children about the Temple Mount movement and ingrain a desire to build a temple in the Noble Sanctuary. Muslims consider the trespass into the al-Aqsa Mosque yard as part of an Israeli ‘Judaization campaign’ that targets the holy city of al-Quds and a provocation. According to a November 2015 report in Haaretz newspaper entitled, Religious Public Schools Teach Children to ‘Long for the Third Temple,’ for a number of years Jewish public religious schools have been using a curriculum that stresses the importance of building a third temple in the Noble Sanctuary to the national goals of Israel and Judaism. According to the report, the government has been paying the Temple Institute to organize lectures and workshops for both religious and secular students.
Another hardline rising star in Netanyahu’s Likud party, Regev has been aggressively campaigning to change the status quo in the Noble Sanctuary, including introducing a bill to the Israeli Knesset (parliament) in May 2014 calling for Jews to be able to pray there. Another settler and member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, Elkin once declared: “It is important to remove it [the Temple Mount] from the purview of the wild-eyed religious. We must explain to broad swaths of the people that without this place, our national liberty is incomplete.”
Since the Israeli army occupied Jerusalem in 1967, the site has borne witness to several provocative events. Jordan strongly denounced Israel for attacking Palestinian worshipers at the site and allowing ‘Zionist extremists’ to enter the compound. Over the past decades, Tel Aviv has been trying to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population-as clearly and forcefully denounced by the UNESCO resolution of December, 2016. Reacting on the Resolution, Israel’s construction minister Galant remarked: ‘’They should learn from history – from the Romans and all the others – that it is impossible to defeat the Jewish spirit,” he said. “And the Zionist movement is the answer that we have since the last 100 years in order to symbolize what it means to come back to our homeland.”
The Temple movement— that was once taboo and labelled to extremist politicians— has today garnered support from a who’s who of religious leaders, current MKs and even cabinet minister Uri Ariel. Ariel could be called the political brainchild of the movement: In September, before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s blanket ban on ministers visiting the site, Ariel was filmed on the Temple Mount while praying. The mental affiliation of PM Netanyahu with this Zionist project can be endorsed by the fact that Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a personal friend of Netanyahu heads the Haliba—a coalition of organizations promoting Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. With automated Ark of the Covenant curtains, the Jewish quarter in the Old Jerusalem looks like Disney Land for ‘Temple fundamentalists’. Today, the determined Palestinian youth thinks the traditional nationalists— who led the political battle of the ‘Mandate era’ — could not foresee the ‘power politics’ of the Zionist-Western alliance. Yet a liberal Jewish thinker Yashai Sarid in his book ‘’The Third’’ warns that the creation of the Third Temple would be a death blow for the state of Israel. The Palestinians are the security vanguards of Al-Quds. They stand as strong bastion against this Jewish dream.
By comparison, an Israeli retention of the Western Wall including the Temple Mount is sought by those hard core Zionists whose ethnocentric and prejudicial thinking is grilled on a solution to the wider conflict takes as minimal the 1949 borders with minor rectifications; a Jerusalem restored to its fundamentally Arab characteristics is envisaged by those who justifiably retain the hope for an independent Palestinian state with its capital of East Jerusalem. The truth is that the Palestinian right of East Jerusalem/Al-Quds cannot suppressed by devious Zionist tactics or unwarranted irredentist moves aimed at terminating Mideast peace process envisaging a two state solution.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.