Israeli border police officers stand guard as Palestinians pray at Lions’ Gate, the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, in protest over Israel’s new security measures at the compound housing Al-Aqsa mosque, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif) and to Jews as the Temple Mount, July 20, 2017. (photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Anyone following Jordanian reaction to Israeli measures imposed at the Haram al-Sharif (which Israel calls The Temple Mount) in the Old City of Jerusalem following the deadly July 14 attack could be forgiven for thinking that Jordan and Israel were still at war. Israel closed the compound that includes Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, preventing prayer there after three Arab-Israelis opened fire on Israeli guards near a gate leading to the shrine. Two policemen were killed before the assailants were shot dead. It was the first time that Israeli authorities had closed the compound since 1969, triggering angry reactions on both sides of the Jordan River.
Jordan’s official reaction was swift. The same day, its communications minister and government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said that while Amman continues to condemn violence, it will not accept any violation of Muslims’ rights to observe their religious rituals at their holy places. He urged Israel to “immediately” reopen Al-Aqsa Mosque to worshippers and cautioned Israel against making any moves to change the existing situation at the site and in Jerusalem in general.
Israel was quick to denounce the Jordanian position. An Israeli official said in a July 14 interview, “Instead of condemning the attack, Jordan chose to attack Israel, which is protecting worshipers and maintaining freedom of worship at the place. Israel will not tolerate any harm to the holy sites and it maintains the status quo there. It should be expected that all sides involved, including Jordan, exercise restraint and avoid fanning the flames.”
Jordanians took the streets July 14 and 15 in Amman and across the kingdom declaring support for Al-Aqsa, condemning the occupation and praising the July 14 “martyrs.”
Jordan’s Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyyat warned against “unprecedented Israeli violations and provocations against Al-Aqsa.” In a statement carried by the official news agency July 16, Arabiyyat said Jordan rejects Israeli measures to close the mosque to worshippers under any circumstances. Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi called on Israel in a July 16 press statement to defuse the crisis and warned against further escalation that cannot be contained.
According to Israeli press reports, Israel was further outraged by a July 16 statement by Atef al-Tarawneh, the speaker of the lower house, in which he praised the “martyrs” and blamed the Israeli occupation for the violence, adding that its “threats against the Haram al-Sharif will inspire resistance until the oldest occupation in modern times comes to an end.”
That statement pushed his Israeli counterpart, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, to tell Tarawneh to “shut up.” In a July 17 press release, Edelstein said, “It is unthinkable that such a senior figure in a country with which we have a peace agreement would encourage the murder of Israeli citizens.”
King Abdullah called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 15, stating his condemnation of the Jerusalem attack and rejection of violence. He urged the Israeli prime minister to reopen the mosque and reiterated Jordan’s strong stance against the closure.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Netanyahu on the day of the attack to condemn it and urged him to reopen the compound. Netanyahu assured Abbas that Israel was not about to change the status quo at the holy site.
Netanyahu announced July 16 that Israel would partially reopen the compound, but the crisis was about to get worse. Palestinian worshippers had attempted to break the Israeli siege, resulting in clashes with Israeli security guards July 17 and 18. And when Israel finally lifted the blockade, worshippers discovered that they had to pass through metal detectors in order to reach the compound. The Waqf Directorate, which is administered by Jordan under the 1994 peace treaty, accused Israel of breaching the sovereignty of the Haram al-Sharif.
The imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Ikrama Sabri, called on worshippers across Jerusalem to “head to Al-Aqsa and show their support” July 21. With tension rising in the holy city, Jordanians are also expected to march in protest and solidarity the same day following Friday prayers.
Jordan has not officially clarified its position on Israel’s installation of metal detectors at the entrance of the Haram al-Sharif. But on July 19, Safadi told EU ambassadors in Amman that Israel must “respect the historical and legal status at Al-Aqsa Mosque” and end attempts to create “new realities on the ground in a direct breach of its commitment as an occupying power.”
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.