By Yasser Al-Za'atra
Palestinians across the West Bank noticed it before the facts were revealed in the Israeli media: the volume of the call to prayer (azan) from mosques in the occupied territory has been turned down. Israel's "Civil Administration" – which sounds better for PR purposes than "Occupation Authority" – has reached an "understanding" with the Palestinian Authority to turn down the volume on the loudspeakers attached to the mosques. In a further effort to reduce the disruption to the lives of illegal Israeli settlers, Friday prayers will henceforth only be performed in one mosque per village and the Qur'an will not be recited before the prayer begins, as is the custom in West Bank mosques.
Of course, as is its usual practice, the Israeli media delighted in revealing this "understanding" knowing that the PA is weak and that the revelation of yet another concession to the occupiers will spread even more dismay among ordinary Palestinians.
It was obviously not difficult for the supposedly distinguished Minister of Religious Endowments, Mahmoud Habash, to consider the occupation authority's request, but no clever explanation can conceal the bitter truth that this is an assault on the teachings of Islam and the texts of the Qur'an and the Sunnah [example] of the Prophet, peace be upon him. It also suggests another example of a PA minister jumping to the Israelis' commands in order to get his coveted "VIP" cards.
For example, in recent years the Palestinian Authority has bowed down to Israel with regards to naming streets after Palestinian martyrs such as Dalal Mughrabi and Yahya Ayyash on the grounds that to do so would be a "glorification of terrorism". The Israelis are very sensitive about possible "incitement" against the occupation, but little or no action is taken against settlers and other Jewish extremists who exercise the worst forms of incitement against Palestinians, including torture and murder. It is a bitter fact that those members of the Palestinian Authority's own security services who arrest and torture Palestinians for resisting and "inciting against" the occupation do so with relish. Indeed, Israeli officials have expressed their surprise often at how far the PA security officers are prepared to go to cooperate with the occupation authority and how much enthusiasm they display for their dirty work.
Despite this, some people will still try to defend what they regard as "low-level" concessions, but the people who are making the sacrifices on the street will not be fooled.
The PA may strangle the sound of the azan for the sake of the settlers, but they will not steal the Qur'an from the hearts of the people, or the desire for revenge from the souls and minds. Nor will they make this land fertile for the invaders. Those who have given up 78 percent of the West Bank before "negotiating" about the remainder should remember that those settlers annoyed by the azan live on the land promised by Netanyahu's "economic peace". The Palestinian Authority will be left to mull over all of this in the mini-state built on the scraps of land left over after the occupation has done its worst. And it will be even more powerless than it is today.
Source: Al Dustour Jordanian newspaper
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