Over the course of the past few days, Israel’s attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque have escalated. They have been accompanied by comments made by Israeli government leaders and political parties who assert that Jewish settlers have the right to pray above the ruins of the Temple Mount.
Since the provocative incursion led by Ariel Sharon in September 2000 and the subsequent Palestinian intifada (uprising), the attacks on Al-Aqsa have been limited to the likes of Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin and a group known as HaLiba. This is led by extremist settler Yehudi Glick, who has been organising so many weekly incursions into the Noble Sanctuary that someone tried to assassinate him last October.
The latest and more intense attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque are part of a broader Israeli expansionist campaign meant to impose new policies on the inhabitants of the Holy City. In fact, Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel’s recent decision to enter Al-Aqsa and target Muslim worshippers therein is a testament to Israel’s dedication to implementing Zionist policies in the city in the wake of the Arab Spring. The goal is ultimately to realise a Greater Israel settlement expansion project.
It is no coincidence that a group of extremist Zionist settler groups have announced their newfound determination to continue their unlawful incursions into Al-Aqsa and to do so repeatedly and frequently. It is also no coincidence that Netanyahu’s government has dedicated most of its time in office to expanding illegal settlements in Jerusalem, as if there are no consequences to such actions and as if there isn’t a group of Israelis working around the clock digging tunnels underneath the mosque in search of evidence of the Temple.
Uri Ariel is following in the footsteps of Ariel Sharon because Israeli politics and the Talmudic school of thought are so decisive that they leave little room for coincidence. Each step that is taken is organised and sequential and very little time passes before a new settlement project devours a new piece of Palestinian land or a new settlement is devised to Judaise the city. The main goal is to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish majority city; thus, Israel’s ongoing Judaisation and “Israelisation” of Arab land serves the overall Zionist scheme for the occupation of the whole of historic Palestine.
For all of the reasons mentioned above the question of Jerusalem remains unique among all of the other issues related to the Palestine-Israel conflict; it has, therefore, become much larger than merely a fight over a city. This is defined by the emergence of a fabricated Zionist historical narrative which stands in contrast to a history that has been carved in Palestinian soil since the time of the Canaanites.
Israel seizes every opportunity to reiterate its declaration that Jerusalem is its “eternal and undivided capital” and supports any civil project that imposes its desired outcome. The indigenous Palestinian inhabitants of the city face a fait accompli under which they are forced to accept the reality of the settlement expansion project. Israel continues to make the claim that there is no Palestinian partner for negotiations but in truth there is no solution on the horizon, Arab or otherwise, when it comes to Jerusalem. The only option the Palestinians have is to accept the outcome wanted by Zionist institutions.
Today, in light of the political chaos in Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Libya, it is difficult for countries in the Arab region to react to what is happening in Jerusalem; their own bulldozers and bombs are causing destruction in their own countries. The bulldozers that are responsible for destroying land and buildings across the Arab world give some legitimacy for Israel’s bulldozers to target Jerusalem and impose a challenging status quo in the city. There is no one who can define humanitarianism or morality when all morality has been violated with the recent attacks on worshippers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The tyranny in Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Libya has shattered the false illusions of pan-Arab slogans and symbols, which were false perceptions that regimes promoted in order to slow down the momentum of popular reform movements. Israel found the perfect opportunity to seize Jerusalem completely while the rest of the Arab world was distracted in its own backyard. In fact, Israel used this golden opportunity not only to continue its Judaisation project in Jerusalem but also to hijack the Palestinian cause in its entirety; Zionist politicians assume — with some justification — that the most important issue as far as the Arabs are concerned is the domestic power struggle. All that has befallen Aleppo, Daraa, Idlib, Ghouta, Damascus, Abyan, Taiz, the Sinai, Derna, Benghazi and Al-Zawaiya in terms of siege and starvation are no less grave in their calamitous effects than the land confiscation and Judaisation that has befallen Jerusalem.
Indeed, the amount of misfortune and number of catastrophes, along with brutal Israeli racism, which have affected Jerusalem of late are similar to that which have befallen its sister Arab cities. The greater issue is not the fact that there are no longer any common threads between Jerusalem and other cities in the region, in terms of nationalism and the will to win, but that there seems to be no deterrent ready to counter the Israeli occupation or any tyrannical regime.
There are no signs of a coup taking place to disrupt Israel’s ongoing violations and increase in settlement expansion. A shift has taken place when it comes to Arab attitudes towards the concept of resistance and it would appear as though Israel and Arab regimes have united in their mission to destroy the concept of human rights when it comes to their Arab citizens.
Interestingly enough, the accelerated number of Israeli attacks on Jerusalem has allowed Israel to digest and comprehend the lessons that have been learned in the experiment of the Arab Spring, which has affected the region for the past five years. Moreover, we have seen the emergence of a new end goal for the Arab regimes, one that unites them with their Israeli counterparts in their alleged “war on terror”. In reality, this campaign has been a blow to Jerusalem, one that has greatly harmed the Holy City because it has afforded Israel the opportunity to continue its aggression on Palestinian land with Jerusalem as the main target.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, Israel has exhibited a great sense of calm in regards to the Arab uprisings because they have seen their “official Arab enemies” fall one by one and lose their power-base. There are some Arab countries that once posed a military threat to Israel but do so no longer; nor will they resume that role in the future, which means that they will not be able to come to Jerusalem’s defence. So who will support and defend Jerusalem and the Jerusalemites?
This is the question that has preoccupied the minds of many Palestinians and Arabs alike since the occupation of the city in 1967. It has become more than evident that the most that will come from Arab countries in terms of support for Jerusalem is a statement issued on their behalf by the Arab League condemning Israel's actions and aggression.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), which claims to be the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, has done little but complain, much in the way that a baby cries when it is born. The response from the PA is usually, “This is an internal Israeli matter”; this appears to be the case whether it refers to Israel’s violations within the Green [1949 Armistice] Line or the implementation of racist policies such as the Judaisation of Jerusalem.
It remains to be said that the aspiration of the Palestinian people (especially Jerusalemites) is to express their desire for democracy and break the perpetual cycle of constraints imposed by Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. The Palestinians are currently experiencing a difficult time, much like their Arab brothers and sisters post-Arab Spring.
The Israelis are well aware of the dangers of another intifada in the face of their current tyranny. They also know what the best circumstances are for seizing and maintaining control of Jerusalem. The Holy City is like Aleppo and Daraa in that it is facing a systematic attack on its will to survive and its will to revolt. Bringing an end to Israel’s status quo would require dismantling its settlement project and stopping its bulldozers.
The picture before us is now clearer than ever; the path to the Old City’s 14 historic gates will be bloody. We need to search for the path that will allow us to gain access to the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. To those who have veered off of this path, it is essential that you call out, “Oh Jerusalem, we are coming!”
Translated from Al Jazeera, 15 September 2015.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.