What you might have missed by relying on mainstream news coverage of recent Palestinian-Israeli developments— especially Arab attacks against Jews on or near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount at Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year):
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called Jewish history in Jerusalem a “delusional myth” according to a report by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). The PA leader’s remarks—made in an Aug. 1, 2015 speech to Muslim figures—occurred the same day as a narrator on PA state-run TV labeled stories about Jewish history in Jerusalem “delusions and legends.”
This ahistorical, anti-Jewish revisionism has been followed by violent attacks in Jerusalem on Judaism’s most holy site, the Temple Mount. Abbas’ allegations and those in media he controls violate the letter and the spirit of the 1993 Oslo Israeli-Palestinian accords and repeat a pattern that frequently has accompanied anti-Israel violence.
The latest incitement—echoing an old libel by Palestinian Arab leadership to the effect that “the Jews are attacking al-Aqsa”—was followed by organized violence against Jews on the Temple Mount that broke out on September 13, during Rosh Hashanah. The attacks (continuing at the time of this writing) include the use of gasoline bombs, rocks and fireworks by Palestinian Arabs and have resulted in the murder of one Israeli man so far and dozens more injured.
In his August 1 speech denying the 3,000 year-old Jewish connection to Jerusalem, Abbas claimed that Israel imagined it could “by brute force” “invent a history.” PA media elaborated on this imagined conspiracy, denying any Jewish connection to the land of Israel, eretz Yisrael, while inciting Palestinian Arabs:
“The story of the Temple is nothing but a collection of legends and myths for political reasons. They [Jews] have set Palestine and Jerusalem as their goal, and have used the myths in the service of their declared goals of occupation and imperialism. In the spirit of the delusions and legends, they try to get rid of the Al-Aqsa [mosque] and establish their so-called ‘Temple’—the greatest crime and forgery in history.”
JCPA notes that the “birthfather” of this enduring libel was a future Adolf Hitler collaborator, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. In 1924, al-Husseini falsely claimed al-Aqsa mosque was in danger from Jews to help him raise funds for the building’s restoration. The mosque, in recent decades described as Islam’s third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina, had languished in the latter part of Jerusalem’s rule by the Ottoman Empire (1517-1917).
In 1929, the Mufti used lies alleging Jewish designs on the mosque to inflame an already organized and armed Palestinian Arab populace—leading to attacks on Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods and nearby Jewish communities that killed 133 Jewish men, women and children and wounded 339.
Use of the al-Aqsa libel to stir violence against Jews has been repeated many times since. For example, in 1969 a deranged Protestant fundamentalist named Dennis Michael Rohan attempted to set fire to the mosque. Not only did Palestinian leaders and press claim Jews committed the arson, Muslim bystanders attacked Israeli firemen attempting to put out the blaze.
In 2000, while engaging in U.S.-led peace talks with Israel, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat simultaneously was arming and preparing for the second intifada. A Sept. 28, 2000 visit to the Temple Mount by then-Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon provided what senior Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti called a “good excuse” for outbreaks of organized violence and terrorist attacks that would, over the course of five years, murder more than 1,000 Israelis, mostly non-combatants, Jews and Arabs alike, and foreign visitors.
Palestinian Media Watch’s report on Abbas’ remarks can be found here.
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs report on the al-Aqsa libel can be found here.