The latest twist in the ticking time bomb that is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is that Muslim leaders are rejecting the security measures implemented by Israel in the wake of an attack that killed two Israeli policemen.
The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, the Muslim religious body that oversees the compound, has protested the new measures and has instructed worshippers to avoid the compound and not go through the new metal detectors.
“This is a severe violation of the status quo,” said Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, director of the al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount.
When I saw the reference to the status quo, I couldn’t help thinking of another status quo from long ago, after the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was captured by the Arab Legion of Jordan in 1949. Under Jordanian leadership, more than 55 synagogues were looted and destroyed. Some Jewish religious sites were turned into chicken coops or animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been burying their dead for more than 2,500 years, was ransacked, graves were desecrated, and thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material.
Talk about a “severe violation of the status quo.”
In direct contravention of the 1949 armistice agreement, which called for “free access to the Holy Places,” Jordan didn’t permit Jews access to their holy sites. Despite numerous attempts by Israeli officials to enforce the agreement, Jews were denied access to the Western Wall and other religious sites. Jordanian snipers would even perch on the walls of the Old City and shoot at Israelis across the lines.
So, you have to admire the chutzpah of the Jordanian official who complained last week about Israel’s security measures after the terror attack: “The Jordanian government opposes all damage done to Muslims’ ability to carry out, freely and without obstacles, their religious rituals at their holy sites.”
That official surely knows that the freedom to worship for all religions has flourished in Jerusalem since Israel took over from Jordan in 1967. Can you imagine what would happen today if Jordan or another Muslim country took over the Jewish Quarter? Do you think they would install metal detectors to ensure that no terrorist would threaten Jewish holy sites?
From groups like UNESCO to Muslim preachers to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the message has been loud and consistent: Muslims belong in Jerusalem; Jews don’t.
What is behind all this hypocrisy and this upside-down reality?
For starters, it’s a corrosive Muslim supremacist ideology that denies any Jewish connection to Jerusalem. If you think Jews have no connection or rights to Jerusalem, it follows that you would be insulted by a metal detector installed by those very Jews at the entrance to the Temple Mount, even if it is there for your own protection.
This denial of the Jewish narrative has become so commonplace that we have become immune to it. Just last week, a lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza, Maher al-Sousi, claimed that the Jewish temples were never located on the Temple Mount and that the Jews have no right to the holiest site in Judaism. From groups like UNESCO to Muslim preachers to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the message has been loud and consistent: Muslims belong in Jerusalem; Jews don’t.
Never mind the archeological and historical proofs of the Jewish connection that go back 3,000 years. Never mind that “Jerusalem” and its alternative Hebrew name “Zion” appear 850 times in the Hebrew Bible, while none of the 16 various Arabic names for Jerusalem is ever mentioned in the Quran. Never mind that Muslims have full religious rights in the Jewish state, while nearly a million Jews have fled from Muslim states.
What matters in the emotional caldron of the Middle East is not the truth but victory — victory for the supremacist Muslim narrative. Jews can have no place of dignity and equality in that narrative.
The great irony here is that the supremacist message can be turned on its head. If we’re going to make sensitive judgments on “supremacy,” then let’s be frank and ask: What would you consider superior — how Jordan treated Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem when it had the chance, or how Israel treats Muslim sites today?
Better yet — let’s lose the word “supreme” and just ask: What would you consider more human?
David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.