Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Early Sabotaging of Zionism

Zionism always had its detractors. Every social or political movement does. And the identity of those who disagree can be from any group, even Jews.Here is one example I found of someone who was himself a Zionist, Norman Bentwich. 



He attended Zionist Congresses even before the Balfour Declaration and visited Palestine in 1908.

He eventually became a member of Brit Shalom. He was the British-appointed attorney-general of Mandatory Palestine. However, being Jewish and pro-Zionist was a liability:
In August 1931 his appointment as Attorney-General was terminated by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, who cited "the peculiar racial and political conditions of Palestine, and the difficulties with which the Administration has in consequence to bear."

In November 1929, Bentwich was shot in the thigh by a 17-year-old Arab employee of the Palestine Police. His assailant was sentenced to 15 years hard labour, despite Bentwich personally advocating for him.
But even before, his Zionism was extremely moderate as this section I extract from the 1920 Palin Report on the April 1920 Jerusalem Riot on his evidence as Lieut. Colonel Bentwich, Senior Judicial Officer of the Administration. 
Lieut. Colonel Bentwich is an English Jew and an ardent and convinced Zionist, and he impressed the Court as being a most fair minded and reliable witness. This is what he says "I don't think there has been a general bias. There have been one or two cases of officers in the Administration who had - Colonel Gabriel had, and one or two others were anti-Jewish. These officers have been dealt with. I think the Jews are a little out to seek offence. They are too sensitive and ready to take offence and there is action and re-action accordingly. The Jews regarded the declaration of 1917 as something which was to be fulfilled immediately and have been worried and disappointed by the delay. I think also there has been too much ostentation and demonstration irritating to the populace." This evidence deserves the profoundest consideration for it really sums up the whole matter.
That populace is, I can assume, the Arabs.

Think about that. The Arabs had been demonstrating and attacking Jews since the end of February, had killed eight Jews at Tel Hai. During Passover, they rioted and in the pogrom killed 7 more Jews and injuring over one hundred.

But Jews take offense too readily and are too sensitive.

And Jews are irritating and ostentatious.

Pushy.

^

Monday, March 30, 2020

Islamic Prayers Said in Hagia Sophia

I have blogged multiple times about a contradiction in Muslim attitude toward Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount.

The Islamic Waqf authority emphatically denies Jews the right of freedom of worship at the location of the Two Temples, Judaism`s most sacred site. Yet at the same time, they act to pray at the Cordoba Cathedral in Spain and the Hagia Sophia in Turkey.

In other words, churches that became mosques due to Muslim conquest, must be at the disposal of Muslims as mosques even though they have been returned to their normal state.

But a Jewish holy site that was turned into a mosque must not be allowed to revert to a Jewish synaggoue even thought the Jews returned that site to Jewish authority.

The news?

Turkey Uses Hagia Sophia as Mosque for Islamic Prayer AgainBy Philip Chrysopoulos
The Islamic call to prayer was heard in what was once the center of Orthodoxy, Hagia Sophia, on Monday, as a video calling the former Byzantine cathedral “Hagia Sophia Mosque” on Youtube shows...This is the third year in a row that similar acts challenging the supposed status of Hagia Sophia as a secular museum have taken place in March.
...Hagia Sophia was built in 537 and served for nearly a thousand years as the cathedral of the Byzantine Empire, later to become the Greek Orthodox Christian Patriarchal Cathedral. It was converted to an Ottoman mosque on May 29, 1453, just after the fall of Constantinople, and it remained a mosque until 1931. Four years later, the iconic Byzantine basilica, once the very symbolof Greek Orthodoxy, began operating as a museum, after a decision by the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

...The use of the museum as a place of worship since 1931 has been strictly prohibited. However, in 2006 the Turkish government allowed the allocation of a small room in the museum complex to be used as a prayer room for Christian and Muslim museum staff, and since 2013 the muezzin singsthe call to prayer twice per day, in the afternoon from the minarets of the museum.

...In May of 2017 the Anatolia Youth Association (AGD) organized a gathering in front of Hagia Sophia for morning prayers and called for the re-conversion of the museum into a mosque...On March 31, 2018 Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan recited the first verse of the Quran in Hagia Sophia, dedicating the prayer to the “souls of all who left us this work as inheritance, especiallyIstanbul’s conqueror,” reiterating his position to make Hagia Sophia a mosque once again.

In March 2019 Erdogan said that he will change the status of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque...

^

The Irgun and MP John Platts-Mills

Moshe Phillips drew my attention to this item which appeared recently in the Camden Journal:
A READER’S email from Mireille Burton about a famous barrister, John Platts-Mills, sent me diving backwards into my memory – and the very first public meeting I attended in my life as a 16-year-old in Manchester.

It was a protest against the government’s policy in 1947 to hunt down the Jewish independence movement in Palestine led by a group called Irgun Zwei Leumi proscribed by Britain as “terrorists”.

On the platform in the small hall were two main speakers – a fiery Methodist minister, Amphlett Micklewright, who would bend at the knee and cry “Chuck it Bevin”, a sharp reference to the foreign minister Ernest Bevin; and the tall, elegant, handsome Labour MP John Platts-Mills, member for Finsbury, who also attacked Bevin and the prime minister, Clement Attlee.

That night John Platts-Mills became my hero. 
As for Micklewright, his memoir is here. He was an Anglican from 1935 then Unitarian in 1941, rejoined the Church of England in 1949 and became Roman Catholic Church in 1974. He has been described as a liberal and a humanist.

Platts-Mills 



is another story.

He was what I would call a hard-left politician from this obituary. Even pro-Soviet according to this  
he was a member of the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR (SCR), a Labour party proscribed organisation. He also had close links with members of the International Brigade, the People's Convention and the Popular Front movement. It is possible that, during their association in the latter campaign, Cripps learned of his sympathies. Platts-Mills had also enlisted to fight in Spain, but was refused because he was married with a child. Equally he had been prominent during the 1930s in prosecuting cases against fascists and defending their Communist opponents following street fights, activities that had brought him to the attention of the League of Socialist Lawyers.
It seems his motivation to speak out on behalf of the Irgun was less a full understanding of what the Irgun was fighting for but more on viewing Bevin as bigoted, anti Semitic, and  horrible and Platts-Mills fundamental desire to end British colonialism.  

He was also involved in a number of international inquiry committees including the  International Commission of Inquiry into Israeli Crimes Against the Lebanese and Palestinian Peoples in the 1980s.  


In 1947, he displayed a general concern for anyone, including Arabs, who were being simply unfairly treated as this snippet on an incident of impounded documents discussed in the House of Commons on May 23, 1947 (vol 437 cc306-7W306W)
Mr. Platts-Mills asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that on Sunday, 27th April, 1947, officers of the Palestine police force searched the baggage of Mr. Emile G. Thouma, a Palestinian citizen returning from Great Britain, where he had been attending a conference; that his papers, comprising notes on the labour, trade union and progressive movements in Britain, were impounded for censorship; that those papers are still retained at C.I.D. head-quarters, Jerusalem, in spite of protests; and if he will issue instructions for the release of those papers.

Mr. Creech Jones: The documents found in the baggage of Mr. Emile Thouma on his return to Palestine on 27th April were impounded by the Palestine Police and sent to Jerusalem for examination. After examination they were sent to the police station in Haifa, where Mr. Thouma resides, and were available for him to collect from 8th May. In spite of several requests, Mr. Thouma has so far neither called for the documents, nor has he made any protests concerning them to the Palestine Government.
Touma by the way


was a lifelong Communist, a leading member of the Palestine Communist Party.

The intervention of Platts-Mills on behalf of Touma is so much similar to what goes on today by EU and American politicians, with a false and misplaced sense of idealism, as well as various NGOs in favor of pro-Arab activity here in Israel.

^

Friday, March 27, 2020

Any Wikipedia Editors Available?

You can find in this entry this statement:
Palestinian police are forbidden from reacting to acts of violence by Israeli settlers, a fact which diminishes their credibility among Palestinians.
The confirming footnote directs you to page 292 of a book by Daniel Byman, A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism, Oxford University Press/Saban Center, Brookings Institution, published in 2011. Byman at the time was pro­fes­sor at the School of For­eign Ser­vice at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty and senior fel­low at the Saban Cen­ter for Mid­dle East Pol­i­cy at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion.

I do not know if Byman notes it but if one reviews the Oslo Accords, signed and agreed upon by the PLO, specifically Article XIV - The Palestinian Police, and others, you can learn a few additional things.

For example, at 3 there it reads
Except for the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces, no other armed forces shall be established or operate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
and in the previous Article X Redeployment of Israeli Military Forces, 4 it reads
Israel shall continue to carry the responsibility for external security, as well as the responsibility for overall security of Israelis for the purpose of safeguarding their internal security and public order
In the Security Annex, it is quite apparent that the Authoritys police force is restricted to areas A and B as in Article V Security Arrangements in the West Bank, at sub-paragraph 
3. Areas B and C,  (2), where it reads
The Palestinian Police shall be responsible for handling public order incidents in which only Palestinians are involved.
At 6. Movement of Palestinian Policemen, it reads
Movement of uniformed policemen, whether armed or unarmed, as well as armed on duty plainclothes policemen, in Area C, will be confirmed and coordinated by the relevant DCO
In other words, the Wikipedia entry is worded to present a false impression, as if something is wrong with a situation the Palestinian Authority is committed to by its own agreement. It is not clear that it is the Osleo Accords which govern such actions. Violence is not mentioned except for the matter of safeguarding, by Israel, of the security of Israelis. 

Are there any Wikipedia editors available to correct this entry?

^

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Israelites Native to the Levant


People in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Aegean ate a lot of pork. Those in the Levant ate little. These traditions, enmeshed into the fabric of everyday life, would later lend themselves as markers of difference between groups of people, such as the Israelites (native to the Levant) and the Philistines (migrants from the Aegean) around 1200 BCE.

Galvanized in this manner, pork took on a new meaning. It became an indicator of “us” vs. “them” in Philistine-Israelite conflicts. Drawing on this, and with the likely intent of crystallizing ethnic traditions to shore up political power, the Biblical authors (writing in the early-mid-1st millennium BCE) declared pigs an abomination.

^

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Meet Ayman Odeh and his Joint List Party

The core essence of the various parties making up the Joint List finally is coming to the fore. And the unwillingness of many in the political system to accept its inimical platform and therefore, permit it to become part of Israels governing institutions as an actual coalition partner, as distinct from being simply represented in the Knesset, is not a matter of anti-Arab racism. That too many ignore or refuse top acknowledge the danger is worse.

What it is actually is a matter of understanding that this party, or, more properly, this conglomerate, is a a radical political cooperative venture designed to weaken Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state manipulating the mechanism of democracy.

Let us take MK Ayman Odeh for example. He was born in 1975. In 1998, at age 23, he was elected to the Haifa City Council representing the Hadash Communist Party until 2005. In 2006, he became Secetary-General of Hadash.
In 2015, he was elected to Knesset as head of the Joint List (after failing to gain a seat in previous elections). In October 2015, Odeh gave support to the "unarmed Palestinian struggle" but in regard to the throwing rocks, he said he supported the first intifada.

in 2013, Odeh, then Hadash secretary and not yet a Knesset member, wrote a poignant article against members of the Islamic Movement. Recently, Meyer Ettinger found the full article in Arabic on Odeh's comments and posted it on Twitter. The words that Odeh wrote there are completely opposite to the moderate image that the chairman of the joint list enjoys in most parts of the Israeli media...He was outraged at the violation of Nasrallah, the man who "defeated" Israel twice, he said. Odeh wanted to remind the leaders of the Islamic movement that Nasrallah is "an exemplary example of sacrifice, loyalty and professionalism" and that the man "sacrificed hundreds of martyrs and his son within them." This is the son of Nasrallah who was a Hezbollah fighter and was killed during a 1997 operation of a Walnut unit in southern Lebanon.
More:
Compliments of terrorists can also be found said by Odeh himself, as in a 2013 post, in praise of Sammer Issawi who was sentenced to decades in prison after participating in shootings against Israeli civilians. He was released in the Shalit deal, returned to prison under administrative detention and then launched a prolonged hunger strike and a public fight that eventually led to his release. Odeh has called Issawi "the prisoner of war."
In addition,
On the site of Palestine Today, Odeh was quoted in 2015 as explaining that the particiupation of the Arab parties in the Knesset is another and inseparable way of the Palestinian popular struggle. "Our entry into the Knesset is not recognition of the occupation. It is not different from the popular struggle, but another form of it," Odeh was quoted on the website. "Election participation is the biggest antithesis to the Jewishness of the state."
and
Odeh was further asked if he is not afraid of Arab identity being lost in the very activity of the Israeli political system. "There is no such concern," he replied. "The occupation has not been able to remove Palestinian characterization in recent decades. We seek to stabilize our presence and achieve our rights through the establishment of a special national foundation for the interior Arabs |Arabs of Israel - AG and JP; outer Arabs are the refugees in the Arab World - YM|, to build our own institutions, we want to support the people of the Negev and stop demolition orders threatening thousands of Arab homes ass well as other demands." In general, Odeh is careful to say "Palestinians" and not "Arabs of Israel," a term that he believes legitimizes Israel and hurts the Palestinian cause.
and
In an interview that took place on the ~Faleestan~ broadcast network, Odeh sought to protect Hadash as a party in the Israeli political arena: "We are a framework that includes Arabs and Democratic Jews, whose purpose is to strengthen our power in Arab society, to be a front for Palestinian Arab society and to influence Jewish Israeli society. We hold the rope at both ends. We oppose the Zionist position and the Zionist parties in Israel, and see the impact on Israeli society as a service to our occupied people and to the general Arab society. Our impact is not only on Jews who oppose Zionism but also on the Jews in the Zionist left who believe in the right to establish a Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem and who oppose the right of return. We struggle within the Arab society as well as within the Israel society in order to influence it, both on the issue of peace and in the war against the fascist way that Lieberman is leading, which is part of the general Zionist position."
In a 2018 interview with Hezbollah's Lebanese Al Mayadeen channel, Gibor and Friedman found that
Odeh developed a conspiracy theory that Israel was interested in deporting Israeli Arabs, just as Bashar al-Assad expelled various populations from Syria during the country's war. He got the inspiration for the theory from an article published by Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell in Haaretz. Odeh quoted Sternhell's words that "Israel moved from fascism to the first stage of Nazism." According to the chairman of the Joint List, those words left a huge impression on him and he went to Sternhell's house to go deeper.

"I wanted to make things clear to me," Odeh said, "and he told me in the first phase that the Nazis did not seek to burn Jews but to violate their rights, and sought to encourage voluntary immigration. Only in 1938 did they discuss race theory legally and put it into practice, and then afterwards was World War II against the Jews. Prof. Sternhell said that so-called ethnic discrimination is in the State of Israel, and he talks about the Palestinians who remained in the homeland (ie, Arabs of Israel).

"Ten years ago, it was impossible to think about expelling these civilians from the state. But today, following the racist atmosphere, the loss of legitimacy of Arab citizens and the existence of weapons within Arab cities and villages |the problem of illegal weaponery possessed is enormous - YM|, and in the context of what is happening in Syria and the fact that there are millions of refugees - in this atmosphere, Arab citizens could find themselves in such a dangerous situation (that is, their deportation from Israel)." That is, according to Odeh, Israel headed by Netanyahu promotes a reality in which its Arab citizens may be in the same situation as refugees from Syria.
In that same interview, Odeh attacked the Saudi Arabia Israel policy:
"Not only is Saudi Arabia aligned with Israel, which is an old and well-known thing, the dangerous thing is that it is an ally of Netanyahu and the right-wing in general...Saudi Arabia says the Iranian issue is the most important issue in the region, more important than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Who shares that statement - Avi Gabay from Labor, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, or Benjamin Netanyahu, the extreme right leader. Saudi Arabia has a direct alliance with the Israeli right and with Netanyahu. Saudi Arabia is confident that Netanyahu is the one who can incite America against Iran, and influence the cancellation of the agreement with Iran. Therefore, Saudi Arabia has entered into a direct alliance with the Israeli right headed by Netanyahu. Saudi Arabia has actually made an alliance with the enemies of the Palestinian people."
Odeh campaigned aginst the initiative of the Greek Orthodox Father Gabriel Naddaf to promote the recruitment of young members of the Christian community into the IDF, security forces, and national service. Nadaf's actions angered the Arab parties.

They note that
In 2014, Ayman Odeh was interviewed again on the Lebanese Mayadeen website, explaining that Israel is working to divide the Arab public into tribes. He said Israel promoted this policy mainly after the "resolute resistance in 2006", that is, the second Lebanon war in which Israel responded to Hezbollah attacks. He even called the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon "the liberation of southern Lebanon", a terminology common to the Hezbollah people.

Odeh said in an interview that since its inception, the Jewish state has been conducting "attacks and wars against the Arab peoples." He compared Netanyahu with Richard Lion Heart, King of England, who was the patron of a crusade to Israel and fought Saladin. "It must be prevented that where Richard Lion Heart failed in the Crusades, that Netanyahu Hypocritical Heart will succeed today," Odeh said, declaring that "we are at an important and historic juncture." In Odeh eyes, Christian enlistment into the IDF is like enlisting in the Crusader forces.
Odeh continued there and made his position clear
"We are part of the Arab Palestinian people and part of the Arab Palestinian issue. The State of Israel considers itself a Jewish state, the state of the Jews. This state has been conquering Palestinian lands, and has been fighting and waging war against the Arab nations since 1948 unto this day. We cannot accept that we will be part of this Israeli occupation and hostility in the region and against the peoples living there, first and foremost against the Palestinian Arab people living under Israeli occupation.

"There is an attempt to separate groups from our people through military recruitment," Odeh continued. "It comes from three main reasons: one is the classic colonialist stance of segregation and governance. The other is that Israeli officials are trying to turn the issue (Israeli-Palestinian conflict) into a religious issue. After September 11, especially, they wish to tell Europe as well as America and the West, that our problem is with the Muslims and not with the UN rights-based Palestinians. The third reason is that the State of Israel considers itself a Jewish state, and if it recognizes us as a national group, it will recognize that within Israel there are two national groups, and then it will have to transform from a Jewish state to a multinational state. She therefore wants to continue to say that she is a Jewish state, and that the rest are individual tribal groups."
In a 2018 interview, Odeh declared,
"In our view, it is wrong to put Jerusalem into a religious definition. There is international agreement that East Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine. There are resolutions in the UN Council, there are 129 countries that voted against Trump's statement on Jerusalem. Nationally and diplomatically, we are strong. If we move the Jerusalem issue toward religion, Netanyahu will tell Europe and America about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. He can quote Samuel Huntington (author of 'The Clash of Civilizations') and say that he is part of the world's struggle against Muslims. It does not serve us and it is not true. We need to emphasize our national right to Jerusalem, Muslims and Christians. "
Responding to the High Court for Justice directing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to hold elections for a new Speaker, Odeh tweeted on March 23:
Anyone have boxes and a van? Asking for a friend. (למישהו יש ארגזי קרטון וטנדר? שואל בשביל חבר)
Edelstein, by the way, is a former Prisoner of Zion who sat years in Soviet prisons.

There is more material on Odeh, translated from the Arabic. Like this from 2016
"Brothers and sisters, as the great [Yasser Arafat] used to say: 'They see it as far off, but we see it as near.' We will be with you at the Eighth Fatah Conference, which will be held in East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine
There was a well-publicized incident on October 9, 2015, when Ali Salam, the Palestinian mayor of Nazareth, accused the Arab MKs (Members of Knesset or Parliament) of inciting Palestinian violence, saying, "I blame the leaders. What is happening is not appropriate. It is just ruining our future, ruining our coexistence" when MK Ayman Odeh was being interviewed for a TV appearance. Salam interrupted the interview as it was being filmed, and yelled:
"Ayman, go find something to do. You have ruined our city. Enough interviews... You have ruined the city. No Jews came here today. Why are you conducting an interview? You had your protest and ruined the entire world."
As for MK Heba Yazbak who was permitted to be included on the Joint Arab List only after the High Court of Justice rejected a petition to disqualify her, her anti-Zionism can be observed in video clips.

In one of the videos, Yazbak can be heard saying, "We want to fight - with all our strength - racism, apartheid and Zionism. We will work with all our strength on our project of 'a state of all its citizens.'"
In the second interview, Yazbak says, "At the same time as we are joining the Knesset in order to achieve civil rights that we can use. We in Balad (Yazbak's faction in the Joint Arab List - ed.) are holding our compass strong - this is a state of all its citizens."
"This plan opposes and fights the country's Zionism and prides itself of divesting the country of its Jewish and Zionist existence, and at the same time preserves our national identity, without sacrificing full citizenship and without sacrificing citizenship."
These persons are the new alliance partners of the Blue-and-White Party.

P.S.   The Arab leadership's main project is to stop the process of Israelization.  

Additional background is in this 2002 article: Voice of Palestine: The New Ideology of Israeli Arabs by Dan Schueftan and especially his summary:
There are, of course, differences in style and emphasis in the way Arab MKs express themselves. But these do not fundamentally alter the overall picture which emerges from a careful consideration of their statements. The essence of their position is an all-out rejection of the basic tenets perceived by the Jewish majority in Israel as underlying the existential interests of the Jewish national collective. There are three components to this rejection, each of which is becoming more pronounced over time: (i) Denial of the political and moral justification for a Jewish state; (ii) open identification with Israel’s most implacable enemies; and (iii) sympathy for, and occasionally even advocacy of, acts of violence and terror against Jewish civilians in Israel.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Odd Legal Reasoning


I was alerted to this information:

From one of the NGO Amicus briefs filed to the ICC, a bizarre argument:

Prior to the Palestine Mandate, Great Britain administered Palestine as a belligerent occupant.11 Although the San Remo Convention adopted on 24 April 1920 assigned the Mandate for Palestine under the League of Nations to Great Britain, this did not come into force until 29 September 1923.12 Between 24 April 1920 and 29 September 1923, ‘Great Britain had no other title to the exercise of public power in Palestine than  that afforded by its military occupation.’ 

My response:

Does this mean that Jordan, formerly Transjordan, created out of nothing during those same years (Cairo Conference March 1921; Churchill in Jerusalem and his famous walk at the end of that month; the League of Nations July 1922 decision to prohibit Jews settling in Transjordan) has no right to exist?

_____

And other response:

There are three entirely different arguments here.

The first part is the not-crazy argument that the date of the Mandate coming into force is not the date the Mandate was approved by the allied states, nor the date it was actually implemented on the ground (both in 1920), nor the date it was approved by the League of Nations (1922), but only the date of the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) , in which Turkey surrendered sovereignty over the territory.

The second part is the same idiotic argument that Palestinian Arabs have been making for decades that upon Palestine becoming a Mandate, it became an independent state, and that state has an ethnic identity of Arab such that Israel cannot claim the rights of that state.

And the third part is where the two arguments are combined in a logically inconsistent non sequitur and the NGO argues that since the Mandate only came into force in 1923 when Turkey yielded sovereignty, and since the Mandate already came into force in 1919, when the League of Nations Covenant was adopted (by virtue of the ratification of  Treaty of Versailles), Palestine has been a state since 1919 because there was a Mandate of Palestine.


The last two arguments can be found in more eloquently stated form (albeit no less illogical) in Henry Cattan’s books from fifty+ years ago.

^

Monday, March 16, 2020

Questions on This Reuters Temple Mount Story

First, the entire Reuters article on the closing of the Temple Mount/Haram A-Sharif:

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque shut as precaution against coronavirus by Muslim clericsAli Sawafta, Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock will shut their doors until further notice, religious authorities said on Sunday, in a move to protect worshippers at Islam’s third holiest site.

Prayers will still be held on the huge open area around the two shrines and other Muslim prayer sites on the sacred compound known to Muslims worldwide as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as Har ha-Bayit, or Temple Mount.

“The Islamic Waqf department decided to shut down the enclosed prayer places inside the blessed Aqsa Mosque, and until further notice, as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, the Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Reuters.

“All prayers will be held in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa mosque and doors will remain open to all worshippers,” he added.

Al-Aqsa Mosque was built in the 8th century and Muslims regard it as next only to Mecca and Medina in importance.

The latest measure follows a series of ever-stricter restrictions imposed by political and religious authorities in the Holy Land to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate said last week that Jewish worshippers should not come to the Western Wall or pray en masse there. The wall was built by Herod the Great as a restraining wall for the compound housing the Jewish temples of antiquity and is a sacred place of prayer for Jews.

Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three great monotheistic faiths. Christians revere it as the place where they believe that Jesus Christ preached, died and was resurrected, and the Holy Land church authorities have changed some worship practices to protect mass celebrants.

The numbers of those praying at Al-Aqsa during Friday prayers have fallen in recent weeks, amid fears over coronavirus, and officials stood by with bottle of hand-wash for those arriving and leaving.

The site’s religious importance makes it an especially sensitive area.

Questions:

1. If there area is huge, why cannot space for Jewish prayer be located?

2. Why is the area sensitive?