Sunday, June 09, 2013

Temple Mount as "El Aqsa in Danger"

The theme of Muslims charging Jews with intentions to desecrate or otherwise harm Islamic holy sites, while it was and is the Arabs who are doing those acts to sites sacred to Jews, is not new.

Here, from the record of the British Parliament on July 4, 1938:-

HC Deb 04 July 1938 vol 338 cc35-6 35

    § 58. Mr. Keeling

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the fear expressed in certain quarters that the Jews of Palestine intend, and will be permitted, to take possession of the mosque of El-Aksa, in Jerusalem, and other Moslem holy places, he can make a statement on this subject?

    Mr. M. MacDonald

    Yes, Sir. I am glad to have this opportunity of giving on unqualified denial to the suggestion which has been made, and which has, I understand, already been refuted by the President of the Jewish Agency in a telegram to the Head of the Jewish Community in Cairo. It is clear that the Jews have no designs on any of the Moslem holy places in Palestine, and in any case, as the House is aware, it is the policy of His Majesty's Government, under any scheme of partition, to retain permanently responsibility for the protection of holy places in the city of Jerusalem and generally to secure the preservation of the rights of all religious communities throughout Palestine.

And here also:

HC Deb 08 July 1936

    § Mr. LATHAN

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that sections of the Egyptian Press are being used for propaganda designed to foment anti-Semitism on Moslem religious grounds, it being alleged that the Jewish national home in Palestine constitutes a danger to Moslem Holy Places; and whether, having regard to the disturbances and dangers there, he will consider the desirability of causing a declaration to be made showing that the Moslem Holy Places are fully protected by the spirit and the letter of the British mandate on Palestine and also by the Balfour declaration?

    I am aware that allegations have from time to time been made suggesting that Moslem Holy Places in Palestine may be endangered by the establishment of the Jewish national home. The Balfour declaration contains the express proviso that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine; and under Article 13 of the Mandate all responsibility is specifically assumed by the Mandatory Power in connection with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites in Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights and of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites, and the free exercise of worship, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum. I am glad to have this opportunity of giving an assurance that His Majesty's Government have the fullest intention of fulfilling, in the spirit as well as in the letter, this solemn obligation in regard to all Holy Places Christian as well as Moslem.

And this was said in April 1929, four months before the murderous riots broke out, by Ormsby-Gore, the Colonial Secretary:

With regard to Palestine, the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull raised again the question of the Wailing Wall. I had hoped that that question was now settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties concerned, and that that unfortunate and sad episode would rapidly be dropped. These matters are very delicate and generally excite the most passionate feelings on both sides. To the best of my recollection, the point which the hon. and gallant Member raised is in regard to the top of the Wall. The Wailing Wall, as I remember it, consists first of great stones which were undoubtedly the wall of Herod or Nehemiah. They are the great stones at the bottom, and on the finish of the course of the great stones are some smaller stones said to be Roman, and on top of that a series of mediaeval stones ending up with a Turkish constructed wall, which was restored by Suliman the Magnificent when he restored the Holy City in the sixteenth century. I understand that the sacred place, the object of their veneration and where their ritual observations are carried out, is a place in front connected with the great stones, which were undoubtedly part of the old Jewish Temple, and really what is actually the finish of the top of the wall, which is Moslem, is not and has not been a matter of dispute.  These questions are extremely difficult in Palestine, where anything that is done with every single inch of any of these holy places, is fiercely contested; and with all our desire to prevent regrettable episodes of this kind, we can never be sure. 

and you can read this there, too, said by Commander Hon. Joseph Kenworthy:

I want to take this opportunity of protesting against what I consider the unsympathetic treatment of the Jews over the controversy of the Wailing Wall. The Wailing Wall of the Temple is the most sacred spot to the Jewish race the world over, and on their most sacred feast, the Day of Atonement, we had these regrettable incidents in which, because temporary shelters had been placed against the Wall, the Arab police were allowed to drive away the worshippers and remove these screens. I understand that the matter has engaged the attention of the Government, but that this kind of thing could happen, that the Jews' most sacred feast could be interrupted in that way—and I am told that it never happened under Turkish rule, the Turks as between one religion and another keeping the peace very well indeed—but that that kind of thing could happen, shows that something is wrong somewhere in the Palestinian administration. Somewhere a spark of anti-Semiticism is still smouldering and its smoke is seen in incidents like that of the Wailing Wall. We are in a difficult position in these contests between religions, but I am informed that the status quo, which was only violated in theory for 48 hours by a temporary structure by the Jewish worshippers, has been violated in a far more violent way by the Moslem authorities actually adding a masonry course on the top of the Wall. They have never got satisfaction from the Colonial Office as to what we are doing about this far more serious disturbance of the status quo.

If we mean to keep the status quo strictly, let it be done tactfully, but let it also be done on both sides, and if the Moslems are infringing the status quo, they must kindly and sympathetically be made to desist also.

which was emphasized by Josiah Wedgwood as well, during that same debate:

The Wailing Wall was an example. I do not say that the Government were wrong or right in that case, but it was a sample of the attitude of the Government towards the Jews and the growing hostility towards them.

Nothing much has fundamentally changed in the framing of the matter.


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