Friday, September 08, 2017

"Al Aqsa Is In Danger" 1921

One of the recurring themes of Arab propaganda, since even before the institution of the Mandate for Palestine, has been "Al Aqsa is in Danger!".

One of the early examples is from 1921, following the visit of Sir Albert Mond, Lord Melchett, to the country during which he referred to rebuilding the Temple of Solomon in a figurative fashion.

Here is from the Hansard record of Britain's Parliament debates discussing a phrase he used in remarks he made in Palestine in January 1921:

PALESTINE.HC Deb 05 April 1921 vol 140 cc108-9 

§58. Commander BELLAIRS asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the proposal put forward at a meeting of the Palestine Foundation Fund to erect a great temple on the site of the Temple of Solomon; whether he is aware that the site is now occupied by the Mosque of Omar; and whether, in view of the difficulties which such proposals cause to the Mandatory Powers, he will state that in no circumstances will Mohammedan institutions be interfered with? 

§Mr. AMERY My attention has been drawn to a passage in a speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health [Sir Albert Mond], to which the hon. and gallant Member apparently alludes. I think it is clear that my right hon Friend was speaking figuratively and did not intend so literal an interpretation to be given to his words. In any case, I would draw attention to Article 13 of the draft Mandate for Palestine, which clearly sets forth the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to all holy places, religious buildings, or sites in Palestine. 

§Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there is no intention whatever of interfering with any mosques by the Palestine Committees, and also that King Solomon is held in equal reverence by Mohammedans, Jews, and Christians? 

§Earl WINTERTON Will my hon. and gallant Friend make it clear that so far from His Majesty's Government wishing to interfere with the holy places, a Mohammedan guard has always been placed over the Temple; and will he convey to the Minister of Health the un-desirability of making the sort of figurative speech which he did, in view of Mohammedan susceptibilities? 

§Mr. AMERY I cannot be responsible for the extent of misinterpretation which may be put on figurative speeches, but it is certainly the case, as my Noble Friend stated, that a guard has been on the Mosque of Omar ever since the occupation, and there is every intention of safeguarding the holy places of every religion.

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