The plan for the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick is just one phase of the long term struggle for Jerusalem between an Islam that sees itself as the true religion on the one hand, and the very existence of Judaism (and Christianity) – false religions in Islamic eyes – on the other.
In its own eyes, Islam came into the world not in order to stand alongside Judaism and Christianity, but to supplant them, and empty them of substance, assets and founding figures so that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Jesus and John are all Muslims in Islamic discourse. The Temple Mount has turned into a mosque, and several hundred churches (in Ramle, Damascus, Istanbul, Spain and more) were changed into mosques by Muslim conquerors.
In the view of radical Islamists, several setbacks occurred during the twentieth century: in 1948 the Jews, using military might and aided by the Christians (British) conquered the holy land of Palestine and in1967 they won Jerusalem, and we know the next step, they claim – they will build their temple and Judaism will again become a viable religion. That poses a theological danger to radical Islamists whose raison d’être is the destruction of Judaism (and Christianity). Therefore, the radical Islamist struggle for Jerusalem in general and the Temple Mount in particular is a theological one more than it is a political, nationalist or territorial struggle. He who does not – or will not – understand this, is hiding his head in the sand.
That is what lies behind the intention to eliminate Yehuda Glick, whose actions embody the Jewish yearning to return to the land, to Jerusalem and to the Temple Mount and to renew Jewish hegemony over the temple site. The rising Islamic flag is another factor, with Islamist radicals seeing a blessed outcome for their labors in the success of IS in Syria and Iraq. And on social networks. The concept of an Islamic caliphate is reverberating in the air, creating a tense atmosphere that might bring to fruition Islamic dreams of destroying all threats, defeating all enemies and achieving the ultimate goal – global Islamic hegemony.j
In 2011, Tel Aviv University published a collection of articles, edited by Drs. Arik Rudnitsky and Eli Reches, titled “Muslim Minorities in non-Muslim-Majority Countries: The Islamic Movement in Israel as a test case”. I wrote an article titled “The Islamic Movement’s Vision of the Future” which was included in the book. This is the last paragraph of that article:
“The real goal, one that the movement does not bother to hide, is the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in Israel whose capital is Jerusalem. I have heard this said several times by the Movement’s leaders. They even write it without compunction: Their true goal is to establish an Islamic state on the ruins of Jewish, Zionist Israel and make Al Quds El Sharif its capital. This opinion is based on statements made to me by the leaders of the movement, is heard mainly in their speeches, in songs composed by [Islamic Movement leader] Sheikh Raed [Salah] and from acts performed at their rallies. We are talking about a visible and very obvious general atmosphere, starting with the Sheikh and going on to the words of the movement’s other leaders.”
After the article was published, several colleagues turned to me claiming that my assertion had no basis because the pronouncements of the leaders of the Islamic Movement are simply mantras that do not express their real intentions. I claimed, then as now, that the Jewish people must not try to interpret the words of their enemies, but must accept them as they are, unamended. There was a period when we did not take the threats of our enemies seriously – the result was a horrific Holocaust.
Two weeks ago, in the midst of this very October, the leaders of the Arab Israeli sector demonstrated in Jerusalem. Taking part in this protest were – among others – Sheikh Raed’s deputy, Sheikh Kamel al-Khatib and the head of the northern branch of the Islamic State, in addition to Balad MK’s Hanin Zouabi and Basel Ghattas. This is Sheikh Kamel al-Khatib’s speech to the crowd, for all to hear.
(Note: the parentheses are my explanations)
“The (Arab) nation is in a bad state, due to what is happening in the Arab homeland and the counter-revolutions against the ‘Arab Spring’ being carried out by the enemies of the nations (mainly Egypt’s Sisi, Israel’s ally, who deposed the Muslim Brotherhood). This situation requires that steadfast people (rise up and) say: We are here, against the (Zionist) den of iniquity whose occupants occupy the stage in the entire Arab homeland. In the center of this thieving den of iniquity, we stress our right to stand strong and patient, attached to the land right here in Jerusalem. I repeat: Jerusalem is not only the capital of a Palestinian state, but the capital of a righteous (reference to the first four Caliphs, called “the righteous”) Islamic Caliphate, soon to arrive, Inshallah.”
Al-Khatib’s words fell on fertile soil, for after all, we have heard these words about the Islamic Caliphates from two other important sources. One is the Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen in Egypt, especially Sheikh Safwat Higazi, who shouted in the ears of the Cairo masses at the beginning of the 2012 presidential election campaign that Mohammed Morsi, if elected, would bring about the unification of the Arab nations and establish the Islamic Caliphate whose capital is not Mecca, not Cairo, but Jerusalem. He described this as a dream, of course, but expected Morsi to make the dream come true.
In early July 2013, General al-Sisi awakened Egypt from that dream, got rid of Morsi and his friends, throwing them into jail, the grave or out of Egypt.
The second source that talks about the Islamic Caliphate Kingdom and attempts to bring its arrival is “Islamic State”, the group some of us still call by its previous name, “Daesh” (ISIS). Its head calls himself Caliph and his state the Caliphate State. Is this the fulfillment of the Muslim Brotherhood dreamers, Higazi and al-Khatib? I cannot say, but despite differences in the behavior of the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State, there are too many similarities of ideology and aspirations between them and the classic Caliphate Kingdom, the one that began in the seventh century with Mohammed, and Israel’s Islamic Movement headed by Kamal al-Khatib and Sheikh Raed Salah.
The Hebrew Israeli media barely mentioned al-Khatib’s speech. Oudeh Basharat attacked him in Haaretz (27.10.14): ” Are we going to establish a modesty patrol that will punish women who do not wear burqas? Will we have a network of spies who will keep track of citizens’ intimate lives, and eventually stone women who do not adhere to their moral strictures? Is there going to be a marketplace for female slaves who will be sold to the highest bidder? Are we going to witness the beheading of nonbelievers in the town square? These are not exaggerations – this is what is happening right now wherever the Caliphate regime has taken over, right on the other side of the fence.”
A major storm broke in Israel’s Arab media as a result of al-Khatib’s words, because the fact is that based on the victims of the Caliphate Kingdom in Syria and Iraq such a state’s first and foremost victims would be “heretical” Israeli Arabs: Christian, Druze, Ahmadis. Balad party MK, Basel Ghattas, who is Christian, took part in the Jerusalem event, stood near al-Khatib, but did not react. Later, when the storm broke, Ghattas released the following statement: “Exclusionary (that is, of members of other religions) talk of Jerusalem as capital of the Islamic Caliphate weakens the unity of ranks necessary these days in order to resist Israeli plans. Instead of Jerusalem being a subject of Palestinian and Arab consensus, it becomes a place of division and religious conflict – something we really do not need.” Others accused al-Khatib of kidnapping the Palestinian national struggle and turning it into a Muslim religious struggle.
Al-Khatib was shocked by the negative reactions aroused by his words among Arab Israelis, and released the following statement: “I understand that some people have only a superficial understanding of history, because the concept of an Islamic Caliphate is not part of IS or any other organizations. This concept comes from an early period in Islamic history that will return in the future. In the past, the Islamic Caliphate arose after the death of the Prophet Mohammed, may Allah pray for him and grant him peace, and the Muslim Caliphs in the Caliphate were Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib, may they rest in peace. (He forgot the first caliph, Abu Bakr).
“We, as Muslims, believe in the future of Islam no matter what is happening, and an Islamic state will return once again and Jerusalem will be its capital. This is expressed in our confidence that the Israeli occupation will disappear, this is not just a hope or supplication on our part, but the words of the Prophet, who said that one day Jerusalem will be the location of the Islamic Caliphate. Those who thought I was talking about Islamic State (IS) – and I am speaking from the heart of Jerusalem and the Al Aksa Mosque – sadly, are saying this because of their superficiality and ignorance in understanding history, which led them to connect my words with what is happening in Iraq and Syria and the organization called IS.”
Al-Khatib continued: “There is no connection between what I said and what is happening there (in Syria and Iraq) and our clear position as the Islamic Movement about the actions of this organization is public knowledge… the real terrorists in this world are those who lead the ‘Anti-terrorist Alliance’: America is the prime terrorist that killed ten thousand (maybe he means ten million?) Indians, the terrorist that wiped out two major Japanese cities with atom bombs. The real terrorist is Netanyahu and his government who destroyed 40,000 homes in Gaza and murdered 2,200 of its citizens. The real terrorist in this world is Bashar Assad who has murdered 300,000 Syrian citizens because they demanded liberty and has now turned into a partner in the global alliance against terrorism. The real terrorist is Abed Al Fattah el Sisi (note the missing word, ‘President’) who killed more than 4,000 Egyptians in five hours and is now a member of the global alliance against terrorism.”
It is quite possible that Kamal al-Khatib is convinced that the historic Islamic State about which he speaks is not like the Islamic State that arose last year in Syria and Iraq. The problem with what he is saying is that the Islamic history books, written by Muslims, recorded the Caliphate Kingdom of the seventh century and the way its rulers dealt with conquered people and their armies – and these are uncannily similar to what is happening today in Syria and Iraq.
Can it be that it is Sheikh Kamal al-Khatib who does not understand history?
Written for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky