Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Jerusalem's Status Among Competing Muslim Sects
The Muslim Schism over Jerusalem - Pinhas Inbari
Amid the systematic destruction of mosques and holy places in the Arab world, it is precisely Israel's responsibility for security at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount that protects it from a similar fate.
Islam is divided into the Shia and the Sunna, but the Sunna is also divided into two main groups: the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The controversy between the Salafis - from whom al-Qaeda emerged and who are also known as Wahabis - and the Muslim Brotherhood is about, among other things, what constitutes the center of Islam.
Whereas the Salafis view the Arabian sites of Hijaz and Mecca as the center of the faith, the Muslim Brotherhood locates it at the Cairo Al-Azhar University, founded in the year 970 as a center for Islamic studies from which rulings and edicts on Islam and Islamic culture emerge. But because Cairo has no special religious holiness, the Brotherhood regards Jerusalem as their religious center. From the Salafis' standpoint, the Muslim Brotherhood's enhancement of the special status of Jerusalem poses a danger to the status of Mecca.
In Syria, for example, the Salafi Islamic State is engaged in an outright war with the Nusra Front of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Salafis frown upon the cult of holy places other than Mecca and Medina and destroy such sites systematically.
"Liberating Al-Aqsa" or "Al-Aqsa is in danger" are main motifs of the Muslim Brotherhood's preaching, while Salafis downplay Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. Whereas the Muslim Brotherhood focuses on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, the Salafis focus on a more immediate goal: "conquering Rome" - that is, the Christian world.
The writer, an analyst for the Jerusalem Center, is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Escalation in Jerusalem - Kobi Michael & Oded Eran
More than any other single issue, the Temple Mount embodies the dispute at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel faces a dilemma between its desire to maintain order on the site and prevent violent Palestinian groups from gaining control over it, and concern over the recourse to increased force and the subsequent effect on international relations. The escalation also damages the formal Palestinian leadership, i.e., Fatah and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and plays into the hands of Hamas and the northern faction of the Islamic movement in Israel. Any effort by the PA to lower tensions on the Temple Mount is severely criticized by Hamas.
Israel should try to refashion the existing situation on the Temple Mount, with a focus on excluding inciters, headed by Hamas and the northern faction of the Islamic Movement, while reinforcing the presence and influence of the Jordanian Waqf on the site.
In his upcoming speech to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Netanyahu should underscore the importance of the Temple Mount in the Jewish ethos. At the same time, he should express willingness to conduct a dialogue with key responsible players in the Muslim world, headed by Jordan's King Abdullah, who have no interest in the escalation that Islamic groups are trying to effect.
Dr. Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at INSS, was deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israel Ministry for Strategic Affairs. Oded Eran, Israel's former ambassador to Jordan and the EU, is a senior researcher at INSS.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)
Who Are the Temple Mount's Mourabitoun? - Shlomi Eldar
As the struggle over the Temple Mount escalates, the number of Muslim male and female recruits to the Mourabitoun, responsible for inflaming and fanning violence at the site, has grown.
The police and Israel Security Agency put their numbers at more than 1,000 women and hundreds of men, who are paid up to 4,000 Israeli shekels ($1,040) a month for their activism.
The funding is provided by Islamic charities, mainly the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, headed by Sheikh Raid Salah.
Israeli security services claim that Hamas also funnels money to the groups.
When Jews arrive on the Mount, the Muslim women, dressed in black, their faces veiled, repeatedly call out in unison, "Allahu Akbar," to scare off the Jews in a type of psychological warfare.
Abbas: "We Welcome Every Drop of Blood Spilled in Jerusalem"
Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, told Palestinian television on Sept. 16: "We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah. With the help of Allah, every shaheed (martyr) will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward."
He said only the Palestinians have rights to Jerusalem: "Al-Aqsa is ours and the (Church of the) Holy Sepulcher is ours. Everything is ours, all ours."
Abbas also praised two recently outlawed radical Islamist organizations whose activists are paid to harass Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)