Weeks after the International Criminal Court disclosed that it would investigate war crimes in Palestinian territories, Human Rights Watch published a 200+ page report that accused Israel of persecuting Palestinians. The report claims that some of Israel’s policies constitute apartheid.
“Across Israel and the (Palestinian territories), Israeli authorities have pursued an intent to maintain domination over Palestinians by exercising control over land and demographics for the benefit of Jewish Israelis,” the report reads.
“On this basis, the report concludes that Israeli officials have committed the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” as defined under the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute.
But the Embassy of Israel to the United States denies all the claims in the report.
“We strongly reject the false accusations that Human Rights Watch is spreading about Israel,” the embassy said in a comment to this reporter. “Their decision not to share this report for review or seek comment with any Israeli authority is a clear indication that it is a propaganda pamphlet lacking all credibility. This report is filled with lies that have no connection to facts or the reality on the ground and as such we do not intend to address it.”
The embassy also discredited the report because of Omar Shakir’s involvement. Shakir is the Israel and Palestine Director for the HRW and they say he is “a well-known BDS supporter, whose working visa in Israel was not extended after he was found to be involved in promoting anti-Israel boycotts.”
In 2017, Israel denied Shakir’s visa. Then, in 2019 Israel High Court of Justice threw out Shakir’s appeal over the matter.
In response to the Embassy’s statement, Human Rights Watch told this reporter after this story was first published, that while it is true Shakir was denied a visa, he and the organization do not support BDS.
“It is true that Israel deported Omar Shakir, our Israel-Palestine director. They claim he supported BDS, which he did not, and neither does Human Rights Watch. So in short, he does not have a visa, that is true. But he did not promote BDS.”
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Temple Mount Outcry Denies Jewish Rights in Jerusalem
Earlier this month, Israeli Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir peacefully visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for 15 minutes in the morning. Only 24 hours later, the United Nations Security Council convened a meeting to discuss the issue. So was Ben-Gvir’s reactions worthy of such an outcry?
The “Jews Storming al-Aqsa” Canard
Arab governments were swift to condemn Ben-Gvir. Representatives from the governments of Egypt and Jordan accused Ben-Gvir of “storming” the Al Aqsa mosque while the UAE and Saudi Arabia condemned Ben-Gvir for “storming” the Al Aqsa “courtyard” or “compound,” respectively. Ben-Gvir was never in the mosque, and observing the footage of his leisurely walk, he clearly wasn’t “storming” anything either.
But Secretary of State Ned Price enabled this false narrative by not correcting a reporter who made a parallel to Ariel Sharon’s 2000 visit to the Temple Mount, stating that “Ariel Sharon stormed Haram Sharif and launched one of the most violent episodes in Palestinian-Israeli history that went on for a very, very long time.” In this reporter’s bizzarro world, Sharon stormed the Temple Mount, and used this to launch violence against the Palestinians. But in reality, Sharon’s visit had been greenlighted by the Palestinian Preventative Security Service chief Jibril Rajoub and Yasser Arafat had planned the Second Intifada months ahead of time.
The “storming” libel echoes Palestinian propaganda that Jews are invading, defiling, and destroying the al Aqsa mosque, canards which have been shown to persuade terrorists to kill Jews. So Arab governments using such rhetoric, and even calling Ben-Gvir’s visit a “provocation” or a “provocative” act as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar did, has potentially deadly consequences.
Arab Desecration of Jewish Heritage Sites
Rather, Arab leadership and terrorists were the ones that often did the invading, defiling and destroying of Jewish heritage sites. These include on the Temple Mount when the Wakf removed “roughly 400 truckloads” of dirt from the Temple Mount in the late 1990s using heavy machinery. Subsequent sifting of said dirt by the Temple Mount Sifting Project yielded several Jewish archeological finds.
Additional desecrations included the Palestinian Authority’s promise of and failure to protect Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, destroyed by a Palestinian mob in 2000, and multiple terror attacks on Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and many others. Back when the Jordanians controlled Jerusalem’s Old City from 1948-1967, Jordanian soldiers and everyday folk destroyed 56 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter and almost completely destroyed the 2,000 year old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
Libels of the Jews provoking violence on the Temple Mount is related to Palestinian propaganda that Jews have no rightful claim to the Temple Mount, and that Solomon’s Temple never existed. Such “Temple Denial” existed in Palestinian nationalism at least as early as 1998, when Ikrima Sabri, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time, denied that Solomon’s Temple was in Jerusalem, and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat repeated a similar claim in 2000. Palestinian propaganda also claims the Western Wall is a Muslim site, and exclusively so.
Such Temple Denial proliferated amongst Palestinian nationalism, despite an old Arabic term for Jerusalem, “Bayt al-Maqdis,” which comes from the Hebrew “Beit Hamikdash,” meaning “the Holy Temple.” (The modern Arabic term for Jerusalem, “al-Quds,” is in turn a derivative of Bayt al-Maqdis.)
Ironically, Muslims have identified the Temple Mount with the site of Solomon’s Temple since Umar ibn al-Khattab, the Arab conqueror of Jerusalem. Versions of a tour guide for the Temple Mount written in 1924, 1925, 1929 and 1932 by the Supreme Moslem Council all recognize that the Temple Mount has a connection with Solomon’s Temple, with all four versions stating that the Temple Mount’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” Following Israel’s re-establishment in 1948, the Wakf removed references to Solomon’s Temple from its guidebooks.
What is the “Status Quo?”
The Biden administration supports the “status quo” of the holy sites in Jerusalem, as recently stated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of State Spokesman Ned Price and US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Robert Wood. When elaborating on the status quo, Price struggled to offer specifics, stating that “it’s not for me to define…what the historic status quo is.” But Israel and Jordan’s Armistice Agreement (1949), Israel’s Protection of Holy Places Law(1967), Article 9 of Israel’s Peace with Jordan (1994) and the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (1995) all recognize the right of Jews to access holy sites in Jerusalem.
The heart of the matter is that the United Nations, the Arab states, and unfortunately the Biden administration do not recognize Jewish rights in the Temple Mount. Supporting the “status quo” is supporting the continued denial of Jews to those rights. True, enduring peace in the Middle East can only be achieved when all parties recognize and respect Jewish rights to peacefully access the Temple Mount.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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