مَن يحرص على تجنيب لبنان الحرب: السيد حسن نصرالله أم منتقدوه؟

يوليو 15, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– ظاهرياً يتلبّس منتقدو خطاب السيد حسن نصرالله ثوب الحرص على تجنيب لبنان تداعيات أي تطور دراماتيكي للمواجهة الأميركية الإيرانية، ويعتبرون تهديداته بالدخول على خطها تلميحاً وتصريحاً تعريضاً للبنان للخطر، وتخديماً لمصالح إيرانية على حساب لبنان وأمنه واستقراره. فيقولون، إن اتصالاتهم بالأميركيين ومن خلالها ما يردهم عن نتائج الاتصالات الأميركية بالإسرائيليين، فإن واشنطن وتل أبيب مستعدتان لتحييد لبنان عن أي مواجهة مع إيران إذا استجاب حزب الله لهذه الدعوة بالتحييد، وإن كلام السيد نصرالله وموقفه يسقطان هذه الفرضية ويضعان لبنان في دائرة الاستهداف، ويضيف هؤلاء أنهم نجحوا عبر الاتصال بواشنطن لضمان استعداد أميركي لفتح قناة اتصال مع حزب الله، رغم وجود العقوبات، لكن حزب الله لم يكتفِ بالرفض بل استعمل ذلك للتصعيد بوجه واشنطن.

– ظاهرياً، يبدو هذا الكلام منطقياً، لكن هناك ما هو أهم للكشف عن صدق وطبيعة النيات الأميركية العميقة من مساعي تحييد حزب الله، تكشفها مساعي الوساطة لترسيم حدود لبنان براً وبحراً التي قادها معاون وزير الخارجية الأميركية السابق ديفيد ساترفيلد، الذي تولى حديثاً مهام سفارة بلاده في تركيا، لتقول شيئاً لا علاقة له بما يقوله اللبنانيون الذين يتحدثون عن الحرص على تحييد لبنان من أي مواجهة أميركية إيرانية، ففشل مساعي ساترفيلد بعدما استهلكت وقتاً طويلاً أظهر أن المقصود منها كان تحييد حزب الله عن أي مواجهة إيرانية أميركية، دون أن يطلب من الحزب ذلك، بل بمحاصرته بمناخ لبناني متحفز للحصول على الحقوق اللبنانية من الثروات النفطية، وجعل المستوى الأول في لبنان ينظر بإيجابية للمساعي الأميركية، بحيث لن يتسامح مع أي موقف تصعيدي لحزب الله إذا ما تدهورت الأوضاع على جبهة طهران واشنطن بما يهدّد بالإطاحة بهذه الفرصة اللبنانية الذهبية، لكن التراجع الأميركي المفاجئ بلا مقدّمات عن جهود الوساطة الشكلية، كشف المستور بعدما تيقنت واشنطن من شراكة حزب الله بقرار واعٍ وواضح في أي مواجهة بينها وبين إيران بحسابات تعرف أنها لن تستطيع تغييرها.

– لدى حزب الله مقاربة مخالفة كلياً لما سبق، وهو يعتبر أن كلام السيد حسن نصرالله ترجمة لهذه المقاربة بكل حساباتها وتفاصيلها. فخطة تحييد حزب الله، هي خطة الحرب، وليست خطة الخروج منها وفقاً لرؤية الحزب، والفشل بتحييد حزب الله يعني سقوط خيار الحرب، لأن واشنطن لن تشنّ حرباً على إيران تعرّض أمن «إسرائيل» للاهتزاز، لكنها إذا نجحت بالفوز في الحرب على إيران، بعد النجاح في تحييد حزب الله، وبالتالي ضمان أمن «إسرائيل» أثناء الحرب على إيران، فلن تتردد بالارتداد نحو حزب الله لتدفيعه ثمن انتصاراته على «إسرائيل» وتغيير معادلات الردع التي بناها بوجه القوة الإسرائيلية، بعدما تكون إيران قد هُزمت وتمّ تغيير المناخ المعنوي والنفسي والمادي لظروف خوض الحرب على حزب الله، فيصير تحييد حزب الله وعبره لبنان مجرد تكتيك حربي مؤقت لجدول أعمال الحرب لا يقع في حبائله ولا يصدّقه إلا الأغبياء، الذين يربأ حزب الله بنفسه وباللبنانيين أن يُحسَبوا من ضمنهم.

– في حسابات حزب الله، معادلة واضحة لقوانين الحرب والسلم في المنطقة عنوانها، أن أمن «إسرائيل» هو الذي يدفع أميركا لخوض الحروب وهو الذي يجعلها تعيد النظر بخيارات الحروب، وأنه كما في الحرب على سورية، في الحرب على إيران، سؤال الأميركيين الأول، هو هل يرد احتمال أن يقوم حزب الله بتعريض أمن «إسرائيل» للخطر، فإن كان الجواب إيجابياً عدلت واشنطن عن الحرب وإن كان العكس مضت بها وإليها، وفي حسابات حزب الله أن واشنطن التي شكّل التحريض الإسرائيلي أحد الأسباب في حملتها العدائية لإيران نظراً لما للتأثير الإسرائيلي على معادلات القوى الناخبة في واشنطن، ستتأثر بما تتلقاه من الرأي العام الإسرائيلي حول خيار الحرب على إيران، وبالتالي فإن تهديد الأمن الإسرائيلي بأكلاف عائدات الحرب وجعل ذلك قضية الرأي العام الأولى في كيان الاحتلال يتكفّل بجعل التحريض الإسرائيلي لواشنطن معكوساً، فبدلاً من معادلة «اضربوا إيران كمصدر خطر على أمن إسرائيل كي نقف معكم»، يصير «لا تغامروا بأمننا في حرب مع إيران سندفع نحن ثمنها إن كنتم تريدون أن نقف معكم».

– معادلة حزب الله أنه لن يكون محيداً ومعه لبنان إذا قررت واشنطن الحرب على إيران، إلا مؤقتاً ضمن خطة تكتيكية للفوز بالحرب بكل مراحلها، ومنها مرحلة القضاء على حزب الله بعد الفوز بالحرب على إيران، وأن طريق منع الحرب على لبنان يبدأ من منع الحرب على إيران، وطريق ذلك واضح، جعل أمن «إسرائيل» في كفة موازية للحرب على إيران، وهو ما يضمنه التهديد بدخول حزب الله على خط الحرب، الذي يضمن على الأقل وبكل تأكيد تحفيز الرأي العام الإسرائيلي لرفض المغامرة بالحرب، فعدم الحياد من الحرب هو طريق تحييد لبنان من الخطر.

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Mohammed Bin Salman Is Making Muslims Boycott Mecca

By Ahmed Twaij, Foreign Policy

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has attempted to cast Saudi Arabia in a more positive light and mask the country’s more aggressive internal and foreign policies by undertaking so-called liberal reforms. But it has not been enough to silence those who continue to draw attention to his government’s human rights abuses.

The rising death toll of civilians killed by Saudi bombs in Yemen, the horrific slaughter of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and Riyadh’s aggressive approach to Iran have led some of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni allies to reconsider their unwavering support for the kingdom.

In late April, Libya’s most prominent Muslim Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani, called for all Muslims to boycott the hajj – the obligatory pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca.

He went so far as to claim that anyone who embarked on a second pilgrimage was conducting “an act of sin rather than a good deed.” The reasoning behind the boycott is the suggestion that boosting Saudi Arabia’s economy through pilgrimage continues to fuel arms purchases and direct attacks on Yemen – and indirectly Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, and Algeria. Ghariani added that investment in the hajj would “help Saudi rulers to carry out crimes against our fellow Muslims.”

Ghariani is not the first prominent Muslim scholar to support a ban on the hajj. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, also a Sunni cleric and vocal critic of Saudi Arabia, announced a fatwa in August last year banning the pilgrimage, instead stating, “Seeing Muslims feeding the hungry, treating the sick, and sheltering the homeless are better viewed by Allah than spending money on the hajj.”

Saudi Arabia’s influence is not merely linked to its political and military capacity but also to its historical ties to Islam. As the home of both Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest sites and the location of the Kaaba and burial place of Prophet Muhammad respectively, Saudi Arabia’s influence extends far beyond its Arab neighbors but to the Muslim world in general. More than 2.3 million Muslims from all sects flock to Mecca during the annual hajj pilgrimage and many more throughout the year, making visiting Saudi Arabia an aspiration for many Muslims around the world.

This relationship with Islam has instinctively led many from the Sunni Arab world to look to the kingdom for daily guidance on religious issues. In response to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and fear of it cascading throughout the region, Saudi Arabia has spent millions of dollars exporting its brand of Islam through the funding of mosques around the world, many of which have been linked to … extremism in the West, as it claims to be leader of the Muslim world.

For years, Saudi Arabia has been working toward becoming a regional hegemon in the Middle East, whose claim to power, in recent years, is threatened only by Iran. As one of the world’s largest oil exporters with close ties to the United States, Saudi Arabia found itself basking in the steadfast support of many of its neighboring states for decades.

Despite mounting evidence of the royal family’s role in the “premeditated execution” of Khashoggi, the Trump administration hastily discredited any indication of Saudi involvement in the killing, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently neglecting to mention the topic when meeting with Saudi King Salman. The White House and US State Department might be willing to turn a blind eye, but fellow Muslims have not been as forgiving.

Throughout the Middle East and in other Muslim-majority nations, there has been growing concern over the slaying of Khashoggi, as well as the rising death toll in Yemen, which is expected to reach 230,000 by 2020 through the often indiscriminate airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition –which has bombed hospitals, funerals, children’s school buses, and weddings – in what has been described as the “worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time” by UN officials. Saudi Arabia’s truculent approach to the Yemen war has isolated itself within its own coalition; even the Emirati government has shown some discomfort toward the Saudi approach.

Saudi Arabia’s atrocities have provoked persistent global condemnation, with calls for banning weapons trade with the country. Both the US House of Representatives and Senate have recently pushed back on President Donald Trump’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and Germany has banned such trade with the country since last October. Adding to the list, Switzerland and Italy have also moved toward banning arms trade with Saudi Arabia, and a British court recently ruled that arms deals with Saudi Arabia may have been unlawful. Ghariani has gone one step further in calling for a boycott of the country from its largest annual contingent of tourists during the hajj.

Unlike past attempts to boycott Saudi Arabia, the current effort has crossed the sectarian divide.

In 2011, Riyadh violently repressed Bahrain’s popular uprising at the request of the Bahraini government. The protests were led by Shiite Muslims, who are a majority in the Sunni-ruled country, and Iraqi activists reacted by calling for a boycott of all Saudi products. Protests across Iraq were organized and attended by Shiite clerics, academics, and politicians alike. At the time, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that if the Saudi-led violence were to continue, “the region may be drawn into a sectarian war.”

Today, calls for boycotting the kingdom have spiraled and they aren’t just coming from Shiites. The hashtag #boycotthajj has been trending on Twitter, amassing nearly 16,000 tweets. Sunni clerics around the world have also called for a boycott. The Tunisian Union of Imams said in June that

“the money [from the hajj] that goes to Saudi authorities is not used to help poor Muslims around the world. Instead it is used to kill and displace people as is the case currently in Yemen.”

Given that the hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, prescribed as obligatory for all Muslims, the call for a boycott indicates the genuine, acerbic concern toward Saudi behavior. Should this trend continue, Saudi Arabia’s claim to being the spiritual home of Islam would be at risk – and it could take an economic hit, too.

Pilgrimage is vital to the Saudi economy and worth $12 billion annually, amounting to 20 percent of non-oil GDP, and is expected to rise to $150 billion by 2022, given the investment in luxury hotels by the Saudi government. Such investment has caused profits to skyrocket, pricing many poorer Muslims out of trips to the kingdom.

The calls for boycotting the hajj are not the first time the religious pilgrimage has been politicized. Saudi Arabia itself has in recent years banned both Qatari and Iranian nationals from partaking due to growing political differences between the states. Saudi officials have also abused the sanctity of the city of Mecca to promote their political ideology.

During one prayer sermon in October last year, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of the Great Mosque in Mecca, stated:

“The path of reform and modernization in this blessed land … through the care and attention from its young, ambitious, divinely inspired reformer crown prince, continues to blaze forward guided by his vision of innovation and insightful modernism, despite all the failed pressures and threats,”

implying that no Muslim should be questioning the Saudi political elite.

In an effort to flex its political might, and inevitably draw attention away from the Khashoggi killing and the country’s continued leading role in the war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia organized an emergency summit in late May in Mecca to put the focus back on Iran. During the summit, which brought together in separate meetings Arab leaders, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the Islamic world, Saudis called for support from Arab countries to deal with the Iran crisis by “using all means to stop the Iranian regime from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, harboring global and regional terrorist entities, and threatening international waterways.”

In defiance, and highlighting Saudi Arabia’s waning status as the regional power, Iraq fully opposed the closing statement, which was to denounce Iran, and instead pledged a message of support toward Iran and called on other countries to help stabilize the country. At the summit in Mecca, Iraqi President Barham Salih stated: “Honestly, the security and stability of a neighboring Islamic country is in the interest of Muslim and Arab states,” referring to Iran. Similarly, during the summit, Saudi Arabia failed in getting the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – an international organization with headquarters in Jeddah – to isolate and condemn Iran.

As the death toll in Yemen rises, countries around the world are now calling for an economic, religious, and political boycott of Saudi Arabia – not just the banning of arms trade. Riyadh is running out of friends in the West, and, now, its relationships with regional allies are starting to show cracks. Should the Trump administration fail to secure a second term, Saudi Arabia may be left with few international friends and its claim to leadership of the Muslim and Arab world will be severely damaged.

In Israel the Push to Destroy Jerusalem’s Iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque Goes Mainstream

Al-Aqsa Feature photo

TWO CENTURIES IN THE CROSS-HAIRS

In Israel the Push to Destroy Jerusalem’s Iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque Goes Mainstream

This ancient site that dates back to the year 705 C.E. is being targeted for destruction by extremist groups that seek to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim heritage in pursuit of colonial ambitions and the fulfillment of end-times prophecy.

The iconic golden dome of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque, located on the Temple Mount or Haram el-Sharif, is the third holiest site in Islam and is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of the city of Jerusalem. Yet, this ancient site that dates back to the year 705 C.E. is being targeted for destruction by increasingly influential extremist groups that seek to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim heritage in pursuit of colonial ambitions and the fulfillment of end-times prophecy.

Some observers may have noticed the growing effort by some Israeli government and religious officials to remove the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque from the Jerusalem skyline, not only erasing the holy site in official posters, banners and educational material but also physically removing the building itself. For instance, current Knesset member of the ruling Likud Party, American-born Yehuda Glick, was also the director of the government-funded Temple Institute, which has created relics and detailed architectural plans for a temple that they hope will soon replace Al-Aqsa. Glick is also close friends with Yehuda Etzion, who was part of a failed plot in 1984 to blow up Al-Aqsa mosque and served prison time as a result.

“In the end we’ll build the temple and it will be a house of prayer for all nations,” Glick toldIsraeli newspaper Maariv in 2012. A year later, Israel’s Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel stated that “[w]e’ve built many little, little temples…but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.” Ariel stated that the new Jewish Temple must be built on the site where Al-Aqsa currently sits “as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation.” Since then, prominent Israeli politicians have become more and more overt in their support for the end of Jordanian-Palestinian sovereignty over the mosque compound, leading many prominent Palestinians to warn in recent years of plans to destroy the mosque.




In recent years, a centuries-old effort by what was once a small group of extremists has gone increasingly mainstream in Israel, with prominent politicians, religious figures and political parties advocating for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque in order to fulfill a specific interpretation of an end-times prophecy that was once considered fringe among practitioners of Judaism.

As Miko Peled, Israeli author and human-rights activist, told MintPress, the movement to destroy Al-Aqsa and replace it with a reimagined Temple “became notable after the 1967 war,” and has since grown into “a massive colonial project that uses religious, biblical mythology and symbols to justify its actions” — a project now garnering support from both religious and secular Israelis.

While the push to destroy Al-Aqsa and replace it with a physical Third Temple has gained traction in Israel in recent years, this effort has advanced at a remarkably fast pace in just the past few weeks, owing to a confluence of factors. These factors, as this report will show, include the upcoming revelation of the so-called “Deal of the Century,” the push for a war with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and the Trump administration’s dramatic lenience in regards to the activity of Jewish extremist groups and extremist settlements in Israel.

These factors correlate with a quickening of efforts to destroy Al-Aqsa and the very real danger the centuries-old holy site faces. While the U.S. press has occasionally mentioned the role of religious extremism in dictating the foreign policy of prominent U.S. politicians like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it has rarely shone a light on the role of Jewish extremism in directing Israel’s foreign policy — foreign policy that, in turn, is well-known to influence American policies.

When taken together, the threats to Al-Aqsa are clearly revealed to be much greater than the loss of a physical building, though that itself would be a grave loss for the world’s Muslim community, which includes over 1.8 billion people. In addition, the site’s destruction would very likely result in a regional and perhaps even global war with clear religious dimensions.

To prevent such an outcome, it is essential to highlight the role that extremist, apocalyptic interpretations of both the Jewish and Christian faiths are playing in trends that, if left unchecked, could have truly terrifying consequences. Both of these extremist groups are heavily influenced by colonial ambitions that often supersede their religious underpinning.

In Part I of this two-part series, MintPress examines the growth of extremist movements in Israel that openly promote the destruction of Al-Aqsa, from a relatively isolated fringe movement within Zionism to mainstream prominence in Israel today; as well as how threats to the historic mosque have grown precipitously in just the past month. MintPress interviewed Israeli author and activist Miko Peled; Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta in New York; Imam and scholar of Shia Islam, Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, of the Islamic Institute of America; and Palestinian journalist and academic Ramzy Baroud for their perspectives on these extremist groups, their growing popularity, and the increasing threats to the current status quo at Haram El-Sharif/Temple Mount.

The second part of this series will detail the influence of this extremist movement in Israeli politics as well as American politics, particularly among Christian Zionist politicians in the United States. The ways in which this movement’s goal have also influenced Israeli and U.S. policy — particularly in relation to the so-called “Deal of the Century,” President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the push for war against Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah — will also be examined.

 

Two centuries in the cross-hairs

Though efforts to wrest the contested holy site from Jordanian and Palestinian control have picked up dramatically in recent weeks, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound had long been targeted prior to Israel’s founding and even prior to the formation of the modern Zionist movement.

For instance, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Kalisher — who promoted the European Jewish colonization of Palestine from a religious perspective well before Zionism became a movement — expounded on an early form of what would later be labeled “religious Zionism” and was particularly interested in the acquisition of Haram el-Sharif (i.e., the Temple Mount) as a means of fulfilling prophecy.

As noted in the essay “Proto-Zionism and its Proto-Herzl: The Philosophy and Efforts of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalisher” by Sam Lehman-Wilzig, Professor of Israeli Politics and Judaic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, Kalisher sought to court wealthy European Jews to finance the purchase of Israel for the purpose of resettlement, particularly the Temple Mount. In an 1836 letter to Baron Amschel Rothschild, Kalisher suggested that the eldest brother of the wealthy banker family use his abundant funds to bring Jewish sovereignty to Palestine, specifically Jerusalem and the Temple Mount:

[E]specially at a time like this, when the Land of Israel is under the dominion of the Pasha… perhaps if his most noble Excellency pays him a handsome sum and purchases for him some other country (in Africa) in exchange for the Holy Land, which is presently small in quantity but great in quality… this money would certainly not be wasted… for when the leaders of Israel are gathered from every corner of the world… and transform it into an inhabited country, the many G-d-fearing and charitable Jews will travel there to take up their residency in the Holy Land under Jewish sovereignty… and be worthy to take up their portion in the offering upon the altar. And if the master (Ibrahim Pasha) does not desire to sell the entire land, then at least he should sell Jerusalem and its environs… or at least the Temple Mount and surrounding areas.” (emphasis added)

Kalisher’s request was met with a noncommittal response from Baron Rothschild, leading Kalisher to pursue other wealthy European Jewish families, like the Montefiores, with the same goal in mind. And, though Kalisher was initially unsuccessful in winning the support of the Rothschild family, other notable members of the wealthy European banking dynasty eventually did become enthusiastic supporters of Zionism in the decades that followed.

Kalisher was also influential in another way, as he was arguably the first modern Rabbi to reject the idea of patiently waiting for God to fulfill prophecy and proposed instead that man should take concrete steps that would lead to the fulfillment of such prophecies, a belief that Kalisher described as “self help.” For Kalisher, settling European Jews in Palestine was but the first step, to be followed by other steps that would form an active as opposed to a passive approach towards Jewish Messianism. These subsequent steps included the construction of a Third Temple, to replace the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans around the year 70 C.E., and the reinitiation of ritual animal sacrifices in that Temple, which Kalisher believed could only be placed on the Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa then sat and still sits.

Kalisher wasn’t alone in his views, as his contemporary, Rabbi Judah Alkalai, wrote the following in his book Shalom Yerushalayim:

It is obvious that the Mashiach ben David [Messiah of the House of David] will not appear out of thin air in a fiery chariot with fiery horses, but will come if the Children of Israel bend to the task of preparing themselves for him.”

Though Kalisher wasn’t the lone voice promoting these ideas, his beliefs — aside from promoting the physical settlement of European Jews in Palestine — remained relatively fringe for decades, if not more than a century, as secular Jews were hugely influential in the Zionist movement after its official formation. However, prominent religious Zionists did influence the Zionist movement in key ways prior to Israel’s founding. One such figure was Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who sought to reconcile Zionism and Orthodox Judaism as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Palestine, a position he assumed in 1924.

Yet, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group based in New York that opposes Zionism, told MintPress that many religious Zionists have since latched onto Kalisher’s ideas, which were widely rejected during his lifetime, in order to justify neocolonial actions sought by secular Zionists. “This rabbi, at the time, other rabbis ‘roared’ against him and his beliefs weren’t accepted,” Rabbi Weiss stated, “But now, the ones who are talking about building this Third Temple….these are Zionists and they have found some rabbi whose ideas benefit them that they have been using to justify Zionist acts” that are not aligned with Judaism “and make them kosher.”

Al-Aqsa and temple mount 1974

The famous Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, at center, and the dome of Al-Aqsa Mosque pictured on May 15, 1976. Horst Faas | AP

Weiss further expanded on this point, noting that the participants of the modern religious Zionism movement that seek to build a new Jewish temple where Al-Aqsa currently stands are, at their core, Zionists who have used religious imagery and specific interpretations of religious texts as cover for neo-colonial acts, such as the complete re-making of the Temple Mount.

“It’s like a wolf in a sheepskin…These people who want to incorporate the teachings of this rabbi [Rabbi Kalisher] are proudly saying that they are Jewish, but are doing things Jews are forbidden from doing,” such as ascending to and standing upon the Temple Mount, which Rabbi Weiss stated was “a breach of Jewish law,” long forbidden by that law according to a consensus among Jewish scholars and rabbis around the world that continued well beyond the formation of the Zionist movement in the 19th century.

Weiss also told MintPress:

There are only a few sins in Judaism — which has many, many laws, that lead to a Jew being cut off from God — and to go up to the Temple Mount is one of them…This is because you need a certain level of holiness to ascend and… the process to attain that level of holiness and purity cannot be done today, because [aspects of and the items required by] the necessary purity rituals no longer exist today.”

Rabbi Weiss noted that, for this reason, the Muslim community that has historically governed the area where Al-Aqsa mosque stands never had any problems with the Jewish community in relation to the Temple Mount, as it has been known for centuries that Jews cannot ascend to the area where the mosque currently sits and instead prayed only at the Western Wall. He also stated that the prophetic idea of a Third Temple was, prior to Zionism, understood as indicating not a change in physical structures on the Temple Mount, but a metaphysical, spiritual change that would unite all of mankind to worship and serve God in unison.

Rabbi Weiss asserted that the conflict regarding Al-Aqsa mosque started only with the advent of Zionism and the associated neo-colonial ambition to fundamentally alter the status quo and structures present at the site as a means of erasing key parts (i.e., Palestinian parts) of its heritage. “This [the use of religion to justify ascending to and taking control of the Temple Mount] is a trap for conning other people into supporting them,” concluded the Rabbi.

Nonetheless, Kalisher’s impact can be seen in today’s Israel more than ever, thanks to the rise and mainstream acceptance within Israel of once-fringe elements of religious Zionism, which were deeply influenced by the ideas of rabbis like Kalisher and have served in recent decades as an incubator for some of Israel’s most radical political elements.

Meanwhile, as the debate within Judaism over the Temple Mount has changed dramatically since the 19th century, its significance in Islam has remained steadfast. According to Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini, “Al-Aqsa is the third holiest mosque in Islam…it is considered to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and has been mentioned in the Qoran, which glorifies that mosque and identifies it as a blessed mosque. All Muslims, whether they are Sunni or Shia, revere that mosque” — a fact that has remained unchanged for over a millennium and continues to today.

 

Religious Zionism gains political force

The modern rise of the religious Zionist movements that promote the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque and its replacement with a Third Jewish Temple is most often traced back to the Six Day War of 1967. According to Miko Peled, who recently wrote a piece for MintPress Newsregarding the threats facing Al-Aqsa, “religious Zionism” as a political force became more noticeable following the 1967 war. Peled told MintPress:

After the ‘heartland’ of Biblical Israel came under Israeli control, the religious Zionists, who before then were marginalized, saw it as their mission to settle those newly conquered lands, and to be the new pioneers, so to speak. They took on the job that the socialist Zionist ideologues had in settling Palestine and ridding it of its native Arab population in the years leading up to Israel’s establishment and up to the early 1950s. They saw the “return” of Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, or Shchem and, of course, the Old City of Jerusalem as divine intervention and now it was their turn to make their mark.

It began with a small group of Messianic fanatics who forced the government – who at that point, after 1967, was still secular Zionist – to accept their existence in the highly populated areas within the West Bank. That was how the city of Kiryat Arba [illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank] was established. The government, it is worth noting, was happy to be forced into this. From a small group that people thought were fringe lunatics to a Jewish city in the heart of Hebron region.”

Peled further noted that this model, employed by the religious extremist groups that founded illegal West Bank settlements like Kiryat Arba, “has been used successfully since then and it is now used by the groups that are promoting the new Temple in place of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.” He continued, pointing out that “whereas 20-30 years ago they were considered a fringe group, this year they expect more than 50,000 people to enter the compound to support the group and their goals. Religious Israeli youth who opt out of military service and choose national service instead may work with the [Third] Temple building organizations.”

Extremist settlers storm Al-Aqsa

Extremist settlers escorted by Israeli after they stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on July 22, 2018. Mostafa Alkharouf | Anadolu

Dr. Ramzy Baroud — journalist, academic and founder of The Palestine Chronicle — agreed with Peled’s sense that the Third Temple movement or Temple Activist movement has grown dramatically in recent years and has become increasingly mainstream in Israel. Baroud told MintPress: 

There has been a massive increase in the number of Israeli Jews who force their way into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to pray and practice various rituals…In 2017 alone, over 25,000 Jews who visited the compound — accompanied by thousands of soldiers and police officers and provoking many clashes that resulted in the death and wounding of many Palestinians. Since 2017, the increase in Jews visiting the compound has been very significant if compared to the previous year when around 14,000 Jews made that same journey.”

Baroud also noted:

[The Temple Activist movement] has achieved a great deal in appealing to mainstream Israeli Jewish society in recent years. At one point, it was a marginal movement, but with the rise of the far right in Israel, their ideas and ideologies and religious aspirations have also become part of the Israeli mainstream.”

As a result, Baroud asserted:

[There is] an increasing degree of enthusiasm among Israeli Jews that is definitely not happening at the margins [of society], but is very much a part of the mainstream, more so than at any time in the past, to take over the Al-Aqsa mosque, demolish the mosque in order to rebuild the so-called Third Temple.”

However, Rabbi Weiss disagreed with Peled and Baroud that this faction presents a real threat to the mosque, given that the mosque’s destruction is widely rejected by Diaspora Jewry (i.e., Jews living outside of Israel) and that destroying it would not only cause conflicts with the global Muslim community but also numerous Jewish communities outside of Israel.

As Rabbi Weiss told MintPress:

Some of the largest and most religious [i.e. ultra-orthodox] Jewish communities outside of Israel, like the second largest community of religious [ultra-orthodox] Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn [in New York], and also in Israel … are opposed to this concept of taking over the Temple Mount and other related ideas.”

Weiss argued that many of these religious Zionists in Israel that are pushing for a new Temple “do not follow Jewish law to the letter and don’t come from the very religious communities, including the settlers…They don’t go to expressly religious schools, they go to Zionist schools. Their whole view is built on Zionism and [secondarily] incorporates the religion,” as opposed to the reverse. As a result, the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque, in Weiss’ view, could greatly alienate the state of Israel from these more religious and ultra-orthodox communities.

In addition, Rabbi Weiss felt that many Jewish and secular Israelis would also reject such a move because it would create even more conflicts, which many Israelis do not want. He described the Temple Activists as “a vocal minority” that represented a “fringe” among adherents to Judaism and a group within Zionism that has tried to use the Temple Mount “in order to be able to excuse their occupation and to try to portray this [the occupation of Palestine] as a religious conflict,” with the conflict surrounding the Temple Mount being an extension of that.

An Israeli police officer raises his baton on Palestinians worshipers near the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, July 27, 2017 (AP/Mahmoud Illean)

An Israeli police officer raises his baton on Palestinians worshipers near the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 27, 2017. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Weiss believed that the push to take over the Temple Mount was a “scare tactic” aimed at securing the indefinite nature of the occupation, and noted that many Israelis did not want a spike in or renewal of conflict that would inevitably result if the mosque were to be destroyed. He also added that he did not think there was a “real threat” of the mosque being targeted because international rabbinical authorities have stood fast in their opposition to the project promoted by the Temple Activists.

 

“Tomorrow might be too late”

It is hardly a coincidence that the growth of Temple Activism and associated movements like “neo-Zionism” have paralleled the growth in threats to the Al-Aqsa mosque itself. Many of these threats can be understood through the doctrine developed by Rabbi Kalisher and others in the mid-19th century — the idea that “active” steps must be taken to bring about the reconstruction of a Jewish Temple at Haram El-Sharif in order to bring about the Messianic Age.

Indeed, during the 1967 war, General Shlomo Goren, the chief rabbi of the IDF, had told Chief of Central Command Uzi Narkiss that, shortly after Israel’s conquest of Jerusalem’s Old City, the moment had come to blow up the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. “Do this and you will go down in history,” Goren told Narkiss. According to Tom Segev’s book 1967, Goren felt that the site’s destruction could only be done under the cover of war: “Tomorrow might be too late.”

Goren was among the first Israelis to arrive at the then-recently conquered Old City in Jerusalem and was joined at the newly “liberated” Al-Aqsa compound by a young Yisrael Ariel, who now is a major leader in the Temple Activist movement and head of the Temple Institute, which is dedicated to constructing a Third Temple where Al-Asqa mosque currently stands.

Narkiss rejected Goren’s request, but did approve the razing of Jerusalem’s Moroccan quarter. According to Mondoweiss, the destruction of the nearly seven centuries old Jerusalem neighborhood was done for the “holy purpose” of making the Western Wall more accessible to Jewish Israelis. Some 135 homes were flattened, along with several mosques, and over 700 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed as part of that operation.

Following the occupation of East Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa has come under increasing threat, just as extremist movements who seek to destroy the site have grown. In 1969, a Christian extremist from Australia, Daniel Rohan, set fire to the mosque. Rohan had been studying in Israel and, prior to committing arson, had told American theology student Arthur Jones, who was studying with Rohan, that he had become convinced that a new temple had to be built where Al-Aqsa stood.

Then, in 1984, a group of messianic extremists known as the Jewish Underground was arrested for plotting to use explosives to destroy Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock. Ehud Yatom, who was a security official and commander of the operation that foiled the plot, told Israel’s Channel 2 in 2004 that the planned destruction of the site would have been “horrible, terrible,” adding that it could provoke “the entire Muslim world [into a war] against the state of Israel and against the Western world, a war of religions.”

One of those arrested in 1984 in connection with the bomb plot, former Jewish Underground member Yehuda Etzion, subsequently wrote from prison that his group’s mistake was not in targeting the historic mosque, which he called an “abomination,” but in acting before Israeli society would accept such an act. “The generation was not ready,” Etzion wrote, adding that those sympathetic to the Jewish Underground movement “must build a new force that grows very slowly, moving its educational and social activity into a new leadership.”

“Of course I cannot predict whether the Dome of the Rock will be removed from the Mount while the new body is developing or after it actually leads the people,” Etzion stated, “but the clear fact is that the Mount will be purified [from Islamic shrines] with certainty…”

Upon his release from prison, Etzion founded the Chai Vekayam (Alive and Existing) movement, a group that Al Jazeera’s Mersiha Gadzo described as aimed at “shaping public opinion as a prerequisite for building a Third Temple in the religious complex in Jerusalem’s Old City where Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located.” Gadzo also notes that “according to messianic belief, building the Third Temple at the Al Aqsa compound — where the First and Second Temples stood some 2,000 years ago — would usher the coming of the Messiah.”

Six years later, another group called the Temple Mount Faithful, which is dedicated to building the Third Temple, provoked what became known as the Al-Aqsa massacre in 1990 after its members attempted to place a cornerstone for the Third Temple on the Temple Mount / Haram El-Sharif, leading to riots that saw Israeli police shoot and kill over 20 Palestinians and wound an estimated 150 more.

Al-Aqsa 1996 massacre

Blood-stained footmarks mark the entrance to Al Aqsa Mosque after Israeli police opened fire on Palestinian worshipers in 1996. Khaled Zighari | AP

This was followed by the riots in 1996 after Israel opened up a series of tunnels that had been dug under Al-Aqsa mosque that many Palestinians worried would be used to damage or destroy the mosque. Those concerns may have been well-founded, given the involvement of then- and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Third Temple activist groups in creating the tunnels and in subsequent excavations near the holy site, which were and continue to be officially described as “archaeological” in nature. During the 1996 incident, 80 Palestinians and 14 Israeli police officers were killed.

Some Israeli archaeologists have argued that these tunnels have not been built for archaeological or scientific purposes and are highly unlikely to result in any new discoveries. One such Israeli archaeologist, Yoram Tseverir, told Middle East Monitor in 2014 that “the claims that these excavations aim at finding scientific information are marginal” and called the still-ongoing government-sponsored excavations under Al-Aqsa “wrong.” When those “archaeological” excavations at Al-Aqsa resulted in damage to the Western Wall near Al-Aqsa last year, a chorus of prominent Palestinians, including the spokesman for the Fatah Party, claimed that Israel’s government had devised a plan to destroy the mosque.

 

Since 2000, Al-Aqsa mosque has been the site of incidents that have resulted in new state crackdowns by Israel against Palestinians both within and well outside of Jerusalem. Indeed, the Second Intifada was largely provoked by the visit of the then-Likud candidate for prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who entered Al-Aqsa mosque under heavy guard. Then-spokesman for Likud, Ofir Akounis, was later quoted by CNN as saying that the reason for Sharon’s visit was “to show that under a Likud government it [the Temple Mount] will remain under Israeli sovereignty.”

That single visit by Sharon led to five years of heightened tensions, more than three thousand dead Palestinians and an estimated thousand dead Israelis, as well as a massive and still continuing crackdown on Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud told MintPress that Sharon’s provocation in particular, and subsequent provocations, are often planned and used by Israeli politicians in order to justify crackdowns and restrictions on Palestinians. He argued:

[Some powerful Israeli politicians] use these regular provocations at Al Aqsa to create the kind of tensions that increase violence in the West Bank and to [then] carry out whatever policies they have in mind. They know exaclty how to provoke Palestinians and there is no other issue that is as sensitive and unifying in the Palestinian psyche as Al-Aqsa mosque.

Not only do we need to be aware of the fact that [provocations at] Al-Aqsa mosque are being used to implement archaic, destructive plans [i.e., destruction of Al-Aqsa and construction of a Third Temple] by certain elements that are now very much at the core of Israeli politics, but also the fact that this type of provocation is also used to implement broader policies pertaining to Palestinians elsewhere.”

 

Drums beating loud

While there have long been efforts to destroy the historic Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, recent weeks have seen a disturbing and dramatic uptick in incidents that suggest that the influential groups in Israel that have long pushed for the mosque’ s destruction may soon get their way. This reflects what Ramzy Baroud described to MintPress as how support for the construction of the Third Temple where Al-Aqsa currently sits is now “greater than at any time in the past” within Israeli society.

Earlier this month on June 2, a religious adviser to the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Al-Habbash, took to social media to warn of an “Israeli plot against the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” adding that “If the Muslims don’t act now [to save the site]… the entire world will pay dearly.”

Al-Habbash’s statement was likely influenced by a disturbing event that occurred that same day at the revered compound when Israeli police provided cover for extremist Israeli settlers who illegally entered the compound during the final days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Israeli police used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse Palestinian worshippers who had gathered at the mosque during one of Islam’s most important holidays while allowing over a thousand Israeli Jews to enter the compound. Forty-five Palestinians were wounded and several were arrested.

Though such provocative visits by Jewish Israelis to Al-Aqsa have occurred with increasing frequency in recent years, this event was different because it up-ended a long-standing agreement between Jordan’s government, which manages the site, and Israel that no such visits take place during important Islamic holidays. As a consequence, Jordan accused Israel’s government of “flagrant violations” of that agreement by allowing visits from religious nationalists, which Jordan described as “provocative intrusions by extremists.”

Less than a week after the incident, Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister, Miri Regev, a member of the Netanyahu-led Likud Party, called for more settler extremists to storm the compound, stating: “We should do everything to keep ascending to the Temple Mount … And hopefully, soon we will pray in the Temple Mount, our sacred place.” In addition, Regev also thanked Israel’s Interior Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, and Jerusalem’s police chief for guarding the settler extremists who had entered the compound.

In 2013, then-member of the Likud Party Moshe Feiglin told the Knesset that allowing Jewish Israelis to enter the compound is “not about prayer.” “Arabs don’t mind that Jews pray to God. Why should they care? We all believe in God,” Feiglin — who now heads the Zehut, or Identity, Party — stated, adding, “The struggle is about sovereignty. That’s the true story here. The story is about one thing only: sovereignty.”

In other words, Likud and its ideological allies view granting Jewish Israelis entrance to “pray” at the site of the mosque as a strategy aimed at reducing Palestinian-Jordanian control over the site. Feiglin’s past comments give credibility to Rabbi Weiss’ claim, referenced earlier on in this report, that the religious underpinnings and religious appeals of the Temple Activists are secondary to the settler-colonial (i.e., Zionist) aspect of the movement, which seeks to remove Palestinian and Muslim heritage from the Temple Mount as part of the ongoing Zionist project.

Feiglin, earlier this year in April, called for the immediate construction of the Third Temple, telling a Tel Aviv conference, “I don’t want to build a [Third] Temple in one or two years, I want to build it now.” The Times of Israel, reporting on Feiglin’s comments, noted that the Israeli politician is “enjoying growing popularity.”

Earlier this month, and not long after Miri Regev’s controversial comments, an event attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, used a banner that depicted the Jerusalem skyline with the Dome of the Rock noticeably absent. Though some may write off such creative photo editing as a fluke, it is but the latest in a series of similar incidents where official events or materials have edited out the iconic building and, in some cases, have replaced it with a reconstructed Jewish temple.

al-Aqsa third temple

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman poses with a picture of the ‘Third Temple,’ May 22, 2018. Israel Cohen | Kikar Hashabat

The day before that event, Israeli police had arrested three members of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound’s Reconstruction Committee, which is overseen by the government of Jordan. Those arrested included the committee’s head and its deputy head, and the three men were arrested while performing minor restoration work in an Al-Aqsa courtyard. The Jordan-run authority condemned the arrests, for which no official reason was given, and called the move by Israeli police “an intervention in their [the men’s] reconstruction work.” According to Palestinian news agency Safa, Israeli police have also prevented the entry of tools necessary for restoration work to the site and have restricted members of the authority from performing critical maintenance work.

In addition, another important figure at Al-Aqsa, Hanadi Al-Halawani, who teaches at the mosque school and has long watched over the site to prevent its occupation by Israeli forces, was arrested late last month.

Arrests of other key Al-Aqsa personnel have continued in recent days, such as the arrest of seven Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, including guards of the mosque, and their subsequent ban from entering the site. The Palestinians were arrested at their homes last Sunday night in early morning raids and the official reason for their arrest remains unclear. So many arrests in such a short period have raised concerns that, should the spate of arrests of important Al-Aqsa personnel continue, future incidents at the site, such as the mysterious firethat broke out last April at Al-Aqsa while France’s Notre Dame was also ablaze, may not be handled as effectively owing to staff shortages.

Soon after those arrests, 60 members of a settler extremist group entered the al-Aqsa compound under heavy guard from Israeli police. Safa news agency reported that these settlers have recently been accompanied by Israeli intelligence officials in their incursions at the site.

All of these recent provocations and arrests in connection with the mosque come soon after the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, publicly stated in late March that he had recently come under great pressure to relinquish Jordan’s custodianship of the mosque and the contested holy site upon which it is built. Abdullah II vowed to continue custodianship over Christian and Muslim sites in Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa, and declined to say who was pressuring him over the site. However, his comments about this pressure to cede control over the mosque came just days after he had visited the U.S. and met with American Vice President Mike Pence, a Christian Zionist who believes that a Jewish Temple must replace Al-Aqsa to fulfill an end times prophecy.

In May, an Israeli government-linked research institute, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, wrote that Abdullah II had nearly been toppled in mid-April, just weeks after publicly discussing external pressure to relinquish control over Al-Aqsa. The report stated that Abdullah II had been a target of a “plot undermining his rule,” which led him to replace several senior members of his government. That report further claimed that the plot had been aimed at removing obstacles to the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century,” which is supported by Israel’s government.

Last year, some Israeli politicians sought to push for a transfer of the site’s custodianship to Saudi Arabia, sparking concern that this could be connected to plans by some Third Temple activists to remove Al-Aqsa from Jerusalem and transfer it piece-by-piece to the Saudi city of Mecca. On Thursday, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published an article asserting that “tectonic shifts” were taking place in relation to who controls Al-Aqsa, with a Saudi-funded political group making dramatic inroads that could soon alter which country controls the historic mosque compound.

Sayyed Hassan Al-Qazwini told MintPress that, in his view, the current custodianship involving Jordan’s government is not ideal, as control over the Al-Aqsa mosque “should in the hands of its people, [and] Al-Aqsa mosque belongs Palestine;” if not, at the very least, a committee of Muslim majority nations should be formed to govern the holy site because of its importance. As for Saudi Arabia potentially receiving control over the site, Al-Qazwini told MintPress that “the Saudis are not qualified as they are not even capable of running the holy sites in Saudi Arabia itself. Every year, there has been a tragedy and many pilgrims have died during hajj time [annual Islamic pilgrimage].”

 

Once fringe, now approaching consensus

The threat to Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock compound, the third holiest site in Islam and of key importance to three major world religions, is the result of the dramatic growth of what was once a fringe movement of extremists. After the Six Day War, these fringe elements have fought to become more mainstream within Israel and have sought to gain international support for their religious-colonialist vision, particularly in the United States. As this article has shown, the threats to Al-Aqsa have grown significantly in the past decades, spiking in just the past few weeks.

As former Jewish Underground member Yehuda Etzion had called for decades ago, an educational and social movement aimed at gaining influence with Israeli government leadership has been hugely successful in its goal of engineering consent for a Third Temple among many religious and secular Israelis. So successful has this movement been that numerous powerful and influential Israeli politicians, particularly since the 1990s, have not only openly promoted these beliefs, and the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, but have also diverted significant amounts of government funding to organizations dedicated to replacing the historic mosque with a new temple.

As the second and final installment of this series will show, this movement has gained powerful allies, not just in Israel’s government, but among many evangelical Christians in the United States, including top figures in the Trump administration who also feel that the destruction of Al-Aqsa and the reconstruction of a Jewish Temple are prerequisites for the fulfillment of prophecy, albeit a different one. Furthermore, given the influence of such movements on the Israeli and U.S. governments, these beliefs of active Messianism are also informing key policies of these same governments and, in doing so, are pushing the world towards a dangerous war.

Feature photo | Israeli police stand next to the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, July 27, 2017. Mahmoud Illean | AP

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism

Graphic Designers to Support Palestinian Right of Return

Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:16

Graphic Designers to Support Palestinian Right of Return

TEHRAN (FNA)– Graphic designers from around the world will take part at the first “Return of the Century” international graphic workshop in Iran to support the cause of the Palestinian people’s right to return to their own land.

Secretary of the International Union of Unified Ummah (IUUU) Alireza Komeili said on Monday morning that the first iteration of the international poster workshop is slated to kick off in Iran’s Eastern city of Mashhad this week.

“The workshop seeks to promote an artistic confrontation to Americans’ insolence in backing Israel and floating the dangerous idea of the ‘deal of the century’,” Komeili said.

The event will be held in a bid to raise awareness about the Israeli occupation of Palestine and US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” which is designed to do away with the Palestinian people’s right to return to their own land.

According to Komeili, the three-day event will focus on the three main issues of the “deal of the century”, Arab countries’ normalization of ties with Israel and America’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital.

The workshop will be attended by graphic designers from 12 countries, including 30 artists from Iran.

Komeili said 40 posters will be selected at the end of the event to be showcased by pro-Palestinian groups around the world on the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe) as well as the International Quds Day.

On Sunday, A senior leader of the Hamas resistance movement stated that Palestinians will never agree to Trump’s controversial proposal for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, dubbed “the deal of the century”.

Addressing a national meeting of the leaders of Palestinian political factions in Gaza City on Saturday, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, stressed that Hamas would make use of all its potential and capabilities to confront the American scheme, calling for unity among Palestinian parties in the face of the plot, presstv reported.

“We are able to achieve national unity and run our Palestinian homeland without much effort if there is great will and genuine intention. Our nation is utterly determined to protect the Palestinian cause. It is steadfast to deal with the deal of the century, no matter what the challenges or sacrifices could be,” Haniyeh pointed out.

He added, “The Palestinian nation will remain in the occupied territories and confront arrogance until we achieve freedom and independence.”

Haniyeh further warned that Washington was determined to liquidate the Palestinian cause through the so-called deal of the century.

He pointed out that the US attempted to completely destroy the Palestinian cause through rejection of Palestinian refugees’ right of return, abolition of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, giving green light to Israel’s official annexation of settlements in the occupied West Bank, and fomenting political rift between the Palestinian factions based in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Haniyeh underlined that the political agenda of all Israeli parties was based on this ideology: “No to the return of Palestinian refugees, no to the establishment of a Palestinian state and no to al-Quds as the capital of Palestine.”

The senior Palestinian official then said Hamas was ready to enter talks with other Palestinian factions to form a national unity government.

Haniyeh reiterated that Palestinian land belonged only to Palestinians and that they would not give an inch of it to the occupying regime of Israel.

The Hamas official also called on all Palestinians across the world to stand against Washington’s so-called deal of the century.

Haniyeh finally urged all Arab leaders to stop normalization of diplomatic ties with Israel.

Trump’s so-called “peace plan” has been dismissed by Palestinian authorities ahead of its unveiling at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the formation of the new Israeli cabinet, most likely in June.

Speaking in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah in mid-April, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh lashed out at Trump’s initiative, asserting that it was “born dead.”

Shtayyeh noted that negotiations with the US were useless in the wake of the country’s relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, which Palestinians consider the capital city of their future state.

Related News

Clash of Civilizations 2.0 Sponsored by Prince and Bannon

Wayne Madsen
April 26, 2019
Bannon, Prince, and other far-rightists are now attempting to impose on their followers and fellow-travelers the same sort of “groupthink” Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels applied to Germany.

Blackwater mercenary company founder Erik Prince and the self-appointed leader of Fascist International, Steve Bannon, have joined forces and dusted off the old discredited neo-conservative theory of “Clash of Civilizations,” to threaten global stability with religious and ethnic nationalism.

One of the more important revelations in former Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 election is the close working relationship Bannon established with Prince. Sensing fertile political ground for their far-right beliefs, Bannon and Prince have established, under the aegis of their professed Catholicism, a movement that threatens both the current pope and the European Union.

The Clash of Civilizations was the main tenet of Harvard University’s Samuel P. Huntington. Huntington also defended the pro-fascist Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of Mexico and the military dictatorship of Brazil. Huntington was also a champion of South Africa’s apartheid state and advocated its “reform” rather than its abolishment. Huntington’s approaches to Latin American immigration into the United States serves a basis for the draconian anti-immigration policies of Donald Trump and his “immigration czar,” Stephen Miller. Huntington saw Europe and Western Europe, including Croatia and Slovenia, along with Australia and New Zealand as a “core civilization” against the rest of the world. Huntington made it a point to exclude from the core civilization the Christian Orthodox nations of the Balkans, including Greece, as well as Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia.

To advance political domination by far-right political parties and politicians, Bannon has been busy establishing a training academy for far-right wing Christian zealots at the Trisulti Charterhouse in Collepardo in central Italy. Bannon has admitted that he is following George Soros’s global playbook. Instead of a neo-liberal global network, like that of Soros, Bannon is creating a far-right political movement in Europe that will extend its tentacles around the world, primarily in Huntington’s “core civilization” countries plus Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. With his political group, called “The Movement” in operation in Brussels and targeting upcoming European Parliament elections, Bannon has taken advantage of a schism within the Roman Catholic Church to convincing those opposed to Pope Francis I to permit him to set up shop in the 13th century monastery in Collepardo.

Bannon is clearly setting the stage for a revised “clash of civilizations” between Judeo-Christianity and the rest of the world. Fascism is seen as the preferred political system for the Western “core.”

Bannon’s colleague in the 2016 Trump campaign, Michael Ledeen, the notorious neo-conservative, wrote a book in 1972 that promotes the fascist political philosophy. Titled “Universal Fascism: The Theory and Practice of the Fascist International, 1928–1936,” Ledeen describes in glowing terms Mussolini’s efforts to create an international Fascist movement in the late 1920s and early 1930s. According to an interview Ledeen gave to the neo-con “National Review” in 2002, the Ledeen Doctrine boils down to the following credo: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” Mussolini’s template has largely been adopted by Bannon, who, still has, along with arch neo-con national security adviser John Bolton, still have Trump’s ear on foreign policy.

Bannon is attempting to purge the nexus of his Judeo-Christian core civilization of perceived enemies, who include Vatican loyalists of Pope Francis. Bannon – in cooperation with the extremely conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke and former Pope Benedict XVI – has been waging a political jihad against Pope Francis. Bannon believes the current pontiff to be a dangerous liberal and a “Cultural Marxist,” who supported many of President Barack Obama’s policies. Bannon and a right-wing Catholic group close to Burke, the Institute of Human Dignity, or Dignitatis Humana Institute, which runs Bannon’s new headquarters at the Trisulti Abbey, opposes Francis’s goal of avoiding a “clash of civilizations” between Christianity and Islam.

Bannon, in cooperation with Cardinal Raymond Burke and former Pope Benedict XVI, has been waging a war against Pope Francis I. Bannon sees Francis as a dangerous liberal and a “Cultural Marxist,” who supported President Barack Obama’s policies. Bannon and a right-wing Catholic group close to Burke, the Institute of Human Dignity, or “Dignitatis Humana Institute,’ which owns Bannon’s new headquarters at the Trisulti Abbey, opposes Francis’s goal of avoiding a “clash of civilizations,” particularly one between Christianity and Islam.

Bannon’s financial firm, Bannon & Company, is investing in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, believed by many financial experts to be a giant scam. Cryptocurrencies are favored by neo-Nazis and fascists to fund their activities without the worry of financial surveillance from bank regulators and financial intelligence agencies. Bannon, as a former Goldman Sachs executive, understands how to avoid financial network roadblocks.

One of the mandatory studies at Bannon’s academy for neo-Nazis will most certainly be on the works and thoughts of Julius Evola (1898-1974), a far-right Italian philosopher, who provided the inspiration for several fascist terrorist attacks in Italy during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, including the deadly Bologna central rail station bombing in 1980. Bannon is a promoter of Evola’s doctrine, which is known as Traditionalism. The followers of Evola are called the “Children of the Sun” and they include adherents of two leading neo-Nazi parties in Europe: Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary. Other Traditionalist philosophers, all of whom dabbled in Indo-European Aryan occultism and, to varying degrees, embraced fascism in the interwar years, include Romanian Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), French/Egyptian René Guénon (1886-1951), and Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) Ananda Coomaraswamy (1887-1947).

US neo-Nazi leader and “alt-right” term creator, Richard Spencer, a college friend of Trump’s anti-immigration czar, Stephen Miller, is also a follower of Evola. Evola’s writings were an inspiration to Benito Mussolini Fascist movement and Heinrich Himmler’s Schutzstaffel (SS). Evola even visited SS headquarters in Germany to proselytize his philosophy of fascism to the SS rank and file.

Bannon’s and Prince’s intertwined political finances were exposed during the 2016 presidential campaign. Prince donated some $150,000 to the pro-Trump PAC “Make America Number 1 in 2016.” In turn, the PAC funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cambridge Analytica and Glittering Steel, a video production company. Bannon co-founded both companies. Bannon was also buoyed by generous funding from hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Currently, with a seemingly endless supply of funds, Bannon is waging a far-right insurgency in Europe involving neo-Nazi, fascist, and right-wing Catholic organizations close to Opus Dei.

Erik Prince abandoned the conservative Calvinism of his auto parts-manufacturing wealthy father to embrace Catholicism, Opus Dei, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta – based in Rome and a rival-laden headache for Pope Francis – and the Legionnaires of Christ. Opus Dei was founded by Spanish priest Josemaría Escrivá in 1928 as a pro-fascist and pro-Francisco Franco answer to the more liberal-minded Jesuits. It is noteworthy that Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pontiff, is currently experiencing a virtual civil war within the catholic Church and Vatican hierarchy, spurred on by the likes of Bannon, Prince, former Pope Benedict, and other right-wing members of the College of Cardinals.

Bannon, Prince, and other far-rightists are now attempting to impose on their followers and fellow-travelers the same sort of “groupthink” Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels applied to Germany. In his seminal work, Yale University professor Irving Janis summed up “groupthink,” particularly how groups can, conversely to bringing out the best in people, also bring out the worst. Janis’s 1982 book, “Groupthink,” describes the phenomenon by quoting 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.” Europe’s current fascination and widespread support for political parties that were largely banned and shunned after the Nazi defeat in 1945 have created an environment where Bannon, Prince, and their collaborators find ready audiences for their extremism. In such climates, a strategy of tension permits a clash of civilizations, which is nirvana for the neo-cons and extreme right.

The recent deadly Christchurch mosque attacks appear to have been the first act in a strategy of tensions conflict being waged by the far-right. The Easter Sunday bombings of churches in Negombo, Batticaloa, and Colombo, Sri Lanka, as well as three five-star hotels in Colombo – killing well over 300 people, were reportedly claimed by a hitherto unknown group called the National Thowheed Jamath or National Monotheism Organization. Sri Lanka’s government alleged the attacks were in retaliation for the Christchurch mosque bombings. Some things are known about the group claiming it carried out the attacks in Sri Lanka. It is not connected operationally to either the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, although the Islamic State made unverifiable claims of responsibility. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that New Zealand’s intelligence has no indication that the Sri Lanka attacks were in retaliation for the Sri Lanka attacks. It should be noted that New Zealand, as a member of the FIVE EYES signals intelligence alliance, has access to countless communications intercepts.

While flames leaped from Paris’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, a fire broke out at the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest shrine. In the weeks preceding the Notre Dame fire, vandals broke into Notre-Dame-des-enfants in Nîmes, France and smeared excrement on the crucifix and walls of the church. In March, a fire broke out at another famous Paris church, Saint-Sulpice. In February, a fire broke out in Lavaur Cathedral in Lavaur, France. That fire was preceded by vandalism of Saint Nicolas in Houilles and Saint Nicolas in Maisons-Laffitte in Yvelines.

Arson also destroyed three African-American churches in Opelousas, Louisiana. The son of a sheriff’s deputy was arrested for arson. Louisiana has recently been the scene of renewed activities by Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups.

All of the incidents – in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, France, and Louisiana – those confirmed as terrorism and those for which the jury is still out, should be viewed through the lens of the strategy of tensions and a final showdown between Christianity and Islam advanced by Bannon, Prince, and their supporters in Brussels and the Trisulti monastery.

The world has seen this particular play before. From the late 1960s to the 1980s, over two thousand people died in terrorist attacks blamed mainly on left-wing terrorists, including the Italian Red Brigades and West German Red Army Faction. The victims included the former Christian Democratic Prime Minister of Italy, Aldo Moro. The deadliest attack was the bombing of the Bologna rail station in 1980. Originally, there was an attempt to blame all the attacks, mostly bombings, on the left-wing groups. In fact, most of the attacks were carried out by neo-fascist groups hoping to have the Communists blamed. Inquiry commissions later determined that the neo-fascists and far-left groups all had links to the Central Intelligence Agency – which once employed Erik Prince’s Blackwater as a contractor – and the intelligence services of NATO members. It was the late Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, who revealed the name of the sinister association of NATO spies and false flag terrorists: Gladio.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Deal of the Century: The Zionist-American Religion Trading

 

By Ihab Shawqi – Egypt

The Arab media chose to ignore the details of a recent visit to occupied Palestine by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo despite their unprecedented scope and gravity. These details include a tour by Pompeo and “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of occupied al-Quds and the tunnels located underneath the Old City’s Muslim quarter. In an underground center tasked with preparing for the construction of the supposed Jewish temple over the ruins of al-Aqsa, the two men watched a virtual reality recreation of the structure. The videos of the visit are available and can be seen by everyone. Pompeo was seen signing papers that were said to be an agreement on the establishment of the temple. However, this cannot be confirmed since he may have been merely signing the so-called guest book. Still, the actual visit and his inspection of the structure model are documented and confirmed.

In a sit-down with the Christian Broadcasting Network during the visit, the interviewer Chris Mitchell noted that “Israel” was celebrating the Purim holiday.

“Esther, 2,500 years ago, saved the Jewish people with God’s help from Haman,” he said, in reference to the Persian Empire. Mitchell then asked Pompeo “could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people?” Pompeo replied that “as a Christian I certainly believe that’s possible.” He then went on to say “I am confident that the Lord is at work here.”

Here, we are not discussing the matter from a religious point of view, but rather from a political standpoint – perhaps from the standpoint of “trading with religion” in politics. David Ben-Gurion has said “‘Israel’ has no meaning without Jerusalem [al-Quds] and Jerusalem [al-Quds] has no meaning without the Temple.”

Al-Quds and its religious centrality is a strategic treasure for any occupying force to legitimize the occupation. However, annexing al-Quds without the temple does not give justification to the Zionist occupier. Besieging and fighting Iran do not seem convincing enough without conjuring up the Purim holiday and saving the Jewish people from the Persians. This as the American bias transcending all international laws and customs cannot be justified without conjuring up religion and Queen Esther “the messenger of the Lord to the Jews”!

Here, we can discuss the so-called deal of the century and try to analyze its background and objectives. According to all the leaks, there are disparities that can only be relevant for two reasons. The first is its frequent occurrence in the leaks, and the second is its uniformity with the evidence, practices and statements. We can monitor the common aspects between these leaks then try to deduce and analyze the links between them as well as the hidden objectives. As for the common aspects between these leaks, they can be outlined as follows:

  1. The two-state solution and possibly preparations for a long-term solution under certain conditions have taken a back seat.
  2. Resolving the issue of al-Quds as the capital of the “Israeli” enemy. There may be a discussions regarding the status of the Islamic holy sites and placing them under the supervision of a joint Palestinian-Jordanian body.
  3. Resolving the issue of control over the West Bank in general by securing the entrances and exits for the “Israeli” enemy, as well as the issue of “Israeli” control over settlements and villages inhabited by the Zionists, with a kind of autonomy given to the rest of the West Bank, but under Zionist control.
  4. Linking the West Bank to Gaza via a land route, while putting Gaza under the rule of the Palestinian authority when it is retrieved from Hamas.
  5. The talk about financial aid packages instead of US preemptive measures to stop UNRWA funding for the Palestinians.
  6. The talk about recognition of the “Israeli” entity by the Arab states.

These are perhaps the more common aspects between the many leaks. Some of which are related to land exchanges with neighboring countries such as Jordan and Egypt. There are other details that are exaggerated and unreasonable, despite all the official Arab mistakes, weaknesses and the sheer slacking off. The full picture will be revealed once the deal is officially announced.

As for the links between these common aspects, they can be outlined as follows:

First: Washington’s preemption policy. It is a kind of coercive diplomacy characterizing the Trump administration. This preemption policy is represented in the transfer of the US Embassy to occupied al-Quds, the cessation of UNRWA funding and the recognition of the annexation of the occupied Golan to the Zionist enemy. Thus, the move is the preemptive closure of the debate over the situation of the Golan and al-Quds. It is also a kind of starvation, creating a carrot for the Palestinians represented in aid packages when the deal is accepted.

Second: Most of what has been leaked regarding the deal is a practical reality. The enemy controls the security situation in the West Bank and al-Quds. The intention, however, is to legitimize this reality and cut the road of the resistance. Thus, resisting this situation would be considered contrary to agreements and an illegal rebellion.

Third: This point is perhaps most important and the main purpose of the deal. The official recognition of the Zionist state. Simply, this recognition puts any opposing state, here specifically Iran and the axis of resistance, in an odd political situation. The axis would appear to be opposing international legitimacy after all the Arabs, whose central cause over the past century has been Palestine, recognized the legitimacy of “Israel”. This introduces us indeed to a new and different century where the Zionists are being recognized while those who are not recognized are considered illegitimate. Perhaps this is the secret behind naming this suspicious deal as the Deal of the Century.

Therefore, we are heading towards a process of legitimizing difficult and practical situations. This is a new attempt to isolate the resistance in a way that it appears to be violating international legitimacy as well as new situations on the ground threatening al-Aqsa Mosque in order to resolve the dispute over al-Quds since the existence of Islamic holy places is a pretext for the Palestinians to fight for “Israel’s” eternal capital.

This is a very serious matter. This deal may follow the method of gradualism and imposing the reality step-by-step. It all depends on time, more humiliating Arab concessions, and weakening the resistance due to the siege and political isolation.

Perhaps these are the Zionist-American calculations. But the resistance has its own calculations and responses. The Palestinian people also have their appropriate response. Meanwhile, absent from the scene is the role of the rest of the Arab and Islamic peoples. We hope that this role returns before the reclaiming of rights becomes more costly.

What if al-Aqsa Mosque caught fire?

It is doubtful in today’s US-dominated world that anyone would rally to its cause, as they did for Notre Dame
Palestinians gather at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in June 2018 (AFP)

On 15 April, a devastating fire broke out at France’s famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

In the course of the conflagration, the church’s distinctive 93-metre medieval spire and two thirds of its roof were destroyed. Had it not been for the tireless efforts of French firefighters, who fought day and night to extinguish the blaze, the damage would have been far more extensive.

For days, the story was front-page news in Western countries, and media outlets were saturated with expert analyses of the cathedral’s history, architecture and significance.

Symbol of national identity

There is no doubt that Notre Dame, dating from 1163, is a Gothic masterpiece and a Parisian landmark. It is a symbol of France and of Roman Catholicism, even though France is an officially secular state that prides itself on what it calls laicité. Church and state were formally separated in 1905.

But that did not stop crowds of people from singing hymns in a vigil near the stricken cathedral and marching in its honour. Paris’s deputy mayor of tourism and sports joined others in creating a human chain to save the ancient relics held inside the cathedral.

For Palestinians, al-Aqsa is their very own possession – a symbol of Arab historical continuity in a city claimed by non-Arabs

Notre Dame is today not just a religious monument, but a symbol of French national identity. For that reason, the French president quickly took on the responsibility of rebuilding the cathedral, and French billionaires and businesses have already pledged more than €700 million ($787m) towards that goal.

In recognition of that nationalist bond, many western states, from Australia to Europe, hastened to send their condolences to President Emmanuel Macron. Japan, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan did the same.

In the United States, the One World Trade Centre and the Empire State Building were lit up in the tricolour of the French flag, and the governor of New York pledged his city’s solidarity with the people of France.

Sacred character

What if a similar fate overtook al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem? This building is older than Notre Dame, built by the Umayyad caliphs in the eighth century, and has a long, rich history. The mosque was hit by earthquakes in 746 and 1033 and rebuilt each time; taken over by crusaders in 1099 and reclaimed by Saladin in 1187; then remained under Muslim rule until the war of 1967, when it came under Israel’s control.

Muslims everywhere revere this mosque. It is the third holiest place after the mosques of Mecca and Medina. Many associations bind al-Aqsa to Muslim religious sentiment.

Palestinians pray at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in May 2018 (AFP)
Palestinians pray at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in May 2018 (AFP)

Interpreted as the place referenced in the Isra verse in the Quran, al-Aqsa has taken on a sacred character, and is traditionally associated with the Prophet Muhammad’s miraculous night journey to Jerusalem. Its spiritual significance for Muslims is hard to overstate. Jerusalem was Islam’s first qibla, or direction of prayer, and it has been an important place of pilgrimage ever since.

For Palestinians, al-Aqsa is their very own possession – a symbol of Arab historical continuity in a city claimed by non-Arabs, and an affirmation of Arab identity in an anti-Arab environment. Though it stands beside what is claimed to be the site of the now-vanished Jewish Second Temple, it is the only concrete historical building in that place.

No assaults by religious Jewish groups claiming rights to the mosque can alter this reality, nor have Israel’s constant excavations to detect a trace of Jewish history at the site since 1967 produced that evidence.

The case of the 1969 fire

What if this unique building, so meaningful for the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, succumbed to fire, or collapsed after Israel’s archaeological digs weakened its ancient foundations?

Would the Arab and Islamic world rise up as one? Would Israel, the de facto custodian of Jerusalem’s holy places, be made accountable? Would world leaders rush to rebuild the mosque or to help the Palestinian people?

The struggle for al-Aqsa: Palestinians have ‘no one but God to help them’

Read More »

We have a preliminary answer in the case of the fire that burned Saladin’s minbar inside al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Denis Michael Rohan, an evangelical Christian Australian, started a fire in the mosque to try to destroy it, aiming to clear the way for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt in its place, thus hastening Christ’s second coming. The incident led to the establishment of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Jordan’s representative to the UN presented letters of protest over the fire at al-Aqsa. These came from just 17 states, and a further 58 letters came from NGOs, Muslim religious bodies, other Muslim groups and Muslim individuals around the world. They called on the UN to intervene to protect the holy site from Israel’s occupation.

An orphan without allies

The Western response to the fire at al-Aqsa was muted. None displayed solidarity with Palestinians or Muslims, and no effective action was taken by the UN.

In the 50 years since the fire at al-Aqsa, Israel has only increased its hold on Jerusalem’s holy places. In 2017, it illegally installed turnstiles and metal detectors at the entrances to al-Haram al-Sharif, although they were subsequently removed. Religious settlers are now regularly allowed to march through al-Aqsa compound, threaten Muslim worshippers, and perform Jewish religious ceremonies.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is no less a religious and nationalist symbol for Arabs and Muslims than Notre Dame is for the French

Al-Aqsa Mosque is no less a religious and nationalist symbol for Arabs and Muslims than Notre Dame is for the French. But if it burned down, it is doubtful in today’s US-dominated world – and given Arab and Islamic weakness – that anyone would rally to its cause. Only the Palestinians who live there would go on fighting to defend it.

Like them, this wonderful Islamic icon is an orphan in a world without allies.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Ghada Karmi
Ghada Karmi is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. She was born in Jerusalem and was forced to leave her home with her family as a result of Israel’s creation in 1948. The family moved to England in 1949, where she grew up and was educated. Karmi practised as a doctor for many years working as a specialist in the health of migrants and refugees. From 1999 to 2001 Karmi was an Associate Fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, where she led a major project on Israel-Palestinian reconciliation. In 2009, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
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