As Ramadan Ends, Israeli Provocations Seem Aimed at a Religious War

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Jessica Buxbaum

“Israel uses this month [of Ramadan] to humiliate Palestinians, as much as they can. Especially at the doors of al-Aqsa Mosque, knowing how much this situation is sensitive for Palestinians.” – Younes Arar, PLO Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM, PALESTINE — On the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at least 42 Palestinians were injured when Israeli police raided al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in occupied East Jerusalem, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said. With nearly 300 Palestininians injured in the last two weeks at al-Aqsa compound, this year’s Ramadan in Palestine has been marked by bloodshed once again.

Since the start of Ramadan on April 2, human rights organizations have monitored a significant increase in violence against Palestinians. Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq has documented a worrying trend “in killings, excessive use of force, settler colonial violence, attacks on holy sites and worshippers, and collective punishment measures against Palestinians, including widespread raids, arbitrary arrests, and movement restrictions.”

According to Al-Haq’s information, the Israeli army has killed 17 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in April. Since Al-Haq’s publication, Israeli forces fatally shot 18-year-old Ahmad Fathi Masad in the head during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp this week.

Uptick in religious violations

Israeli police raids on al-Aqsa compound have become routine this month, with the PRCS noting the majority of injuries were to the upper areas of the body. Israeli forces have used rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades against Palestinian worshippers at al-Aqsa.

In recent weeks, Israeli forces have also broken the iconic stained-glass windows of al-Qibli Mosque, the main mosque in the compound, and have attacked Palestinian journalists, children, women and the elderly at the holy site.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister for Religious Endowments Sheikh Hatem al-Bakri told MintPress News that Israel’s actions at al-Aqsa compound are in violation of international regulations, UNESCO resolutions and religious traditions.

In 2016, UNESCO, the UN’s world heritage organization, adopted a resolution decrying Israeli violations at al-Aqsa including restricting access to Muslim worship and storming of the compound by Israeli forces and extremists.

“Israel is not respecting religious treaties at all, instead using their privilege of power to enact these policies,” al-Bakri said, emphasizing how the Jordanian Ministry of Waqf has full jurisdiction over the holy site. “And because of our weaknesses, we cannot run any military confrontation with Israel. We have to just witness what’s happening.”

Israeli police are not the only ones violating the sanctity of al-Aqsa. This month, the Jewish festival of Passover coincided with Ramadan. Jewish extremists used the holiday season to storm the compound and pray at the site more frequently. On April 17, Israeli forces shut Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron to Muslim worshippers for two days. That following Tuesday, hundreds of Jewish settlers stormed the mosque to perform Talmudic rituals in celebration of Passover. The Israeli army also erected military barricades surrounding the area of the mosque to facilitate the settlers’ movement. The director of the mosque, Ghassan Al-Rajabi, said the closure was a continuation of “Zionist authorities’ attempts to dominate and occupy the mosque.”

In 1994, Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshippers at Ibrahimi Mosque during Ramadan. Following the massacre, Israel divided the holy site into Muslim and Jewish sections, with Muslim access cut to 40%.

Last year, Israel authorities initiated excavation works at the mosque in order to install an elevator there. A Palestinian petition against the settler project was rejected by Israel’s Supreme Court on the grounds the elevator’s purpose is to ensure greater disability access. However, Palestinans stress the plan isn’t humanitarian in its purpose, instead giving cover for an attempt to confiscate land and further Judaize the mosque.

Sheikh al-Bakri, who is also a preacher at Ibrahimi Mosque, said Israel’s tightened security measures around the religious site suggest a more sinister intention. “Israel has been trying to control that site through converting it from a place for worshipers to a military zone,” al-Bakri said. “All of the events that have been happening around that site make us believe that Israel is trying to turn the Muslim praying side into a synagogue.”

April saw an escalation against Palestinian Muslim and Christian worship as well. According to documentation from the Jerusalem Governorate, on April 23 Israeli forces prevented hundreds of Palestinian Christians from reaching the Church of Holy Sepulcher to celebrate the “Holy Fire” ceremony on the eve of Orthodox Easter.

Minister al-Bakri said Israeli violations against some mosques in Jerusalem have occurred this Ramadan, but emphasized the main offenses against Islam have been at the al-Aqsa and Ibrahimi mosques.

“If Israel is violating these two big sites, then they can violate every site in the country,” al-Bakri said. “And we keep saying that if Israel is violating al-Aqsa, it’s violating every single Palestinian.”

Israel seeking a religious war

As the end of Ramadan nears, Israeli police have banned non-Muslims from entering al-Aqsa compound for the last ten days of Ramadan. According to Jerusalem Governorate statistics, about 3,670 Jewish settlers invaded al-Aqsa Compound during the Passover holiday.

Amid the spike in Jews praying at the site, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid asserted Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo at al-Aqsa Compound.

“Muslims pray on the Temple Mount [what Israel calls al-Aqsa Compound], non-Muslims only visit. There is no change, there will be no change,” Lapid said during a press conference.

Yet Jordan, which has custodianship over the site, disagreed. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry warned in a statement that Israel is taking “targeted steps to change the historical and legal situation in the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” specifically condemning Israeli forces for raiding the area and allowing Jews to pray at al-Aqsa Compound.

Jewish extremists often argue that denying Jewish prayer at al-Aqsa Compound is an obstruction of freedom of worship, given the area is deemed the holiest site in Judaism.

“Al-Aqsa is only for Muslims,” PA Deputy Governor of Jerusalem Abdullah Siam told MintPress News, in response to accusations of religious discrimination. He suggested the current status quo has pushed Israel to take the site through force.

Al-Bakri also agreed that al-Aqsa is strictly for Muslim worship.

But Jewish extremists who spout claims of religious discrimination ignore the stark political element at play, Israeli journalist and activist Haggai Matar said. “[T]here are no equals in Israel-Palestine,” Matar wrote in +972 Magazine. “[I]t is Israel that has created a system of apartheid wherein … Jewish supremacy over Palestinians is guaranteed, maintained, and entrenched by law and by force.”

Just before the start of Ramadan, Israeli parliament member and leader of the far-right Jewish Power Party Itamar Ben-Gvir toured al-Aqsa Compound, escorted by police. This wasn’t his first incursion, and Minister al-Bakri said such provocative, politically-charged tours are how the Israeli government attempts to stabilize its fragile coalition. “Through these practices, [the government is] trying to get political acquisitions,” al-Bakri said. “The government of [Prime Minister] Naftali Bennett is weak, and in order for them to keep going, they have to encourage settlers to do more raids so as to win from that situation.”

Yet ultimately, Israel’s ongoing violations against Muslim worship, al-Bakri said, are “leading the area to a religious war between Islam and Judaism.” “We always say that our main problem is not with Judaism as a religion, but with the occupation,” al-Bakri said. “Although Israel has been using Judaism to shape its occupation.”

Ramadan violence on repeat

As they were last year, tensions in Palestine have been at a maximum high during Ramadan.

In May 2021, violence erupted into a war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic faction governing Gaza. Israel’s 10-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip left 256 Palestinians dead, including 66 children. Media pundits and experts have feared this Ramadan may reach last year’s deadly levels.

For Minister al-Bakri, the atmosphere in Palestine is always volatile during Ramadan because Israel encourages a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. “Three months ago, Israel started talking in the media about a potential escalation, while the Palestinians hoped for a quiet month,” al-Bakri said, highlighting the number of Palestinians killed recently as meeting Israeli predictions. “Israel has been preparing the area for a potential problem by repeating these crisis slogans.”

Younes Arar, director of international and public relations and media for the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission, suggested the large number of Palestinians flocking to Jerusalem during Ramadan is part of why the holy month is a tense time — emphasizing how the restrictions on freedom of movement add to the provocations. “Israel uses this month to humiliate Palestinians, as much as they can,” Arar said. “Especially at the doors of al-Aqsa Mosque, knowing how much this situation is sensitive for Palestinians.”

يوم القدس العالميّ ومعادلات نهاية الكيان الصهيونيّ المؤقت

 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط _

أظهر الإمام الخميني بعد نجاح الثورة الإسلامية في إيران في العام 1979 انّ هذه الثورة ليست لإيران وحدها بل إنها ثورة من اجل حقوق الأمة الإسلامية ومن أجل حقوق المظلومين والمضطهدين في العالم. وبصيغة أخرى هي ثورة من اجل نشر الحرية وتأكيد سيادة الحق في العالم. ومن هذا المنطلق أطلق في مواجهة الكيان الصهيوني جملة من المواقف تلتقي جميعها على هدف واحد هو وجوب إزالة هذا الكيان، لأنه قائم على الظلم والطغيان وسلب حقوق الآخرين.

وفي سياق المواقف الإيرانية في ظلّ الثورة، من هذا الكيان، كانت عملية إغلاق السفارة «الإسرائيلية» في طهران وتسليم مبناها للفلسطينيين ليكون مقراً لسفارة فلسطين التي يجب أن تقوم دولتها على كامل أراضيها المغتصبة من قبل الكيان منذ العام 1948 وكان أيضاً إطلاق يوم القدس العالمي الذي حدّد موعده في يوم الجمعة الأخير من رمضان من كلّ عام وتكون فيه دعوة للمسلمين وللعالم أجمع للتوقف عند مأساة اغتصاب القدس والعمل على إنهائها.

وفي تحليل للإعلان الأخير هذا نجد أنه في جوهره يتعدّى الشأن السياسي الإعلامي الاحتفالي ليصل الى المفهوم الاستراتيجي العميق للمسألة في ما يفرز رزمة من المعاني والرؤى تبدأ بوضع عنوان صارخ جامع للقضية الفلسطينية هو القدس التي تحرّك إثارتها المسلم والمسيحي على حدّ سواء نظراً لما فيها من رمزية دينية وما تحتويه من أماكن مقدسة تخصهم، رمزية ومحتوى تمكن إثارتها من التأكيد علي الظلم الواقع وعلى وجوب فرض نهاية له. فإحياء يوم القدس العالمي الذي دعا إليه الإمام الخميني يعني بكلّ بساطة رفضاً للجريمة وتذكيراً بوقوعها واستمرارها وإنكاراً لأيّ قبول او تسليم بها عملاً وتحشيداً لوضع حدّ لها وإنتاجاً لبيئة عدم استقرار عالمي مع استمرارها وأخيراً ومع موجة التطبيع التي احدثتها اتفاقات ابراهام مع العدو الصهيوني فإنّ ليوم القدس في هذا الوقت بالذات أهمية خاصة من حيث الفرز الذي يحدثه بين معسكرين، معسكر نصرة الحق الذي يحتضن فلسطين ويحمل قضيتها ومعسكر التطبيع الذي يعمل بالباطل الذي تقوم «إسرائيل» عليه.

بيد انّ هذا الإعلان الذي بدأت الاستجابة له خجولة يوم أطلق ومقتصرة على دولتين او ثلاث وبعض الأحزاب الحديثة النشأة بات اليوم يظهر في شكل مختلف وبات بالفعل يوماً عالمياً يحتفل به ويشارك في فعالياته تمهيداً او في يومه بالذات، مكونات متعددة من دول وأحزاب لا تقتصر على محور المقاومة بل وتتعداه الى دول وشعوب أخرى خارج منطقة غربي آسيا والشرق الأوسط، ثم انّ هذا الإعلان وفي هذا العام ومع ما آل اليه العالم من المستجدات والمعادلات يؤكد أهمية اعتماده قبل أربعة عقود ويثبت بأنّ فكرة إنهاء الكيان الصهيوني المؤقت ليست وهماً وطموحاً من غير أساس بل انها مبنية على ما يبرّرها ويؤكد وقوعها بشكل أكيد.

ففي العام المنصرم استطاعت المقاومة الفلسطينية القائمة في غزة ان تفرض معادلة دفاع عن القدس لم تكن تخطر ببال الصهاينة، معادلة فاجأت العدو الصهيوني بمضمونها وبمفاعليها، حيث إنها قامت على فكرة ان «القدس تحمى من داخلها ومن خارجها». وهذا هو المضمون الحقيقي لأهداف عملية سيف القدس التي ترجمت ناراً تنطلق من غزة لتحمي حي الشيخ جراح في القدس وتمنع تهويده وتثبت أهاليه فيه، وقد رضخ العدو الصهيوني للمعادلة تلك والتي أعيد التذكير بها في الأسابيع الأخيرة من شهر رمضان الحالي حيث ان مجرد التلويح بها كان كافيا ليدفع العدو الصهيوني الى وقف الاستفزاز حول الأقصى ويمنع مسيرة الأعلام التلمودية إليه وبعده في كنيسة القيامة يوم سبت النور.

وبعد سيف القدس كان بالغ الأهمية الموقف والدعوة التي وجهها السيد حسن نصرالله في ٢٥ أيار ٢٠٢١ لإرساء معادلة جديدة في مواجهة العدو مضمونها انّ «المسّ بالقدس يعني حرباً إقليمية شاملة»، ونحن نرى أنّ هذه الدعوة ـ الإعلان تشكل ترجمة استراتيجية وميدانية للهدف من إعلان يوم القدس العالمي أساساً، وفيها اعتبار مسؤولية الدفاع عن القدس لا تقع حصراً على المقدسيين او الفلسطينيين او العرب او المسلمين او المسيحيين، بل انها مسؤولية المنطقة بكاملها وان على شعوبها ان تسعى الى أمنها واستقرارها وازدهارها بإخراج العامل المنتهك لحقوقها منها وذلك باقتلاع الغدة السرطانية المسماة «إسرائيل».

انّ ما أحدثته عملية سيف القدس ٢٠٢١ من مفاعيل وما ترمي اليه الدعوة الى إرساء معادلة الحرب الإقليمية الشاملة دفاعاً عن القدس وما ترمز اليه وما تخفيه في ثنايا قضيتها من شأنه أن يجهز على استراتيجية إسرائيلية ثابتة اعتمدتها «إسرائيل» منذ اغتصابها لفلسطين، استراتيجية تقوم على التفتيت والتجزئة والاستفراد وقضم حقوق الأخيرين لقمة لقمة دون السماح لهم بالتوحد او العمل الجماعي لمشترك ضدّها.

وعملاً بهذه القاعدة الصهيونية رفضت «إسرائيل» في العام ١٩٤٨ التفاوض مع وفد عربي مشترك لتوقيع الهدنة وأصرّت على توقيع الهدنة ثنائياً مع كلّ دولة عربية بمفردها وكررت السلوك في مؤتمر مدريد في العام ١٩٩٢. اما في عقيدتها العسكرية فإنها تعتمد مبدأ «العمل على جبهة واحدة وتثبيت الجبهات الأخرى»، كل ذلك لأنها تخشى من وحدة موقف الأعداء ضدها وقد اختبرت عقيدتها اكثر من مرة ونجحت وكانت حرب الـ ١٩٧٣ الاختبار الساطع حيث إن العرب فتحوا جبهتي الشمال والجنوب معاً في الجولان وسيناء فانهزمت «إسرائيل»، ولكن عندما توقفت جبهة الجنوب عوّضت «إسرائيل» هزيمتها في الشمال.

وعملاً بهذا الشأن نجد منطقياً القول بانّ نهاية «إسرائيل» تقترب مع اعتماد اعدائها لاستراتيجية العمل الجماعي المنسق ومنطق واستراتيجية الحرب الشاملة، شمولاً في الجبهات ما يفرض العمل على جبهات متعددة في الداخل الفلسطيني وعلى الحدود مع الجوار وشمولاً في الأطراف المشاركة ما يمنع «إسرائيل» من استفراد أي طرف منها مهما كان حجمه القتالي وشمولاً بأساليب القتال بين حرب من الجيل الثالث أو الرابع أو الخامس.

وبهذا يكون في مضامين يوم القدس العالمي الدعوة للإعداد للحرب الشاملة تلك وتحشيد الطاقات للانخراط بها من اليمن في الجنوب الى لبنان وسورية في الشمال والى العراق وإيران في الشرق ويبقى العامل والمكوّن الفلسطيني هو الجوهر والمحور والأساس في المواجهة في هذه الحرب الشاملة التي اطلق الدعوة لاعتمادها وإرساء معادلتها السيد حسن نصرالله.

وأخيراً لا بد من الإشارة الي انّ إنهاء «إسرائيل» قد لا يستلزم خوض الحرب فعلياً، وقد يكتفى بالإعداد لهذه الحرب والاستعداد لخوضها بشكل جدّي وفاعل ما يحمل العدو على الانهيار الإدراكي والهروب من المواجهة حتى قبل ان تبدأ. والمهمّ أولاً وقبل كلّ شيء اعتناق عقيدة العمل الجماعي المشترك والموحد في مواجهة نظرية التجزئة والاستفراد التي تعتمدها «إسرائيل» وستكون النتائج إيجابية لمصلحة حقّ الأمة في فلسطين من غير شكّ او تردّد.

*أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

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Will a regional war over Al-Aqsa Mosque revive The Palestinian cause?

27 Apr 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Robert Inlakesh 

“Israel” has, for long, not had to worry about the Arab and Islamic nations attacking it to liberate their own lands, as well as those of the Palestinians, today we are growing closer to a new equation.

At this point, a multi-front war with “Israel” will completely change the equation in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.

Violent Israeli incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, threaten a renewed round of violence in the Palestinian occupied territories and perhaps beyond. Why is the regional dimension to the Palestinian question being left out of Western analyses and what difference will another ‘Arab-Israeli’ war make?

Last May, the ‘Joint Room’ of armed resistance factions in the Gaza Strip launched Seif al-Quds (Sword of Jerusalem), a military operation to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque, after it had been repeatedly desecrated and its worshippers attacked, leading to an embarrassing set back to the Israeli regime. The 11-day war, as it is now called, spelled massive death and destruction in the Gaza Strip. Roughly 270 Palestinians were killed and at least 14 Israelis (the number of soldiers killed is still unconfirmed), clearly showing the suffering on the Palestinian side to have been much greater. However, the symbolic victories won during the battle with “Israel”, not only launched from Gaza but everywhere inside occupied Palestine, left the Israeli regime begging for a ceasefire.

The battle of Seif al-Quds represents an important marker in the history of modern Palestinian armed struggle, emerging as a symbolic driver of the armed struggle much like the battle of Karameh. The battle of Karameh, which took place in 1968, when PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] aligned forces and the Jordanian military fought the Israeli regime, was not a conventional military victory over “Israel” for the PLO, but instead proved “Israel” to be beatable. Prior to this battle, in which Jordanian and Palestinian forces still suffered heavy losses, the Fidayeen operations did not carry as much symbolic weight and provided a light at the end of the tunnel for Palestinians. The battle of Karameh however, proved that Israeli military vehicles could be destroyed and their military could be fought for over 15 hours and not achieve a decisive military victory over a dedicated Arab fighting force.

Up until May of 2021, it was generally thought that the armed factions in Gaza could not outwit their Israeli opponents and any war would produce the same results as previous battles. That being, massive death, and destruction in Gaza, combined with the besieged territory’s isolation from all other fronts. The battle of Seif al-Quds flipped this way of thinking on its head and sent a strong message regionally. There then emerged a full unified militarized force inside the Gaza Strip that could unite the Palestinian people, outwit its Israeli opposition and provide an alternative path for the Palestinian movement. 

What made the victory, led by Hamas, so important, was its ability to transform the way the Arab and Islamic nations view the Palestinian cause and the battle having signified the re-birth of the armed struggle as the principal means through which liberation is to be achieved. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had abandoned the armed struggle altogether by the end of the second Intifada, instead of pursuing fruitless dialogue with “Israel”, whilst committing itself to “security coordination”, which benefitted “Tel Aviv” solely. The Palestinian Authority (PA), as of earlier this year, officially absorbed the PLO into itself. This means that instead of the PA being an offshoot of the PLO, the roles are now reversed.

The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, was for long the consensus position of the Arab Regimes; that normalization comes only as the result of a withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 and the formation of a Palestinian State, with “East Jerusalem” as its Capital. The Trump-era “Abraham Accords”, which saw Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco, join Jordan and Egypt in normalizing ties with “Israel” and spelled the death of the Arab Peace Initiative. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has no regional powers behind it, meaning no leverage over “Israel” that it can use to force through a so-called two-State solution. The PA does not even possess any symbolic power through mass support from the Arab and Islamic world, on top of this it continues to prevent democratic elections.

Although the Palestinian cause had for long been the central issue of the Arab and Islamic world, the wars of aggression against Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other countries in the region took much of the attention that had been placed on the Palestinian issue in the past. Now, despite the suffering throughout the region, Palestine is again at the top of the agenda, however, there is still work that must be done in order to push towards the protection of Holy sites, revolution, and eventual liberation. 

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is the primary hindrance to a new Intifada, this PA is slowly weakening and is displaying its inability to control many areas, the most obvious case being in Jenin camp. The Israeli occupation forces receive the bulk of their intelligence on the activities of Palestinians, deriving their control, from the PA. Right now there seems to be an ongoing battle inside the ruling Fatah Party – which runs the PA – for the very soul of the organization and there are two possible conclusions to this phase of PA rule in the West Bank; the complete collapse of the PA, or a new Fatah leadership which will pursue a more hostile stance against “Israel”. In either case, “Israel” will be put in an extremely difficult position in the West Bank.

A Regional Front Against ‘Israel’

Following the battle of Sayf al-Quds last year, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, announced that he sought to form a multinational force which would transform any battle over al-Quds into a regional war with “Israel”. Later, groups from within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Yemen’s Ansarallah, as well as the Palestinian factions, all signed on to this mission. 

In Western media, the reporting on the repeated attacks on worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound has not only been littered with lies to protect the image of the Israeli forces but has also left out the possible regional response that such attacks could trigger. It seems that this piece of the puzzle has not yet been factored into the Western analysis, which will only go as far as looking into the possible reaction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza. 

In a multinational ‘Quds Day’ conference, broadcast on Tuesday, we saw the emergence again of the regional axis that pledges to take on “Israel” and defeat its aggression against al-Quds. Key to this conference were leaders of resistance factions from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Palestine, which all spoke of a regional coalition that will use armed struggle to liberate al-Quds. The Palestinian issue “cannot be resolved at the negotiation table,” said Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, whilst Hezbollah’s Sayed Hassan Nasrallah announced that his patry would be on the front lines of the fight for al-Quds. The issue of Arab normalization was also a central issue addressed during the conference, indicating that the coalition of resistance Parties is seeking to send the region a message through armed struggle.

At this point, a multi-front war with “Israel” will completely change the equation in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. If Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq become involved in a battle, alongside the Palestinians, this will completely transform the issue and force the international community to take the Palestinian struggle seriously. Most importantly, however, the Arab and Islamic leaderships – which operate outside the resistance coalition – will have to reconsider their roles in the conflict if such a war breaks out. The only missing piece in this picture is Syria, if Damascus takes advantage of the situation and launches an offensive in the Golan Heights, this will force countries regionally to re-engage with the Syrian government and will give Syria a central role in seeking a solution for Palestine, tying the fate of its occupied territory to those of the Palestinians. 

“Israel” has, for long, not had to worry about the Arab and Islamic nations attacking it to liberate their own lands, as well as those of the Palestinians, today we are growing closer to a new equation. The obstacles ahead are; who will be the accepted Palestinian representatives internationally? How to bring the region into a multi-faceted confrontation with “Israel”? And how to strive for the full initiation of a Third Intifada? If these questions can be answered, the Palestinian cause will not only be the central issue regionally, it will possess much greater power for liberating Palestine than ever before.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

German Islamophobia’s treatment of Muslim athletes observing Ramadan

26 Apr 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Timo Al-Farooq 

German sports pundits attribute any less than perfect performance of a Muslim sportsperson during the Holy Month to fasting, while denying extraordinary achievements by fasting athletes their due respect.

German Islamophobia’s treatment of Muslim athletes observing Ramadan

There are two annual occurrences during the month of Ramadan that are so reliable in their probability that they will happen that you can set your watch to them: Israeli occupation forces storming the Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied Al-Quds and bombing the Gaza-Strip, and white German sports pundits finding a way to denigrate the faith of 1.8 billion followers of Islam by attributing a decline in athletic performance to fasting.

This year, the prime target of this seasonal brand of socially accepted Islamophobia has been French football player N’Golo Kanté of English club FC Chelsea, one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and whose relatively weaker performance than usual during the first leg quarter-final match against Spanish side Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League was blamed on his observing Ramadan. By who? None other than his German manager, Thomas Tuchel.

“[I]f for many days you don’t drink or eat it can have an effect,” said the 58-year-old after his team lost 1:3 on their home turf at Stamford Bridge in early April. Just in time for this year’s Holy Month, white German sports pundits, as embodied by Tuchel, once again underwent vocational re- training from football aficionado to nutrition expert. In their traditional Eurocentric hubris, they seem to think that they know better than the adherents of a world religion who have been practicing the central pillar of their faith that is the fast for over a millennia.

Tuchel, who is known for his radical notions regarding dietary regimens and his utter disrespect for boundaries in enforcing them (during his stint as manager of Paris Saint-Germain, French media claimed that Tuchel had demanded from midfielder Marco Verratti the latter should lose weight, prompting a justifiably disgruntled Verratti to voice his intention of transferring elsewhere), is one to talk: German news magazine Der Focus once commented on Tuchel’s skinniness with the words “Is this slim or simply unhealthy?” And given his signature pallor one could argue that the “Tuchel- diet” (sport.de) is diametrically opposed to a balanced food intake.

The Chelsea manager’s career often seems like a time-delayed one of Liverpool FC coach Jürgen Klopp, the former on more than one occasion following in the footsteps of his German compatriot (coaching the former Klopp clubs FSV Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga, then following him to the Premier League, albeit with a detour in Paris).

German media have even gone so far as to call him a “Klopp clone.” Yet when it comes to “wokeness” and cultural sensitivity, Tuchel and Klopp are worlds apart. When in the past the British sports press tried to link the performance issues of his Muslim players to their observance of Ramadan, a loyal Klopp threw himself in front of them like a human shield by saying:

“I have no problem with my players fasting. I respect their religion and they were always amazing whether they were fasting or not. There are days when [Sadio] Mané and [Mohamed] Salah come late to the dressing room because they were praying. There are many things more important than football.”

With his insensitive and textbook liberal Islamophobic comments directed at Kanté, the sore loser that is Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea has since been knocked-out of the tournament), has proven to the world that he views Klopp’s last sentence slightly differently and that when it comes to decency, empathy and loyalty, the “Klopp clone” still has a lot to learn from original Klopp.

Erasing Ramadan when it’s convenient

Another way German sports pundits like to denigrate Ramadan is by conveniently omitting when it not only does not diminish the performance of a fasting player, but enhances it, even to the level of unparalleled mastery. This is exactly what the white German sportscasters at DAZN did (in Germany, the US streaming service shares the broadcasting rights to the UEFA Champions League with Prime Video and Sky), who in their gushing praise for Real Madrid’s hat trick-scoring striker Karim Benzema during the aforementioned match and in the post-match analysis did not once think of mentioning that Benzema had been fasting.

They could have said: “For the sake of fairness und completeness, we should add that Benzema has been fasting, so the outstanding performance that we witnessed tonight has to be seen in this light and deserves even more credit.” Or, God forbid, surpass themselves by saying something along the lines of Benzema’s superior performance not having occurred in spite of his observance of Ramadan, but because of it; that the razor-sharp focus and spiritual energy achieved through fasting (seen by the Westcentric worldview as a health risk when Muslims do it, but as beneficial to the body and spirit when done by Hindu yogis, which Whitey then emulates to the point of cultural appropriation) had a thing or two to do with his phenomenal performance.

But far from it: lying by omission is also lying, and in their deliberate erasure of Ramadan the white German “professionals” at DAZN (in Germany, sports commentators are almost exclusively white), who normally don’t shy away from espousing their allegedly anti-racist views when commenting favourably on football players taking a knee, sadly revealed the limits of their progressive politics.

“Ramadan Kyrie”: Islamophilia in the NBA

That there is an alternative way of going about representing Ramadan in sports media one could see in the NBA these days, North America’s highest men’s professional basketball league: after the Brooklyn Nets’ victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers in mid-April, Nets star Kyrie Irving, a convert to Islam, was asked by an American reporter:

“Kyrie, on a personal note: you have said that you are fasting for Ramadan…How do you muster the energy to go out and score 34 points with very little nutrition in your body?”

What Irving answered was a counter-narrative rebuttal against all the Westcentric agnostics and atheists and the individualistic societies that have (ill-in)formed them, who in their cultural narcissism and colonial arrogance underestimate the communal and holistic meaning of Ramadan:

“Well, it’s a journey with God, and I’m not alone in this. I have brothers and sisters all around the world that are fasting with me. We hold our prayers and our meditations very sacred…God’s inside me, God’s inside you, God’s inside all of us, so I’m walking with faith. That’s all that matters.”

I watched the Nets’ first play-off match against the Boston Celtics live on DAZN (the Nets lost in the last second due to a buzzer-beating shot by Celtics star player Jayson Tatum) and even though a fasting Kyrie Irving once again displayed highest levels of basketball artistry, the German commentators again did not mention that Irving was fasting, much less go out of their way to establish a causal link between his observance of Ramadan and his high performance.

“Fans have dubbed Irving with the ‘Ramadan Kyrie’ nickname as he puts up impressive scoring outbursts despite the guard fasting during games,” writes Massachusetts news portal MassLive.com. Look how positively Ramadan can be portrayed if there is the will to do so! DAZN commentators in Germany should take note.

I wonder what they had to say to what Celtics star Jaylen Brown, Irving’s former team mate who is also fasting, told the attendants of a press conference before the play-offs:

“Ramadan is something special…It’s something that’s saved my life in a lot of ways. So shoutout to all the people who are participating and shoutout to everybody who shows respect because, in reality, some things are bigger than basketball.”

Hear that, Thomas Tuchel? Ramadan is not only not bad for your health, but also “life-saving.” So show some respect. Brown’s comments should put all liberal Islamophobes with their unprovoked acrimony towards the Muslim fast to shame.

And like Klopp and Irving, the latter who at a press conference in May 2021 during which he condemned “Israel’s” bombing of Palestine said that “basketball is just not the most important thing to me right now”, Brown has also got his priorities straight. Deen over dunya, as Muslims say.

Fair play for Islam

Returning to European football, there was another wonderful example this Ramadan of a fasting athlete excelling in his sport and being afforded the transparent and contextualized respect he deserves: A match in Portugal’s first division saw FC Porto’s Iranian international Mehdi Taremi scoring a hat trick in his club’s 7:0 win against Portimonense, prompting the Primeira Liga to post this on their official Twitter page: “During the day, the rules of Ramadan are followed; while hunger is satisfied at night with goals.”

Fair play is a key tenet of competitive sports, and it also includes respect. UEFA’s Respect campaign was launched in 2008 as a social responsibility programme with the objective of “work[ing] towards unity and respect across gender, race, religion and ability,” says UEFA.

With its deliberate erasure of the positive role religious fasting plays in the athletic performances of Muslim sportspeople and its liberal Islamophobia of constructing a causality between observing Ramadan and performance issues, German punditry, be it in the form of the sports commentators at DAZN Germany or a manager like Thomas Tuchel, have repeatedly proven that they have yet to embody this spirit of respect for the religion of Islam.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

‘Israeli’ Forces Attack Palestinians in Occupied Al-Quds for Third Consecutive Night

April 5, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The ‘Israeli’ occupation forces have for the third night in a row attacked Palestinians who gathered at Bab al-Amoud, also known as Damascus Gate, one of the main gates of the Old City of al-Quds, to celebrate the onset of Muslims’ holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Palestinian Maan news agency said Zionist soldiers used tear gas and sound bombs to disperse the Palestinians who had gathered for Iftar, a meal served at the end of the fasting day during Ramadan, near Bab al-Amoud on Monday night.

Citing witnesses, the news agency said at least six Palestinian youths were arrested during the confrontations, three of whom were taken into custody and severely beaten by undercover special ‘Israeli’ forces.

The occupying regime has since the start of Ramadan turned the Bab al-Amoud into a military barracks by deploying a large number of its forces in the area.

The latest violence came after ‘Israeli’ occupation police detained 10 Palestinians and injured some 20 others in the same area on Sunday.

Palestine’s official Wafa news agency said the confrontations started after Zionist police had intensified their presence at Bab al-Amoud and placed barriers on both sides of it since the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Police beat up and detained some 10 Palestinians as they attacked the youths to force them to leave the area, including an elderly man who sustained a head injury after being beaten up by the police,” the agency said.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said at least 19 Palestinians were injured, four of the injuries were rushed to hospitals and the others were treated at the scene.

The flare-up of tensions coincided with the Zionist foreign minister Yair Lapid’s provocative visit to Bab al-Amoud in the Old City of al-Quds, which was denounced by the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas as a “dangerous escalation.”

Hamas spokesman Mohamed Hamada said in a statement on Sunday that Lapid’s tour of Bab al-Amud and the violent police raid on the same area reflected ‘Israeli’ persistence in carrying out malicious plots against the occupied al-Quds and the holy al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hamada also described Lapid’s step as “a provocation to the feelings of the Palestinian people and the Muslim nation during the holy month of Ramadan.”

Palestinians have ramped up their retaliations against ‘Israeli’ forces in recent weeks, carrying out a series of operations that have killed at least 11 Zionists since March 22. Eight Palestinians have also been killed during the same period.

Last week, a Palestinian man identified as Diaa Hamarsheh killed five ‘Israelis’, including a policeman, before being shot dead in the ultra-orthodox town of Bnei Brak east of Tel Aviv.

The operation came days after two Palestinians killed two ‘Israeli’ regime forces and wounded four others in a shooting attack in the northern occupied city of Hadera before being shot dead.

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A Palestinian Prayer for Ramadan: May the Voices of the Oppressed Be Heard

April 21, 2021

Palestinian Muslims performing prayers and reading Quran in the Great Al-Omari Mosque in the early days of the holy month of Ramadan. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

COVID-19 cases in Palestine, especially in Gaza, have reached record highs, largely due to the arrival of a greatly contagious coronavirus variant which was first identified in Britain.

Gaza has always been vulnerable to the deadly pandemic. Under a hermetic Israeli blockade since 2006, the densely populated Gaza Strip lacks basic services like clean water, electricity, or minimally-equipped hospitals. Therefore, long before COVID-19 ravaged many parts of the world, Palestinians in Gaza were dying as a result of easily treatable diseases such as diarrhea, salmonella and typhoid fever.

Needless to say, Gaza’s cancer patients have little fighting chance, as the besieged Strip is left without many life-saving medications. Many Palestinian cancer patients continue to cling to the hope that Israel’s military authorities will allow them access to the better equipped Palestinian West Bank hospitals. Alas, quite often, death arrives before the long-awaited Israeli permit does.

The tragedy in Gaza – in fact in all of occupied Palestine – is long and painful. Still, it ought not to be classified as another sad occasion that invokes much despair but little action.

In fact, the struggle of the Palestinians is integral to a larger struggle for fundamental human rights that can be witnessed throughout the Middle East which, according to a recent Carnegie Corporation report, is one of the most economically unequal regions in the world.

From war-torn Libya to war-torn Syria, to Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and many parts of the Arab and Muslim world, the dual tragedy of war and want is a scathing reminder of the price ordinary people pay for frivolous power struggles that yield nothing but more uncertainty and achieve nothing but more hatred.

Once more, the holy month of Ramadan visits the Muslim Ummah while its tragedies are still festering – new conflicts, unfinished wars, an ever-expanding death toll and a never-ending stream of refugees. Sadly, not even Ramadan, a month associated with peace, mercy and unity, is enough to bring about however fleeting moments of tranquility, or a respite from hunger and war for numerous Muslim communities around the world.

In Palestine, the Israeli occupation often takes even more sinister turns during this month, as if to intentionally compound the suffering felt by Palestinians. On April 14, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque called on Arabs and Muslims to intervene so that Israel may cease its harassment of Palestinians at the holy shrines of Al Quds – occupied East Jerusalem.

Aside from the increased attacks by Jewish extremists, who are now storming Al-Aqsa Mosque at a significantly higher rate than ever before, the Israeli occupation authorities have “removed the doors of the Mosque’s minarets, cut the electrical wires of loudspeakers to prevent the Adhan (call to prayer) and seized (Ramadan) iftar meals, in addition to threatening to storm the Mosque on the final days of the holy month of Ramadan,” Sheikh Hussein said in a statement.

Israel fully comprehends the spiritual connection that Palestinians, whether Muslims or Christians, have to their religious symbols. For Muslims, this rapport is further accentuated during the holy month of Ramadan. Severing this connection is equal to breaking the collective spirit of the Palestinian people.

These are only a few examples of a multifaceted and deeply rooted tragedy felt by most Palestinians. Numerous similar stories, though of different political and spatial contexts, are communicated every day throughout the Muslim world. Yet, there is no meaningful discussion of a collective remedy, of a strategy, of a thoughtful answer.

Ramadan is intended to be a time when Muslims are united on the basis of a wholly different criterion: where political and ideological differences disappear in favor of spiritual unity which is expressed in fasting, prayer, charity and kindness. Unfortunately, what we are witnessing is not Ramadan as it was intended to be, but different manifestations of the holy month, each catering to a different class – a painful but true expression of the disunity and inequality that have afflicted the Muslim Ummah.

There is the Ramadan of boundless wealth, finely catered iftar meals, coupled with endless, cheap entertainment. In this Ramadan, platitudes are often offered about charity and the poor, but little is delivered.

There is also the Ramadan of Palestine, Sudan and Yemen, of the Syrian refugee camps and of little dinghies dotting the Mediterranean, carrying thousands of desperate families, holding little but their hope of a better future beyond some horizon. For them, Ramadan is a stream of prayers that the world, especially their Muslim brethren, may come to their rescue. For them, there is little entertainment because there is no electricity and there are no massive iftar feasts because there is no money.

“Dua” is Arabic for supplication. For the oppressed, dua is the last resort; at times, even a weapon against oppression in all of its forms. This is why we often see bereaved Muslims raising their open palms to the sky whenever tragedy has befallen them. Ramadan is the month where the poor, destitute and oppressed raise their hands to Heaven, beseeching God in various accents and languages to hear their prayers.

They are reassured by such hadiths – sayings of Prophet Mohammed – as this: “The supplications of three persons are never turned away: a fasting person until he breaks his fast, a just ruler and the supplication of the oppressed which is raised by Allah above the clouds, the gates of Heaven are opened for it, and the Lord says: By my might, I will help you in due time.”

There has never been a more critical time for the Ummah to work together, to heal its collective wound, to uplift its down-trodden, to care for its poor, to embrace its refugees and to fight for its oppressed. Many Muslim communities around the world are aching and their pain is unbearable. Perhaps this Ramadan can serve as the opportunity for social justice to be finally enacted and for the oppressed to be heard so that their hymn of torment and hope may rise above the clouds.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2)

Thursday, 23 April 2020 8:01 AM 

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranians shop at the Grand Bazaar market in the capital Tehran on April 20, 2020, as the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic lingers ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Photo by AFP)

By Ramin Mazaheri 

So it took a pandemic-plus-lockdown for some in the West to realize that classic economic liberalism on a global scale – i.e. the narrow hyper-specialization of Adam Smith’s division of labor and David Ricardo’s caste-forging theory of competitive advantage – makes a nation economically vulnerable? This epiphany is not novel for those countries which imperialists forced to precariously rely on a single cash crop/cow. 

It is interesting to watch American television these days: almost never openly discussed is the financial impact of the Great Lockdown on the lower classes. What the average American is bludgeoned with instead is a constant stream of doctor-worship, technocrats, electioneering politicians who cannot stop sniping despite such a crisis, and high-class analysts telling them to stay home at all costs – the financial condition of those who don’t even have $500 to cover in an emergency are ignored, even though they compose 63% of the US.

Even pre-corona, US TV is a realm where lower-class Whites who speak with a twang, poor-but-not-hustlin’ Blacks, and Latinos who don’t sing/dance/clean simply cannot be found. American Indians are so entirely absent they may as well not even exist.

If we had to define Iran’s economy in one brief sentence it would be: All are considered, but the needs of the lower classes must come first.

No Iranian would deny this has been the case since 1979, and it really became eye-openingly apparent after the end of the War of Sacred Defense (Iran-Iraq War): there has been a constant decrease of slums and absolute poverty, and a constant increase of infrastructure, education and production and diversification. Not only does this explain the country’s huge jump in seemingly all economic metrics since 1989, it also explains why Iran could rally 300,000 volunteers (propaganda alert: The Wall Street Journal’s “water cannons” were actually “disinfection cannons”) to go door-to-door to inform, help and prevent the spread of coronavirus – there is support, trust, unity and two-way dialogue.

When corona first hit many Iran-ignorant commentators assumed it would devastate a backwards nation governed by an unfeeling totalitarian state: while over 5,000 have died, Iran’s proportional death rate is better than almost every Western nation.

Of course, I know you’ll say “Iran is lying” – you have been indoctrinated to say that in response to any claim made by any Iranian. Ever since the 2011 triple sanctions (US, EU, UN) were deployed the Western Mainstream Media has added doubt indicators such as, “Iran says….” to every headline stemming from Iran. I used to get annoyed by it, but it’s old news now – if the government said the sun came up today the headline would be, “Iran says sun rises in East”.

So the skeptics/Iranophobes will remain eternally unconvinced, and I respond with habeas corpus – produce the body. Indeed, this is a demand for proof which Western epidemiologists – and their technocrat-worshipping promoters – are scrambling to come up with: It turns out their direst forecasts were far less accurate than modern weather reports (usually because they underestimated the influence of personal responsibility initiatives), and perhaps shouldn’t have been hysterically and uncritically relayed by Western corporate media.

As the Iranophobes scour satellite photos for secret mass graves (How many people do you think Iran is hiding – 50,000, 100,000 dead people? How many more would have to be silenced, and in a nation full of personal media devices? The idea that such a thing is possible is absurd….), and while the West employs more draconian measures than Iran ever did (due to worse health care, lack of volunteers due to fears of expensive health care, a stressed/unhealthy/obese population, the lack of existing lines of national coordination, an acclimation to “states of emergency” and other factors), Iran is ending curbs and going back to work. And they are also back to work being honest political truth-tellers: US imperialism is indeed a worse virus than the coronavirus, per President Rouhani. No body count comparison required on that one because it’s not even close – Western epidemiologists can relax.

Iran is returning to work slowly: many are working from home, women with young children are given priority to decide who works remotely, the government is asking everyone to use common sense, but the resumption of normal activity comes after many in the government openly displayed common sense by saying that an economic crisis simply should not be added to a heath crisis.

Undoubtedly, if Iran had not been so harshly attacked with such an inhuman blockade they would have had more oil-money savings to pay people to stay at home like in some nations, but they were cruelly denied this chance by the West, along with medicine, justice, peace, etc. The West’s governments are demanding that their lower classes commit economic suicide over corona fears, but Iran’s lower classes know that the biggest, most reliable patrons they have are the Iranian government – that’s why after taking sensible measures they are encouraging a sensible, safe return to work.

Everybody must use common sense, and a recent fatwa from the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei only reminds us how revolutionary Iran has decisively chosen to be inspired by Islam and is NOT a fundamentalist/Salafist/Wahhabi Islamic nation: it is OK to abstain from fasting during Ramadan (which starts April 23) if you rationally believe it may cause a sickness. As wonderful as Ramadan is, and while the science is not 100% clear, long-term fasting appears to lower one’s immune system – that does seem rational, to me.

Ramadan will simply not be typical this year, sadly. I hope many Iranians (and Muslims everywhere) use common sense this year to protect the vulnerable and reduce the number of second-wave infections. Anyone living with vulnerable and elderly people should remember that Muslims have a full year to make up missed Ramadan days.

Part 2 will explain why the necessary reversal of globalization is impossible in a West which is dominated by their 1%, and why Iran’s “Resistance Economy” is the perfect vaccine to corona & lockdown-related economic chaos.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.


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