Demonization of Jews, not flag march, at fault for Jerusalem unrest

Opinion: Those making the dangerous and wrong claim that Jerusalem Day tradition is the catalyst for Palestinian riots, must remember the debunked 'al-Aqsa in danger' motto has been used as incitement against Jews for centuries
Ben-Dror Yemini|
There has always been incitement against Jews.
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  • The claim that the Jerusalem Day flag march in the capital serves as the catalyst for violence among Muslims in general and the Palestinians in particular, is simply outrageous. All the more so considering this sentiment is often echoed by highly educated and well informed individuals.
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    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים
    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים
    Flag march in Jerusalem
    (Photo: EPA)
    Yes, the Palestinians are fuming, but they did not need the march to get there. In a stark contrast to years prior, the Muslim world had remained mostly indifferent to the march this year - apart from Jordan's condemnation and Al-Jazeera's usual attempt to incite the region.
    This specific brand of incitement and hate is nothing new. It began way before the flag march ever existed, and even way before the Six Day War in 1967 - which saw Israel expand its borders considerably.
    We can go as far as the 1930s to the time of Sheikh Mohammed Amin al-Husseini. Back then, the rule in land, parts of which would in the future become the State of Israel, was entrenched in Islam.
    This fact did not stop the renowned Muslim leaders from claiming the Jews want to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and erect the third temple in its place.
    Going even further back, we will find that Jerusalem was one of the most neglected cities in the Muslim world. It is true that it is the third most holy city in Islam - and yet, for centuries they thought nothing of it and paid it very little attention.
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    צעדת הדגלים בשער שכם
    צעדת הדגלים בשער שכם
    Man waves Israeli flag outside Jerusalem's Damascus Gate
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    The eyes of the Muslim world fell on Jerusalem only after the Jews - who were persecuted everywhere, even in Muslim countries - demanded a national home to call their own.
    The Jews did not seek to take over the holy mosque, and yet violent riots against the Jews would break out regularly.
    In the second half of the 19th century the Jews had a majority in Jerusalem. But, a majority that was in fact a trampled and humiliated minority.
    "Jews and other [non-Muslims] were frequently attacked and wounded, and even killed by local Muslims and Turkish soldiers... These attacks were carried out over petty matters," wrote British historian Tudor Parfitt.
    Sheikh Amin al-Husseini, meanwhile, became something of a fascist.
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    פלסטינים מתבצרים במסגד אל אקצא
    פלסטינים מתבצרים במסגד אל אקצא
    Hamas flags inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque
    He is the one who wreaked havoc on the Palestinian Arabs when he fought against the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which sought to form a large Palestinian state alongside a miniscule Jewish one.
    The point is that the Palestinians have forgotten nothing, but have also learned nothing.
    Even today, many Muslim leaders - including al-Husseini’s successor Raed Salah, and Jerusalem’s Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein - continue to spread the lies about al-Aqsa being in danger.
    It is of course nothing but a conspiracy, but since when do antisemites need any sort of actual proof? Not everyone buys into these preposterous claims, but there is no need for masses or even a majority.
    We see today thousands of Israeli Arabs and East Jerusalem residents affected by these instigators embarking on violent riots against Israelis.
    4 View gallery
    A Palestinian runs away from tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces in front of the Dome of the Rock Mosque at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday
    A Palestinian runs away from tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces in front of the Dome of the Rock Mosque at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday
    A Palestinian runs away from tear gas during clashes with Israeli security forces in front of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, May, 2022
    (Photo: AP)
    Before Zionism, before the establishment of Israel, before the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967, there were always Muslims who engaged in incitement and riots against Jews.
    And yet, we must remember that there are Muslims - both inside and outside Israel - who do not partake in the murderous ideology of the Mufti and his successors.
    We also cannot ignore the groups of Jewish hooligans, such as La Familia, who attend flag marches in order to encourage violence. However, it's not the same thing. Among the Palestinians, there are religious leaders who encourage bloodshed. Among the Jews, there are marginal groups.
    The Arab world is on its way of undergoing a process of rehabilitation from antisemitism. But, that way is long and winding.
    One thing, however, must be clear to intellectuals - at least the Israeli ones - there is no need to point the finger at Israel and strengthen those who abhor the Jewish people.
    Many in the Arab world already understand this. It's time for us to understand that too.
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