Photo: Ido Erez
Israeli Arabs protest bill to limit muezzin calls to prayer
Photo: Ido Erez
Ben-Dror Yemini
A prayer for silence, for Muslims and for all
Op-ed: The bill to limit muezzin calls is turning into another religious war, in which the Israeli Left is automatically siding with the provocateurs; however, the main victims of the ear-splitting loudspeakers—a rather recent addition—are other Muslims.
The good news is that the Israeli government includes a responsible adult – Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The bad news is it’s unlikely that he has any influence. Lieberman’s statement last week, in favor of limiting construction to the settlement blocs and against the illusions the Right had been presenting to the residents of Amona, should have been adopted by the Zionist Right, and there is such a right. Because the Likud faction is deteriorating to the margins of the margins.



Last week’s votes, at the government and at the Knesset, suggest that Likud leaders see their party members as a herd of Kahanists who expect a radicalization to the right, and further to the right. They won’t dare say what Lieberman has said. And it’s only a matter of time before they portray him as a dangerous leftist.


Illegal outpost of Amona. Left-wing organizations are legitimizing right-wing hooliganism (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Illegal outpost of Amona. Left-wing organizations are legitimizing right-wing hooliganism (Photo: AFP)


The Likud leaders are wrong. At least one-third of Likud voters belong to the national-liberal stream and not to the rightist-nationalist stream. They are being orphaned. In the past, they had Michael Eitan, for example. Avi Dichter and Tzachi Hanegbi could have been there too. But they are afraid. The fear of the majority has hit them too. Likud’s radicalization and Lieberman’s moderation may announce a new political alignment. It’s just the beginning. To be continued.


The outpost report authored by Talia Sasson, a former senior employee at the State Attorney’s Office, is a pivotal document. Every word in it should turn on a red light in regards to the conduct of government officials, who helped bypass the law to get Israel entangled in the great state vision. The Amona outpost is perhaps the most important outpost. The battle against the High Court ruling on Amona presents one of the hardest tests for the rule of law.


Sasson has become president of the New Israel Fund (NIF). It can and should be assumed that regardless of her political opinions, she will make sure that the NIF protects the rule of law. But reality is slightly different, because bodies supported by the NIF are leading the campaign to crush repeated judicial decisions on the Bedouin Amona, which is also known as al-Araqib. This is not a case of legitimate criticism against judicial decisions. This is a case of disregard of the rule of law. These organizations’ activists are repeatedly erecting buildings in the community, after it is repeatedly demolished in accordance with court rulings.


How has the fund led by Sasson become a serial crusher of the law? In response to my question, the NIF spokeswoman argued that “without going into the comparison between the two cases, the Fund believes it is permitted to disagree with High Court rulings and even to protest them. Nonetheless, we accept the High Court’s authority and are not undermining its legitimacy in any way.”


But reality presents a different picture. Here’s what the NIF website states: “The battle against the village’s demolition"—which has already been demolished thrice—"is being led by many organizations operating with the Fund’s help – Amnesty, Agenda, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Society for the Support and Defense of Bedouin Rights in Israel, the Citizens Accord Forum between Jews and Arabs in Israel, the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages of Negev, the Abraham Fund Initiatives, the Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel, the Forum for Arab-Bedouin Women’s Organizations of the Negev, Mossawa, Community Advocacy, Sikkuy, Tsofen and Shatil (Initiative for Social Change).”


Clearly, ideology overrides the law. When the Right does it, it gives rise to claims of the end of democracy, fascism, etc. The NIF’s Left is doing it in public. Last week, I heard Talia Sasson giving an interview in the capacity of a well-informed person. She is of course preaching and teaching law. The next time she goes on the air, she should receive a bit more difficult questions from her interviewers. Because no violation of the law on the left justifies a similar violation on the right. But that’s exactly what the NIF organizations are doing. They are legitimizing right-wing hooligans.


The bill to limit muezzins' calls to prayer is turning into another religious war, in which the Israeli Left is, as usual, joining the opponents of the law, especially since it was initiated by the Right.


Egypt, Indonesia, India and many cities in Europe have limited the muezzin calls’ decibel level, or banned them altogether, in order to prevent environmental damage (Photo: Gil Lerner)
Egypt, Indonesia, India and many cities in Europe have limited the muezzin calls’ decibel level, or banned them altogether, in order to prevent environmental damage (Photo: Gil Lerner)


The muezzin calls are not part of the Muslim heritage, because up until a little more than 100 years there were no loudspeakers to encourage worshippers – unless UNESCO decides to adopt a new narrative. Until that happens, it should be mentioned that loudspeakers were only introduced into mosques less than 100 years ago. Over the years, the volume increased and the time of the call was moved up. Some mosques prefer to start at 4 am, at a volume which can be heard at a 5-kilometer radius. Not many rock bands reach such powerful volumes.


The muezzin calls, in their new incarnation, damage both the quality of life and the environment. The victims, as always, are mainly Muslims. That is also the jihad’s format, as 99 percent of its victims are Muslims. But the battle is, allegedly, against the West.


Because the Muslims are the victims, they have initiated legislation to limit the nuisance. Muslim states began restraining imams’ growing appetite in the decibel competition. These restrictions apply in Saudi Arabia as well, the stronghold of distributing radical Islam. The source for the restrictions can be found, miraculously, in the Quran (Surah al-Israh, 17:110): “Do not recite (too) loudly in your prayer or (too) quietly but seek between that an (intermediate) way.”


On this basis, Sheikh Tawfeeq As-Sayegh ruled that “it is forbidden to increase the sound coming from loudspeakers beyond an acceptable level.” Sheikh Mohammed al-Othaiman, an Islamic scholar, is against using loudspeakers during prayer so as not to harm residents. Yes, the Saudis are human too. When the volume is intensified in the middle of the night, they suffer.


I can go on. Egypt, Indonesia, India and many cities in Europe have limited the muezzin calls’ decibel level, or banned them altogether, in order to prevent environmental damage. Many places have not settled for the existing legislation against excessive noises and have initiated special legislation focused on the muezzin calls.


But to hell with the facts. After all, we are in the post-factual era. When distinguished historian Ahmad Tibi rules that before the al-Aqsa Mosque “there was nothing there,” one can also claim that Prophet Muhammad had ordered his worshippers to turn loudspeakers on at 4 am. Tibi’s trainees are still arguing whether the loudspeakers were produced by Sony or Panasonic. It’s a shame, because Tibi can be a serious person too. But he is insisting on making a fool of himself.


Circles close to the historian raised the claim that the Shabbat siren was bothersome too. Representatives of the ultra-Orthodox parties panicked and rushed to undermine the law, fearing that the Shabbat siren would also be banned. Well, this comparison is a mockery, as this is not the same noise, it is not every day and not in the early hours of the day.


Turning up muezzins’ volume was not the result of a religious command, but of a political provocation by few people. So there is something sad about the fact that leftists are automatically siding with the provocateurs. Nevertheless, I doubt there is a need for new legislation. After all, there is legislation limiting noise.


One thing is clear: Something has to be done. Especially for the sake of Muslims, who are the main victims. And at the same opportunity, heretics should not have to suffer too.


פרסום ראשון: 11.20.16, 23:54
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