A Middle East cow tale

Protection societies were found in 1882, as a “fundamental antagonism between Hindus and Muslims” arose; even Mahatma Gandhi championed animal care.

Cow. Credit: Pixabay/Kapa65.
Cow. Credit: Pixabay/Kapa65.
Yisrael Medad
Yisrael Medad is a researcher, analyst and opinion commentator on political, cultural and media issues.

The Jan. 14 edition of The Palestine Chronicle, edited by Ramzy Baroud, featured an English-language translation of a televised speech made by Abu Obeida, the military spokesman for the Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades, on the 100th day of the Gaza war.

As the site notes, for nearly seven weeks, his messages were either audio recordings or written statements. At one point, he disappeared for weeks, raising speculations that he may have been killed.

Abu Obeida, whose real name is Huzaifa Samir Abdullah al-Kahloot, spoke of the Al-Aqsa Flood operation as “this historic and pivotal battle in the present of our people and our nation.” Israel was described as “Nazi” and a “most grotesque entity.”

He then explained that an Israeli “aggression” was being directed against Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa. And what was it? It was “the start of [the Temple Mount’s] actual temporal and spatial division, and the bringing of red cows as an application of a detestable religious myth designed for aggression against the feelings of an entire nation in the heart of its Arab identity.”

Before analyzing his propaganda charge and preposterous excuse for massacring many hundreds of civilians, including women, children and the elderly, it should be illuminating to cast a look over to India, where Muslims face a “cow vigilantism” phenomenon.

The cow possesses a sacred status for Hindus. It became an object of veneration from the fourth century BCE, representing Mother Earth, as it is a source of goodness. There is a “cow holiday” called Gopastami. India was invaded by Muslims already in the seventh century, and as they slaughtered cows for their Eid al-Adha, a problem arose.

Cow protection societies were founded in 1882 as a “fundamental antagonism between Hindus and Muslims” arose, as SOAS Shabnum Tejani scholar has described it. There were cow-related riots in 1893, and major ones again between 1900 and 1947. Even Mahatma Gandhi championed cow protection. Multiple post-state riots in which the killings of Hindus and Muslims in the 1950s and 1960s occurred involved the trigger of cow slaughter.

Between 2010 and 2017, 28 Indians—24 of them Muslims—have been killed and 124 injured. In February last year, two charred bodies were found in a burnt vehicle in India’s Haryana state. They were Muslim men, killed by right-wing Hindus suspecting them of cow-smuggling.

All of this raises a question. If Muslims suffer needless acts of murderous violence for their religious beliefs in the Asian sub-continent, would they not be more empathetic to another religion and its cow-related theology?

And there is another parallel. Muslims are now engaged in a campaign for their right to pray in a cathedral in Spain. The church, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, had been established in the fifth century, turned into a mosque in the seventh century following the Muslim conquest and occupation of that country, but reverted to a Christian place of worship in 1236 after the Reconquista.

The Islamic Council of Spain had lodged a formal request with the Vatican to pray in the building. In 2010, eight young Austrian Muslims were acquitted of responsibility for an altercation when they prayed in front of the Qibla wall, which the church had forbidden. Perhaps fearful of the fate of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, where a Turkish court revoked its status as a museum and Muslim prayer practices have taken place therein, Catholic Church officials have resisted any change in Cordoba.

Again, cannot Hamas exhibit a less ferocious opposition to religious customs and the opposition to them that they themselves seek to promote? But let us now return to Jerusalem and the Hamas claim of concern over an aggression of red heifers and recognize that that is a reverse mirror-image of Cordoba and Istanbul.

Two Jewish Temples existed for 1,000 years on Mount Moriah. Then, in the seventh century, Muslims—following the Roman, Byzantine and Persian empires that ruled Judea under conquest and occupation—built a mosque on the site and prohibited any semblance of Jewish worship, a ban Israel’s governments have upheld.

Between the 13th and the late 19th centuries, no Jew could even enter the compound, where previously Jewish kings, priests and prophets, judges and millions of pilgrims were at home, worshipping their God and teaching the world morals and ethics.

At a news website published by Jordan United Press based in Amman, we learn that five red heifers were “imported from Texas,” placed “in a secret farm” and “kept for the imminent arrival of the Messiah and the subsequent construction of the temple on the Al-Aqsa mosque ruins.” These actions are “perceived as preparatory for the Gog and Magog battle.”

Besides the fact that for a period those cows were kept at the Ancient Shiloh site (very publicly and visited by thousands), this is probably the fifth time red heifers have been brought to Israel over the past three decades. Why the belated but bestial invasion now? Why the rocket firings and terror when there were no red heifers?

In 1929, the Mufti Al-Husseini claimed that Jews were intent on storming Al-Aqsa, so his hordes slaughtered more than 70 Jews. The 1948 war that the Arabs launched, as Israeli historian Benny Morris has researched, was carried out according to the Dec. 2, 1947 call of the ulama, the chief scholars of theology, of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University for a “worldwide jihad.”

Arab terror, apparently, requires no excuse. It will interpret any event to serve its ultimate purpose: the end of Israel and the death of Jews. Indeed, it possesses no human logic that can be assuaged, neither by man nor beast.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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