Jews living adjacent to Arab neighborhoods in Israel were awoken before sunrise last week for three days by mosques blaring—not by the routine daily pre-dawn call to prayer, but by the lengthy extended prayers of the Islamic festival Eid al-Adha.
It is one of two primary festivals celebrated by Muslims the world over. While the other, Eid al-Fitr, concludes the month of Ramadan, in which devout Muslims fast each day, Eid al-Adha traces its roots back to the father of monotheism and prophet, Ibrahim.
According to Islamic tradition, Allah instructed Ibrahim in a dream to sacrifice his beloved son, Ismail. Actually, the Koranic text doesn’t specifically identify the son Ibrahim was to sacrifice. Despite debate among Islamic scholars, the predominant view is that the son is Ismail.
Ibrahim rejected the efforts of the Shaytan (Satan) to discourage the divinely commanded act and went forward together with his son’s approval to serve the will of Allah. At the last moment, Allah prevented Ibrahim from performing the sacrifice, and provided a ram for Ibrahim to slaughter in Ismail’s stead and complete the test.
Sound familiar? Jews around the world will read a slightly different version of the events in a little more than a week, during the Torah reading on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, marked by the blowing of the ram’s horn (shofar) meant to commemorate the biblical event in which Abraham nearly sacrificed his beloved son, Isaac.
According to Islamic tradition, the location of the near-sacrifice of Ismail was Mount Arafat, on the outskirts of Mecca.
Coincidently, it was Yasser Arafat, who at the Camp David summit in 2000, infamously negated the Jewish connection to Jerusalem by denying that any Temple ever stood in the city. Arafat’s claim can be disputed not only by Jewish literature, but also by Islamic literature.
According to “A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif” for tourists to the Temple Mount published in 1925 by the Supreme Moslem Council that administered the holy site, “The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”
It should be noted that according to Jewish tradition, David was not the first to make an offering on this same site. According to Jewish tradition, it’s the site where Abraham offered a ram in place of his beloved son, Isaac.
The denial of the existence of a Jewish Temple by Arafat at Camp David was not an isolated incident. Consistent attempts to rewrite Israel’s claims to Jerusalem can be found in statements by current Palestinian Authority officials and in P.A. media.
The twisting of another faith’s narrative is not limited to Judaism. Each year, Palestinians celebrate Christmas as a national holiday, claiming that Jesus was a Palestinian despite his indisputable Jewish roots and Christian teachings.
These modern claims come after terrorists, under the orders of Yasser Arafat, laid siege for 40 days in 2002 at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the city of Jesus’s birth.
Nevertheless, it was not Arafat’s denial of the Jewish Temples that stood on the mount for more than 800 years collectively that collapsed the Camp David Accords back in 2000. It was Arafat’s refusal to accept proposed peace terms or provide a counter-offer.
The Camp David accords took place just six years after the arch-terrorist Arafat was imported back into Israel to lead the Palestinian people after previously being exiled to Lebanon and Tunisia, and then awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 (along with Israeli leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres) for his signing of the controversial Oslo Accords—a move that dramatically elevated his international status and began the pouring of funds into the P.A.
In just two weeks, Israelis and Palestinians will mark 25 years since the signing of those fateful accords. And while Israelis and Palestinians living in the disputed territories of the West Bank have resided in relative quiet over the past several years, compared with other areas of the Middle East, large numbers of Israelis and Palestinians have soured on the prospects for a genuine peace agreement.
Since Oslo, Palestinians have done little to prepare their people for a lasting peace, with consistent incitement to violence, glorification of martyrs and an insidious “pay-to-slay” scheme to financially reward terrorists and so-called “martyrs” sitting in Israeli jails for their attempts to murder Jews.
Despite Palestinian incitement, Israelis have long hoped that peace could be reached with their immediate neighbors, similar to the agreements signed with neighboring countries Jordan and Egypt. Those hopes have turned into wishful thinking.
In May of each year, Israel celebrates its founding as an independent Jewish state. Seventy years later, Israel has transformed from a fledging, resource-poor, existentially threatened anomaly into a regional economic, technological and military superpower. This year’s 70th anniversary celebrations were highlighted by America’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people, and the move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
In announcing his intention to move the embassy, U.S. President Donald Trump stated in December of last year, “Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality.”
Palestinians also celebrate the day of Israel’s independence. Yet for the Palestinian people, the day is called nakba or “catastrophe.”
Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh said this year that “the Palestinian people on May 14 will stand together as one to send U.S. president Donald Trump a message that Jerusalem is an Islamic and Arab city and his decision of moving his country’s embassy will not defame its original character,” and adding that the “Palestinian people will turn May 14 and 15 into a catastrophe for the Israeli Occupation and its Zionist project.”
The real “catastrophes” for the Palestinian people have been their refusal to accept the reality that Israel is a Jewish state living within its ancient homeland, coupled with their failure to utilize the billions of dollars they have received since the signing of the Oslo Accords to replicate the social and economic progress made by Israel over the same period.
Twisting narratives has long been part and parcel of Islamic culture. Further, culture dictates that once a narrative is promoted, it can no longer be effectively challenged, nor can it stand peacefully alongside a competing narrative. As long as Palestinians continue to follow in the long Islamic tradition of twisting the Jewish narrative, thoughts for signing a lasting peace accords will remain nothing but folklore.
Alex Traiman is managing director and Jerusalem Bureau Chief of Jewish News Syndicate.