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Where is King Abdullah’s moderation on the Temple Mount?

One would think that Jordan’s “special role” means it has a responsibility to maintain the site as a place of prayer, brotherhood and tolerance.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II address to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2022. Source: Youtube.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II address to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 20, 2022. Source: Youtube.
David M. Weinberg (Twitter)
David M. Weinberg
David M. Weinberg is vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, jiss.org.il. His personal website is: davidmweinberg.com.

If the Jordanians have a “special role” regarding the Temple Mount, meaning they help keep the peace, why have they allowed the Mount to become ground zero for antisemitic incitement and violence? Where does Jordanian King Abdullah’s well-massaged image as a “moderate” find expression in his management of the Mount?

Standing beside every world leader he possibly can, Abdullah defiantly declares his self-anointed “custodianship” over the Temple Mount and “all holy sites” in Jerusalem.

In fact, Jordanian “custodianship” or “jurisdiction” in Jerusalem has never been agreed to by Israel and does not exist in any international accord. All Israel acknowledges is that the Hashemite Kingdom has a “special role” to play on the Temple Mount.

Let’s delve into the responsibilities involved in this “special role.”

One would think it means that Jordan has a special responsibility to help maintain the site as a holy place of prayer, brotherhood and tolerance. At a minimum, one would expect the Jordanians to do everything possible to stop violent Arab insurrection, wild Palestinian rioting and antisemitic and genocidal anti-Israel incitement.

Alas, the Jordanians have done no such thing. Despite their purported joint control (with the Palestinians) over the Waqf—the Islamic trust that runs the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine on the Temple Mount—Jordan allows the Waqf and its Palestinian preachers to inflame nationalist passions and provoke violence against Israel.

None of these are occasional things. They have become the Jordanian-sponsored standard of behavior on the Temple Mount. This has been the contribution of Jordan’s much-ballyhooed “special role.”

Al-Aqsa Mosque Imam Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the former chief mufti of the Palestinian Authority, has often used his Friday sermons on the Mount to spout lies and historical distortions like this: “The Arabs are among the earliest peoples that settled in Jerusalem, 7,500 years before the Christian era.” He also claimed, “There is no evidence of a historical Jewish presence in the city.” Moreover, he said, “The blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is everything that surrounds the walls, whether roofed or not,” including the “Al-Buraq Wall”—meaning the Western Wall.

Sabri also constantly repeats the blood libel that “the Jews are trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque, just as they did in the 1969 arson.” (This refers to an incident in which an Australian Christian with a mental health disorder named Michael Rohan tried to torch the area.) Every year, the P.A. and the Waqf, with Sabri at the helm, commemorate this incident and repeat the dangerous lie that an “extremist Jewish settler terrorist” was the perpetrator.

Sabri regularly calls for “ribat” (religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic) against any Jews who wish to visit or pray on the Temple Mount or its vicinity. “Their arrogance will burn them,” he thundered.

He has also sermonized from the Mount that any person who sells or mediates the sale of Jerusalem property to Jews “will not be buried, will not be purified and will not be prayed for and that whoever interacts with them is a traitor.” (Credit for tracking and translating these sermons and the remarks below goes to Palestinian Media Watch.)

Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the “grand mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories” and chairman of the Palestinian Authority’s “Supreme Fatwa Council” has backed-up Sabri with a Shariah law fatwa (Islamic decree) to this effect.

P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas’s advisor Dr. Mahmoud Al-Habbash, sometimes referred to as the “supreme Shariah judge of Palestine,” often gives Friday sermons on the Mount and almost always delivers the main Friday sermon on P.A. TV.

He rants regularly about “the daily crimes that the occupation state is committing against the Jerusalem Noble Sanctuary” and “the escalation in the pace of the settlers’ daily invasions of the mosque, and the desecration of it on baseless pretexts of ‘Jewish religious holidays and festivals.’”

Al-Habbash also explicitly calls for violent assaults against Jews, recycling Mahmoud Abbas’s 2014 call for violence and martyrdom for the sake of Jerusalem: “Every Palestinian from among the factions, forces and election lists must participate in the battle for the Palestinian right in Jerusalem by escalating the popular resistance.” He goes on to teach that the Quran “commands” fighting and permits killing Israelis.

Here is P.A. Shariah Judge Abdallah Harb in an Al-Aqsa sermon: “The occupation is still making all efforts day and night to Judaize the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in order to defile it. It has harmed the structures, harmed the people and spread drugs and other things.”

Here is Shariah Judge Hatem Al-Bakri in an Al-Aqsa sermon: “Muslims soon will purify the Noble Sanctuary and liberate the land and the people ‎from the defilement of the criminal infidels.”

Here is Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi, who for years has taught Islam twice a week in the Al-Aqsa Mosque: “Jews worship the Devil, and at the End of Time, Muslims will seek out the Jews everywhere and exterminate them all.” He regularly references a Hadith foretelling that one day Jews will hide from Muslims, but the rock and the tree will call out: “O Muslim, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

By spreading such libels and demonizing Israelis and Jews, P.A. leaders are making sure that Palestinians are ready to “fight the evil ones,” meaning the State of Israel and any Jew who claims patrimony in Jerusalem.

Why is King Abdullah party to these exhortations, execretions, fictions and incitement to violence? Where is Jordan’s moderating influence?

After all, let’s remind ourselves, Jordan claims a “special role in all holy sites” in Jerusalem (which in Jordanian propaganda also includes Christian holy sites). And everybody in the world is now very, very worried about a third intifada erupting in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria over the coming Ramadan holy month—as CIA director Nicholas Burns recently warned.

Where are Abdullah’s efforts to prevent such an explosion? Judging by the type of violent rhetoric he allows to erupt from the mouths of preachers on the Mount, over which he presumptuously claims to have “custodianship” in some sort of partnership with the P.A., Abdullah isn’t trying too hard.

It’s not like Abdullah couldn’t control things if he wanted to. I can assure you that not a single word of criticism against Abdullah is heard on the Temple Mount from any Palestinian preacher, just as not a single word of criticism against Abdullah is allowed out of the mouths of any sermonizer in mosques across Jordan.

Abdullah, if he wanted to, could look to the example of the UAE. The Emiratis exercise tight control over sermons given in mosques across their seven Emirates to make sure that no radical Shiite or Sunni messaging is heard, along with no criticism of the regime.

No preacher in even the tiniest neighborhood mosque in the most remote location can deliver a Friday sermon without running it past the Emirati Ministry of Religious Affairs. This censorship is how the Emiratis keep seditious Iranian and radical Islamist influences at bay.

But apparently, at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, no such censorship exists. At the most sensitive, explosive holy site in the world, everything goes, especially antisemitic and genocidal anti-Israel incitement—all under the allegedly benevolent and hypothetically moderate watch of King Abdullah of Jordan.

David M. Weinberg is a senior fellow at Misgav: The Institute for Zionist Strategy & National Security and Habithonistim: Israel’s Defense and Security Forum. The views expressed here are his own. His diplomatic, defense, political and Jewish world columns over the past 26 years are archived at: www.davidmweinberg.com.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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