Author Archive

Weird ways Israel won its war of independence

March 23, 2019

Some good viewing.

Has the “Arab Spring” reached Gaza?

March 23, 2019

Here’s hoping its popcorn time…

http://jcpa.org/has-the-arab-spring-reached-gaza/

Has the “Arab Spring” Reached Gaza?

  • Hamas has failed in its attempts to silence media coverage of the protest demonstrations in Gaza against the rising cost of living and the demonstrations continue.
  • In these demonstrations, which began March 14, 2019, Gaza residents were directing their anger towards the Hamas regime, rather than Israel.
  • The demonstrations are led by an independent youth movement called “We Want to Live!,” which receives widespread public support and support from PLO factions. The “We Want to Live” movement is an independent youth movement that has nothing to do with any political body and was established against the background of the increase in taxes imposed by Hamas on the population and on the unemployment rate among the younger generation, which stands at 69 percent.
  • Hamas security forces carried out dozens of arrests throughout the Gaza Strip, arresting demonstrators who took part in the protests of the “We Want to Live” movement.
    In the Gaza Strip, there is already talk that the “Arab Spring” has reached the Gaza Strip and that Hamas attempts to divert internal and international attention from the demonstrations by firing two M-15 Fajr rockets at Tel Aviv has failed.

Hamas has failed in its attempts to silence media coverage of the protest demonstrations in Gaza against the rising cost of living. Despite Hamas’ efforts, these demonstrations continue.

The demonstrations are led by an independent youth movement called “We Want to Live!” [bidna naish, in Arabic], which receives widespread public support and backing from PLO factions.

By the end of the week of March 17, 2019, Hamas security forces had carried out dozens of arrests throughout the Gaza Strip, detaining demonstrators who took part in the protests of the “We Want to Live” movement. Several journalists covering the demonstrations were also arrested.

The demonstrations began on March 14, 2019, in protest against the rising cost of living in the Gaza Strip. But Gazan residents were directing their anger toward the Hamas regime. Hamas security forces dispersed the demonstrators with gunfire and clubs, especially in the central demonstrations in the Jabalya refugee camp and Deir al-Balah.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported on March 16, 2019, that the demonstrations against the cost of living took place in the Jabalya, Al-Bureij, and Nuseirat refugee camps and the cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah, and that these protests were forcibly dispersed by Hamas security forces.

The director of the Center for Human Rights, Jamil Sarhan, and another lawyer named Bahar al-Turkhamani were beaten by Hamas police.

The anger of the residents of the Gaza Strip is increasing due to the difficult economic situation, taxes, which Hamas has imposed, as well as rising unemployment. Hamas is also suffering from severe financial distress, as the first anniversary of the “March of Return” approaches on March 30, 2019.

Many in the Gaza Strip saw the first year of the Hamas-initiated march as a failure because the campaign failed to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip as Hamas promised, despite more than 100 fatalities and the thousands of casualties.

The Background to the Current Wave of Protest

According to sources in the Gaza Strip, the “We Want to Live” movement is an independent youth movement that has no ties to any political body and was established against the background of the increase in taxes imposed by Hamas on the population and on the unemployment rate among the younger generation, which stands at 69 percent.

Gazans say that Hamas is increasing taxes to build up the organization’s revenues. Those who are suffering the most in Gaza are the residents who are not affiliated with the organization and do not receive services from Hamas institutions.

According to residents’ testimonies, Hamas imposed taxes on medical treatment in hospitals and on surgeries, even on those people who already paid for medical insurance. The taxes on vehicle licensing were also raised, and a tax of NIS 200 was imposed on all goods weighing more than a ton.

Hamas also increased the tax on goods smuggled from Egypt into the Gaza Strip through the tunnels. A pack of “Royal” cigarettes, which were sold for 4 NIS (New Israeli Shekels), now cost between NIS 26 and NIS 30.

The PLO Factions Support the Protest

Representatives of all the Palestinian factions met on March 16, 2019, in the offices of the Popular Front in Gaza Strip to discuss the latest developments and the violent clampdown on the demonstrations. Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations boycotted the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, the participants issued a statement in support of the youth movement holding the demonstrations.

The following decisions were announced:

  • Opposition to all forms of suppression of the protests and against any violations of the human rights of demonstrators.
  • Calls upon Hamas to punish anyone who attacked the demonstrators and issue an apology to them, and to withdraw all its security personnel from the streets.
  • Support for the just demands of the demonstrators.
  • Calls upon Hamas to stop all types of taxes on goods and to introduce price controls.
  • Calls upon Egypt to renew the reconciliation process.

Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan, who has good relations with the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip, called on the Hamas leadership to stop all forms of oppression and the use of force against the “cost of living” demonstrators. He also called on Egypt to intervene and secure a Palestinian national agreement.

These developments are in accordance with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and its head, who is encouraging these protests. Two years ago, on the advice of Palestinian Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas decided to impose sanctions on the Gaza Strip and worsen the situation there to make the economic situation so dire that Gazan residents would rebel against Hamas.

Senior Fatah official Hussein a-Sheikh said at the end of the week that the Palestinian leadership is in contact with influential Muslim countries to pressure the Hamas movement into stopping the oppressive tactics used against innocent civilians demanding a dignified lifestyle and the abolition of illegal taxes. Palestinian Authority sources reported that Abbas appealed to Egypt and Qatar to exert influence on Hamas to stop suppressing the demonstrators.

Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmeh appeared on official Palestinian television and called on demonstrators to continue their demonstrations: “Our message is to our heroes who are fighting Hamas militias in the Gaza Strip, because the road to Jerusalem begins with a revolution against tyranny. We in the Fatah movement stand with you, and we will always be loyal to you.”

Where Are Things Headed?

In the Gaza Strip, there is already talk that the “Arab Spring” has reached the Gaza Strip and that Hamas attempts to divert internal and international attention from the demonstrations by firing two M-75 Fajr rockets at Tel Aviv had failed.

The phenomenon of the “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia in 2011, after a vegetable vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the city of Sidi Said. Now, Gazans are following Bouazizi’s example in the Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Abu Tahn, 32, a resident of the Gaza Strip, set himself on fire on March 16, 2019, to protest the rising cost of living, after being expelled from his home when he could not afford the rent.

The violent repression and arrests of demonstrators by Hamas members are considered a “black stain” on the organization, which is losing its popularity in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Bombing of Hamas Targets Won Hamas no Fans
The protests against Hamas began again at the end of the week, even after the bombing of Hamas targets by the Israeli Air Force. According to sources in the Gaza Strip, these protests are supposed to continue, in light of the wave of arrests of demonstrators carried out by Hamas and the public support received by the demonstrators from Palestinian factions affiliated with the PLO.

At the same time, Hamas began to withdraw its supporters from demonstration areas of the “We Want to Live!” movement, so that Gazans would protest against the Palestinian Authority and hold the PA’s leaders to blame for the difficult economic situation.

Of course, Israel will soon again be blamed for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Attorney Fahmi Shabaneh, a former senior Palestinian intelligence official in the West Bank, told Hamas paper Al-Risala on March 16, 2019, that the PA security forces were encouraging instability in the Gaza Strip, were paying money to transport people to demonstrations, and were taking advantage of the difficult economic situation. “Once an agreement is reached between Israel and Hamas, everything will end,” Shabaneh says.

A day in the life of a Israeli Navy Soldier

March 23, 2019

A video for Joseph…

 

 

Why are Arab armies rubbish?

February 1, 2019

This is a review of the book Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness by Kenneth Pollack.

Why do Arab militaries perform so badly in war? The answer given is below.  

(I would also specifically mention Islam as a component of the culture as well.)

The main source of Arab military ineffectiveness is culture. “It seems unlikely that it is mere coincidence that the most damaging problems that Arab armed forces have suffered in battle just happen to conform perfectly to patterns of behavior emphasized by the dominant Arab culture,” Pollack writes. “It gets even harder to buy given that Arab organizations in other walks of life experience precisely the same patterns of behavior as their armies, despite the fact that those other organizations were not trained by the Soviets, nor were they subject to coup-proofing or other forms of politicization, nor did they behave like similar organizations in other developing countries.”

Pollack identifies key aspects of Arab culture relevant to the book: conformity, centralization of authority, deference to authority and passivity, group loyalty, manipulation of information, atomization of knowledge, personal courage, and ambivalence toward manual labor and technical work. One can see how these values and behaviors will negatively affect military performance, especially the most glaring problem for Arab armed forces: poor tactical leadership from junior officers. Consistently, these officers fail to show any initiative or creativity—they rarely if ever adapt quickly to changing circumstances in battle. This makes perfect sense, though, if one considers these soldiers were trained to conform and defer to authority. This stands in stark contrast to the Israeli military, whose soldiers were raised in the “Start-Up Nation,” which encourages innovation from all ranks.

https://freebeacon.com/culture/mirage-arab-military-might/

Why do Arab militaries perform so badly in war? Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, Chad’s defeat over Libya in 1987, the Islamic State’s humiliation of the Iraqi security forces—why do they lose when, by all objective measures, they should win? And when they win, why are their victories so small?

These questions are not just academic. Indeed, their answers are central to American foreign policy in the Middle East, for today and for the future.

Go back to May 2014, when then-President Barack Obama told a graduating class of West Point cadets that training foreign soldiers was central to his strategy on counterterrorism. “We have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat—one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin or stir up local resentments,” Obama said. “We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us.” His idea was to deploy small numbers of military trainers and advisers to the Middle East and elsewhere to assist local forces, keeping the American footprint to a minimum.

More than four years later, President Donald Trump has continued this approach, which, along with his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, indicate that the United States will need to rely on Middle Eastern forces to do their own fighting. Given that the United States will still have vital interests in the Middle East to protect, Washington will need to care even more about the effectiveness of Arab armed forces.

Enter Kenneth Pollack, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Pollack’s new book, Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, seeks to explain the reasons for Arab military weakness since World War II and why the same problems are consistent across the Arab world. Sweeping in its scope yet accessible to the layman, Armies of Sand is a remarkable scholarly achievement that should be required reading for anyone involved in forming American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Arab armed forces have performed poorly in numerous areas of warfare. These problems—too many to list here—range from poor tactical leadership by junior officers to poor strategic leadership by generals, from mismanagement of information to struggles handling weapons. Other problems include unit cohesion, terrible equipment maintenance, and sub-par training.

Pollack identifies four theories that experts have proposed to explain the weaknesses of Arab armed forces: reliance on Soviet-style doctrine and military methods; poor civil-military relations and the “excessive politicization of Arab militaries resulting from the constant coups—and coup-proofing—endemic to the Arab states”; economic factors, particularly the “chronic underdevelopment of the Arab states throughout the post-World War II era”; and “patterns of behavior derived from Arab culture.”

“Although numerous observers have written books, articles, and papers arguing for one explanation or another, no one has ever looked at all of them collectively to try to deduce which are wrong and which right; whether these recurrent patterns of Arab military ineffectiveness could be traced back to just one overarching source, or a combination of some or all,” Pollack writes. “No one has ever tried to sift through them and figure out which ones hold water, and which are just hogwash. That is the purpose of this book.”

Pollack’s first takeaway is that relying on Soviet military doctrine is not the cause of the Arabs’ military problems. To the contrary, the Soviets were more helpful than hurtful. Regardless, there was no correlation between an Arab military’s reliance on Soviet methods and its performance on the battlefield.

Second, politicization was a problem, but not the most important one. It definitely hurt the effectiveness of Arab armed forces in many ways, but “deficiencies in tactical leadership, tactical information management, air operations, weapons handling, and maintenance persisted regardless of how politicized or professional they were.”

Third, economic underdevelopment was similarly an “element of modern Arab military ineffectiveness, and arguably an important one—just not the most important one.” None of the non-Arab militaries that Pollack examined experienced the same difficulties that were the greatest problems of the Arab armed forces.

The main source of Arab military ineffectiveness is culture. “It seems unlikely that it is mere coincidence that the most damaging problems that Arab armed forces have suffered in battle just happen to conform perfectly to patterns of behavior emphasized by the dominant Arab culture,” Pollack writes. “It gets even harder to buy given that Arab organizations in other walks of life experience precisely the same patterns of behavior as their armies, despite the fact that those other organizations were not trained by the Soviets, nor were they subject to coup-proofing or other forms of politicization, nor did they behave like similar organizations in other developing countries.”

Pollack identifies key aspects of Arab culture relevant to the book: conformity, centralization of authority, deference to authority and passivity, group loyalty, manipulation of information, atomization of knowledge, personal courage, and ambivalence toward manual labor and technical work. One can see how these values and behaviors will negatively affect military performance, especially the most glaring problem for Arab armed forces: poor tactical leadership from junior officers. Consistently, these officers fail to show any initiative or creativity—they rarely if ever adapt quickly to changing circumstances in battle. This makes perfect sense, though, if one considers these soldiers were trained to conform and defer to authority. This stands in stark contrast to the Israeli military, whose soldiers were raised in the “Start-Up Nation,” which encourages innovation from all ranks.

The education system in Arab societies drilled in these values to the point that they became central to soldiers’ behavior. “Typical Arab educational practices relentlessly inculcated the values, preferences, and preferred behavior—the culture—of the wider society,” Pollack writes.

Pollack also explains that Arab military programs are modeled on the educational methods of the larger society, reinforcing certain patterns of behavior and conditioning soldiers to act and think in “ways that reflect the values and priorities of the dominant culture.”

Pollack’s findings present hurdles for the United States, which has spent decades trying to build more effective Arab militaries. The logic behind this approach is simple: Partners in the region can act as force multipliers for Washington, lessening the burden on the American military. When these efforts backslide, however, the United States often has to deploy more of its own soldiers or, at the very least, invest more resources to help the locals fight. If Arab culture is the main source of the Arabs’ military woes, then sending their leaders to American military schools will not be sufficient, nor will more training. The United States can take certain steps, some of which Pollack discusses, to make moderate, but still significant, progress, but anything more would require broader changes in Arab society—a much taller task.

Another related problem for Washington is that its Arab allies cannot be expected to counter the greatest threats in the region: Iran, Iran’s proxies, and Sunni jihadist groups like ISIS. The Iraqi Army’s breakdown in 2014 proves this point for the latter. The United States is effectively seeking an unofficial alliance of Arab states (and Israel) to counter Iran’s aggression in the Middle East. It may give Arab states billions of dollars in military aid and sophisticated weapons, but these countries have far fewer soldiers on whom to rely in a conflict with the Islamic Republic, and those whom they have are less battle-tested. Only Egypt and Turkey have comparable numbers, but the former is weak and the latter has close economic relations with Tehran. Beyond conventional strength, Iran is also much better than the Arabs at training foreign fighters and creating proxy forces.

Pollack makes a crucial point: The Middle East is going through unprecedented changes—social, economic, technological, and political. This transformation will affect Arab culture and may even “benefit Arab armies in combat.” Additionally, warfare in the 21st century is changing. It is possible that the Arabs will adapt better as the world moves from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. The future is uncertain, but Arab militaries could become more effective.

The United States should care about the effectiveness of Arab armed forces, but the reality is that a sustainable security system in the Middle East requires active American military power on the ground. The United States should work to strengthen allies, but that is not sufficient. History proves that when America is not actively engaged in the Middle East, it will inevitably be forced to return to the region and in a more forceful way. The United States must decide whether it will lead in the Middle East or be an uninvolved bystander. If Washington chooses the latter, it better prepare itself for the inevitable disaster to come.

Rafael Designing Future Battlefield Warriors – Drone Swarms

January 31, 2019

There is a nice video available at link below.

https://www.jewishpress.com/news/business-economy/watch-rafael-designing-future-battlefield-warriors-drone-swarms/2019/01/25/

In a secret laboratory in northern Israel, the Jewish State is preparing for next-generation warfare: thousands of small drones capable of synchronized action, like flocks of birds, observing, following and finally attacking the enemy – without risking the life of friendly forces, Channel 12 reported Thursday night.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is working on the design and production of drone swarms that can mimic the behavior of flocks of birds such as starlings.

Eric, head of the skimmers division in Rafael, introduced the integrated operation of these weapons:

“We try to imitate nature, whether it’s to fly as a group or to identify targets,” he explained. “You can see how these flyers assemble together,” he added. “It’s enough for me to tell one drone to fly south and the rest would follow.”

In the lab, the drones are adapted to the modern battlefield, which includes urban areas with multiple targets, most of which are hidden inside buildings.

According to the report, Rafael’s small drones are already capable of going out to take over a village or a city, fly low over the streets and hit terrorists, all the time directed by remote control and the enemy has no way to disrupt their operation.

“Not even the sky is the limit,” said Shmuel Olansky, head of innovation at Rafael. “You’re looking at years’ worth of developed capabilities that have been created here – as if they were groomed for today’s challenges.”

Nasrallah embezzled millions from Hezbollah funds?

January 31, 2019

Surely this would be worthy of some hand chopping?

(Article is from 20 Jan)

http://www.israelhayom.com/2019/01/20/report-nasrallah-embezzled-millions-from-hezbollah-funds/

Saudi news outlet Al-Watan says Iranian forces have Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah under house arrest and are pressuring him to divulge what happened to the tens of millions of dollars reportedly missing from Hezbollah bank accounts.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is suspected of embezzling millions of dollars from the terrorist organization’s coffers, the Saudi website Al-Watan Online reported Saturday.

According to Al-Watan, Nasrallah is under house arrest, guarded by Iranian forces, and is reportedly receiving medical treatment.

The Al-Watan report painted a dim picture of Nasrallah’s situation, saying that the Iranian forces guarding him were pressuring him to divulge what had happened to tens of millions of dollars that Iran had deposited into Hezbollah’s accounts. Nasrallah and his associates are suspected of taking the missing money for personal use.

There has not been any independent confirmation of the Al-Watan report. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are arch enemies and are waging several proxy battles across the region.

Observers confirmed to Al-Watan that Hezbollah was in an “unusual” situation, with its leaders in worse shape than they have been since Iran founded the Lebanese Shiite proxy. The report said that Nasrallah’s recent media absence was directly related to the missing millions.

The Al-Watan report comes a week after Lebanese media outlets reported on Jan. 12 that the Hezbollah leader had suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized in “serious condition” in Beirut. Other reports said that he had suffered a stroke and was fighting cancer.

None of the Lebanese reports about Nasrallah’s health received official confirmation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Jerusalem a sacred islamic city?

January 31, 2019

Interestingly, the author of this article is an Australian shia imam.

He’d probably want to keep his head down…

… if he wishes to keep it attached to his shoulders.

https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Is-Jerusalem-a-sacred-Islamic-City-578560

There is a big difference between a city being sacred in the eyes of God and it being a sacred Islamic city.

Image result for al aqsa mosque

Jerusalem is home to around 400,000 Muslims, but is it a sacred city according to Islam?

This is a question the majority of Muslims within the political and academic world try to avoid, simply because it opens a rather uncomfortable discussion. In fact, a Muslim asking such a question could face serious consequences; such as society doubting in his/her faith.

Until 2014, I was an Islamist who abhorred Jewish people and was open to waging war against them. Today, however, I am friends with many Jewish faith leaders. This transition wasn’t political, it was rather theological. In brief, I started to question certain claims taught to me by my teachers and Muslim community. I began by asking myself the question, does Jerusalem really belong to Islam and Muslims?

To answer this vitally important question, we need to inquire how cities become sacred according to Islam.

Sacred cities in Islam

Throughout human history, every religion has been associated with an area that has been sanctified, respected and revered. Islam is no different. There are tens of sacred cities in Islam, such as Mecca, Medina, Qum, Karbala and Najaf – due to clear verses of the Koran acknowledging their glory or sayings of Prophet Mohammad assuring Muslims of their exaltation.

There is a big difference between a city being sacred in the eyes of God and it being a sacred Islamic city. For example, all prophetic tombs, birthplaces and areas where miracles took place are considered sacred in Islam, but they are not specifically Islamic locations. A sacred Islamic location is a location wherein a significant Islamic event has taken place by either Allah or Prophet Mohammad.

Jerusalem in Islamic scripture

The Holy Koran states very clearly that the Holy Land, Jerusalem, belongs to the Jewish nation of Moses, the Israelites:

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, “O my people, remember the favor of Allah [God] upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the world” (Koran: 5:20 onwards).

The above verse also makes it clear that God “had not given (this land to) anyone among the world” other than the Jewish nation.

From this verse, and others of similar context, we understand that Jerusalem is a sacred city according to God, but it is not a sacred Islamic city, due to the fact that its sacredness was established before the existence of Islam.

After the emergence of Islam, in the year 621 CE, it is believed that Prophet Mohammad took a miraculous and spiritual night journey to Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Farthest Mosque). This event is reported in the Koran in the following verse:

“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from the Sacred Mosque (Mecca) to al-Masjid al- Aqsa (the Farthest Mosque), whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs…” (Quran 17:1).

Two vital matters need to be addressed regarding the above verse:

  1. Prophet Mohammad traveling to a location does not make that location “Islamic.”
  2. There is little evidence that “Al-Aqsa Mosque” is actually in Jerusalem, and there are a large number of Muslims who believe that “the Farthest Mosque” is a reference to a mosque in the heavens, not on earth; due to the fact that the current Al-Aqsa Mosque did not exist during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad, making it impossible for him to have visited it.

Messengers of both Judaism and Christianity had arrived in Jerusalem to preach their scriptures centuries before Prophet Mohammad. Therefore, it cannot be historically accurate to say that Mohammad brought Islam to Jerusalem before them.

Up until the migration of Mohammad to Medina in 622 CE and the official establishment of Islam therein, Islam was a minority religion when compared to the two well-established religions of Judaism and Christianity. Besides, the citizens of Jerusalem who converted to Islam merely changed their own faith, not the entire history of Jerusalem.

Thus, neither Islamic scripture nor history  claim that Jerusalem is a sacred Islamic city.

Jerusalem meets Islam

In May 632 CE, Prophet Mohammad appointed Usama ibn Zaid as the commander of his army to respond to the Romans in an agreed-upon battle within Palestine.

The next day Usama set out for his expedition, but he then learnt that Mohammad had died and therefore he returned to Medina. Caliph Abu Bakr then ordered Usama to increase his army to 3,000 men and to attack the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Moab and Byzantine-held Darum, to kill or capture as many as he could and Usama did so.

This event proves that up until the demise of Prophet Mohammad, there were no Muslims in what is today known as Palestine, and that it was inhabited by the Romans of the Byzantine.

Also, Prophet Mohammad would not wage war against a city full of Muslims. In reality, Islam as a religion officially came to Palestine in the year 636 CE, four years after Mohammad’s death and during the reign of the second caliph of Islam, Omar.

The Islamic caliphate conducted an attack on Jerusalem, which was ruled by the Byzantine Romans. The city was placed under a four-month siege commencing in November of that year. After four months of hardship and butchery, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, surrendered Jerusalem to Caliph Omar in 637 CE. When Caliph Omar realized that Islam was still a minority religion in the region, he adopted the jizyah system, forcing Christians and Jewish people to pay tax to the Islamic caliphate.

After conducting a massacre of the citizens of Jerusalem, our Caliph Omar came to Jerusalem to appoint his governors. He then built what is known today as “the Aqsa Mosque,” which many Muslims mistakenly think was built by Prophet Mohammad.

The mosque in Jerusalem with its golden dome is known to Muslims as “Qubbat al-Sakhrah” (Dome of the Rock), and it was completed in 691 CE by the Umayyad Dynasty, the following Islamic caliphate. It is arguably not permissible for Muslims to pray within Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Qubbat al-Sakhrah, as they are built upon occupied and invaded land.

By the ninth century, the Fatimid Dynasty, a Shia Islamic caliphate, ruled a large area of north Africa. They were also terrorists who invaded Palestine and massacred Christians in Jerusalem for siding with the Romans of the Byzantine, who had attempted to regain their conquered land. The notorious caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate, Al-Hakim, caused much damage to the entire region, even killing John VII, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, a provocative act that laid the groundwork for the First Crusade. Due to the defeat of the Crusaders, Muslims became the majority, by the sword and not by the pen.

By this time, the entire Mediterranean coast of Palestine had been captured, followed by a series of massacres of the Christian people and a genocide that spread all the way to Damascus and Beirut. Islam became the established religion of Palestine by the ninth century, and became the majority religion of the region throughout the Mamluk Era, between 1250 and 1516.

Therefore, we Muslims did not enter Palestine as preachers and convert its nation into Muslims. We murdered their leaders and conducted serial massacres led by both Sunni and Shia terrorist Islamic caliphs. The citizens of Palestine may convert to Islam, but in no way can Palestine be considered Muslim land. Of course, many may dispute this position, but the fact is that the Jews were in this land long before even Christianity arose. Their ancient cultural links remain unbroken, as in the saying each Passover, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Our Arab-Muslim ancestors came out of their deserts as conquerors and not as learners, and as guiders who do not seek the guidance of others. They believed that they had sufficient knowledge and wisdom, and that they did not need to learn anything from others. This delusion of my co-religionists persists to this day, despite the fact that the world has changed.

Disturbing events in Islamic history

On the other hand, I do not understand the Muslim struggle for Jerusalem. Islamic laws strictly prohibit relieving oneself while facing Mecca, in fact, toilets in all Islamic countries and most Muslim homes do not face Mecca, out of respect to the holy city. Yet Bukhari reports that our Prophet Mohammad used to deliberately and repeatedly relieve himself while facing Jerusalem, even though he could have faced another direction instead.

Does it make sense that Palestinians are dying for Jerusalem when their own beloved Prophet used to prefer defecating toward it?

Whether Palestine is Jewish land or whether Israel is a state are two completely different debates. A Muslim may reject Israel being a state, but cannot deny the fact that the entire region, including Palestine, is in fact Jewish land.

The writer, an Iranian-born Australian Shia Muslim Imam, is president of the Islamic Association of South Australia.

There is a big difference between a city being sacred in the eyes of God and it being a sacred Islamic city.

Jerusalem is home to around 400,000 Muslims, but is it a sacred city according to Islam?

This is a question the majority of Muslims within the political and academic world try to avoid, simply because it opens a rather uncomfortable discussion. In fact, a Muslim asking such a question could face serious consequences; such as society doubting in his/her faith.

Until 2014, I was an Islamist who abhorred Jewish people and was open to waging war against them. Today, however, I am friends with many Jewish faith leaders. This transition wasn’t political, it was rather theological. In brief, I started to question certain claims taught to me by my teachers and Muslim community. I began by asking myself the question, does Jerusalem really belong to Islam and Muslims?

To answer this vitally important question, we need to inquire how cities become sacred according to Islam.

Sacred cities in Islam

Throughout human history, every religion has been associated with an area that has been sanctified, respected and revered. Islam is no different. There are tens of sacred cities in Islam, such as Mecca, Medina, Qum, Karbala and Najaf – due to clear verses of the Koran acknowledging their glory or sayings of Prophet Mohammad assuring Muslims of their exaltation.

There is a big difference between a city being sacred in the eyes of God and it being a sacred Islamic city. For example, all prophetic tombs, birthplaces and areas where miracles took place are considered sacred in Islam, but they are not specifically Islamic locations. A sacred Islamic location is a location wherein a significant Islamic event has taken place by either Allah or Prophet Mohammad.

Jerusalem in Islamic scripture

The Holy Koran states very clearly that the Holy Land, Jerusalem, belongs to the Jewish nation of Moses, the Israelites:

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, “O my people, remember the favor of Allah [God] upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the world” (Koran: 5:20 onwards).

The above verse also makes it clear that God “had not given (this land to) anyone among the world” other than the Jewish nation.

From this verse, and others of similar context, we understand that Jerusalem is a sacred city according to God, but it is not a sacred Islamic city, due to the fact that its sacredness was established before the existence of Islam.

After the emergence of Islam, in the year 621 CE, it is believed that Prophet Mohammad took a miraculous and spiritual night journey to Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Farthest Mosque). This event is reported in the Koran in the following verse:

“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from the Sacred Mosque (Mecca) to al-Masjid al- Aqsa (the Farthest Mosque), whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs…” (Quran 17:1).

Two vital matters need to be addressed regarding the above verse:

  1. Prophet Mohammad traveling to a location does not make that location “Islamic.”
  2. There is little evidence that “Al-Aqsa Mosque” is actually in Jerusalem, and there are a large number of Muslims who believe that “the Farthest Mosque” is a reference to a mosque in the heavens, not on earth; due to the fact that the current Al-Aqsa Mosque did not exist during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad, making it impossible for him to have visited it.

Messengers of both Judaism and Christianity had arrived in Jerusalem to preach their scriptures centuries before Prophet Mohammad. Therefore, it cannot be historically accurate to say that Mohammad brought Islam to Jerusalem before them.

Up until the migration of Mohammad to Medina in 622 CE and the official establishment of Islam therein, Islam was a minority religion when compared to the two well-established religions of Judaism and Christianity. Besides, the citizens of Jerusalem who converted to Islam merely changed their own faith, not the entire history of Jerusalem.

Thus, neither Islamic scripture nor history  claim that Jerusalem is a sacred Islamic city.

Jerusalem meets Islam

In May 632 CE, Prophet Mohammad appointed Usama ibn Zaid as the commander of his army to respond to the Romans in an agreed-upon battle within Palestine.

The next day Usama set out for his expedition, but he then learnt that Mohammad had died and therefore he returned to Medina. Caliph Abu Bakr then ordered Usama to increase his army to 3,000 men and to attack the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Moab and Byzantine-held Darum, to kill or capture as many as he could and Usama did so.

This event proves that up until the demise of Prophet Mohammad, there were no Muslims in what is today known as Palestine, and that it was inhabited by the Romans of the Byzantine.

Also, Prophet Mohammad would not wage war against a city full of Muslims. In reality, Islam as a religion officially came to Palestine in the year 636 CE, four years after Mohammad’s death and during the reign of the second caliph of Islam, Omar.

The Islamic caliphate conducted an attack on Jerusalem, which was ruled by the Byzantine Romans. The city was placed under a four-month siege commencing in November of that year. After four months of hardship and butchery, the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, surrendered Jerusalem to Caliph Omar in 637 CE. When Caliph Omar realized that Islam was still a minority religion in the region, he adopted the jizyah system, forcing Christians and Jewish people to pay tax to the Islamic caliphate.

After conducting a massacre of the citizens of Jerusalem, our Caliph Omar came to Jerusalem to appoint his governors. He then built what is known today as “the Aqsa Mosque,” which many Muslims mistakenly think was built by Prophet Mohammad.

The mosque in Jerusalem with its golden dome is known to Muslims as “Qubbat al-Sakhrah” (Dome of the Rock), and it was completed in 691 CE by the Umayyad Dynasty, the following Islamic caliphate. It is arguably not permissible for Muslims to pray within Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Qubbat al-Sakhrah, as they are built upon occupied and invaded land.

By the ninth century, the Fatimid Dynasty, a Shia Islamic caliphate, ruled a large area of north Africa. They were also terrorists who invaded Palestine and massacred Christians in Jerusalem for siding with the Romans of the Byzantine, who had attempted to regain their conquered land. The notorious caliph of the Fatimid Caliphate, Al-Hakim, caused much damage to the entire region, even killing John VII, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, a provocative act that laid the groundwork for the First Crusade. Due to the defeat of the Crusaders, Muslims became the majority, by the sword and not by the pen.

By this time, the entire Mediterranean coast of Palestine had been captured, followed by a series of massacres of the Christian people and a genocide that spread all the way to Damascus and Beirut. Islam became the established religion of Palestine by the ninth century, and became the majority religion of the region throughout the Mamluk Era, between 1250 and 1516.

Therefore, we Muslims did not enter Palestine as preachers and convert its nation into Muslims. We murdered their leaders and conducted serial massacres led by both Sunni and Shia terrorist Islamic caliphs. The citizens of Palestine may convert to Islam, but in no way can Palestine be considered Muslim land. Of course, many may dispute this position, but the fact is that the Jews were in this land long before even Christianity arose. Their ancient cultural links remain unbroken, as in the saying each Passover, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Our Arab-Muslim ancestors came out of their deserts as conquerors and not as learners, and as guiders who do not seek the guidance of others. They believed that they had sufficient knowledge and wisdom, and that they did not need to learn anything from others. This delusion of my co-religionists persists to this day, despite the fact that the world has changed.

Disturbing events in Islamic history

On the other hand, I do not understand the Muslim struggle for Jerusalem. Islamic laws strictly prohibit relieving oneself while facing Mecca, in fact, toilets in all Islamic countries and most Muslim homes do not face Mecca, out of respect to the holy city. Yet Bukhari reports that our Prophet Mohammad used to deliberately and repeatedly relieve himself while facing Jerusalem, even though he could have faced another direction instead.

Does it make sense that Palestinians are dying for Jerusalem when their own beloved Prophet used to prefer defecating toward it?

Whether Palestine is Jewish land or whether Israel is a state are two completely different debates. A Muslim may reject Israel being a state, but cannot deny the fact that the entire region, including Palestine, is in fact Jewish land.

The writer, an Iranian-born Australian Shia Muslim Imam, is president of the Islamic Association of South Australia.