Inciting Violence Against Jews Through Inaccuracy
On Aug. 24, 1929, 67 Jews were killed in what later came to be known as the Hebron Massacre.
Prior to that, the Jewish Community of Hebron had coexisted for hundreds of years along with the Arab residents of Hebron. The Jewish community was convinced that the Arab community, with whom they had enjoyed friendly relations, would continue with such relations. Aharon Reuven Bernzweig, who had been visiting with his wife in Hebron, remembered his encounter with the Jewish community there, saying he was assured by the community that “in Hebron there could never be a pogrom, because as many times as there had been trouble elsewhere in Eretz Israel, Hebron had remained quiet. The local population had always lived very peacefully with the Arabs.”
Tensions had been increasing between the communities as the efforts toward establishing the Jewish state increased. Feeling threatened by these endeavors, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem falsified reports to his followers saying that the Jews were planning on overtaking the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Dome of the Rock and that the blood of the Arabs ran through the streets of Jerusalem.
The Arabs in Hebron went door to door, staging a pogrom on the Jewish community. More than 400 Jews were saved by two dozen Arab families who chose to hide and protect the Jewish families they had come to know. After the massacre, the Jewish families were evacuated to Jerusalem, temporary putting a halt to the Jewish presence in the area.
On Jan. 17, 2014, the Middle East Monitor released the article “Israeli Settlers Storm Al Aqsa Mosque and Climb Dome of the Rock,” claiming that Jews had “stormed” the Temple Mount on a Friday. The Temple Mount is the most holy site in the world for the Jewish people and the third Holiest site for Muslims. This article, which circulated the Internet as people tried to discern whether or not it was accurate, appeared to be a provocation for more violence in Israel. It also served as an exaggeration by a news source that falsely identifies the Israeli Defense Forces as the “Israeli Occupation Forces.” Like the Grand Mufti’s announcements in Jerusalem in 1929, the article was intended to incite violence and spread hatred among the communities.
Yehuda Glick, director of the LIBA initiative for Jewish Freedom on the Temple Mount, and mentioned in the article, also clarified the inaccuracy of the article. According to Glick, The Temple Mount has 10 gates, nine of these gates are open seven days a week for Muslims. One of these gates is open three hours a day, five days a week for Jews. The article maintains that Glick entered the mount on Friday, while in actuality it is forbidden for a Jew to enter the Temple Mount on this day.
According to Natan Epstein, a videographer living in Jerusalem, the article was a falsification and a provocation. Most observant Jews will not enter the Dome of the Rock as it is where the “Holy of Holies” from the Temple once stood. Security in the area, he says, is also “very tight.”
Today, the Jewish people are prohibited from praying at their holiest site. The Jordan Waqf retains control over the Dome of the Rock. As tensions continue to rise in Israel over the current Peace Process, the Temple Mount remains a source of conflict among the communities living in Israel. While the Jewish people fight for a basic right to be able to pray at their holiest site, news media outlets such as the Middle East Monitor use this issue to stir up further violence and tension between people living in Israel.
Lindsey Cohen is a Film and Television Major at Boston University. She blogs regularly at itsjustsomethingtothinkabout.wordpress.com. This piece was originally published on the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) student blog in Focus.