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August 21, 2013 1:01 pm

Arab Media Outlets Falsely Claim Christian Who Tried to Burn Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 Was a Jew

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Al-Aqsa Mosque burning on August 21, 1969, set fire to by Denis Michael Rohan, an Australian Christian who many Arab Media sites are today calling a Jew. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

Al-Aqsa Mosque burning on August 21, 1969, set fire to by Denis Michael Rohan, an Australian Christian who many Arab Media sites are today calling a Jew. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

Media outlets across the Arab world on Wednesday falsely referred to a Christian mental patient who tried to burn down the Al-Aqsa Mosque, atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, in 1969, as a Jew, trying to link the lone madman’s attack on its 44th anniversary to political claims against Israel.

On August 21, 1969, Denis Michael Rohan, a 28-year old Australian citizen and zealous Christian attempted to set fire to Al-Aqsa. At the time he claimed his reason for doing so was to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ by enabling the Jews of Israel to rebuild the ancient Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in accordance with the Bible’s book of Zechariah.

Two days later he was arrested for the arson attempt, tried, found to be insane, and hospitalized in a mental institution. Five years later, he was deported from Israel on humanitarian grounds and lived out his days at Callan Park Hospital, in Australia, where he died in 1995.

Anonymous pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon first reported on the uptick in frequency of the mistake in Arab news outlets, which he said showed a marked increase compared to his 2007 report on the same occasion six years ago.

“At the time, while some said he was Jewish, many only implied it, while others claimed Israel itself was behind the bombing,” Elder of Ziyon wrote.

Reviewing today’s press on the issue, Elder of Ziyon paints a disturbing picture of misinformation that pervades nearly all Arab media outlets.

“Of course sites that are filled with overt antisemitism, like Al Watan Voice, claim Rohan was Jewish. But Ma’an News – which pretends to hold to Western journalistic standards – says Rohan was a ‘Jewish extremist.’  Ma’an separately reports that the head of the Muslim-Christian Association in Jerusalem commemorated the anniversary and also said Rohan was Jewish. Jordan’s Al Ghad says he was Jewish. The official Palestinian Arab news agency Wafa also claims Rohan was Jewish. As does, naturally, Hamas’s Felesteen newspaper. Respected pan-Arab Al Arabiya claims Rohan was a ‘Jewish extremist’ as well. Hezbollah’s Al Manar is slightly more careful, calling Rohan ‘Zionist.’ And Islamic Jihad’s Palestine Today– one of the better Arabic sources of news, believe it or not – calls him an ‘Israeli extremist,'” the popular blogger reported.

“There are literally hundreds of articles in the Arabic media today making the claim that Rohan was Jewish (or Israeli.) This is only a small indication that Arab media has no compunction about lying. This is something Westerners find hard to believe, but it is true, and it is something they need to understand. There are no consequences for the Arab media lying; no shame in it, no watchdog organizations in the Arab world that tries to correct errors and lies. The falsehoods are endemic,” Elder concluded.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount below it have become a major flashpoint between Jews and Muslims. Controlled by Muslims, the site’s administrators do not allow Jewish prayer.

One Arab Facebook account called “Damascus Gate Now” recently published disapproving photos of an Israeli boy being helped by his father to drink from a water fountain during a tour of the mount, writing “the thief steals from our mosque to drink” and “G-d’s curse on the conspirators who are of the unclean Zionist movement from the oldest to the youngest.”

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  • Vivienne leijonhufvud

    Given half a chance and the possibility of getting away with the crime I would probably do the same. It is insulting to Israel for arabs to turn their backsides to the Temple of the Mount whilst they prostrated themselves towards Mecca. They stole the Temple Mount and insulted Judaism by building the damn thing in the first place. All their claims Mohammed arose into heaven from here are utter bunkhem.

  • sara

    When a Jew commits a massacre, he is ‘mentally sick’; when a Muslim tries to restore a stolen right, he is a ‘terrorist’.
    This is the fairness of the Zionist media which Algemeiner is its newest scam.

    • Lynne T

      Sara: you are living proof of the low level of literacy / reading comprehension and logic skills that afflects “anti-Zionists”.

      The Australian man cited in the story was a Christian and so far as I know, killed nobody and the Muslims deliberately built upon Temple Mount to show their triumph over the Jews and Christians. The story about Mohammed ascending to heaven on his “night journey” was justification about 300 years after his death for whichever Caliphate to build the “farthest mosque” which most certainly didn’t exist at the time of Mohammed’s death, which no doubt occurred much closer to his Arabian home.

  • Alan Kennedy

    The old tactic of repeat a lie often enough and it will become accepted as the truth.
    I watch Al Jazeera from time to time, so as to be able to “read between the lines” – I never did understand how a media organisation could claim fairness in reporting, with the byline; “Setting the agenda”

  • Sandy Brown

    Yes, of course they did ‘cos that is what they are like. I would not trust the Arabs with anything. They are just so full of venom and hatred.

  • The classic behaviour of deniers, Holocaust and others, if the event has passed into history you can distort it to your heart’s content. I know a lot about Michael Dennis Rohan because I was an interpreter at his trial! There was nothing Jewish about him at all, and anyway what difference does it make, he was a nutter! This isn’t the first time the Muslims have claimed Jewish plots to destroy Al-Aqsa.

  • Al-Jazeera America will now be polluting the airwaves here in the US. The commercials for this new “news outlet” are slick and professional.

    Those who watch this new station will believe all of their accusations and lies about Israel.

    Of course, we already have skewed news from MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, the NYT’s and etc. They do plenty of anti-Israel damage on their own. Al Jazeera America will fit right in with the current media – and then stoke the flames higher. So infuriating!!

    • Steve

      Lest we forget the antisemites at the BBC…
      How is it then that the conspiracy theory that “Jews control the media”
      is still quoted?
      I be…..t “some of their best friends are Jewish”

      • Lynne T

        or the Beeb’s sister corpse on the other side of the Atlantic, the CBC, which relies heavily on The Guardian as well as the Beeb for M-E news.