History Repeating: Media Blame Peaceful Jewish Worshippers for Palestinian Temple Mount Violence
This is a story you probably missed: on July 18, 2001, some 1,700 Jews ascended the Temple Mount in Jerusalem — Judaism’s holiest site — on the occasion of Tisha b’Av, the fast day marking the destruction of both Temples and other calamities in Jewish history.
Despite incitement by Palestinian terrorist groups, and the brief outburst of violence that ensued, the duly assembled people peacefully congregated at the plateau that has been the focal point of Jewish worship for over 3,000 years. Under police protection, some Jewish visitors to the Mount uttered their prayers, like thousands of Muslims do on Islamic holy days.
However, media outlets at the time reported that Jewish prayer at the holy site “immediately raised alarms” (The New York Times), and that Israeli security personnel “forcibly cleared the area for Jews to observe their day of mourning” (The Washington Post). An AP headline even spoke of “Jewish prayer at mosque,” a blatant lie echoing the Hamas propaganda line that Jews stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, even though non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the building.
As has been the case during previous riots in Israel’s capital — and during riots this year — these reputable media outlets have opted to ignore the core issue — that of Palestinian incitement, while emphasizing the alleged culpability of Jewish worshipers for the unrest in Jerusalem.
Yet facts are stubborn things. Two days before Tisha b’Av last year, Hamas issued a call to arms that most major news outlets omitted from their coverage. In a statement, the US-designated terrorist group called on Palestinians to “confront the colonists’ roistering and their arrogance” throughout the holy city. It furthermore ordered residents of the Gaza Strip to “keep their fingers on the trigger.”
Last year, other Palestinian terror factions also incited violence against Jews marking Tisha b’Av on the Temple Mount. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hinted at a “battle in defense of the occupied capital” a day before the fast day, referring to Jewish pilgrims as “settler flocks.” Palestinian Islamic Jihad instructed its followers to “confront the settlers [Israelis]” and “ignite confrontations in all areas.”
As HonestReporting reported during the Temple Mount riots last May, genocidal terrorist groups like Hamas are rapidly gaining momentum in Jerusalem.
In response to the campaign of hate led by Hamas, dozens of Palestinians flocked to the Temple Mount on Tisha b’Av last year, in an attempt to prevent Jews from reaching their holy place. Video footage reportedly shows rocks that were pelted at security forces, who responded with riot dispersal means. Some of the rioters chanted the battle cry, “With spirit, with blood, we’ll redeem Al-Aqsa.”
That was how developments unfolded on the ground. This, as opposed to what The Washington Post reported, which was that “Israeli security personnel forcibly cleared the area for Jews to observe their day of mourning.” In point of fact, Palestinians on Sunday uploaded videos of Arabs and Jews mingling on Temple Mount. But by that point, activists had already embraced the latest anti-Israel narrative, with US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) falsely claiming that Israel attacked people “who are literally kneeling down in prayer.”
Commenting on the events, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and the Israel Police for “managing the events on the Temple Mount with responsibility and consideration, while maintaining freedom of worship for Jews on the Mount.” He emphasized that “freedom of worship on the Temple Mount will be fully preserved for Muslims as well.”
Indeed, Muslims continue to enjoy total freedom of worship at their third holiest site — free from violent intimidation and other constraints — just as they have since Israel took control over the Temple Mount in 1967. This was made even more clear when over 100,000 Palestinian Muslims attended Eid al-Adha prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque. The mass Muslim prayer went virtually unreported in English-language media.